Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Enough About You, Let's Talk About Me

*awkward laugh* 

Please accept this delicious-looking food as a peace offering. 


Normally, when I share random facts about myself, it’s within the context of a tag. But today I felt like talking about myself for no good reason. What could possibly go wrong? 


Fact One

Cutting onions doesn't make me cry. But it really hurts my eyes, so I have to wash them out under the faucet. This can be frustrating, because the onion juice stays in the air for a good while, and I usually end up needing to wash out my eyes multiple times. 


Fact Two

When I’m in my early thirties, I want to move to England and get British citizenship, if I can. I’m somewhat surprised I’ve never mentioned my love of all things British on this here blog before, but now you know. Admittedly, I’ve never visited England, which is probably why I’ve held back from discussing my plans. I could visit for a couple weeks and realize I've been idealizing it, which is why I fully intend to do my research before I make any life-changing decisions. But it’s been my long-term goal for years and I want to make it happen, if at all possible. 


Fact Three


I want to keep several pets when I have my own place. I want a cat, a rabbit, a hedgehog, three rats, and two mice. I also want a shark. (I know, I know—I already hear your objections. Hedgehogs are very dangerous and spiky. I understand, but I will make sure to take proper safety precautions to prevent injury.)


Fact Four

I am chronically tired. (I already know it’s not Lyme disease or thyroid problems, because I was tested for those a few years ago, though for different reasons.) Iron supplements help a bit, and my tiredness does vary in severity. Usually it’s bearable, and usually exercise helps, but sometimes it gets so bad I half worry that, if I close my eyes while walking, I’ll fall asleep mid-step. It doesn’t matter how much sleep I get, whether six hours or eleven. Most days, I’m ready to call it a night before I’ve even had lunch (but I have responsibilities, so I don’t actually go to bed that early). 


Fact Five

Related to my fatigue, coffee has little to no effect on my wakefulness. It will make me jittery, and it will make my brain work harder, but it won’t make me feel less tired. This might be connected to my inability to get addicted to caffeine. However, if I pretend the coffee will work, sometimes I think I manage to benefit from the placebo effect. 


Fact Six


I like driving in heavy rain or snow. I don’t necessarily feel safer, but the challenge makes my mind snap into focus, and I end up feeling more awake than I normally do. 


Fact Seven

I win a lot of giveaways. This year alone I’ve won eight (nine books in all). When you consider how many other people have entered those various giveaways, this is statistically impressive (at least, I think it is). It has escalated now. On Monday I got a random, brand new, expensive vacuum cleaner in the mail (with no return address, so I don't know who sent it). It was addressed to “Liz Brooks” which is already weird because, of the few people and places that have my new address, most have it under “Elizabeth Brooks”. It is possible someone bought this for me, though no one has stepped forward, and I rather doubt someone would buy me an expensive piece of machinery without first making sure I needed it (and again, there’s the address issue). It is also possible I won this in a giveaway, but I have a good memory, and I have no recollection of entering a giveaway featuring a vacuum cleaner. Either way, I seem to have good luck, in this and in other aspects of life, and I am curious to see what else will happen. *sits and waits patiently for a Lamborghini to come in the mail* Just kidding, that’s greedy. *hides pile of lottery tickets* 


Fact Eight

Last month, I was sitting outside with the landlord's cat on my lap, drinking tea and keeping really still because the cat kept trying to bite my earbud cords. I don't know why exactly (perhaps it smelled my floral tea), but a little bird flew up to check me out, and the cat caught it without even getting off my lap. Because cats are evil and like to watch their prey suffer, I had to finish off the bird, clean up the blood, and dispose of the body myself. This is Exhibit A in the long list of reasons why I could never be a Disney princess. 


Fact Nine

For the past few months, I have been struggling with fear-induced procrastination and have ended up writing and editing the majority of my blog posts the day I’m supposed to publish them. At long last, though, I managed to write this post a couple days ahead. Go me. 


What about you, my little coffee beans? What are some fun facts about you? Do you win a lot of giveaways? What pets do you own/want to own? Do onions make you cry?

Monday, July 25, 2016

The Ben & Jerry's Book Tag


A little while back, TT @ Intro to Blurb graciously tagged me for the Ben & Jerry’s Book Tag, and since I’m literally eating ice cream right now, I can’t think of a more fitting time to hop to it. Thank you, TT! 


Vanilla Caramel Fudge:
Pick a light and fluffy contemporary


Rainbow Rowell’s KINDRED SPIRITS is more of a short story really, but I don’t read many contemporaries, and very few of the ones I read could be classified as light and fluffy, so I’m just going to go with it. KINDRED SPIRITS follows Elena, a die-hard STAR WARS fan, as she spends four days waiting in line for the premier of THE FORCE AWAKENS. It’s simple, light, nerdy, and fun. If you can get your hands on a copy, it’s well worth the read. 


Mint Chocolate Cookie: 
A new release you wish everyone would read


I’m generally a little late in getting to new releases, so the most recent new release I’ve read and enjoyed would be Stefan Bachmann’s A DROP OF NIGHT, which came out in March. It’s a cool and creepy mix of contemporary, historical, and magical realism. You can find my mini review here


Cherry Garcia: 
An ending that was bitter-sweet


I’m going to hop over to my classics shelf and pick TARZAN OF THE APES, by Edgar Rice Burroughs. I’m hoping to reread this book within the next few months, because it’s amazing (as far as I recall). The ending, as much as it could be seen as a victory from one angle, is also homesick and somewhat tragic. You can find my spoilery review here


Strawberry Shortcake: 
A book containing your OTP of OTPs 

See, here’s the thing about me and one true pairings. I am not a romantic person. Of course I have strong views on love, and of course I still root for certain characters to fall in love at times. But I don’t keep a giant list in my head, so it’s hard to determine which ship is most important to me, if you catch my drift. I also have a thing for unrequited love in literature, so…


After much deliberation, I have decided to pick Captain Wentworth and Jane Elliot from Jane Austen’s PERSUASION. Seven years or so before the beginning of the story, Jane cut off her engagement with Captain Wentworth for monetary reasons, a decision she has regretted ever since. In the time that has passed, Wentworth has made his fortune and has returned, ready to find a wife and settle down. But while Jane wants him back, she is not sure if—after years of separation, miscommunication, and hurt feelings—he still loves her. 


Milk and Cookies: 
Two authors that, if they collaborated, would go perfectly together

Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff.

They’ve already collaborated, and the resulting book is indeed splendid. Voila. 


I rest my case. 

Wait, you mean you wanted a collaboration that hasn’t happened yet? 

Right. Let me think for a moment, then. 

Okay, so I was going to be clever and pick a pair of authors whose strengths and weaknesses would complement each other. But let’s be honest, I love Nova Ren Suma and Kendare Blake’s writing, because IMAGINARY GIRLS, 17 & GONE, and ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD are delightfully creepy and atmospheric. Just imagine what these two talents could achieve together. 


Boston Cream Pie:
A book that had you turning the pages late at night


Story time: When I was a youngling, newly in love with R.D. Blackmore’s LORNA DOONE, I somehow came under the mistaken impression that I had one of the few remaining copies in existence and that it would eventually go entirely out of print. I panicked, since what would I do if my lovely 100-year-old edition somehow died? Accidents happen. Naturally, I began the long, arduous process of copying the book out by hand and then typing it up on my computer so it wouldn’t be lost to the ravages of time. As you do. I even had the idea of including stills from the movie to create my own personalized, illustrated edition. But after many long nights of copying, with very little progress to show from my work, I realized the error of my ways and, instead, asked for another copy for Christmas, which I received. Now I own an old copy, a new copy, and a digital copy. And I don’t think it’s going out of print any time soon. No, I’m not embarrassed in the slightest. *hides* 


Chocolate Therapy:
A book that makes you feel better after a long day of life

There are so many titles I could list here. So many, I tell you. So many. Asking me to pick just one is cruel and unreasonable punishment of the sort banned by the Geneva Convention. *whimpers* And I’m such a delicate flower. I shall try to be strong, though, in the face of these great trials and—

Nope. Too difficult. I will just have to give you a list: 














I could go on and on, but I think you get the picture. I have a lot of favorites, for multiple reasons, and they’re all nostalgic and comforting. 


Coffee, Coffee BuzzBuzzBuzz: 
A book (not yet released) that you can’t wait to get your hands on

I could unfurl another lengthy list of titles I want on my shelf, but I believe I have learned my lesson, so I will give you only three. 

  


Well, now that I’m done eating my ice cream, I suppose it’s time to wrap up this tag and move on to other things. Thank you for joining me on this delicious journey. Since I don’t want to exclude any ice cream lover, I hereby tag everyone. *flings confetti* 


And that’s it for today, my little coffee beans. What is your favorite flavor of ice cream? (Mine is Mint Chocolate Chip, most any brand.) What are some new bookish releases you enjoyed/are excited for? What are some books that make you feel better after a long day? Have you ever done any crazy, book-related things?

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

So She Thinks She's a Poet


Despite my lack of poetical genius, I shared three of my poems with you in March, and you had the good grace not to ask me to move to Europe and take up yak farming instead, for which I am eternally grateful. (I also told you I’d share some of my sister’s poems with you. My schedule and brain ended up getting away from me, and that didn’t happen, but I will be making good on my word in a couple weeks, provided nothing interferes.) 

My brain insists on coming up with awful poems at odd moments, so I feel it’s only fitting I share them with you. In this situation, I am the cat with the dead bird, and you are the person who must decide whether or not to break it to the cat that you don’t, in fact, like being given random dead birds. 

Before we get started, though, I might as well warn you that you can ask what the poem's title means, but it’s my secret and I shan’t tell. *smiles mysteriously* However, your speculations will amuse me, so feel free to guess away. 


1:11


you must forgive me—

if you were stone, i’d lie beside you

and hold your hand, and tell in tears what i could not

breathe in your living ears. take not to heart

my silence, oh my love—

it does not mean that you aren’t stars to me

it but means night is hard for me

and day is hard in equal measure

and you are water to my thirst

but i am tantalus

and have offended gods.

'twas one indiscretion, small and passing;

judge me not.

cast me not out for flower picking—

my meadow-traipsing mind encased in

bone and dreams and sorrow. 'twas one passing fancy,

duly punished. 

'twas nothing consequential. i shall be well.

(i lie, he was the world to me.)

i would be true to you, in soothing and in seeming;

i would be honest. were i the sky

i would not veil the stars beneath my skin—

save on cloudy nights, when sorrow steals me again

for a passing swim in the styx, a dipping back to let the lethe

become my reality again, so for this second it won’t hurt

this sitting by you, without seeing you or knowing you.

(i want this life of acid longing to exist for ages.)

i want this pain to cherish another soul,

to leave mine be, for once.

i beg the heavens for reprieve,

so i can breathe and build soul-self, sole-self.

how have i offended the judges, the rulers? 

have i sinned that i should stand

at statue feet and stare into cold eyes, 

that i should beg for crumbs denied me and gifted dogs instead?

which fault brought down this stately glass

home upon my head, this castle built with mine own two minds?

what caused this shattering echo that drowns out thoughts?

days hide their time from me and make me question if

yesterday was yesterday or if tomorrow is today.

i mistake this month for another—this age for another. 

i am losing anchor. did i drink lotus tea—

was i untrue? did i forget?

did i love too much

and, in great love, offend the gods

in proving better love than passing fancies?

did i, in loving, bring down jealousy,

or was this heart too small, too stained

for worlds such as you?

i know nothing, save my mind—

you must forgive me. 




Oh good, the poem’s over. We can now give a collective sigh of relief. In the meantime, I shall leave you to your cringing, as I must now learn the art of yak farming. I have a feeling this knowledge will soon be necessary. *flops* 


What about you, my little coffee beans? Do you write poetry? Do you like reading poetry? Who is your favorite poet? (For me, I think it’s a tie between Alfred, Lord Tennyson and Edna St. Vincent Millay.)

Monday, July 18, 2016

THE BOOK OF THE BIZARRE // A Jumping Off Point


Rating: Three stars—Good

Basically, Varla Ventura’s THE BOOK OF THE BIZARRE is a collection of morbid and strange factoids. It includes a fair amount of information on a wide number of phenomena and happenings and suchlike, and it’s great—to a point. Some of the trivia is nothing special—for instance, I think most people know that toenails grow more slowly than fingernails since we have to cut our fingernails more often. But for all the information that wasn’t new to me, there was plenty of information that was. 

If you enjoy research as much as I do, and if you’re as morbid as I am, then I highly recommend this book to you because it is a great starting point for more research. I have yet to finish looking up all the stuff that caught my interest. If you’re a writer, especially of the morbid and macabre, you will probably get a few plot bunnies. But, if you don’t like going to secondary sources to read up on things, this book might not be for you. Most of the facts and anecdotes are rather abbreviated and are only worth reading as prompts for further research. On their own, they don’t have too much value. Also, there are some consistency errors within the text, and more than a few of the stories seemed quite implausible, to the point where I can’t recommend this book to gullible people who don’t fact check. (Grandmotherly reminder: It might be printed in a book, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s true.) 

I got my copy for a dollar at a library sale, and the physical edition itself is attractive. I’m glad I read it (and glad I own it) because it makes for an interesting conversation starter and it’s given me more things to go out and learn about on my own time. But I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it to you if you were thinking about buying it at market value, because you could just as easily scour the internet for creepy and strange facts without needing to pay a dime. 


What about you, my little coffee beans? Do you like reading books of facts? Do you like doing research?

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The Blood Stained Search Bar Tag



The wonderful Melissa @ Quill Pen Writer tagged me for the Blood Stained Search Bar Tag (which she created), and I am really excited for this. What could possibly go wrong? Thank you, Melissa! 

The Rules

Dig deep into your computer history and list five of your most recent and interesting searches for writing research: how to murder someone, is the sky blue, anything! And if you please, share a little about what you learned from these searches. 

Thank and link back to whoever tagged you. 

Have fun. 


Perfectly-Preserved Corpses

*cough* Ahem. This is…this is not what you think. I know how it looks. I do. But I promise you, I am mostly perfectly sane. I was simply curious about the assorted methods of embalming used throughout the centuries, and I was especially interested in the remarkable successes, as well as the various corpses that failed to rot even without being embalmed. 90% of my reason for researching this was for a story (granted, the other 10% was morbid curiosity, but let’s not talk about that). Something tells me including pictorial evidence would not be my brightest idea, so here’s a link to a lovely example if you’re morbid like me (be forewarned though, it’s a picture of a dead body, in case you weren’t paying attention and are bothered by these things). 

Let’s, um…let’s just move on to the next one shall we? 


Famous Women Serial Killers


*clears throat, more nervously this time* I know what you’re going to say. I just, I just really wanted to get an idea of the psychology behind various serial killers, women especially, and I figured looking up the famous ones would be a great jumping off point. And yes, I took mental notes, but they were for my story and definitely not for real life or anything. My favorite woman serial killer is probably Countess Elizabeth B├íthory de Ecsed because we have the same first name because she is a special sort of messed-up. 

Maybe the next one won’t be so mor—

Never mind.


Flowers that Smell Like Corpses


*awkward laugh* I happen to be extremely interested in botany, thank you very much. And it strikes me that if a serial killer were to store decomposing bodies in their home for some reason, they might also like to keep a giant vase full of voodoo lilies, so when the police come by asking about the foul smell, our precious serial killer can just blame it on the floral arrangement. I’m not planning anything, I promise. No, I have not put too much thought into this. I’m a writer. Please don’t arrest me.


Abandoned Lunatic Asylums


This one is more innocent, right? So I’ll just neglect to mention that I was specifically interested in seeing all the abandoned torture devices medical equipment from back in the days when they used shock therapy and various other medieval methods of curing madness (which, for your information, usually made the madness worse). I don’t find abandoned asylums at all beautiful or morbidly intriguing, what are you talking about? *awkwardly moonwalks out of the room* 


Krokodil

Again, I’m not going to provide pictorial evidence (and I’m not going to give you a link either) because some of the shots of people who are addicted to Krokodil are…graphic.  Extremely so. DO NOT look them up if you are at all squeamish. (That's okay, I'll sit here while you look them up anyway.) And while I have a strong stomach and am not bothered by these sorts of things, I absolutely do not blame you if you are a normal person not the same. Krokodil (also known as desomorphine) is a drug that has been especially popular in Russia. It is highly-addictive and simultaneously much cheaper and easier to make at home than other street drugs, such as heroin. Typically it is made by mixing codeine with such lovely substances as hydrochloric acid, paint thinner, ethanol, gasoline, and other fun stuff. And because it is made with hydrochloric acid, it will literally eat away your skin, muscle, and other soft tissue. (I’m great at dinner conversations, what are you talking about?) It will often turn your skin green and scaly, hence the name, which is Russian for crocodile. No I do not know way too much about this drug. I would tell you why I was researching this for my writing, but you probably don’t want to know. *casually deletes entire search history* 


Runners up in this search history include: rabies in humans, ergotism, lobotomies, and “How long does it take to burn a human body?” 

Now that we have established that I am deeply psychologically disturbed well-researched on a myriad of morbid curiosities, it is your turn to pull away the veil from your dubious writerly search histories. 

I therefore tag: 

Aimee // Cait // Heather // Imogen // Opal // Victoria 


What about you, my little coffee beans? What are some slightly-suspect facts you’ve looked up for your writing? On a scale of one to ten—one being the lowest, ten being the highest—exactly how frightened of me are you right now? Be honest. Your answers will be most useful for my research. *tents hands*

Monday, July 11, 2016

Mini Reviews and a Coding Fix

IMPORTANT NOTE: Blogger has recently done something tricksy with its template, and it appears a lot of Blogger blogs won’t let you center your images anymore. But there’s a really simple fix. If you’re not familiar with coding and have been wracking your brains trying to make your blog look all pristine again, just scroll to the bottom of this post and I’ll walk you through it. 

A DROP OF NIGHT

Click the cover for the Goodreads description 

Rating: Five Stars—ajklsdflk (when words fail to describe how wonderful a book is)

I’ve been a fan of Stefan Bachmann’s writing ever since I stumbled on his blog several months before his first book, THE PECULIAR, hit the shelves. Needless to say, I have not been disappointed with any of his work. While A DROP OF NIGHT features somewhat different subject matter than his previous books, it still has his distinctively intricate and creepy style. 

While I love all the main characters, Anouk is my favorite. She not especially likable, but I love her sass, and I love her unique way of explaining her world. She is her own, distinctive person, and she has had to figure out how to cope in the face of emotional negligence, guilt, and all that fun stuff. (It may be apparent to you, if you’ve followed this blog long enough, that I have something of a soft spot for unlikable characters.) As for the other characters, I love how different they all are—how some are outgoing and feelings-oriented while others are sullen or silent or secretive or selfish. I love the glimpses we get of their backstories and their driving motivations for joining this expedition into the depths of an underground palace. I also love the dual storylines—one in the present, one in the past—and the slow, frightening way they converge. 

As for the writing, it is as gorgeous as ever. Bachmann uses words like splashes of color on the dark canvas of his stories. A DROP OF NIGHT is atmospheric, strange, and magical, and if you haven’t read it already, you’re missing out. Just saying. 


CHIME

Click the cover for the Goodreads description

Rating: Five Stars—ajklsdflk (when words fail to describe how wonderful a book is)

CHIME is another book written in a very distinctive tone. I’ll admit, the style in this one was so odd it threw me off for a bit (I was also not a huge fan of the audiobook’s narrator at first, although she really grew on me). But the strangeness quickly became a selling point for me, and I’m confident that the book just wouldn’t be as good were it written in a different style. 

I love the themes this story deals with—themes of self-discovery, false guilt, real guilt, and abuse, among others. I also love the romance (which is out of the ordinary for me). So often I find that the romance in YA literature hogs the stage at the expense of everything else, but in CHIME, the romance is very sweet and well-balanced with the rest of the story. On top of that, the magic in this book is creepy and atmospheric and just a little bit melancholy. 


JELLICOE ROAD

Click the cover for the Goodreads description 

Rating: Five Stars—ajklsdflk (when words fail to describe how wonderful a book is)

This. Book. Is. So. Good. It is one of the rare books that has succeeded in almost making me cry. I could count on one hand the number of books that have had that effect on me, so when I say JELLICOE ROAD is special, I am not exaggerating. 

JELLICOE ROAD follows the events of two successive generations and shows the effects of the past on the present. It shows hope and brokenness and the sort of pain I don’t typically come across in YA (I would be more specific, but I really don’t want to spoil it for you). Although JELLICOE ROAD is not lacking in plot or action, it focuses more on the people, the relationships, the tangible history, and the atmosphere of the setting, and it reads like poetry. Also, it's set in Australia and there’s a minor plot thread that involves a serial killer, so now you definitely have to read it. 

Grandmotherly Warning: There is some slight sexual content, so be forewarned. 



IMPORTANT NOTE ON CODING CONTINUED: Okay, still with me? Still need to fix your image alignment on your blog? This is really easy and will take about two minutes, so no sweat. I would recommend backing up your Blogger template first to be on the safe side, but you don’t have to be too concerned since you’re not editing the HTML or doing anything that could cause irreversible confusion/damage. Just go to your Blogger dashboard, click on Template, then Customize, then Advanced, then Add CSS. In the white box, on a new line beneath any code you already have in there, paste this: 

.post-body img {display: inline-block !important;}

That should clear it up for you, but if it doesn’t, just let me know. (And if my instructions are too confusing, please don’t hesitate to ask for clarification. Also, this doesn’t apply to Wordpress, to my knowledge, so if you have a problem with Wordpress coding, you’ll have to find someone more qualified. Sorry.) 


What about you, my little coffee beans? Have you read any of these books? What are some books you’ve especially enjoyed this year? Has your blog had the same random formatting issue? 

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

I am Afraid


I have discussed stage fright before, and I have referenced my insecurities, but I believe it’s time to talk way more seriously about fear, and here’s why: I’ve been sitting here for ages trying to think of something to blog about, something worth saying. And, in keeping with the same pattern that I’ve been following for the past few months, I have come up with multiple ideas only to bat each one down, not because they weren’t decent topics, but because I've been too afraid to write them. I am afraid that I won’t do them justice, that I will say too much or too little, that I will be misunderstood, that I will be judged, that I will offend, that I won’t get my point across. I am afraid that I will fail in some way or another. I am afraid that people will assume wrong things about my heart and what I am trying to say; I am afraid that people will read between the lines and put words in my mouth; I am afraid that people will find my thoughts stale and worn out and repetitive. 

I am afraid that my fears will become self-fulfilling prophecies. 

And I can assure you, the more afraid I get, the more paranoid I become. All of this stunts me. All of this drains my creative energy when I most need that creative energy. 

I have said it before, and I will say it again. I don’t think I can stop the fear. More importantly, I don’t think that’s the point. I have chosen a career path where my insecurities will always fight to be foremost in my mind, and that alone is enough to revive all my dormant anxieties, if I let it. The trick is not to let it. But this resurgence of near-crippling stage fright is a symptom of a much larger issue. 

And there are a hundred other symptoms where that came from. 


No matter how much I want to, I won’t tell my very favorite people how much I care about them because I am afraid they don’t feel the same and never could. In those rare times when I do reach out for council, I’ll only say a quarter of what’s bothering me because I’m afraid the other three quarters will prove I am beyond hope. In most casual interactions, I instinctively dumb down what I say so people won’t expect me to be smart and thus won’t put much stock by it when I mess up and do something stupid because I am frozen with fear. I dislike being ridiculed for how fast I read or how much I know or what I can do, so instead of sharing the things that I am happy to have accomplished I generally avoid talking about them in social settings. Even on this blog I get nervous about sharing my successes because I am afraid people will hate me for doing well. 

When it comes to blogging, I try to be as honest as possible, despite the fact that I am a very private person. I have even pulled passages from my personal journals in an attempt to be as open as I can manage, for my own sake first and foremost. I have tried to be transparent because I am afraid of not being seen, and I am afraid no one will know me unless I make myself known. But similarly, I am afraid to be known. I am afraid that once I let people see past the different layers of me, all the contradictory pieces that form the whole of me, they will see the core of me and judge it rotten. 

More troublingly, I am afraid to ask for help because I should be able to do this on my own, and I have been doing this on my own for years, so why is now any different? I am afraid that, because I have so often had to rely on my own self-analysis to stay sane, I am just pretending now to need counsel so I don’t have to be alone in my thoughts. 

My mind is a minefield, and I am afraid of stepping in the wrong spot, and I am afraid of showing people the map to my mind because it is dangerous to give others that sort of power over me. What if they detonate the whole thing instead of defusing it? 


I am afraid that if I talk about how I am doing worse or how I am doing better or what I am thinking about, people will decide I am egocentric. I am afraid that if I pull away from social settings, people will take offense or assume I’m proud. I am afraid that people would rather label me with their own interpretation of my mind than listen to what I have to say about myself. 

Some of these fears have proved themselves to be legitimate, which makes it a hundred times worse. 

In my efforts to be brave, I have shared about the boy who died, and I have shared about losing Africa twice, and I have shared about my private terror, locked inside myself as I try to block the sound of fireworks that are not bombs but sound like bombs to the seven-year-old trapped in my head. I have tried to be brave about admitting that I am depressed and that I am struggling even though I have started to drag myself out of this pit by the velcro of my sneakers. But the more I try to be brave and speak up because I know I need to speak up, because the thoughts in my head are slowly killing me, the more I begin to fear that I am speaking up too much, that people will tire of my voice and tell me to stop speaking. People have rarely asked me to speak up. I am afraid that people will yell at me to file my thoughts away inside my head because I share too much and no one cares. 

I am afraid that you will judge me for talking about how afraid I am. 

I am afraid that you will judge me by the same standards I use to judge myself. 

I am afraid that, in trying to be raw and open, I am simply being foolish. 


I am afraid that the horrors I have nightmares about will find me in the daylight. I am afraid that if I don’t speak up about the things that torment me, then no one will feel free to speak up about the things that torment them. And I am afraid you will think me even more egocentric for thinking that. 

I.

Am.

So.

Afraid. 

And I am afraid that makes me a coward. 

The braver I try to be, the more scared I get. 

I doubt this will ever stop completely. So I guess I have to tweak my attitude yet again, decide that the fear will take back burner despite its protests, that I will not let it put me on a leash and jerk me around just because it tell me it is stronger than I am. If this means feeding myself words that taste like lies to survive my days, then I suppose I’ll just have to grow fat on them. 

Despite how little I believe it, I will tell myself that I am not a coward, that I will write the blog post correctly, that I am loved and lovable and perhaps lovely somewhere in my soul, that I am helping people by sharing because maybe that will make them freer to share their own secret hurts, that people won’t get tired of me and my writing style and my thoughts. I will tell myself that I am not soul-exhausted, that I am covering for myself and the fact that I feel like quitting because I have forgotten how to fight. 

Somewhere along the line, I misplaced the thought that lets me be brave. I misplaced the weapon that lets me hold off the shadows behind my eyes. I misplaced the word that gives me purpose and tells me I am enough. 


Somehow I have to find these things inside me once again. I have to delve down into the clock of my heart that makes me tick, and I have to dig out the dust that makes the gears grind, and I have to forget that I am afraid of drowning in my mind. 

At the apex of this seemingly insurmountable mountain, I will have to face the fact that I am afraid of being afraid. Here sits the root of the weed that is choking me. Here sits the root of all the fears that I have concocted in the laboratory of my brain, the place where every little terror originates. 

The fear of fear is neither healthy nor strong. It is irrational. It is a torment that creates itself. I cannot afford to let myself churn out new reasons for fear. I cannot afford to borrow lightly-used guilt from other people. I cannot afford to worry about worry. I cannot afford to deck out my insecurities in fancy clothes. These luxuries are bankrupting me. 

Somewhere along the line I stuck a post-it note in the back of my brain saying I must punish myself and never free myself, and I have to find that note so I can burn it. 

It feels like the deepest form of betrayal to tell you all of this. 

Please tell me it was worth it. 

I want to live the way I am meant to live, not perfectly, but joyfully. I want to fight to be okay. 

Please tell me I’m worth it. 


What about you, my little coffee beans? What are some of your struggles? Are you afraid of fear? How do you overcome your fears?

Monday, July 4, 2016

Life Update #3 // Wherein I am Significantly More Positive


One of my goals for this year was to keep better track of time, and apparently that is not going to happen. So with that said, if you have messaged me and waited for months with no response, just nudge me or something, because I probably still think you messaged me yesterday. I promise I’m not snubbing you. I just have no clue what’s going on. 

Now that we have that established, let’s talk about all that's happened in my little corner over the past two days months. 


Reading News


As of the end of June, I have read 101 books this year (I’ve finished another one since, but we’re not counting that in this update, because reasons). In May, I read 20 books, and then in June I slacked off and read only 6. However, before you rush to console me on my reading slump, don’t worry. In this case, it hasn’t been a reading slump, per se. After the busyness of moving and unpacking that bled over from May into June, I needed a lot of time to relax and calm myself and get my brain in order again (moving is extremely hard for me), so I listened to music all month. (Sometimes music helps even more than coffee.) I got a lot of other things done, but I don’t enjoy reading fiction as much when I’m listening to music, so books had to take back burner. 


Bookish Ratings Breakdown

Five stars

10

Four stars

4

Three stars

8

Two stars

3

One Star

1


Other Stats

Rereads

3

Rereads so far this year

11 

(My plan is to reread 88 books out of my overall goal of 175 for this year. I may not be bright when it comes to math, but I’m clever enough to see that the numbers aren’t lining up and that I will have to up my overall reading goal if I’m to reach my rereading goal, considering the fact that I have a bunch more new books to tackle as well. Not a problem. *distant sobbing*) 

Bookish Highlights

See what I did there? 


Life News


My sister and I are very happy with our new apartment. We’re still in a basement setup with our landlords living above us, but we have a lot more space this time around. Another bonus to this place is the animal life—our landlords own a flock of chickens, a cat, a dog, and two goats. There’s also a porch swing. On top of that, the neighborhood is great—everything is more open and safer feeling, and there’s a train station nearby. 

For whatever reason, I’ve found that the sound of young children playing makes me feel like I’m in danger. In our old apartment, the noise of the children living upstairs slowly drained my energy, and I ended up closing in on myself because I couldn’t escape it, so I’m glad to be in a place that is more compatible with my strange mind. 

As you could probably tell from my Five Reasons to Love Summer post (in which I am not at all sarcastic), I’m not a huge fan of summer. I love spring, and I love autumn, but I don’t love that sneaky little season in between. Already I have found three ticks on my person (no bites yet, fortunately). Pretty much the biggest highlight of previous summers was working at a camp in Maine, but obviously I won’t be doing that this year. Which means, while I’m enjoying the sunlight, I’m really looking forward to autumn and better writing weather. Overall though, I’ve been much happier over the past two months, and at the risk of sounding melodramatic and ungrateful, I don’t necessarily feel happy a lot. So I take what I can get. 

I’ve started catching up on journaling (which is a really great sign, because I haven’t felt well enough to journal regularly for almost two years now). Sister-Mine bought me a coloring book, and I've been focusing more on various forms of art, which is something I’ve neglected and missed. Eventually I might show you some of my work (no promises, though). 


Writing News


For almost a year, my brain has felt drained of creative energy, with varying degrees of severity, and I don’t want to hold out too much hope, but it does seem like I’ve succeeded in decluttering my head a little. I’ve started getting story ideas again, and I’ve started wanting to write for the happiness of it, which is huge. I still haven’t made as much progress on my novel as I would have liked, and I doubt I’ll accomplish all my grandiose writing goals for the year. But hey, I still have six months, so we’ll see what I manage. 


Blogging News


I don’t have much to report on this front. Hopefully my mental vacation, slack-off session is at a close. I don’t want to push myself too hard and make it worse, but I do want to be more involved in the blogosphere. I really appreciate all of you who have stuck with me and commented on my blog even though I’ve been nonexistent aside from my regular posts. 

Speaking of posts, here are my top three most popular posts of May and June: 






Now I’m going to hunker down for the rest of Independence Day, but I hope you enjoy your cookouts, fireworks shows, and whatnot. Stay safe! 



What about you, my little coffee beans? What have you been up to over the past couple months? What are your plans for the summer? What is your favorite animal?