Taking the Holidays Off

As the title suggests, I’m taking a break for the holidays. From next week to the end of the year I won’t be posting regularly. If something really strikes me, I’ll post, otherwise I’m just going to take some time to breathe and focus on family.

I really love writing this blog and taking a longer break kind of scares me because there’s always a nagging in the back of my mind that I might not start up again. I think I’ve just been really busy and not as in love with my recent posts. A month ago I wrote about struggling with my blog writing. I don’t know, I feel like I’ve done some good posts but I also feel like I really need to slow down. I feel like I’ve had no time to think in the last couple months.

Usually I spend a good amount of time mulling over a post in my head. I put a lot of thought into it. Recently I’ve been waiting until the last second to even come up with ideas. Something has to be pushed back in my schedule and I guess it’s often my writing. It generally feels less urgent than most of the other things I need to get done because I don’t post until  the end of the week.

Nothing about the next month and a half is going to move slowly. Work is already ramping up, I have gifts to buy/make, and way too many things to get done.

I might still post a couple times before the end of the year but I’m not holding myself to any expectations. Right now is the time to focus on Jesus’ birthday and my family. I hope that all of you are able to do the same!

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Ending New Year Resolutions (Mostly)

I know it’s not the end of the year but in all honesty, I’m done with my resolutions (mostly). A quick review of my resolutions and the eventual rewriting of them, tells me that I am a failure. Just kidding. Not a complete failure. But mostly a failure.

Haven’t written anything in forever, haven’t done my memorization, and minimizing, okay minimizing is going well for the most part. I was getting rid of lots of stuff at the beginning and have slowed down but I think that’s understandable. As far as reading my entire bookshelf, well, that’s not happening and it’s not going to happen. But I have 40+ books to give away now so I have definitely accomplished what I set out to do and I’m pretty satisfied with that.

I’ve decided to try my hand at National Novel Writing Month even though I’m starting almost halfway through. Whatever, gonna give it a shot. But this is my last shot at my writing goals.

Part of me says to not give up, that I have another month yet to accomplish things! But I know that it’s not going to make a difference (although miracles happen so if I suddenly get everything done in December anyway I’ll let you know). I’m finding I’m only marginally a fan of this resolutions thing. I didn’t even start off with a lot of power, honestly. Seriously, you’d think I would taper off throughout the year but a couple of my resolutions never even got off the ground! Maybe I made the wrong goals, maybe I just wasn’t disciplined enough to do what I wanted, or maybe I bit off more than I could chew.

Whatever the reason, I have decided to call it a year on my resolutions. The holidays are coming up and I’d rather not have these things hanging over my head when I’m trying to enjoy time with my family. I really thought about these resolutions all year long. It didn’t seem to make a difference for me in actually accomplishing things.

The mostly in the title refers to my reading of Psalms. I’m still going to finish that one. It’s more of a symmetry thing I suppose. The notebook I’m writing in is almost used up and I want to finish it off for this year. Kind of a silly reason but it’s gonna work for me!

How is everyone else doing on resolutions? I’ve been wondering about how other people feel about their resolutions this time of year. I still want to make resolutions next year because a couple of them were good for me. I feel like it was a good idea overall.

Yeah, I still feel good about my resolutions even though I didn’t accomplish all of them. I definitely failed. I’m a failure in some ways. But I didn’t fail in other ways and I’ll just focus on that.

Blank Slate Characters

Blank Slate Characters

There are a lot of ways to make characters and one method is blank slate. A blank slate character is exactly what it sounds like: a blank slate. They don’t really have a personality or character at all. They have a few traits or maybe a quirk but they aren’t their own person. They don’t make any decisions that aren’t absolutely necessary. Oftentimes, things happen around them rather than them deciding to make something happen.

In college it was extremely frowned upon to use them because it’s considered lazy and you’re not creating a character at all. You’re supposed to make a believable person. Your reader should think they can reach out and touch the person, that’s how real you’re going for. I suppose the thought is (though no professor came right out with it) that you want your reader to be along for the ride. You want them to feel like they’re going on this adventure with a group of their own close friends. You want characters they can relate to and feel close to and draw similarities between themself and these characters.

Now, I think that blank slate characters get a lot of unnecessary hate. They aren’t the best choice for a story. If you want to be literary and write very good fiction then you should avoid them. But I can’t really say they’re never useful because there are plenty of very popular books that use them.

I’ll be using Twilight as an example in this post because it’s an easy one. Bella Swan is a blank slate. She is, by herself, boring. Sorry, if you like Twilight that’s fine, I’m not insulting it, just looking at the use of it’s main blank slate character. Bella does not make choices or decisions that matter. The entire love-triangle is a convoluted mess because she chooses, in the first book, Edward. But it’s not even as though she really chooses him at all. He is the obvious, and easy, “choice”. The narrative makes it very clear that he is the only option for her.

So Bella doesn’t make decisions. Things happen around her and to her but never because of her. In writing, this is referred to as her level of agency. How much power does she exert over her surroundings? A character built into a character has a lot of agency. They make choices that affect those around them. They build relationships, they change other people, they make choices that have an effect on the overall story. In essence, they make the story happen. Without them, without exactly who they are as a person, the story wouldn’t work at all. There would be no story.

For a blank slate, they could be pulled out of the tale or replaced with anyone and the story would still work because they are not actually necessary. Bella (as far as the first book is concerned) could be easily replaced by anyone. And that’s the POINT.

Frowned upon in school, sure, but the point of a blank slate is not to make a character. It’s to make a part for the audience. How many girls read Twilight and said “Oh, I could be Bella! We’re so alike!”? Because Bella doesn’t have any agency or character so anyone can put themselves in her place and say “I would do the same thing.” Not because they would, but because the narrative around them forces them into a decision and makes it as easy as possible for them to make that choice. For a blank slate, the pros of a decision can so far outweigh the cons that there’s no reason to even consider the other option. They will, of course, take time to consider it anyway, because the narrative needs to show the illusion of choice on the part of the character.

If you want to write the audience into your story, without going crazy and trying second person, then write a blank slate character. I don’t think there’s anything particularly wrong with using them. No one who understands how to write is gonna call your work high literature (unless you go back in time when blank slate was fairly standard) or consider you a great author. But hey, if you want to use them as a literary device then more power to you. It seems to have worked quite well for Stephanie Meyer at any rate.

Being Obsolete is Not “Better”

Being Obsolete is Not “Better”

I’m so sick of older people telling me my generation is stupid because we don’t know how to use a payphone. Understanding old technology doesn’t make you somehow superior to me. Maybe I’ve never used a rotary dial phone but at least I know my way around a computer and I don’t have to call a five year old to tell me how to double click an icon.

I really get tired of the whole “back in my day” speech. Like, yes, please tell me more about how you didn’t have a fancy calculator and how you had to go to the library *gasp* to look up information on a topic. First of all, everyone can still do basic math on their own, a calculator just makes it easier. Calculators make us more efficient. We’re not wasting time scratching out numbers on a pad for a minute because we found the answer in a few seconds already. Secondly, millennials still use the library. But why would we spend hours looking through books for information we could find in seconds online? It’s not our first stop for our research papers but it’s still on the list.

Listen up to this though because this is the most important thing here: PREVIOUS GENERATIONS DIDN’T HAVE ACCESS TO THIS TECHNOLOGY. If my parents had had as easy access to information in college as I did then you can bet they would’ve used it. If they’d been able to carry around a smartphone then they would have. BECAUSE WHY WOULDN’T THEY? Why would you ever expect someone to NOT use something that makes their life better? Newer technology usually makes tasks less time consuming and more fun. Why would you tell someone they’re stupid for using that?

Sure, yes, there are downsides. Whatever. I’m not talking about those right now. I’m talking about how so many older people look down on millennials because, heaven forbid, we’re using newer technology and we *gasp* don’t know how to use old technology.

So what if there are teenagers who’ve never seen a cassette tape? Who cares if they can’t use a payphone? When was the last time you even SAW a payphone? Does it really matter if I’ve ever sent a fax? Is it really a big deal with I’ve never used mimeograph? Is it that important I’ve never seen a slide rule? Is it necessary I understand what a floppy disc is?

The real question is, have I ever NEEDED any of those things? No. There we go. There’s the real heart of it, isn’t it? I don’t need those things. New technology has made things obsolete. There will always be something from days gone by floating around and that’s fine. We can all reminisce and talk about the-good-old-days. I don’t mind the back-in-my-day if it’s memories. I mind when it’s that “back in my day everything was so much better and simpler and people were actually smart not like kids today who are just morons altogether and every young person is an idiot because they’ve never had to churn butter that’s what’s really wrong with youth today they don’t churn butter anymore.”

New things replace old things. Stop being salty about it and start being happy we millennials have the patience to explain for the 875646383rd time how to get you to Google’s homepage.

Driving Dangerously

 

Cars are such a necessary evil, honestly. I don’t actually own the car I drive, it’s my parent’s. Which is great. I really appreciate being able to use it. But it’s hit about 15 years old now and it’s developing problems. Problems that, because I drive it the most, I feel like I need to fix. It’s not like my parents WON’T pay for repairs but I really do put a lot of miles on it so I think it’s my responsibility to do what I’m able.

Growing up, I remember having vehicles that just had issues. I think most people can relate to that. Vehicles can have quirks. Whether those quirks will leave you stranded on the side of the road or not… well… I’m no mechanic. Sometimes I really wish I’d taken an interest in vehicle maintenance because it would have really come in handy. But I was never very interested. I’m only marginally interested now because I’m hoping it can cut down on costs.

I have a friend whose husband is a mechanic and recently we’ve been going through him for all our car maintenance. It’s been wonderful to finally feel like we’re not getting ripped off all the time. It’s also wonderful to be able to get something fixed and the fix actually staying fixed instead of the fix turning into five other things to be fixed. (Which is always what seems to happen when we take it in to a garage.)

Cars are such a time and money sucking object. I can’t actually afford one. But I NEED one. It’s a constant cycle of needing a car to get to a job to make money so you can pay for the car so you can get to the job. They’re so expensive to fix too. It makes me really just not care sometimes. Like, “oh, yeah it just makes that noise occassionally” or “I guess it only shakes violently SOMETIMES so it’s probably fine” or my favorite “the accelerator getting stuck is fine because the brakes are good. I just drive with my foot on the brake” (fun fact: that last one is a thing that WE ACTUALLY DID IN REAL LIFE FOR SEVERAL WEEKS). You start to just live with an issue because, hey, we do it with our personal health too so why not do it to our cars? I don’t go to the doctor every time I feel a little ache or pain because most of the time it goes away or I walk it off. So it follows that any problems with my car can just be “driven off” right? RIGHT?

I am just as guilty as so many others of actively choosing to ignore car problems until they are simply too much to bear. Then they’re REALLY expensive to fix. We just live with it because most of us don’t know how to work on our cars. We don’t know what’s a $12 fix and what’s a $1200 fix. So, to avoid the $1200 we ignore the whole problem. We normalize the issue and call it a quirk. We drive dangerously. We don’t know if we’re going to break down on our way to work or not. We don’t even know the solution because we can’t afford to find out about a larger problem.

Personally, I don’t think my car will break down out of the blue any time soon. I’m not worried about it currently.

I don’t really have a conclusion for this. These are just my thoughts recently because there’s been a decent amount of work done on the car I drive. It definitely needs a tune up soon too. I guess I’m just throwing this out there and wondering if anyone else has had the same thoughts and experiences?

 

Grief and Grieving

Grief and Grieving

I’d like to address that my cat of 12 years, Blessing, passed away last month. I’ve wanted to write this post for a couple weeks now. I wanted to but I just… I didn’t feel ready. I’m not sure I feel ready now but I think that not talking about her on here has been a factor in my inability to write posts. I want to be always honest with you and not telling you something this big about my life feels dishonest. It’s felt like I’ve been outright lying even though I really haven’t been.

She was my wonderful, obnoxious, loving, kitty for most of my life. She was extra difficult these last few years but I loved her. I’m going to miss her for a long time, maybe the rest of my life. Probably the rest of my life.IMG_20170423_131233958

Of course I’m sad she’s gone. She was in pain at the end so there is relief. She was also, as I said, extra difficult. So there is some relief in not having to deal with her problems anymore. I didn’t love her less for her issues but I think it’s unrealistic to sugarcoat the good of the deceased and ignore the negative. I know it’s a coping mechanism for many people but it isn’t mine. Even just after a death (person or animal) I want to remember them and talk about them the way they really were, not some idealized version that everyone is making them out to be.

I grieve her. Deeply. I know it’s only been almost a month. I don’t think I’m done grieving her yet. But I’m done bursting into tears at her memory. I can talk about her and now I am writing about her and not getting worked up too much. For me, being able to think and talk about her without tears is me moving my life forward. I’ll ALWAYS remember her lovingly but I do need to live my life.

Despite this blog, and my willingness to share much of my life, tragedy is still very private for me. I will share when I’m ready but initially, well, my circle is very small. I don’t tell many people about bad things that happen. With Blessing’s death I think I told more people than I ever have before and I think a big reason was how long I’d had her. But I think I only told three people she was really sick before her passing. I didn’t post anything on Facebook or anywhere on social media. I didn’t tell any of my coworkers right off. I didn’t even tell my siblings about it (although I think my mom let them know).

There are reasons I don’t share my grief, at least initially. I don’t like reliving it. That’s the biggest one. Everything that reminds me she’s dead forces me to confront that she’s gone. Over and over and over. And I hate that. I don’t want notifications with people’s sympathy because I appreciate the sentiment but I don’t want that sadness brought up again. I cry on my own terms. I grieve on my own time. I don’t want to get texts or calls or messages about this tragedy. I don’t want to dread picking up my phone. I don’t want my heart to start racing when I check Facebook because I don’t know if that notification is going to be a funny meme or a comment on that picture of my dead cat. I also don’t want Facebook to drag up that status in a year or two years or 5 years and remind me of it.

I will remember it. I will decide when to look at pictures. I will decide when to watch cute videos of her. I will decide when I’m ready to share this news. I will decide who to share it with.

I am incapable of speaking when I’m crying. It’s just not a skill I possess. So I HATE trying to share sad news with someone when I am not past the crying-at-every-thought-and-mention phase of grieving. I can’t really share and I end up getting a headache and feeling like garbage. So I really don’t want to cry a lot around people. Not because I’m embarrassed but because it is inconvenient and I can’t express myself the way I want. I’m not bottling up my emotions. I just want them to be let out on my terms, not yours.

I’ve said my goodbyes to my baby. I’m working my way through this. If I don’t share something with you when it happens, please don’t be offended or feel that I don’t count you as a friend/confidant! I’m just working through things in my own way.

I seriously already feel like a weight is being lifted off me for writing this. I appreciate every one of you! Thank you all for being so understanding these last few weeks!

Blog Struggles

I don’t know what’s been up with these last few weeks. I feel like I have really struggled to post. I skipped a week, had a decent post, a post on the fly, and now this. Part of it is probably that I’m very hard on myself with blog posts. Sure, I can post quickly (as evidenced by this post and last week’s post) but I still try to keep it quality. If I don’t like it, or if I feel like it’s gonna come back to haunt me, then I don’t post it. There was a week at some point where I had written two separate posts but neither of them felt right so I didn’t post at all that week.

Also, I don’t feel like anything has really been happening in my life recently. I’m just… living. So not a lot to write about. Or at least, not anything I think someone would want to read. And there I go being a bit hard on myself. Many ideas I have I almost immediately shoot down because I don’t think they’re worth it or they’re not that interesting. Or maybe I think they’ll sound too whiny. Or maybe they require a bit of research and it’s already Friday and I have to work all day.

This is kind of… I don’t want to call it a non-post because it’s a post. I’m trying to be open and real here. I’m going through a rough writing patch. I want to write about things that matter but I also I want to write about really petty things. So I get caught up in throwing out petty ideas and simultaneously throwing out things-that-matter ideas because they’re mutually exclusive things. Sometimes I feel like my blog should be high and lofty and only about impressively smart things. But I have to be real and I know that that’s not real life.  Real life is petty and lofty and sarcastic and impressive and everything else that could be in between.

I guess I’m still trying to figure it all out (aren’t we all??). I started this blog thinking it would only be about writing and now it’s grown and changed so much just over the course of a year that now I mostly write about my life. I’m still growing as a person and this blog is growing too. Thank you so much for being here with me! I’m not sure I can say enough that I appreciate you, my readers! Thank you for bearing with me as I keep moving with this crazy thing called life!

I really needed this post. I needed to just throw this all out there. Hopefully I will have a ‘real’ post next week! Until then, stay fabulous!