Depression talks

Depression can be hard. You can go through your day having the time of your life, then it can just hit you like a ton of bricks. Sometimes I wonder if I’m worth the fuss. It doesn’t seem like anybody goes out of their way to hang out with me. I’m not first on anybody’s list, but mine. Am I so selfish that nobody wants to think about me??? I don’t know if that makes sense world, but it does to me. If you want to read a blog about uplifting rants about how to overcome depression, well you have wasted your time. I have gone about three years pretending that I don’t have depression anymore. But who am I fooling? I sat in my bed all night thinking about how I could literally just go days without talking to anybody but my mom and sisters… all because no one seems to think of me. What good is having a phone when you barely use it for communicating?

One thing that I think might help with depression is actually getting what I need to say out there in the world. So here is my unabridged version of my life. No holds back… except for some things along the way.

I’ve been going to therapy recently. I have so far only been to one session, since it only happens once a month. But the act of trying to seek help is working for me. Every time I think about it, it makes me kind of happy to know that I’m on my way to recovery.

So today I went to see a few friends in a production of “West Side Story.” I’m going to say it because I’m sure there are plenty of people who have felt like this. After the show, when I was saying hi to the people I know, part of me, a very small part of me, thought they were only faking being happy to see me. Which is crazy because I know they do like me. But when you’re depressed, these feelings come blasting through my mind like a freight train. I’m the kind of person who likes to be around people for a short amount of time, then spend hours by myself to recharge. I think I may have upset my mom because I went straight to my room when we got home. I’ve done that so many times in the past and every time my mom seems to kind of get resentful. I’m not sure how to explain that I need space sometimes to just be by myself… and not feel guilty about it.

I’ve read somewhere that patterns of speech are side effects of depression. You either speak rather fastly, or slowly. I tend to mumble my words and words don’t come out right when I say them. I used to wish that it was just because I’ve had some kind of small stroke or something. Because then at least it’s a little bit fixable. I’m just crazy.

They say writing can help clear the brain. Well I’m not sure if I entirely believe that. I really should just pick a day to sit and write. Doesn’t matter what, but it’s got to just flow. Maybe I’ll turn that novel that I’m writing into a play. Maybe that will help me visualize what is going on. Maybe it will make more sense as a play. That would actually be pretty cool to make it a play and then turn it in somewhere.

My parents have been wanting me to go back to school to get my master’s degree. But I don’t want to do it because of them. And now it feels like I’m thinking about it because they are forcing me to. My dad gets benefits because he’s a veteran so I can get a discount. But the truth is, I don’t really know if I want to get a master’s in English. Or even Creative Writing. What if I wanted to get a master’s in Theater Arts? I guess I could try that, but that would be harder since I didn’t major in that. I need some solid advice on whether or not I should do it. I just want to get a good job right now that will allow me to move out and pay all my bills. That way I can help fund my novel and start up my publishing company. Which I’m calling “Origins: a publishing company.”

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Box Trolls review: Spoilers include

I just came back from seeing the movie, “The Box Trolls.” After seeing Pacifica Spindrift Players’ production of “Importance of Being Ernest,” which you should definitely check out if you’re in the Bay Area, I decided to see the movie after the show. So after racing to the theater with my sister, Amy, I was definitely excited to see the movie. We were amazingly the only ones in the theater. I don’t normally do movie reviews, but this movie made me really think about the topic of the movie.

I will state this right away. My review contains spoilers.

The premise of the story is that these box trolls take a baby and raise it as their own. They’re the only family he has got. The people in the town are made to be afraid of the box trolls. They are told lies by the troll snatcher, all because he wants a position with the city’s counsel, where they taste expensive cheese and act like they are so much better than anyone else. The funny thing about his need to sit on the counsel and eat fancy cheese, is that he is allergic. He wants what he can’t have without a great deal of force. So he goes to the inventor so that the inventor can make him a machine that will eradicate the box trolls. The inventor, however, knows that the box trolls are builders, like himself. They form a bond. So when the inventor refuses to help the snatcher, the inventor gives up his baby to the trolls, so that the baby will be alright. Ten years later, the boy resurfaces after his favorite box troll, Fish, is taken.

What I wanted to talk about was the idea of good vs. evil. The people think they are the good guys because the box trolls are hideous beasts. But the truth of the matter is that the people don’t really give the box trolls a chance. They just assume that they would bring them harm. The boxes that the trolls were in sort of represented cowardliness to me. They would hide inside of their boxes whenever they got scared of anybody. Eggs had to coax them out when they were in danger. This represented, to me, a big issue that we have in society. We make things that we are afraid of, afraid of us. This could be seen as an allegory for any kind of group that has ever been suppressed. So the evil that the people see are distorted. The people have become the thing that they despise.

The other part of the movie that had me thinking was the fact that the mayor would not listen to his own daughter. Or any kid for that matter. All he cared about was the cheese. When Eggs confessed who he was, I thought that since it was in a public setting, the mayor would at least listen. Or at least the people in the ballroom would do something. But no. Eggs is yelled at and basically told to go away. Sometimes people in our society can ignore what is right in front of them for the simple reason that they get caught up in what they think is important. I really need to learn the lesson that I have to start listening to what others might be telling me.

Lastly, the lesson that Eggs learns at the end, about how having the crown or whatever you want doesn’t make you the person you are. It doesn’t define you. Your actions are what define you. That degree that you’re working for in school is not what is going to define you. Your focus and determination are. You can have that degree, but not put it to good use if you aren’t a good person… okay that sounded better in my head. Basically, don’t let a piece of paper define who you are.

Basically, go watch the movie if you haven’t.

Origins: A short story by Jillian Rogers

Here is my short story that I turned in for my short story writing class. At the end I had some comments on what I wrote that I posted to Facebook. Obviously my friends probably didn’t take the chance to read it, but hopefully you guys take the time to read it. And comment. Or whatever. I would love to turn this into a novel one day. =)

Origins by Jillian Rogers

It’s a bright, clear day outside when I decide to face my fears. My lips are bleeding, from the many times I have bit my lip and my stomach is in knots. Part of me wants to leave but another part wants to finally face the demons of the past. My chest tightens as I move closer to the house, as if someone shut down the oxygen supply and started squeezing my lifeless body. I’m hyper aware of the dog, in the window next to the house, barking at me as I pass. The dog is sitting next to the window of an off-white colored house almost exactly like the house to its left and right. Just a few steps closer, I urge my body. The dog barks again. Then the sprinklers from across the street turn on. Psst. Psst. As I attempt to put one foot in front of the other, I hear a cacophony of sounds. I hear the thump thump of my heartbeat, the barking of the dog, and the pitter patter of the sprinklers. Thump. Ruff. Psst. My attention focused on these sounds, my feet start to move. Moving forward, my nose picks up a smell coming from the house. Barbeque. My mind drifts back to last Fourth of July when Mom accidentally burned the chicken because she was bandaging up a wound I got from falling down the stairs. Thinking about Mom makes me stop and breathe. Is this really what I want?

I walk into the room, looking for the car keys. Where could she have put them? The study is strangely messy, with papers littering the floor and books tossed around on the desk. Mom was always the neat freak in our family, a trait I had somehow skipped over. The only reason I can think of is that something has happened that my mom cannot control. I check the desk, just in case she had put the keys in the usual box by the lamp. No such luck. Just as I was about to walk away, I notice the title of a folder sitting on top of the desk chair: Hazel’s adoption. I pick up the folder, curious to see what this folder contains.

“I’m leaving.”
My parents look up from the television. It was the day after graduation. Two days prior, I had found a letter from the adoption agency. They had found my biological parents. The letter was written a year after my adoption. There were many reasons why my parents chose to keep this from me, but in that moment, all I wanted to do was leave. When I read the letter, I had gone to my knees beside my parents’ desk in the study. A room that once held several collections of mystery books and an old record player, now held secrets that pile eighteen years wide. My parents have been hiding the truth of my birth from me for all these years. I felt sick.
My biological parents were doctors, living in North Carolina. They live in a moderately small town with two kids and a dog named Rover. There were photos of them in the folder. The man had brown curly hair with green eyes and the woman had blonde hair with brown eyes. I could see myself in their pictures. I definitely inherited the woman’s small nose and the man’s angular face.
As soon as I said it, my mom starts to cry. She somehow knew that something was up with me. All week she had been asking questions about my health, whether or not I was okay with leaving high school and “moving onto a new chapter” in my life. Not being a very verbose person, I usually just answered with, “fine,” or “good.” I suspected that she had managed to go through my diary or had even seen me in the study but I couldn’t tell for sure.
My dad reaches out and holds onto my mom. His brow is creased with worry. I haven’t seen him like this since his work was giving out pink slips.
“Hazel, have you thought this through?” My dad asks.
“Yes. I need to find out who my real parents are. I can’t just sit here and not know where I come from. I know you guys tried to protect me but it’s time for me to find out who I really am.”
“If that is what you want, we will support you. But we’ve got some great news.”
“I’m pregnant,” mom says.
That night, I packed my clothes and left the next day.

******
One night, after walking about twenty miles, I stop at a small bar in Denver, Colorado. “Hotel California” is blaring from the karaoke speakers in the far left corner. It’s a moderately small place with the stale smell of cigarettes and cheap whiskey. The guy at the karaoke machine seems to be in his early twenties, with dirty blonde hair, the youngest aspect of this place. He is sporting a Sex Pistols t-shirt with black skinny jeans and a pair of red Chucks. I take a seat closest to the left wall, to avoid the stares of the men nearest to the counter. A waitress comes to take my order. The waitress is wearing all black, save for the brown cowboy boots. She would be what my friend Trish would call pretty, with green eyes and blonde hair, except for the scar just below her left eye. Her name tag reads, “Candice.”
“Hi! What can I get you?”
“Yeah, I’m not ready yet.”
“Take your time. You must be new in town. I’m Candice.”
“Not to sound rude, but I really don’t care.”
“You sound like Aaron over there,” she says while glancing at the boy. “A real charmer that one is. You should go over and introduce yourself.”
“Look, you seem like a nice person, and if I was anyone else we would probably be friends, but I’m not someone else so go bug someone who cares.”
“Candice, are you harassing this girl? Cause I can give you something better to harass.” The boy, Aaron, wanders over to my table. His face has the permanent mark of a smirk, as if he finds everything amusing. I cross my arms in front of me, trying to give off the impression that I don’t want to be messed with.
“Is Candice over here bothering you? Do I need to teach her a lesson for annoying the general public?” He gives me a wink.
“No. In fact, I was just leaving.”
I stand up from my chair and grab my coat.
“Someone needs to loosen up.”
I turn around.
“Excuse me?”
“You heard me. I’m sure you have some heartfelt story about how your parents died or what have you. But so many people have it worse.”
“Look, I really don’t know you, so back off. You don’t know anything.”
With that I walk out the door, not checking to see the look on his face.

I had hoped to forget the whole ordeal, but the next day, as I was walking down the street towards the nearest Starbucks, a group of guys started following me. I wasn’t sure at first, but as I crossed the street to maybe move out of their way, they just followed me. Two of them started whistling at me and the other two made some comments on the size of my breasts. This continued until a voice came from behind us.
“I wouldn’t touch her if I was you.”
“Oh we were just messing with her. She your girl Aaron?”
“Yeah. So why don’t you guys just back away?”
They did as they were told. I was shocked. Who was this guy? I turn around to thank the person who saved me, when I stop dead in my tracks. It’s that guy from yesterday.
“You could at least thank me. I did save you from being raped,” Aaron said, after a few seconds of silence.
“How did you get them to go away? And thank you.”
“Let’s just say that I have my ways. Now that you are okay, I’ll be on my way.” He starts to walk away.
“Wait. I’m sorry. This is not at all how I thought I’d be spending my time away from home. You helped me and all I seem to be doing is bitch and moan. Lets start over. My name is Hazel.” I extend my hand out, only to be abruptly brought to his chest in a hug.
“Hazel. Nice name. I’m Aaron. Want to get coffee?”
“Nice try. I’m not going on a date with you.”
I start to head in the other direction, towards the motel where I was staying at.
“It’s not a date. I just want to get to know you.”
“Fine.”

******
One day, while sitting at a diner, we were commenting on some PDA in the corner.
“God, they look pathetic,” Aaron says.
“Yeah. They should get a room.”
“Maybe we should get a room,” Aaron says, giving me a wink.
“Haha. No. That would be weird.”
“How would it be weird? Oh I see, you want to go on a date. How about this? We go on a date and see where it goes from there?”
I accepted his offer and it started from there. The date was awkward at first. He took me to this nice restaurant in downtown Denver. Aaron tried to play it off as if we didn’t know each other.
“Where are you from?” Aaron asks.
“Berkeley, California. You?”
“Indianapolis, Indiana. How old are you?”
“19. You?”
“21. Who would win in a fight? Superman or Batman?”
The questions ranged from basic logistics such as age and number of family members, but we eventually started talking about political affiliations and our opinion on evolution. The date went better than expected.
He was my first real boyfriend, although he was not my first. I was his first, however. Aaron somehow still believed in waiting till he found the right person. I was never like that. I just wanted to get things over with. I was hesitant at first to try dating, but through Aaron’s persistence, I learned to cope.
One topic that we never talked about that much was Aaron’s parents. He never spoke of them except for that one time when he told me why he left. One day I got curious and decided to ask.
“I just don’t want to talk about them right now,” Aaron said.
“Yeah but don’t you think it’s time to? I’d like to know about them.”
Eventually he started to open up about them. His parents were both lawyers who took pride in their son. Aaron felt like he was being smothered by them, so he moved to Denver to avoid them. The way he talked about how his dad would take him fishing every other month and how his mom taught him how to cook made me realize how much he really misses his parents. I suggest a trip to go see them and he approves, after a few hesitant moments.

****
I don’t want to stay. Aaron glances at me as if he knows my intentions. I calculate how long it would take me to get to the door before his mom gets back. Chances are slim, as I smell the beef stew drawing near. My heart pounds and my legs squirm in the seat. I can imagine the conversation. Aaron’s mom would ask me how much of the stew I wanted and I would say “I’m not hungry.” She would then look at me suspiciously, as if she could see my unease. She would question whether or not it was something she said that put me off my appetite. Then Aaron, being the great boyfriend that he is, would make a comment on how my stomach has been acting up lately. And then I would feel guilty and run out the door. Aaron and I would get in a fight then eventually break up. Wren, the bartender at Puzzles, would tell me I was stupid to fight over some stupid family recipe. My thoughts race as I hear Aaron’s mom say, “I hope you’re hungry for some…” In that instant, my body takes over and I slowly make my way towards the door in order not to be noticed. Aaron, as always, notices. “…hot beef stew I made from a can. I hope you don’t mind Hazel.” I’m standing by the dining room door, unable to move. Canned beef stew? I turn to Aaron. “I thought you said it was a family recipe.” I hiss at him. “It’s an inside joke Hazel. Calm down.”
I can’t believe he would make a joke like that. He knows where he comes from. He hasn’t been lied to for most of his life like I have. I go back to my seat. The rest of the dinner goes by without that many more excitement, until it comes time for dessert. Aaron’s mom asks me where I’m from. When I tell her, she seems surprised.
“I didn’t realize you were from California. The way your skin complexion is, I would have guessed you were from somewhere less warm.”
“You have to excuse my mother. She thinks everyone in California is tan,” Aaron says.
“It’s fine. I get that a lot.”
“You should see Aaron when he was little. He was so pale I thought he was switched at birth. Hold on, I’ll show you.”
His mom comes back with a family photo album. She turns to the first page. There is Aaron as a little boy, playing with a caterpillar in his diapers out in the yard. This reminds me of the time the other kids in school used to make fun of me for eating caterpillars. I would eat them thinking that I would somehow gain their power to turn into a beautiful butterfly.
One day, in third grade, after being bullied by the school bully, Trisha, I finally had enough. As Trisha and her friends were laughing at me, I walked up to Trisha and punched her in the nose. Blood started spilling from her nose. Needless to say, I got suspended. Mom was the one to bring me home from school. I was so afraid of being yelled at that Mom took pity on me and gave me ice cream.
Staring at that photo, I realized that I had forgotten my purpose. Excusing myself from the table, I go to the coat hanger in the hallway to grab my stuff. Aaron is close behind me. He knows what I’m going to do. Unfortunately, he can’t stop me.
This time, when I walk out the door, I don’t come back. I’ve been too busy with being in a relationship that I’ve forgotten why I came here in the first place. I head to the motel. As I start packing my stuff, I hear the door open and close behind me. Aaron is here.

He is trying really hard to convince me to not do what I’m about to do. I can’t listen to him. Not today. I need to finish what I started out to do. I need to figure out who I am and there is no way he can stop me. Aaron has shown me, in the past few days, how to live in the present. He has shown me places that will bring not only joy, but also tears to your eyes. He has taken me out of my comfort zone. But no matter how much I want to live in the present, I have to confront this part of my past. I turn away from him and head for the door. I don’t want to leave him, but I need to figure myself out first before I get into something serious.
As I stand at the corner of the house, I realize that I don’t need this. I already have a mom and a dad. Knowing how I was conceived isn’t going to change anything. Aaron was right. I call my mom, who is happy to hear from me. Even though she is probably busy with her new baby, Tatiana, she says that she will meet me at the airport. The plane ride from SFO to Fayetteville, North Carolina is about seven hours, so I hastily go back to my motel to start packing. After packing, I head to the library to read while I wait.
Mom texts me when they arrive. I quickly close the book I had been reading, anxious to see my parents. I power walk to the bus stop and wait for the bus. I glance at people’s faces as they walk by. Everyone seems to be walking really slow today. The bus won’t come fast enough. I try to use my psychic abilities to speed up traffic, but it does not seem to work, seeing as how magic is not real. Just as I was about to give up all hope of ever seeing my mom again, the bus arrives.
When I arrive at the airport, I don’t spot them at first. As the crowd around the bus stop begins to disperse, I start to recognize a pair of yellow boots. The ones mom would wear on the slight chance it was raining, depending on what the weatherman predicted. I always thought she was crazy to trust the weatherman. As I walk forward, I can tell that she is rocking back and forth on her feet, trying to look over the crowd. Her short stature always made it hard to spot her in a crowd. Right when I catch her eye, it begins to rain.
When I finally get to her, I am unsure of what to do. Should I hug her, or will that be weird? My thoughts are interrupted by a hug. My arms move around my mom’s petite figure to pull her closer. I can hear faint hiccups behind mom. Tatiana. I slowly pull away from my mom and look at my father. My father looks tired, with bags under his eyes and a new golden mustache. Yet, he is smiling. In his arms is the new addition to my family. She is sporting a cute pink dress with a matching flower headband. Her eyes are a mix of green and blue, like my mom’s. As soon as she sees me, her hiccups stop. My eyes threaten to start crying all over again.
My phone starts to ring. The caller id says “Aaron”. My mom looks at me, curious to see who could be calling me. I pick up the phone.
“Hello?”
“Hazel, its Aaron’s mom. Can you come to the hospital? Aaron needs you. I don’t know the right way to say this, so I’ll just say it. Aaron has been dealing with cancer since he was six. He seemed fine for a while there, but his condition has gotten worse. The doctors say he might not make it.”
I drop my phone. I can’t hold it in any longer. My tears start to fall and my legs stop supporting my weight. My mom grabs me before I hurt myself. I start mumbling words like, “Aaron”, “cancer”, “Indiana”, “hospital” and “dying”. My mom seems to get the gist of what I’m saying because they lead me inside the airport.
The plane trip and the car ride to the hospital are all a blur. My mom had contacted Aaron’s mom, which is why she knew where to go. By the time I got to the hospital, it was too late to even hope. The hospital room is bare, save for a few flowers and cards by the bedside table. Aaron is the only patient in the room. I slowly walk towards his bed, unsure of what I want to say. As I approach, Aaron’s eyes open.
“Told you so,” he says.
“Yeah you did. I’m…”
“Don’t. You had to do what you felt like doing. It wasn’t my place to try to stop you.”
“I…I don’t know what to say.”
“That makes the both of us.”
“I don’t want you to die.”
“I don’t want to die either.”
He starts humming “Hotel California” when his body starts convulsing.

Afterword:
This semester, I attempted to write a short story, one with a beginning, middle and an end. I wanted to write about a love story that grows with the passage of time. I started out with a story about two people who work in an office together, but then trashed that idea and went with a different take on love. I wanted to work with a topic of coming of age originally, but did not know what path I wanted to take that so I went with a topic I had written about a year ago but had only wrote two scenes for. When I did my talk, I realized how much I did not really know about my subject at first. But as I was talking, I realized how much that story did not feel organic to who I am at the moment. The title confused me, so I changed some things around and decided to drop the story for this semester. I took up this story that I had originally wanted to write. Before I decided to post it for the first time for this class, I had about two drafts of the story so far, but I was nowhere near actually finding out what I really wanted out of this story. When I changed some words around, I realized how much I really didn’t know about my characters. I wanted to originally write my story down on paper, but I ended up procrastinating on that and only putting my notes and thoughts about the story and the editing process down. That helped me to fully realize where I intended my story to end and where to edit. Kacy gave me some great tips on how to revise my story, which I took into consideration. I took a short story writing class this semester that helped me to revise my story for this class. In the other class, we had to answer five different questions that helped further our understanding of the writer’s work. I applied this technique to my own writing and was able to formulate different prompts for me to work with. The story, in regards to what I changed and why, was changed only slightly from the area that I started out in. I knew that if I could keep going, this would turn out to be a full novel, so I kept the scenes short and to the point. I decided to take out the fact that Aaron falls down because it would not make any sense if we only find out he has cancer later on. It bothered me that this was the case at first because I felt like it was essential for Aaron to show it earlier on. Through a total of six revisions of this story, I have learned to take that part out but keep the fact that he dies in the end. I’ve realized that a lot of short stories take maybe years to finish and that this one probably won’t ever be “done” until I grow older. I will admit that I procrastinated on this for a while, which I think actually helped me in the editing process. Through the time that I spent procrastinating, I was able to get a safe distance away from my piece in order to edit it in the way that I wanted to edit it. I did spend time on the research aspect of it, however. I reread “Fault in Our Stars” by John Green, I watched a lot of chick flicks and I listened to songs that Hazel might have listened to on her road trip. The more distance I had with my piece the more I saw the little mistakes that I did. Although there were a few big mistakes like leaving a detail in that wouldn’t make sense if I changed a scene or some of the ordering of the story. From the start of the semester to now, I think I’ve changed as a writer. I’ve never officially ended something before. Having an ending to a story feels amazing. And even though I still could use some editing in the future, this piece has an actual end. I knew from the start that I wanted Aaron to die and have struggled with making this make sense for the reader. As of this moment in time, Aaron dies and the story ends. If by some miracle I change my mind, I can go back and fix that. This semester I also faced a lot of places where I got stuck. I would write out my ideas but all of the ideas were the same. I felt like I couldn’t create anything new until I tried something I heard about in my Writers on Writing class. One of the authors talked about repeating until something new came up. I wrote a few of my scenes over again a few times until I realized where there needed to be changed. I got bored of my material and was able to get rid of some of the scenes and sentences that did not make sense. The act of reading other people’s work and commenting on their stuff helped to also make me realize where I got stuck.

On writing and Young Adult

Here is a post where I discuss why I really like Young Adult fiction.

Lets make everything perfectly clear. I am a 22 year old college graduate from Pacifica, California, which is about a ten minute drive to San Francisco. I graduated with a degree in Creative Writing, and yet I feel totally inadequate compared to most of my classmates. Having taken several classes on writing, I can say that there is a hierarchy when it comes to writing. Everyone tells you that everyone is different and that your writing style is your own. But from sitting in on a bunch of classes where everyone seems to have a better “writing voice” than you, I can say that it feels like a bunch of baloney. When I was younger I used to write a bunch of letters to a family member. The who isn’t really important. But they would always respond back with how my writing feels like I’m talking straight to them. Which is actually how it feels to me whenever I write anything. Anyways, I always feel like I’m competing with some random stranger for how much better I can write. So far, I’m losing.

So in most of my classes, whenever we would have to read a book or talk about authors that influenced us, everyone else’s responses always sounded so sophisticated and mature. Whereas my personal library consisted of books like “Vampire Academy” and “Mortal Instruments.” It always seemed that my reading taste wasn’t as great as my classmates. But then I started to realize that what I read is just as important because it keeps me thinking and they keep my mind entertained. I connect better with Young Adult fiction because I am that confused teenage girl who doesn’t know much and is waiting for her adventure. Just because I don’t absolutely love great literature such as “Pride and Prejudice” or “Jane Eyre” (which are great novels btw) doesn’t mean that I’m any less of a writer or reader fanatic. I will post the short story I submitted for my short story class in the next post, so hopefully you see that I’m not that bad of a writer. I have a while to go before I’m even considered for being published, but at least I will know I’m trying. I worked on that short story for three months and actually got a lot of headway in it. It still needs a lot of work, but I got my goal of having a beginning, middle and end.

I really need to say this. When you think of “Fault In Our Stars” by John Green, I bet your mind goes to the “Okay? Okay” thing. That really bugs me. Sure, the book had some memorable lines, but having a great book doesn’t mean that you have lines of prose that were amazing. The story itself has to propel you into the plot and conflict. We have the memorable lines because we want the book to sell. So you can put it on a tshirt. But most good books shouldn’t need this to give it five stars. I loved “Fault In Our Stars” but the fact that it’s so commercialized because of these gimmicks seems kind of cheap. I’m not sure if anyone else feels the same.

So I started off with the topic of why I love Young Adult fiction. Well, I love it because I can’t get enough of the stories. They may seem like low art, but it makes me happy. So I don’t think anyone should criticize me for that. And just to stop some critics from saying this. No, I didn’t choose to write Young Adult so I can make money. Who gets into writing with the hope of making money? Only people who can’t write.

Depression and Writing

Depression is a bitch. It really is. I’ve recently started seeing a psychologist. I’m unsure if it will help, but we can hope. Almost every teenager has dealt with depression in their lives. Yet, it is a topic that some people choose to not talk about. Especially when it comes to family. No one wants to admit that they are feeling sad. Especially when the reason is your family. Well, part of the reason.

I’m an awkward person. It’s hard for me to make and keep friends. I tend to suck at small talk, but can talk for hours about the reasons why we are alive. When I start writing, I like to discuss the big abstract ideas, rather than the small minute details. When I’m talking to anyone and they’re actually listening, I tend to get sweaty and teary eyed. I don’t want to give the impression that I’m some put together 22 year old who knows what she wants out of life. I’m not. I spend hours worrying that I’m not doing enough with my life. And that somehow I won’t get anything in order.

My original intend for this blog post was to discuss how depression really effects my writing habits, but somehow, it went astray. I don’t spend that much time editing any of my posts and so sometimes things come out in a haste. I need to work on this. Yet, you guys are getting first hand perspective on how my mind works and how I’m trying to improve on my writing skills.

Question: how does depression hinder or help your writing?

“Let’s Get Lost” by Adi Alsaid

I just recently read this book called “Lets Get Lost” by Adi Alsaid. It’s about this girl who comes into these different people’s lives and helps them along their journey. Before I go into my review of the story, I want to do something that was really inspired by this book. I’m going to tell you guys my story.

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My story is that I am technically the middle child. I have two younger twin sisters and two older half siblings. I was raised as an older child, so for the sole purpose of the story, I am the oldest. Now, I know I haven’t really gone into much detail about who I am, outside of this blog, but here is a fair warning. I do block out things when I write that I don’t even realize that I have actually censored out of it. Most of it is because I’m too afraid of upsetting people.

The book “Let’s Get Lost” is one to read over and over again. It’s about finding treasures in a town that probably looks run down. It’s about finding the story within your own life. It’s also about being a friend to someone else. It’s about finding your home, regardless of where it’s located. I don’t want to drag on about this book like I did with my other reviews, because I’ve shown you how this book has affected me. And I literally just finished it yesterday. The title is fitting because it’s not just the literal meaning of being lost, but it also is a symbolism for being lost in your life. This book is a must read for any of you guys who just graduated from college.

I hope you guys keep reading up on my blog, because I’m soon going to start writing more on my novel! =)

Anna and the French Kiss series by Stephanie Perkins

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Series rating: 4.5/5

Wow! I just finished “Isla and the Happily Ever After” and man can I just say… I am amazed! This is the biggest example of the type of writing I really would love to put my heart into. Anyways, “Isla…” is a part of the “Anna and the French Kiss” series by Stephanie Perkins. When I first looked into the series, I didn’t even think it was a series. There was no information on the back of the book that said there was a sequel. But each book had elements of the last book.

So here is my non spoiler review:
If you need a book that deals with not being able to come out and say your feelings, this book series is for you. The series starts off with this girl named Anna who goes to a Paris boarding school for her last year of high school. On her first day she meets this really charming and really gorgeous guy named St. Clair. That’s his last name, his first name is Etienne, but everyone calls him St. Clair. The thing about St. Clair is that he already has a girlfriend, but seems to be leading Anna on. It’s quite the little soap opera we have going on here. We are constantly on our toes, wondering how these two love birds will get together. It’s a gooey romantic love story, yes, but it’s conflict is so gripping you can’t help but fall in love with the characters. And hey, it’s set in Paris, so give it some credit. Then “Lola and the Boy Next Door” comes along. We are no longer in Paris, but in San Francisco, California. Lola has some unresolved feelings for the boy next door when he finally moves back. Only problem is, Lola has a boyfriend, who is about five years older than her. The boy next door’s name is Cricket Bell… yeah, THAT Bell. You know, Alexander Graham Bell? The guy who … supposedly… invented the telephone? Well Cricket has a twin sister, Calliope, who is a famous figure skater. Emotions run haywire in this sequel. Definitely a great read. The last installment has the setting back in Paris, where Isla finally gets with her crush, Josh. Unlike the other two books, the two characters fall in love in the beginning of the book, but each character has a weird way of showing that they love the other person. Overall, this book series was very fun to read and didn’t take too long either. I was always on the edge of my seat, hoping that the two characters figure it out.

***Spoilers***

So that ending. I cannot fully comprehend that ending. I was so happy that Anna and Etienne got engaged. Part of me was like, “they’re too young!” but then I realized that they were in love and they knew what they wanted in life. It was the perfect ending. Many people say that “Isla..” took them a while, but it only took me about six hours. I loved the way that sex was brought up in the series. It’s France, the country of love. There was even that part where Isla talks about how her mom was French so there was no stigma on sex. That was really cool. When Lola had a fuss about her wig at the last minute and Cricket was there to help her, that was just … ugh. I was happy when Lola broke up with Max the way she did. Oh and then when she went to apologize and he got that last word? Geez, could you have been a bigger asshole? That part in “Anna..” where Anna kisses St. Claire and then her friends all kind of turn on her was such a big scene for me. I could feel the tension going through Anna. I wanted it to be okay with her friends, because the character of Anna was portrayed very well. One thing I really enjoyed about each book was how the next book looked at the couples who were in the book before. Like how we see Anna and Etienne in “Lola…” As readers, we know the love story between them and we have felt for them. But then we get Lola’s perspective of them as a couple and how these characters intertwine. Especially at the end of “Isla…” when they’re all at the pizza joint. Somehow I didn’t really feel like they were all connected until that very last moment. They became background players to the real love story going on, and then we’re reminded that it is a series. Each book doesn’t read like it is in a trilogy. You can pick up any of these three books in any order and not be confused. Which is different, but it was still a really good series. I’m glad that I got my own copies of these books, because they look really good on my bookshelf. Also, I work at a movie theater… which was cool to read about characters who also work at movie theaters.

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That was my attempt at a review. When I finish a book series, or sometimes just a really good book, I always want to talk about it with someone. At least here I can talk about it uninterrupted. There will be another writing exercise sometime soon. I’m still slightly sick, so yeah.

~ Jillian

Writing Exercise part 4

Okay, so I haven’t posted an update on my story yet. However, I would like to take this chance to maybe start some conversation between me and whoever reads this blog. I have been really anxious about not making it in life. What if I don’t get my dream job? What if I don’t gain any skills outside of working a concession stand in a theater? Truth be told, I really don’t have any idea what it’s like to have an office job. But lets be honest. I’m only 22 years old. I have my whole life ahead of me. And whether or not that is spent working at a theater, or working in a really cool publishing company, that is entirely up to me. I have to get my life in order. I watch a lot of How I Met Your Mother… rather excessively. And one thing I love about the show is how they are really close and it feels like they have more independence than I do. Which is correct since I still live with my mom. Which brings me to my next topic: suburban or urban.

I’ve always held a high respect for Pacifica. It’s such a small town, but it’s very beautiful. It’s really a beautiful place to live. However, you can’t do much outside of go to the beach over here. In college I lived on campus, which was located in SF. I was always near the Muni station, so transportation anywhere in SF was great. Living in Pacifica, however, you find yourself isolated. You either have friends who can be your designated driver, or you don’t drink at all. Most of these days I only get the opportunity to drink with people who are obviously older than me and have more experience than me. I come from a very sheltered family. During high school, I didn’t go out much outside of club events and family outings. I never got that rebellious phase. I never drank in high school, mainly because the friends that I did have weren’t big on going to parties. Or even inviting me to them. So when college came around, I was in for a little bit of a shock. I never really got the chance to train myself how to hold down even a cup of wine. I hate the taste of wine or champagne, but if I have it, I start feeling the effects faster than most people. So living in an urban setting would be ideal for the fact that I could go out drinking and not have to worry so much about having a designated driver. And yet living in the suburbs is fun because you don’t really get to hear all that noise.

****

We’re moving. Daniel is holding me by my wrists, towards some unseen-able destination. I’m afraid to move in his grasp. What if he’s a serial killer and wants to throw me down the hill? I stay still as he drags me across the concrete. After a few minutes, we stop. Daniel moves in front of me, his breathe blowing through my hair. My eyes are trying to search for any type of light that it can get in the little cracks in the handkerchief. Daniel is standing so close to me that I feel his chest move as he speaks.

“Do you trust me?” he asks.

I am floored. What am I supposed to say? I’ve known him for a month now, and I can honestly say that I’m kind of confused at the moment. Part of me wants to trust him, but what if he just breaks my heart? What if this is some ploy to get in my pants? Instead of saying what I wanted to say, which was an honest, “I don’t know,” I said the one thing that was probably the dumbest thing I said as of yet.

“Yes.”

I feel Daniel’s hands go around me in a hug. His lips meet the side of my cheek. In a few seconds, he moves away from me. He pulls me forward a little bit. He takes the handkerchief off. My eyes adjust for a second, taking in the light. I blink and then all of a sudden I hear, “SURPRISE!!” A crowd of my friends are standing around the community hall.

****

Okay, so that was nothing really, but I think what I want to do is plant the seed that Daniel seems normal, but really, he is crazy. But that crazy will somehow change near the end. Anyways, I should get going. Thanks for reading! Please feel free to comment on anything I have written, and if you just want to say hey, that’s fine too.

~ Jillian

Writing Exercise part 3

As promised, here is a writing exercise. I need to keep writing into my story if I’m ever going to finish it. I think what keeps me going is actually getting all my thoughts down before I start writing. That way I’m only really thinking about what I’m going to write. So… um Billie Joe really did look nice in that picture he posted with him in the shirt he wore in the Basket Case video. He may be old, but if he were to come begging to kiss me, I wouldn’t deny him… just saying. Anyways, so today was a long day at work. Literally felt like I was doing nothing… which was probably how it looked on the cameras. How am I not fired yet? XD. Jk, I totally am an awesome employee. I’ve been writing for about two hours now, mainly on that review and on this weird message thing a fellow Emily’s Army fan wanted me to write. Okay, so here is my free write.

****

I open the door to my house and Daniel is there. He’s holding pizza and a few cans of beer. With my parents gone for the weekend, Daniel decided to show up and keep me company. I am sure my parents will flip if they find out I had a guy over, but who cares? It’s only Daniel. As I let Daniel in, I notice that he is looking at one of my sixth grade pictures. I’m standing in front of a tree with my hands behind my back and smiling wickedly at the camera. Once I notice what he was looking at, I blush.

“I was forced to have my hands behind my back because I wrote ‘Math can suck it’ on my wrists. I was really angry at the teacher.”

Daniel starts laughing. We move towards my room, the sound of laughter in the air. We situate ourselves on my bed, ready to watch a marathon of “Lord of the Rings.” Daniel is sitting about two inches from me on my right side. This is the first time outside of work that we have actually hung out together. I am hyper aware of the distance between us. What if he decides to grab my leg for some odd reason? Or if he whispers something in my ear? Up until now I didn’t even think I was interested in him in any way. My eyes start to wander as the beginning scene comes on the screen. My room looks absolutely childish, with posters of animated films and some rock bands. There is no way he would ever be into me.

Daniel starts quoting some of the lines from the movie, and suddenly I am at ease. He is just as dorky as me. Halfway through the film, Daniel reaches over to grab a piece of pizza. As his hand was moving, he got distracted by the movie. He fumbled and accidentally brushed him hand against my side. I did the worst thing imaginable. I giggled. Without missing a beat, Daniel turns to me and grins. In a second, his hands are on me, tickling me. I struggle to contain my squeals of laughter. Somehow, without me realizing it, he has me pinned down underneath him. As soon as I realize this, I freeze. He must have felt it too, since his hands have stopped moving. He looks down at me with his hazel eyes. My heart pounds at breakneck speeds. His right hand moves to brush the strands of hair out of my face. He starts to bend his head down. Right as his lips are about to touch mine, we hear someone clear their throat.

I turn my head and see Stacey standing in the doorway.

****

So last time I ended with Stacey, and I felt like I needed to end with her in this scene. I’m not sure how much before the kidnapping I want this scene to be, but I will work it in somehow. As you can see, it’s a really really bad rough draft. But I find it’s better to have a rough draft and then edit, then try to edit along the way. So I will add a lot more detail to this scene and to the other scenes. If you notice that there doesn’t seem to be any set timeline, then you’re right. I want the timeline to surprise me. I want to keep guessing which start I want. Maybe I add some more information so the story is turned on its head. I don’t know. I actually want to thank my co-worker, Jamie, for helping me get some more ideas on this project. If it wasn’t for his advice, I wouldn’t be trying to work harder on getting a novel out. I know I can do it, but it’s just about really believing it. So Jamie, if you’re reading this, thank you. Now I’m off to go watch mindless TV till I fall asleep. I am beat.

~ Jillian

The Cassandra Clare books (Infernal Devices and Mortal Instruments)

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So I just finished “City of Heavenly Fire” by Cassandra Clare. Man, did that book take me forever…. well, not as long as a Game of Thrones book, but still. It took me about two months to finish it. Here is my reasoning. I have been really dedicated to this series since I first read it freshman year of college. So four years ago. I loved how complex some of the characters were, how interesting it was to read such a thrilling book series. Maybe it’s not in the category of best literature ever, but you know what? Screw your judgments on what makes good literature or not. The series read so well for me and I loved learning about the world of the shadowhunters. The main reason why I chose to review both series in one post is because I feel like they are all connected.

For those who have yet to pick up the series, here is your spoil free review on the series. This series is about angels, demons, and many other creatures that you might be familiar with. There are vampires, werewolves, faeries, shapeshifters, and many other “monsters.” It’s about the fight between good and bad. And how far one would go to protect the ones they love. The Infernal Devices is set in the Victorian era, in London, while the Mortal Instruments series is set in modern day New York. Definitely a read for people who are into Supernatural. The perspective of each book comes from third person limited, shifting from different points of view. In both series, the female character is very strong willed. They each start in a place of ignorance, and as they begin to learn about the “Shadow World” they turn into female badasses. Yes, there are a few sex scenes, but don’t be discouraged. I feel like they are all well deserved. The male counterparts are also very complex people. I once met Cassandra Clare and her question to me was “Team Will or Jace?” Each character has their issues, and for good reasons. Jace and Will both brood in their own way. But I think Jace has more snark to his character. So I had to vote Jace.

Okay, that was as much as I could go without actually trying to spoil anything. So here you go. My full review!!!

***Spoiler Alert***

After reading “City of Heavenly Fire,” I have to just give a small moment of silence for the series. It brought in the Infernal Devices ending so beautifully. I mean, Tessa actually being there to talk to Clary, was priceless. One thing I need to talk about was how they got around their deal with Magnus’ father. I was almost about to lose hope that Simon would be saved. I really believed he would somehow make it out okay. And he did!!! Losing his memory, only to have it brought back again, really proved to be the most powerful ending. Yes, it was a cliched ending, but so what? Everyone ended up for the better. Even in the end, when Sebastian dies and in one tiny instant becomes a figment of what Jonathan might have been, was so amazing. I know as a writer, I should use my words better and create better worlds for my own words, but sometimes you have to take everything with a grain of salt. And not be some pretentious douche bag who only cares about being better than everyone else. That scene when Sebastian dies, will always live on with me. I could imagine the scene in my head and I’m saddened to know that they will never create that scene in a movie, or even in a television series. Also, the way that we didn’t find out what Clary did till the last second was agonizingly brutal. For that one split second, I thought that Sebastian had won. A part of me died right then.

The characters themselves will always resonate with me as a writer. Mainly because they were so complex and yet, I could see them develop very well throughout the series. In the end of COHF, when Jace tells Clary that he did fall in love with the wrong person, I really felt the series come to a close. The whole time you think that that prediction was wrong, that he did end up with the right person, only to find that it was really true.

I also need to talk about the Infernal Devices series. I’m just going to say this. I thought that ending was perfect. Having an immortal character changes a lot of things. If you’re with someone who is mortal, eventually they are going to die. But having it so that Jem turned into a Silent Brother (which, by the way, was perfectly set up) and then having him come back to life later on, was the perfect way to settle the whole “team” thing. She totally got both. I read this book series a while ago and it left me in awe. I just really loved reading this series so much.

*****

I hope you liked my review on Cassandra Clare’s two hit series. I hope to post up another draft of my story in a few moments, so stick around! Also, sometimes I might just rant about random life events that are happening around me, so be warned!

~ Jillian