it’s real, the pain you feel.

Well hey there, WordPress, it’s been a while.  Mostly because for a while, I was writing things that weren’t blog posts, but lately, it’s because I haven’t been writing ANYTHING.  (PS: Writer’s block sucks.  It is quite possibly the worst thing for a writer, ever.)  I’m hoping a blog post will get the creative juices flowing again.  I’ll let you know if it works.

I’ve had an idea of what to write for a while now, but again, never got around to it (obviously).  I was thinking about college and graduate school a while back, and how, just after my dad died, I kept thinking about how I had to finish college because it would have made him so proud, and how proud it would make my mom and family and everything, but mostly my dead father.  Who could care less because he’s dead.

Do you see where I’m going with this?  I had some vague notion of “honoring his memory” by finishing college and finishing it well, with good grades and all that, when really, it isn’t about my dad.  It never was.  It was me not realizing that I could finish college and make good grades and graduate with honors because I wanted to.  Because I wanted to prove not only to other people but most of all to myself that I’m capable of that.  That I’m capable of what I never did in high school because I was lazy, and that I’m capable of hard work and the benefits of said hard work, and I succeeded.

By the end of my time at Montevallo, I wasn’t thinking, “Wow, Dad would be so proud of me.”  Well, I did sometimes, of course I always had my “what would Dad think of me now?” in the back of my mind, I’m sure I always will to some extent.  But most of the time, it was, “I’m proud of me.”  It was no longer about carrying on a legacy.  In college, I was proud of the woman I’d become.  I was happy that I could be a hard-working student with a knack for writing and putting in the effort that my professors appreciated, but also make time for watching entire series with my roommate, and going home on the weekends and seeing my family and enjoying my free time (or sometimes, making free time when I didn’t really have it, but hey, I did fine, didn’t I?).

And with graduation, I heard so much of, “Your dad would be so proud of you,” sometimes with an ‘is’ instead of a ‘would be’ – you know, the expected.  And that’s great.  I agree, he would be.  My still-alive family is, but most importantly, I am.  I used to be afraid of seeming like I was bragging about having graduated.  But my friend Ali once said something to the extent of being proud is nothing to be ashamed of because it IS a big accomplishment.  So, there it is – I am proud of me!  Of my accomplishments and my perseverance and my overall strength (because let’s face it – sometimes I’m not really strong, at all, but overall, yeah, I think I am a pretty strong person) and my good qualities!

***

So, that brings me to Part II, and I guess the meat, of this post: grad school, or lack thereof.

I, like an idiot, only applied to one grad school, and what’s considered an elite one at that.  And, spoilers if you didn’t know: I didn’t get in.  I have the grades, but for whatever reason, they didn’t accept me, and I think a large part of that is lack of experience (but I have yet to find out what got me booted out of the acceptance pool).  And coming to terms with that has been, and remains to be, really, really hard.  I should have applied to more so that surely SOME kind of acceptance would come and I wouldn’t be really soul-crushed like I am right now.

Actually, I’ve fallen into a big rut with being rejected from the only place I applied to, and why I didn’t apply to more than one haunts me daily.  Every time I put on my work uniform, I hate myself for not applying to more than one place.  I was lazy and decided I was so tired of having to deal with the stupid rigorous application that I just left it at the one.  And as a result, I dug my own Unhappiness For At Least One More Year grave.  Which is not necessarily true.  I COULD get a job at a local library (and have the possibility on the horizon, but haven’t gotten a callback from the interview yet) and love it and get paid better and it challenge me intellectually and not be completely unhappy with my life.  But as I see it, it’s just stagnating.

It’s no secret that retail is crummy.  You get to deal with people who act like the world must stop for them and complain to corporate about dumb crap and who act like the smallest mistake is the biggest deal in the whole world.  You get to deal with ten-year-olds speaking condescendingly to you and bossing you around, because guess what?  THEY are the customer.  You get to ask the same questions over and over and pretend to give even half a crap about complete strangers’ problems while dreaming of handling old documents in an archives department or even just shelving books, for god’s sake.  Repeat ad infinitum.  I have an infinite number of stupid mistakes I make at work, simply because I’ve turned my brain off.  Retail isn’t the type of work that really requires a lot of critical thinking.

Recently, my coworkers have gotten each other into this show called Weeds, you’ve probably heard about it in some fashion, and Nancy, the main character, says this about working as a manager of a maternity clothes store:

I wake up in the morning, get dressed, drive myself to work, put on a name tag, take my brain out of my skull and place it in a drawer. I spend the next nine hours staring at people, pretending to be interested in their happiness, tolerating the company of my co-workers, staring at the clock. At the end of the day I take my name tag off, open the drawer, reach for my brain, plop it back inside, walk to the employee parking lot and drive myself home. And it’s really, really boring. And it looks like I’m gonna be doing it for a long, long time.

That sums up my feelings on retail, too, and of the pit a combination of my own poor decisions, a sinking global economy, and bad luck I’m currently stuck in (preposition at the end of a sentence aside).

But it’s a job.  It pays the bills.  I’m grateful for the means to pay my own crap and help with household bills and give back to the woman who’s provided so much for ME all my life.

But at what point is my unhappiness not worth it?  I can’t quit, like that’s just not in the cards, because of bills and hard economic times and all that crap.  And it’s the worst feeling in the world.  Because I’m just stagnating.  I’m not growing intellectually, I’m not being challenged.  I miss college SO MUCH because on a near-daily basis, I was growing intellectually, I was being challenged.  I’ve been reading a lot, and I do have some intelligent coworkers that I have meaningful conversations with, but how much can you talk about interpreting the events of history or what the color red means in a book or whatever, while you’re at work, pretending to care about peoples’ problems and asking repetitive questions that have no significance on your own life at all, over and over again?

Little to none, that’s how much.

And as a result, I can think of no other word to describe me right now other than “stagnating.”  And I’m trying to find my way out of the labyrinth of suffering, and the solution isn’t forgiveness this time (Looking for Alaska reference), it’s finding a job relevant to my interests and future plans and getting the experience I need to get out of this stupid labyrinth and do something I really love.  And why is that SO hard?  To ‘build character’, whatever that means?  Okay, I get it, I appreciate the plight of the retail worker now.  I respect those I, frankly, already respected (because I’ve never been bitchy to retail employees like people have been bitchy to me and my coworkers, I’ve never chewed somebody out for the stupid crap we get chewed out for).

I think I’m angriest about graduate school because I can’t escape, at least not for a little while longer, unless I get a job in a field I care about (and by god, I’m trying).  So for now I’m just still stagnating, despite all the efforts I’ve made to try and intellectually grow.  I’m having panic attacks often because of customers, and you know what pisses me off the most about it?  Nobody takes it seriously.  Tough shit if you have social anxiety and withdrawal but are forced to deal with people who think their problems are the end of the world.  Tough shit if you have a mental breakdown over a customer whose infirmities remind you of your dying father.  Nobody takes it seriously because you’re just a worker in a company whose goal is to make money and you can be replaced.  And that’s the way of the world, yes, I get it, I understand that and the corporate machine and capitalism and I’m not looking for coddling or lullabies or a band-aid or whatever – I’m just looking for something that challenges me in a non-psychologically-damaging way.  And it’s hard to find.

And you know what would do that?  GRADUATE SCHOOL.  But because of poor decision-making and bad luck and a sinking global economy, I can’t achieve that goal just yet.  What’s the point of being proud of my accomplishments if they aren’t getting me anywhere?

So, I don’t really know what the point of this post morphed into.  I guess that life’s hard, wah wah, cry more.  But I’m allowed to be disappointed with things in my life that I can’t change on a larger scheme at the moment, whether for lack of money or lack of opportunity.  And I’m allowed to express these in a blog post that nobody has to read if they find me whiny or whatever.

But I AM trying to find my own way back into using my brain.  Falling from the cloud of “wow college is awesome” onto the pavement of “wow the real world sucks” has really given me an idea of what I DON’T want to do for the rest of my life.

Now, I’ve just go to try my best and take every opportunity that’s offered and get out of the labyrinth of suffering and of not using my brain as much as I can with being broke.  The ball’s sort of not really but still kind of if you turn your head and squint your eyes in my court now.  It’s time to keep trying to do something about it, because what else CAN I do?

I’m not saying I’m unhappy with every aspect of my life right now.  I have plenty of things that I enjoy and look forward to, and things could be a lot worse.  Before you call me whiny, know that I do appreciate the things I have.  I have a lot of amazing people in my life who make things not-completely-horrible.  Things could be so much worse, yes, I know this.  In some ways I AM privileged (though tumblr has made me really start to even hate that word).  I get it, I do.  I could just be a lot happier in ways I know are doable, I just have to achieve those things, and as I said, the ball is not always in MY court.

On a good note, though, I’ve finally got an idea for a tattoo for my dad.  It’s about time, too.

(Sidenote: WordPress’s new layout SUCKS, seriously, way to make your blogging site much harder to use and, oh I dunno, BLOG with??  Seriously, ew.)

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circus girl without a safety net

Go, go, go, go now, out of the nest it’s time
Go, go, go now circus girl without a safety net
Here, here now, don’t cry
You raised your hand for the assignment
Tuck those ribbons under your helmet, be a good soldier.
First my left foot, then my right behind the other—

-Tori Amos, “Mother”

***

Ever since I was a child, I’ve been a bookworm and I’ve loved to write.  I’ve been writing as far back as I can remember and often used to go Young Authors’ Conferences to share my oh-so-thrilling tales of cats or NASCAR or whatever I used to write about.  I still write stories often (as in, I have a ton of notebooks filled and many files that I’ll never get the guts to publish sitting on the hard drives of every computer I’ve ever owned or used), and I don’t think I’ll ever not write.  When I was a kid I narrated my life in my head—“She turned on her heel and angrily stomped down the hall of her middle school as she left her friend to think over the note she’d written,” etc., which seems weird, but I’m sure someone else has done this before.  Maybe you’ve even done it.  I certainly won’t judge you if you have, because I catch myself doing it even now if I’ve been reading a lot.

But because of this, I’ve kind of always thought of my life in chapters.  Not specifically most of the time, but when I’ve had a drastic life change or even just a traditional shift toward something else, I’ve thought of it as “one chapter ending, another beginning”—kind of similar to the “when one door closes, another opens” proverb, just with books, in a language I’m incredibly familiar with.  It gets confusing, though, when chapters can start within chapters.  Within the overarching chapter of my four-year experience in a challenging, college-oriented high school were chapters of friendships, relationships, and events all of their own; my dad’s illness could have been a chapter all in itself but not only falls under the high school umbrella, but the summer between high school and college and then the beginning of the college chapter.  Even the after-effects of his death carry over to today.  It’s hard to determine where chapters begin and end, and that’s why this system is a little flawed and why I don’t restrict myself to it.

I’ve always felt like my life was pretty textbook, even though experiences make people all different.  But as far as experiences I’ve had, I don’t know if my life would make a great movie.  I mean, it’s got all the makings of Hollywood films these days—drama, romance, adventures (small ones but adventures nonetheless), tragedy, overcoming tragedy and ending in success.  But the story isn’t over.  Now, as I start my graduate school journey (which, admittedly, I should have started back in December, but too late to change that), I look forward to a new chapter.  But where should it begin?

If I get into Chapel Hill up in North Carolina—my number one, dream-grad school choice, I will be, of course, moving up to North Carolina and living with my aunt.  I’ve been reluctant to talk about how excited I feel because I will miss so many things about Alabama—Birmingham and Montevallo both.  My roots are here, I’ve lived in the same house since I was one-and-a-half, and before then my parents and I lived in a house literally a street away from the current one.  This house was my grandparents’ house, and I share land in Pinson with my sister that’s been in our family since my dad’s grandfather.  So, I have a lot of connections to Alabama and I know—it’s just in my personality—I will get homesick so much while I’m up in NC.

But at the same time…I’m ready.  I’m ready for a change of scenery, ready for a fresh start, even though I’m terrified.  I’m shy, despite how I sometimes can come across, and generally socially awkward, and theoretically, I won’t know anybody in my program.  When I went to JCIB, I knew a few people from my W.J. Christian days, even though I only ever became close to one of them my sophomore year—all my other friends and relationships were with people I met in high school.

The same goes for college (though I never dated anybody there)—I knew a few people, but ended up hanging out mostly with people I met at Montevallo.  But that’s not going to be the case up in Chapel Hill.  Of course, I’ll be living with my aunt and my cousin and uncle and other aunt and uncle will be in the state and surrounding areas, but school-wise…I won’t know anybody.  And that’s kind of what I’ve wanted for a while.  This combined with a more confident-in-myself me, a me who’s finally emerged as an individual with a ‘self’ even if that ‘self’ is comprised of my experiences, others’ influences and their experiences, and my own personality—as is everybody’s ‘self’ if you ask me—makes me eager to test out the Real World Me.

And honestly, I don’t even know what the ‘Real World Me’ means.  I’m not going to change; I’ll still be the books-loving, writing-loving, video game-loving, anime-watching person I’ve grown into being.  But testing it out on people I don’t know at all is the scary part, I guess.  I have the chance to forge an identity and I don’t want it to be one that I end up being unhappy with, but how can I change myself that much?  Am I happy with who I am, with the main character of my life?  Yeah, I really am.  I’ve overcome a lot, I struggle a lot day-to-day with my patience and depression and overall happiness, and of course I have things I want to change about myself both physically and mentally and behaviorally—who doesn’t?—but overall, I’m okay with who I am.  But I’ve stagnated here in Alabama, and I don’t feel myself growing as an individual anymore like I want to, and this certainly plays into how I feel about leaving.

But I guess I just recently realized how excited I am for the potential to go where nobody knows my name (except for, of course, my family up there) so that I have the chance to really and truly meet strangers for the first time.  Undergrad at Montevallo really did help me establish myself as my own person way more than IB did (probably because at high school your personality is still so malleable and really indistinct) but Chapel Hill will be the penultimate chance for this I get—or Greensboro, or wherever I go to graduate school if it’s not in the state of Alabama.  And I’m excited.

But I’m also scared out of my mind.

Well, here’s to the chapter titled ‘Graduate School Preparation’, subtitled ‘Acceptance or Rejection.’  Let’s hope it’s a good one with a happy ending, the Acceptance ending.  Because don’t we all love happy endings?

First, my left foot, then my right behind the other…

My November 23, 2011 Resolution: Never stop learning.

So I was just reading this article, and I got a feeling I haven’t remembered feeling in a long, long time.

You see, when I was little, I read encyclopedias like crazy.  My grandmother bought me this really awesome, big encyclopedia in which I first read about the sun’s fate to become a red giant in 7.5 billion years, then cool to a white dwarf (which freaked me out as a 6-year-old, I tell you what), but I reread and reread it all the time, always learning things I’d missed the previous times.

When I would read these encyclopedias, I would read about places like Australia and New Zealand and their natives (for some reason, Oceania has always fascinated me as a place, who knows why?) and other places too!, and always get this leap in my stomach, almost, like it was something I wanted to learn about forever and ever.

Then I read atlases, and just studied my globe – another gift from my grandmother, I believe – all the time.  I would just sit in my room and stare at it.

And I just really sometimes (okay, all the time when I’m reminded of it) feel like I should have majored or should go back to major in archaeology and/or anthropology and linguistics and geography, because I love ancient cultures and indigenous stuff and languages and I always have.  I always get that feeling that I never want to stop learning and I love history, I’m so glad I majored in it, but almost everything I took was Western-biased, and of course not much at all was ever taught about prehistory or early-early history of these places and I know some of that is from lack of information but still.

This sounds so stupid but phrases like

Her speech was rich with words of the natural world, words of the forest and the sea that some linguists suspect date back tens of thousands of years to the first migrations of man.

and

Like some other indigenous groups on this archipelago

…I mean simple phrases (and words, like “archipelago”) like that just really get me excited to learn about this sort of stuff.

I really have always loved history, geography, anthropology, even from an early age, and I never consciously really thought about it.  I mean, I’d be a medievalist if I went into history as a profession (Ph.D.-level), so it’s not like I’m not biased toward the West, too, but reading stuff like this always makes me want to become a prehistory-historian (does even such a thing exist?) or anthropologist or archaeologist and I probably never will, and it makes me sad.

The world is so full of depressing things and I think it made me so sad when I grew up and realized all of these things that went on, like British colonialism – and other colonialism of course but Britain was like, the Queen of Colonization – and world wars and all of that, that it’s very easy to forget the feeling of loving to learn these new things about an indigenous people, even if it’s a sad fate – like the one of the article.

I just love the study of human culture and humanity and its earliest days and it’s so fascinating to me that we’re all from one part of the world yet we all look so different and speak so many languages and I don’t know if I’ll ever stop feeling like this when I read about this stuff that I love.  I think that’s why the quote at the top of my blog is one of my absolute, all-time favorites, and why I’ll never stop quoting it — “What invisible strings connect us all,” from Avatar: The Last Airbender. This is the kind of stuff that will forever fascinate me.

I just want to get the motivated to want to read about this stuff again, to just spend an afternoon in the library reading encyclopedias, looking at and studying atlases, looking up recent archaeological digs, that sort of thing.  But it’s hard in the day of the internet and working and paying bills and just “being an adult” things that really take so much joy out of the life I had as a child.  I hate being cynical and hearing about depressing current events and being a (mostly) responsible adult, but things change, I guess.

But maybe one day, I’ll spend an off-day at the library, doing these things, feeling that new fascination and leap in the pit of my stomach at all of the new information I absorb.

We’ll see.

whutevah, I do what I wawnt!

After making an emotional post on tumblr about my dad, I realized two things:

  • it’s been a hella long time since I’ve posted here
  • I should probably post here.

So, what’s been going on in my life since I made the announcement of my plans to do NaNoWriMo on August 2 (whew, okay, that’s not as long as it’s been since I’ve posted on Livejournal, that’s okay, that’s just a little over a month, right?), you may ask?  Well, a whole buncha nothing.  I’ve worked, gone to Texas (more importantly, a beach in Texas – most importantly, an island in Texas), worked some more, and oh, I started playing World of Warcraft…oh, and I went to a club for the first time.  That’s about it, though – as far as life-changing events, I have undergone few to none in that time-span and these days my life is spent on tumblr, WoW, worrying about money because god, paychecks sure do go fast, and picking up bowling again.

So, what do I have to write about?  Well, who’s surprised – it’s -dun dun dunnn- my dad!  Sort of.  He’s kind of just a mention in this post, which  instead is going to attempt to focus on my blog itself (and by attempt I mean the good ol’ “paper attempt” – that is, I start out with a topic, a rough idea of things I want to cover, and before I know it, I have eight pages of stuff I’ve come up with while attempting to write the actual point of the paper…much like this parenthetical aside. whoops!).

My friend and manager, Kevin, has this blog he is currently calling “Hannah and Caroline and The Little Kumquat and Me.” Now, he’s had this blog longer than I’ve known his brother-in-law/my ex-boyfriend and therefore his family/him, and has said multiple times he made it as something to give to his first daughter Hannah as a way to show her a glimpse into her father that she may not see during the day-to-day routines – and I certainly hope I didn’t butcher what he’s said before, and if I have, I’m deeply sorry – really!  It’s a really cool idea, an excuse to start up a blog, and an excuse to continue blogging.

But it got me thinking…or rather, thinking about my dad and this blog and how I’ve neglected it lately got me thinking.  If I showed my future daughter/son (I’m hoping I have one of each, so…both?) my blog from my college/just-after-college year(s, because I’d love to continue this for years, and I’m really going to make the effort to), if the internet is even still around, what would they think?

Wow, Mom, you sure do talk about your dad a lot.  Was Grandpa REALLY that great?  Christ, did you ever see a therapist?

NaNoWriMo? HAH, good one – isn’t this your ninteenth attempt?

But I haven’t written solely about Dad.  I don’t know why I’m even remotely self-conscious about him being the subject of so many entries – I suppose because I don’t want to rehash the same stuff over and over again without coming up with new thoughts or feelings or realizations.  I guess part of me doesn’t want to seem fixated on it all, because if I have to be honest (and I do, I mean it’s my blog holding me accountable, right?), I don’t think of Dad very much in the grand scheme of things during my everyday routines.  Don’t get me wrong – I think of him at some point everyday, whether it’s something someone posted on tumblr that reminds me of him, or a South Park episode about NASCAR, a sport he loved (the only sport he loved that much, probably?), or a song that plays in PSP that reminds me of him.  No matter what, there is always SOMETHING that reminds me of him or makes him pop into my head.  But in terms of getting depressed about him, crying about him – these things happen rarely these days.  In a way, I’m glad, because it would be awkward of me being in customer service to start bursting into tears every single shift.  It helps that I have amazing family and friends to keep me from fixating on being sad, too.  It’s good that – no matter how much I complain about customers – I have work to keep me busy.  And tumblr, and WoW, and drawing, and writing – all of these things are great.

But I wonder how much my future children would see of my general moving-on-from-Dad’s-death I’ve done.  Would it seem overwhelming?  Do I really care?  His death defined my life in a way – it’s not the only thing that defines my life, I mean I’m not Taylor Swift whose songs pretty much only have to do with being a teenager and dating someone and he broke her heart and she’s not a cheerleader and blah blah blah predictable – but it’s one of my biggest life-events, right up there with graduating from IB and then graduating from college and my seizures.

But I’ve realized something.  My fear is not that my children won’t find another topic than my father in this blog – because my categories to the side of this “post an entry” page prove that there are other topics – but rather, I fear they will see it as a negative thing.  That they will see it as “our mom obsessing over losing her dad/our grandfather” instead of how I want them to see it, how I want anyone who reads my blog to see it – that I was lucky enough to have such a wonderful, caring, good man of a father, who still had his faults (because please, god, let me never completely sanctify him like people are wont to do about deceased loved ones – the man had a temper, and a terrible habit of falling asleep during a NASCAR race and then getting pissed later if we turned it off since he wasn’t watching it), that I wanted to share with the world some of the light he brought into my life, and to share how deeply it affected me.  He meant that much to me that I write about him often; he is remembered and loved still in my mediocre blog-writing, which can hardly do him justice but attempt to do so.

I want to teach them that all fathers out there aren’t horrible, because they will almost surely meet somebody or hear of somebody whose father abused them, who is no father to a daughter or a son.  The amount of poetry discussing abusive (sexually or otherwise) fathers to the amount of poetry discussing wonderful fathers, fathers like mine – is extremely disproportionate.  And I get it.  Writing is a wonderful outlet for pain, but sometimes the good guys need to be highlighted too.  More than anything, I want my children to know how great their grandfather was, how he was one of the kindest souls one could ever meet.  I want them to have a glimpse of him, and not just think, “Wow, Mom really should see a counselor about her obsessing over Grandpa.”

He’s just a character of my blog…but he’s a major character.  More people than I think realize are major characters of my blog in so many ways, and I hope my children get a picture – no matter how brief – of how their mother never allowed her sad experiences keep her from enjoying life, because despite the number of entries involving my dad, they are ways of keeping him alive and sharing his love with as many people as she can.

Isn’t that a fair reason?

“we can’t know better until knowing better is useless.” -Looking for Alaska

I just finished Will Grayson, Will Grayson, by John Green and David Levithan, the second of two books I checked out from the Springville Road Library – the first books of many I will be reading during this year off between school and life experiences.  The first book I checked out and read was Looking for Alaska, by John Green, the same John Green who collaborated with David Levithan for WG, WG.

And wow.

These two books were amazing.  I’d first heard of them through tumblr, but especially Looking for Alaska (which I’ll abbreviate as LFA from now on).  Everyone on tumblr seems to worship this book, and I’d seen a few excerpts from it and thought there might be a reason behind this holy love for the book, so I checked it out with WG, WG, and began reading.

LFA takes place in Alabama, at a fictional boarding school called Culver Creek, and although the geography is a little strange (Montevallo is mentioned and the mileage from Birmingham and Culver Creek and Pelham doesn’t add up, but it doesn’t matter), Green himself went to Indian Springs, and so his descriptions of Alabama are pretty perfect.  For instance, the main character is from Florida, and in discussing the head there versus here:

This did not prepare me for the unique sort of heat that one encounters fifteen miles south of Birmingham, Alabama, at Culver Creek Preparatory School.  My parents’ SUV was parked in the grass just a few feet outside my dorm room, Room 43.  But each time I took those few steps to and from the car to unload what now seemed like far too much stuff, the sun burned through my clothes and into my skin with a vicious ferocity that made me genuinely fear hellfire.

Pretty true, right?  Apparently John Green lived in Birmingham, Alabama, and attended Indian Springs, so he has firsthand experience with the heat of Alabama, and I thought while reading that he might be from here or have lived here because of his knowledge of this sort of thing.

So, LFA, by pure virtue of taking place in Alabama, fifteen miles south of Birmingham to be exact, drew me in almost immediately.  While it helps in a book to have landmarks or places or names you know – such as I-65, Pelham, Birmingham, etc. – that’s not the reason I love this book.  Green just has a way with words, and both LFA and WG, WG made me think about authors of ‘teen’ books – or at least John Green and David Levithan – and how amazing they are at describing the teen experience.

There are things both LFA and WG, WG have described that I can relate to so well because I am like a character or see some of myself in a character, but it made me wonder just how much each of us is in a character.  We were all teenagers once if we are no longer teenagers, and we all have struggled with various things these characters have struggled with, and the wonderful thing about Green and Levithan is that they haven’t forgotten this in their age (both in their 30’s, far enough removed from their teen years to perhaps be disgruntled with teenagers as I already am at the age of 21).  Reading these books – especially WG, WG, as I related more to both the Will Graysons than I did Pudge or the Colonel from LFA, but of course could relate to them too – threw me back to the teenage experience, to the almost overwhelming of emotions and hormones and the irrational thoughts that “NO ONE KNOWS HOW I AM FEELING! NOBODY UNDERSTANDS ME!” – yet I am far enough removed from that to say, Wow, I sure have grown a hell of a lot from that person.

How do young adult authors do it?  Do they just channel their teenage selves?  Yet, these kids have individual qualities, they are their own person, and each have different struggles.  I related more to the non-capitalized will grayson than the capitalized Will Grayson because he also struggles with depression and feels many things I felt as a teenager (though he is also gay, and that comes with its own struggles as well), but there were parts of Will Grayson that I could relate to, especially with relationships.  The teen/young adult author is one to be respected, and especially a good writer of young adult/teen books.  Teenagers are hard to deal with, much less write about, but Green and Levithan are amazing at it.

I think young adult/teen books are good for adults to read, especially I would think if one has a kid that age.  I plan on buying both these books and revisiting them over the years to see how my perspective on them and the characters changes, if it does at all.  I think it’s important for everyone to revisit their teen years to an extent, especially when dealing with current teenagers, to really understand why they act the way they do and how to deal with that.  I’m not a parent, so I don’t know firsthand, but I know from my own grief-causing stints as a teenager and looking back on them now how infuriating it must have been to deal with that.  For a kid who never did things like get detention, do drugs and alcohol, run away from home, I certainly did my own share of horrible teenager-y things.  But reading these books made me realize I wasn’t alone in feeling so many feelings, that it’s really a universal sort of thing.

So, this post kind of went in a direction I wasn’t thinking about or planning, but my writing tends to do that (if it’s not for a paper).  The point is that I think every adult can gain something from reading good teen novels, like Looking for Alaska and Will Grayson, Will Grayson, as well as current teens and young adults.  I don’t know if I’m still considered a young adult fiction-wise, but I didn’t find the writing to be below my level and I laughed and cried at both books – laughing aloud and getting the question, “What are you laughing at?” multiple times.  I would recommend these books to anyone, because although some of the character may drive you crazy, I believe anyone could benefit from them.

There are so many quotes I could quote as my favorite, but I’ll save that for another entry because this one’s long enough.  However, I’ll leave with one of many great quotes from Looking for Alaska.

“Imagining the future is a kind of nostalgia. […] You spend your whole life stuck in the labyrinth, thinking about how you’ll escape it one day, and how awesome it will be, and imagining the future keeps you going, but you never do it. You just use the future to escape the present.” -John Green, Looking for Alaska

Books down for the year: 2
Books to go: ???

PS: This books counter will become a new thing for my blog; I’ll use it to track just how many books I read during this year and to serve as a topic to write on, since I’m so bad at coming up with things to write about!

the blog of a college graduate

Well, it’s been a week and three days since I walked across the stage without tripping at Montevallo’s Flowerhill Lawn and…

I don’t really feel much different.

The weekend cabin was wonderful, then we came back home and it’s…kind of just been like another summer here at the Tidmore residence.  I’m not sure when it’ll kick in, maybe the closer to school it gets?  Maybe when I check out more library books and realize I don’t have to be done with them by late August?  I don’t know, but I’m waiting.

Of course, I know I’m done with school until -dun dun dunnn- grad school, but it’s just not at the forefront of my mind yet.  It was definitely weird not driving back to Brooke Hall on Sunday night, though, there’s that.

I really don’t want to go back to work.  It’s just a work thing — I love not having to be somewhere at any certain time.  I love days like today when I can just sleep late, and then sit in bed reading or playing Pokémon.  I like the freedom of being able to do that, but also being able to, say, walk somewhere or go to the library and just hang out and read or go to Starbucks and write.  I hate morning shifts because I have to wake up early and I’m tired the rest of the day after leaving.  I hate night shifts because that’s my prime time to be awake and I have to spend it being nice to people I just don’t care that much about.

And it’s not a PSP thing at all — it’s a work thing.  No matter where I would work, it would be the same.  It’s just the principle of having to be somewhere that I don’t want to deal with yet.  A few engagements a week — a doctor appointment here and there, fine; lunch with Mom, totally fine — but not a -groan- work schedule.  It’s nice being free, and being lazy.

But that’s not how the real world works.  People need someone to ring up their 82 Fancy Feast cans and throw them in bags that don’t cooperate 90% of the time.

But can my graduation money last me through the year until grad school?  Please?  That’d be lovely.

Well, it won’t, so I’ll have to work.  What can ya do?  I’m way too poor to fight the man, so at least the beginning of my year off will have been spent well: sleeping late, playing Pokémon, reading, living the way I like to live.

And maybe things will sink in soon.  We’ll see.

I’m just a twenty-something now.

as a child of twenty-one

So, this is it.  I’m sitting here typing at 2:57 pm on a Thursday afternoon needing to pack to go home–forever from the dorm, which is just weird–but instead typing out a blog that won’t change the world or anything.

My GPA is a 3.576.  I’ll get cum laude on my diploma, and Saturday starting at nine A.M. (ouch!) I’ll be sitting on Flowerhill listening to speakers and trying not to cry–because I know I will at some point because I’ll keep thinking about how my dad should be there and how unfair it is that he isn’t–and waiting to hear my name so I can concentrate on not tripping in my high heels as I walk across the stage to get my diploma.  Wow.

It hasn’t really hit that I won’t be coming back to this beautiful campus to live (certainly, I will to visit! I’m terrible at staying away).  I won’t be able to drive back under the stars that I can actually see because I’m not in a city full of bright lights while the fog curls in on the roads–well, I mean, I could, because who would stop me, but it wouldn’t be the same.  And on one hand, it’s good.  I’m tired of lugging my basket full of laundry and assorted things for the weekend home and back again.  I’m tired of writing for classes even though I loved college and loved being good at writing (especially with history–clearly I chose the right major).  But I’ll miss the hell out of this place.

I can’t even imagine what it’s like to be at Alabama, where students are left with a sense of disjointedness.  They don’t even get to walk at graduation until August 6–how crappy is that?  I cannot possibly imagine what that’s like, but to be fair, I really haven’t tried.  I don’t want anything else to spoil my own graduation experience, and that’s selfish.  In my head, it’s already torture that my dad won’t be able to come and sit in the audience, or my grandmother won’t be able to come and sit and cry with my mom and aunt.  And don’t get me wrong–I’m so glad for all of my relatives and friends or whatever who will come!  But because I’ve lost two people so dear to me and have to experience the biggest accomplishment of my life without them, I don’t really want to imagine what being in a state of different loss like UA students’ loss is like.

Maybe that’s selfish–I think it is.  But I didn’t go to UA, and so I will be able to walk at graduation, I will get to cry and probably get annoyed at the number of pictures being taken even though I do want pictures, and I’ll get to think about moving gracefully so I don’t trip on the stage on the way to my diploma–although, I have to say, it’d be pretty fitting if I did trip, I mean, few are clumsier than me.  And for that (that is, being able to walk) I’m grateful.  I’m especially grateful that our commencement won’t last as long as other colleges’ will, because while we do have a formidable amount of students, God bless Montevallo for being comparatively small.

To all my friends I met here at Montevallo, I love each and every one of you.  I can’t imagine what college would have been like without you–much lonelier, I know.  To all my professors who might read this, especially my history professors, thank you for making my college experience one of a kind.  You have been so kind and funny and I will never forget any of you.  And to anyone else who might see me bawling in pictures or at graduation itself…well, haters gonna hate, and criers gonna cry.  I’m the latter.

…Saturday, here I come!