Not going away

As the title says, I’m not going away. I’ve just had a pack of writing inspiration lately, in addition to just feeling generally awful about myself. Don’t worry, I’m trying to feel less awful, one step at a time.

In the long weeks since I posted last I’ve been a little busy. I started up an Etsy shop for my jewelry, so I’ve pretty much been my inventory every day. I’ll eventually get a link to that on here, but I won’t pester people to buy anything. I’ve also started some volunteer work at a local haunted house, which will take up my weekend nights for the next four weeks.

I guess I could say I’ve been pretty productive. Still no real job to speak of, but I’ve talked about that at length here before. I also will probably start writing over at Scared to Watch, a little horror movie review blog I found out about on Reddit. If you’re willing, take a look at the site, it’s small, but promising.

And that’s pretty much what I’ve been up to the past few weeks. I promise I’ll try to be on here a little more, maybe not daily, but more than once a month for sure.

Just saying thanks to those who still read this thing, I can’t thank you enough.

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TV Review: MTV’s “Faking It”

Like many people, my initial exposure to MTV’s show Faking It was the controversy it raised as a result of its subject matter. And, again, like many people, I avoided the show altogether. But after reading a little more into what the show actually involved, I gave it a chance. I found myself watching all of season one in one night, and I was pleasantly surprised.

Faking It is not a perfect show, it’s far from it. But it’s much more than I was expecting from MTV. We’re talking about the MTV that gave us the debacle that was the American version of Skins. The MTV that introduced the world to Teen Mom. The very same network that is still derided, a decade later, for their decision to stop running music videos. So, needless to say, I went into Faking It with very low expectations.

To explain why my expectations were so low to start with, I have to give the basic premise of the show, so here goes.

Faking It is about two (very close) best friends who decide to fake being lesbians to become popular.

There it is, the basic premise. This is something that could have easily been done by following a formula, and thereby offend a large amount of people; but Faking It takes this premise and turns it on its head.

Karma, a girl who is unhappy with her social standing in high school (big surprise) enlists her reluctant best friend Amy to pretend to be her girlfriend after the two are (mistakenly) outed at a house party. The two girls quickly find themselves thrust into popularity at their Austin, Texas high school. Soon They are nominated to be homecoming queens, and it’s at this nomination ceremony where everything changes.

At the behest of the large, cheering crowd, Amy and Karma kiss to prove their “Relationship” is the real deal. And while Karma is ecstatic that their kiss was believable, Amy finds herself reevaluating her feelings for her best friend. And thus ends the first episode of Faking It.

This seems, again, like it could go very, very wrong. But, fortunately, for the most part, it doesn’t. What first sets this show apart is the acting, especially from Rita Volk, as Amy. The rest of the cast does a decent job, most are relatively believable, but Volk stands out all on her own. She captures the role of someone suffering from unrequited love perfectly, and she really sells her character.

The writing also isn’t too bad, and while some jokes fall flat, most of the dialogue is solid, and the characters are varied. So, let’s start with what else this show does right.

Aside from the acting and writing, there’s the characters themselves.

Every character feels like their own person. You’ll never hear Amy saying something Karma would say, and vice versa, and, most importantly, no character is truly a stereotype. Sure, they have stereotypical qualities, but those are (wonderfully) parodied with each passing episode. But I think the best characters are the ones you’d normally root against.

Amy has a very Christian, and very rude stepsister named Lauren. And she is wonderful. She’s mean, and crude, and just an all around bitch, but she’s not a bigot. Her Christianity is just a part of who she is, and it’s not overall part of what makes her a bad person, the writers are content with letting her actions play that out. But at the same time, she is sympathetic. We see her soften around her gay best friend (because of course she has one), and she’s even sometimes nice to Amy. Which brings us to the “Good” characters.

I have to admit, at first glance I hated Karma. She’s just the kind of attention seeker that makes you find her insufferable, and sometimes downright nasty. But, her attempts at popularity do make her somewhat endearing, and when she’s around Amy, she shines. We see how warm and decent she can be when shes with her best friend, and, as a result, we see part of what Amy loves about her. Karma is very, very flawed, but deep down, she’s a kind and decent person.

Amy is by far my favorite character on the show (followed closely by Lauren). She is somehow both deeply insecure and strangely confident. She balances out Karma’s oddities quite well, and brings some of her own to the table. When she gets angry, or sad, we see her make highly regrettable decisions, and we see her beat herself up for it. Seeing her pine after her best friend is pretty heartbreaking, to say the least, and extremely relatable.

Which brings me to the relationship between Amy and Karma. These two best friends are insanely close, and with the chemistry that Rita Volk and Katie Stevens have, it’s no surprise that they’re mistaken for lovers. You can see the history these two have whenever they’re together, it really makes their friendship believable. And as something that’s the crux of the show, it speaks for the talent of the two actresses that they can pull it off.

Enough about what this show does right, what does it do wrong?

Well first off, as an MTV show, it’s still got quite a few problems. There’s the ridiculous censorship, for one thing. Which, after a while, I stopped noticing, but when the first “bleep” comes, it takes you out of the show entirely.

Then there’s the fact that it doesn’t quite know what audience to appeal to. There’s lots of, for lack of a better term, fanservice, and most is male-oriented.

And then there’s Liam. No offense to Gregg Sulkin, who, try as he might , can’t lock down a believable American accent, but Liam is boring. He is so, so boring, I almost find myself dozing off when he’s onscreen. The love triangle is such a tired trope I can’t believe it’s even in the show to begin with, and then I remember this show is on MTV. The very fact that Liam is a main character hurts my brain, he’s secondary character material at best.

Next is the complete disregard for the idea that either one of the girls could be bisexual. Sure, it would be contrived if Karma was also in love with Amy, but they could have at least made Amy bisexual. But no, as soon as she kisses Karma it’s made explicitly clear that she is a lesbian. To me, that’s just lazy writing, and missing a chance at even greater conflict for a greatly varied character.

So all in all Faking It is a show I’ll be adding to my weekly roster. It holds my attention, and it’s pretty well done. But, I feel the need to conclude with this. Please, writers, let Amy and Karma at least stay friends. I’ll at least accept that they won’t get married (even though they’re so obviously in love), if you’ll give me that.

A Quick Update

Remember how last week I said my job search wasn’t going well? Well, that was Monday. Between then and now I’ve had four first interviews, two second interviews, and two serious prospects. I guess I spoke too soon. I’m gonna cross my fingers and hope I’m not jinxing myself with this post, but I had to write this, just to let you know that my schedule is getting pretty hectic.

I’ll know by Friday if one of my prospects works out, and I’ll (hopefully) know about the other one by tomorrow. So wish me luck.

Getting a job would mean less time for this little blog of mine, but it also means more money in my pocket, and a chance at getting even closer to my dream career.

On a less bittersweet note, the Harry Potter reviews are coming. The first will be this weekend, when I get a chance to watch The Sorcerer’s Stone for the billionth time (for accuracy, of course). And the others will follow in (relative) short succession.

On the writing front, I downloaded a new app that let’s me see my writing from my computer on my iPhone, which is awesome because I can make mental notes on what to fix and what to keep.

Just a quick update on what’s keeping me from coming here every day. Honestly, part of me wishes I could still be on that level, but that’s probably the part of me that’s kept me out of work all this time.

Writing 101 Day Seventeen: No one, Nothing, Small

When I was younger, I always felt like I could blend into the the background. I’d walk past people I didn’t even know and “know” what they were thinking. Those thought always boiled down to this; “You are no one, you are nothing, you are small.”.

I’ve grown to be much more self-aware, and less self-effacing since then. But every once in a while, those thoughts come back to me. My greatest fear is that those thoughts are all true, that everything I want, I can’t have. Sometimes I find myself withdrawing from the outside world, avoiding people because I think it will make those thoughts go away, but it never does. All it does, really, is make those thoughts come out, full force.

Not having the noise of other people, of music, or traffic, brings me back to those three thoughts. “You are no one, you are nothing, you are small.”

To tell the truth, I am small.

I stand at a whopping five foot one and a half. But my voice is not small. I’ve spoken up when no one else had the guts to do it. I’ve spoken out against what I believe to be injustices, and I’ve stood in front of a microphone on shaking legs and spoken to one of my idols (on tiptoe of course). If you give me an issue I’ll speak, and sometimes I don’t stop.

I may be no one to most people, but I know I’m someone to at least four, and that’s enough for me. I have family, and I have friends, and they all see me as someone. Someone to talk to, someone to laugh with, to argue with, to love. And I’m someone to those who hate me as well.

I most certainly am not nothing

If I was nothing, I wouldn’t be typing this right now. I wouldn’t be making a fool of myself for the whole world to see. And I certainly wouldn’t care enough to fear being nothing. I am a writer, I am a baker, and I am an aunt, it says so right on my profile, right under my picture.

But, despite my best efforts, my fear of being nothing, no one, and small keeps me from being the best person I can be. Fear has a funny way of doing things we would never want it to do. It can make us turn away from opportunities that could change our lives for the better; it makes us stop in our tracks and second guess what we’ve done before. But fear is something we can overcome. I’m living proof of that.

Two years ago this little blog of mine didn’t exist. It was still a seed in my head, growth stunted by fear. But now I’m sitting in front of my keyboard, baring my insecurities for something that not many people will read. But not many people is better than no one. A blog is better than nothing. and the internet is anything but small.

 

Blogging 101 Day 11: Size matters

When I was 12 I lived in the same house I do now. Let’s not settle on this information, but on how I was back then. At twelve, I had only lived in this house for two years. Since I moved in at 10 years old, I’d had trouble fitting in with the kids who’d known each other since preschool. I’d really only moved to the other side of my small city, but apparently that was enough to make me the “new” kid in my fifth grade class. Middle school was no exception.

So, after a day of being ignored or straight out antagonized by the kids at my middle school (with very few exceptions), my home was my sanctuary. As soon as I got home, I’d go straight to my room. I found comfort in my day bed and the purple flowers stenciled on the doors to my closet. It was the first time I’d had a room to myself, and after two years, I still hadn’t quite gotten used to it. I plugged in my tiny radio and turned on the local rock station before sinking into the world of Harry Potter.

Now, a lot has changed. I’m still in that same room, but after eleven years I’ve found friends I can trust, and I don’t need to escape into a fantasy world to sustain me. Every once in a while, I still find comfort in the stenciled flowers, but only when I’ve reached an all time low. I’ve just found that my lows are happening much less often than before.

 

Writing 101 day 10: Childhood Meal

We’re at the park, surrounded by the crisp green grass and the sun beating down on our backs as we run around in the playground. In the distance, I see the picnic table full of food and my grandfather at the grill with my uncle, starting on their famous ribs. These sights and feeling will always mean one thing to me: Summer.

I’ll always savor the smell of sun on my skin, the itch in my ankles from sitting in the grass, and the taste of fresh watermelon as we wait for those ribs to cook. Parks in the summer will always bring me back to the Fourth of July celebrations where my mother’s family would have conversations, conversations that would enthrall my childhood mind. They would talk about the past, when they were children, and I couldn’t even fathom their existence before I was born.

The smell of the ribs would fill the air and I would find myself actually drooling with hunger, stealing glances at my grandfather and his son at the grill to see if there was a secret signal that they were done. I would watch my cousins as they played the complex hand games that I had yet to master. This was summer. The family, the food, and the conversation.

Writing 101 day 5: The letter, with my own twist

You Know Who you Are,

I found just enough time to write to you, so I have to make this fast. I know I haven’t said every word the way I should, or even said much at all, but that shouldn’t matter. All that matters is what you think of me, and right now, I’m afraid it’s not much. I’m writing this to change all of that, To see that look in your eye as we pass in the halls again. I’ve been trying as hard as I can to ignore you but you’re pulling me back with every averted glance, every blush I see when someone mentions my name, every hurried exit as I enter a room. i know you said this couldn’t work but I feel just foolish enough to try. And I said this would be brief but every fleeting thought of getting us back where we belong is making this letter longer. I wish I had more time, I wish we lived in a world where we were allowed to be free. Now I’m writing too fast because I can hear the clock ticking and our break is almost over. Just please, if you get this, do anything. Give me a nod in the cafeteria, or pass me a note in the hall, anything. I need you.

– You Know Who I Am

Writing 101 day 4: Writing about a loss part 1

When I was a teen, there was a year when I went to three funerals. It was already a confusing and rocky year for me, but that just put the icing on the dysfunction cake.

There was one that I will never forget. It was for a woman who had been a fixture at my grandmother’s church. Whenever I visited that church as a child, the woman would go out of her way to be as kind and caring to the children of the church as possible. She was loved and respected by everyone in the church, myself being no exception. As I got older, visiting the church, I always looked forward to seeing her. She was one of the kindest people I’d ever met.

And then she was gone.

I’ve started this post under false pretenses. This isn’t about the loss of such a respected, kind women, or even the two others who died that year.

It’s about my loss of faith.

I remember walking up to this woman’s casket for the viewing. I remember looking at her face and noting how much she looked unlike herself. I remember thinking that no God that I wanted to believe in would take this woman from the people she loved, from the community that adored her, so early.

I stopped believing in God that day.

My faith has always been a fine line for me. I now consider myself agnostic, and it took a lot for me to get to this point. To this day, I still have a problem with the idea of a god who would disown me because of my sexual orientation. Who would punish two heterosexual adults for having sex in a loving, monogamous relationship because they aren’t married. So for a long time I said that God didn’t exist.

But I think it’s more mature and honest to say that no one can possibly know that. You can’t know that this world isn’t the product of intelligent design, and you can’t know for a fact that it is.

You’ll notice that throughout this whole post, I capitalized “God”. This is not a statement of my belief, it’s out of respect for those who do believe. And no, I don’t have to do that, but it’s my personal choice. And I can only ask for that same respect in return.

Writing 101 day three (day one for me)

So today, I’m supposed to write about three songs that mean something to me. Along with a “twist”. I’ve never done one of these before, so bear with me. Anyway, here are my three songs:

  1. Landslide – Fleetwood Mac: I first heard this song as a cover by the Dixie Chicks, and i fell in love with it. I didn’t hear the original version of the song until a few years later, when I learned that the song I had fallen in love with was a cover. What made me love this song? Well, I always felt that the song was real and I mean real as in genuine, coming from a place of raw emotion that I had never reached in my own writing.  I have always viewed this song as a source of inspiration for my writing, and if I’m in a rut, I listen to it to bring me to that place, where I can forget everything else and write from raw emotion.
  2. Close to you – The Carpenters: I’ll say it straight out; this song reminds me of the Simpsons. Specifically, the episode where it shows how Marge and Homer met and fell in love. The song was featured heavily in that episode, and they used it so well that I will never, ever forget it. I will always remember how Homer and Marge met, and the song that brought them together. It sounds lame, but that’s it.
  3. Thrift Shop – Macklemore: Macklemore is one of the best new artists I’ve heard in a long time, and he, along with Ryan Lewis, could change the Hip hop world as we know it. Why specifically this song? Well, for one thing, it reached the billboard charts without being backed by a major label, which is huge. But there’s also the fact that it openly speaks out against the hip hop tradition of valuing money and status over character. Yes it does it in a funny and catchy way, but there are other artists already following in Macklemore’s footsteps. Without Thrift Shop, there would be no Royals, another song that is changing music. But that’s not the only thing Macklemore is speaking out against. He’s also calling artists out for there rampant homophobia, casual racism, and sexism, and the world is listening. Even if you don’t agree with his music, you have to appreciate that he’s trying to change the genre as a whole, and that it appears to be working.

Music has always been important to me, it’s something I turn to when I’m feeling lost, or scared, or happy. I use it to tune out the world around me when it becomes too much, I use it to help me write, and I use it to fall asleep. And I thik that the majority of people can say the same thing.

We need music, as a species, we’ve always had it. Be it in the form of tribal drums or chugging guitars, we have it all around the world. In some cases it’s ritualistic, in others it’s just background noise, but it has a way of drawing us in and planting itself in our head. And we don’t mind it being planted, we welcome it. When someone plays a new song, we can’t wait to hear it, and when we hear it we react. We can love the new sound, or we can hate it. and when we hate it, we offer a song of our own in the hopes that someone else will fall in love with it in the way that we did. In the hopes that someone else can’t live without that song in their head. And when other people don’t love our music, it devastates us.

I think that’s  why we value it so much. Why people are so attached to the music that they first heard in their youth. It helps us escape, but it also helps us feel. Music can evoke emotion in people the way that nothing else can. It can actively change our emotions the second we hear it, and it can help bring us back to the moment we heard it for the first time, even if we don’t remember that time.

 

 

How my false starts helped me start for real

As you know, I’m currently writing a novel. This has been an interesting process for me. What makes it interesting?

Well, to start, I’ve never finished a novel. I, however, started many; I have notebooks and word processor files filled with false starts. I’m sure many other writers do. The difference between my current project and those others is that I actually intend to finish it.

With my false starts, I wrote with the intention to make a point. I wrote with an agenda in mind. Those agendas quickly took over, stifling the stories, an burying the plots until they were unrecognizable.

When I saw my stories overshadowed, I decided to cut my losses and stop the projects.

But now, I can see a plot being stifled and try to fix it. I can see the story as more important than the message I’m trying to send.

Which brings me to the subject of restructuring my story. I’ve found myself deleting whole passages from my story and starting over from scratch. I can do this without changing the overall plot much at all. In fact, I find myself liking the changes much more than my original ideas.

Rewrites help me see where my story can go; they help me make my characters more genuine, and my chapters flow better. I can add foreshadowing where I see fit, and develop the personalities of my characters.

With my false starts, as soon as I saw a problem, I would give up. But now, I find myself wanting to fix it. I want to finish this story and see how everything pans out.

And more importantly, I want people to care as much as I do.