Some people hate feet. I hate fingernails. I hate any kind of fingernail torture in horror (having them pulled off, or the infamous scenes of victims clawing at the floor or walls as they are dragged away by a killer, often ripping one off in the process.  BARF.)  Specifically, in real life, I HATE long fingernails. They creep me right the hell out, especially the people who have them. Let me describe the people I have in mind. These people never cut their nails. Only sharpen them.  They seriously consider them weapons.  They flick their nails together like they think they are mother freaking Wolverine, but with a much creepier sound effect.  It doesn't help that the people I've known like this all have questionable mental stability.  They scratch at everything with these horrific nails, like their arms in the middle of a silent room.  Think nails on a chalkboard to feel my anguish.  Skrch skrch skrch skrch skrch.

Let's play comparisons.

 This is quite fine.  These nails are sexy, in fact.  They are trim and somehow you can tell that they will not at any time be used to draw blood, even though they are painted blood red.  Awesome.
NO.  HELL NO.  Trim your nails, you psychopath!  This person is even in the process of flicking their nails together.  Skrch skrch skrch...

Sorry, but I will judge you in person if I see that you have such long, horrible fingernails.  And this is YOUR fault, because likely the only reason I will notice your fingernails is if you are in the process of sharpening or otherwise celebrating your disgusting weapons.  And I will judge you by telling you to never touch me while I run away in the opposite direction.  Seriously, I have asked friends of mine to never, ever, ever touch me because of their horrible fingernails. (And they tormented me instead.)

Internet friends, I do not care.  Just never ever mention if you prefer your fingernails kept in the way that horrifies me the most, and we are all cool.  Sincerely.

P.S. I get about 98% of all the photographs I use in my posts from  It's a seriously free stock photo site.  A little bit limited, but worth it to not face the hassle that other "free" stock photo sites create.  My other site of choice is, using creative commons images.
I decided to make a change and see how it would go. I'm going to keep tweaking things, but I really like this new layout.

ETA: Hours later, the search bar finally works, I can quick edit my posts again, formatting is tweaked a little bit, and I accidentally managed to activate the feedback buttons on posts. I think I have everything I need... fingers crossed!

Time for bed.
It's amazing how many people pretend that is no discrimination against homosexuals or any other kind of sexuality differing from the hetero "norm". Do they really not see how straight people are allowed to be open about their sexuality, and others are told to stop "flaunting" it? It's amazing how they will call simple truths bullshit. I'm tired of arguing the point to death. Next time someone tries to explain why they "don't mind gay people, they just shouldn't be able to..." I'm just going to respond with a big FUCK YOU. There's seriously no way to reason with these assholes. I'm not going to tolerate their shit in a world that wants to decide whether two adults in love can get married based on whether or not their genitals interlock.
I never realized how squeamish I was until 10th grade, learning about the human heart.  I got so sick, my handwriting got worse and worse in my notes, and then stopped because I couldn't hold the pencil.  My wrists felt sensitive and frail.  I wanted to smack my head against the desk.  I wasn't going to puke, I felt I was going to pass out at any second.

I always thought that people who got sick in health class or biology class were stupid or weak.  But then it happened to me, and I couldn't help it.  And no one else was affected.  A video about a girl breaking her arm got to me when it came to the healing process involved.

And it's stupid.  Really stupid, because I can talk about gore all day long.  *I* can.  But something like an academic lecture about heart valves?  Um.

I made this diagram so maybe the non-squeamish people can get a sense of how I feel when I get enervated by talk of blood.  And it's pretty much always academic or medical talk that gets to me.

I suppose I have an overactive imagination.  It bothers me, I think, because I start thinking about me and my blood and how it is pumping away in my veins and, oh dear...

A thread came up about vampires and blood loss.  I could answer the questions, because I've donated blood before and I read the pamphlets.  But as I wrote on, I started getting the above symptoms.  I had to bow out.  I keep peeking into the thread, but each time I do, I get sick again.  Never been such a problem.

Now, me, I loved dissecting in high school.  Except for the worm dissection because worms are just gross.  I loved cutting up the frog legs.  I could shove my whole arm into a dead sheep in real life.  I don't mind getting my blood drawn at a clinic.  (Last time I donated blood was a bit different, though.)  But lordy, I can't handle someone else talking about it.

It sucks, one of my favorite things is gore.  I like looking up those old medieval torture methods and devices.  But halfway through an article listing and describing various tortures, I'm so badly affected I can't function.  I have to go lay down... for a few hours.  Pretty stupid, huh?
So because I haven't officially commented on it yet, I'll comment on it now.

I had three previous posts about my step-dad's condition.

September 20th, 2010 at 12:30 am, he died.  Yeah, I'm not into the "passed away" nonsense.

He was gasping for breath, like a fish out of water.  My mother called it a "death rattle" and she knew he was going to go because she worked in a nursing home for years.  It's a horrible thing.

I'd never seen anyone die before.  I have to admit, it is as terrible as it is rewarding.

I'd never seen anyone die before.  I have to admit, it is as terrible as it is rewarding.  I'm glad I was there to say goodbye.  Unlike some people, I didn't feel anything when he passed.  He kept getting quiet now and then, and Steve and I would look at each other wondering, is he gone?  Then he would breathe again.  This happened a few times, and the last time it happened, needless to say it was the last.  It's a long moment wondering, will he breathe again?  Now?

There's not much of a difference between someone who was just alive and someone who is dead.  Maybe I feel that way because he was already so close to death.  There was no change, just a lack of breathing, and time.  His eyes were closed, his mouth was open.  There was a fly in the room, already stalking the scent of death.  I would have done anything to kill that fucking fly.

My mother was hysterical.  She was so mean to him the last few days before he died, mocking him because he thought he could get from point A to point B, and he would fall down in between.  I'm amazed that she managed to absolve herself so quickly.

I had to call the people from hospice, aka the vultures.  I told them who I was and that Harry had passed away.  I hate that phrase.  She said in the most unbelievably patronizing tone of voice, "He is (Pronounced "eeez").  I hung up on that bitch.

I didn't want anyone near the body except for close relatives.  It wasn't right, but they came anyway.  They brought their fucking children.  They said, "Give him a kiss."  That's just freaking sick.

It was along wait for someone to come.  I felt like I needed to guard his body.  We had to wait for paramedics to come and confirm that, yep, we're not stupid - he was dead.

They took him and the bed sheet he was wrapped in.  We all  stood outside on the ramp that had been constructed not even a week ago just so Harry could get around easier.  It was cold.  We were crying and cold from crying.  We stood outside for a long time, thinking of what to say, and trying to laugh whenever we could.

I went back to bed.  Didn't dream. Went to school in the morning, but not to class.  I hid in the music area and cried and called my dad and his family.  They didn't understand.  I found my friend at lunch and took her to a private bathroom and told her, and we cried.  That was good, because I realized that usually when you cry, you fucking cry alone.  I learned that later that night at marching band practice, when it hurt to keep going, and everyone else laughed in their own world, even though they knew, and I screamed.

He didn't live long enough to see his birthday in October, or my 18th in November, or my graduation on June 3rd.  Goals I had jokingly held him to when he was alive.  Sometimes you just can't make a goal.

I didn't dream of him for a long time.  The first time I did, he called me on the phone.  He wanted to let me know that he wouldn't be seeing me on the other side, because I didn't have a soul.

I think that's true.

My mother didn't want to sleep in the bed where he died.  She slept in the lazy-boy for a while.  But eventually she went back to her bed.

It took weeks and several strips of flypaper to get rid of the flies.  They could smell death somehow, even after he was gone.  I fucking hate flies. They are the true harbingers of death.  You cannot comprehend how evil they are until they invade the area where someone died, searching for a place to lay their spawn, pissing all over your sense of reverence, reminding you that everything is filth.

Another thing I realized about death, is how unfair it is for someone to become past tense.  You no longer are, you were.  It's the worst injustice imaginable.  I can't see how someone stops affecting the world.  Some last longer in our memories than others.  It feels like cheating them.

Some people get upset with the fact that I can still joke about death.  Crudely.  That's just too bad for them.  Life goes on, even if it shouldn't.  Too many people die for it to be offensive.  Respect the people themselves, but death is not something that isn't worth laughing at.  If only because we know that none of us will escape it.
I just spent a few hours putting this little graphic together.  I'm kind of tired of my fellow Americans who bitch all the time but seem to take a lot of stuff for granted.  Like being able to bitch about the government without being killed.  I'm not saying that nothing is wrong with the gov. or that we shouldn't argue about it. Just saying that there are more fucked-up places in the world and we're better off than we think.  For instance, I bet a lot of people reading this can go to their sink and turn on some nice tap water that's been regulated by health laws.

And yet I have to live in a world where people take this shit for granted, and act like complete assholes.  If you seriously think that it's okay to blame a woman who gets raped ("She shouldn't have dressed like that") then go move to motherfucking Somalia.  (This might sound unrelated, but my post was nearly just a rant about victim blaming.  Yes, you've experienced your first rant on this blog.)

Here's a reality check.

Drop me comments for stuff that I missed. It was super hard to find facts. Let's discuss.
Yes, a wish.

True fucking story.

My mother has a history of mental illness.  Most of my childhood is filled with memories of her convulsing in a seizure that never seemed to end, or schizophrenic episodes, or her trying to kill herself.  And I was spared from most of it, being very detached from reality as a kid.

I remember eating jelly beans as a kid, and sorting out the black ones for my mom to eat.  Except that she fell asleep, and wouldn't wake up.  And then she started shaking.

I remember having friends over for the night, and watching with them from my bedroom window while my mom was put into an ambulance for what felt like the millionth time.

I remember her losing her memory and me having to follow her through a strange city with no shoes on.  She wanted to go for a walk and wouldn't wait.  She stopped at a house I'd never seen before because we'd never lived in that city, and her insisting that she lived there for years and planted the tree in the front yard.

I remember her freaking out because she thought that there were locusts and rats all over her body.

And her swallowing all of the pills in her prescription bottles.

This went on for YEARS.  It started when I was seven, as far as I even remember, and going on to junior high school (8th grade).

In 8th grade I met my first girlfriend, and consequently, I met one of her long-standing friends.

He was a lanky kid with shoulder-length greasy hair and a pimply face.  The first thing he ever said to me was, "Will you go out with me?"  I said "No."  He cheered, explaining that he was on a hot streak of rejections.

He told me that he was a druid.  He and my girlfriend very much enjoyed a variety of things that I can only describe as Tolkien-ish.  It was beyond my understanding, but it seemed very high fantasy.  It's still beyond my understanding.

One day he explained to me about wishes, and that for some reason or another (I might have done something to earn them, but I'm not sure) he owed me three wishes.

He begged me for days to make my wishes, but I waited.  Because even though wishes seem impossible, I wasn't careless enough to just throw them away.

Finally I told him one thing that I wanted.  I wanted my mom to be cured.  Medication was like a wild carousel of Not Helping.  She was either going to have a seizure and never wake up again, or she was going to kill herself.

He drew some symbols on the ground and did his thing.  Then he asked what else I wanted.  I told him I'd wait and see if my mom got better first.

I lost contact with him.  I have no idea where he is and haven't seen him again.

Since then my mother has never had an issue.  No seizures.  No schizophrenia.  No more chasing a woman who doesn't remember who I am.  She's gone from completely unstable, having her driver's license taken away, some sort of episode once a week at BEST, to having a job, living a normal life, just being... totally FINE.

I didn't even connect the dots until earlier this year.  I realized my life used to be a whirlwind of ambulances coming every damn night for my mom.  None of that happened anymore.  I told my friend about it.  He was skeptical, but he couldn't deny that my mom had gone from a total jar of rocks to a normal human being.  Coincidence, you could say, but f*ck you, it's magic!!!

One thing I learned, though, is that my mother is a massive bitch.  :/  You can't blame bipolar for everything.

So, you're welcome, mom.  I cured you with a druid's wish, and you don't even know.

I've had creepily accurate horoscopes before, but this one takes the cake.  Today I made the mistake of calling someone out for their points of view and blah blah blah it's impossible to argue anyway.  Like any debate, you're never going to change the person's point of view.  I'm just not smart enough with words for this shit.  All it ended up doing was raising my blood pressure to RAGE because, surprise, they didn't listen to what I was saying, they just basically heard what they wanted to.

My horoscope:

Although interactive Mercury comforts you while it is visiting emotional Cancer, your words seem more confrontational today than you intend. Your key planet Pluto is in a passionate tug-of-war with the cosmic messenger, allowing harsh words to easily slip off your tongue. The consequences of your current honesty could stir up a hornet's nest of complex feelings. Unnecessary stress can be avoided if you stop to consider other people's reactions before you speak.

 I'm a little bit freaked out.  I think I have discovered my Religion.  Seriously, I need to start reading these every day and plotting my day accordingly.  It even warned me a day in advance:

Fortunately, you are able to avoid a needless argument if you simply remember to tread softly. It just isn't necessary to get bent out of shape over something that ultimately isn't that important.

but I wasn't reading it because I never thought too much of horoscopes, even though I do relate to my sign.

So, yeah, I think that I need to start planning my days according to these horoscopes.  Like, decide if I need to lock myself in my room for a day to avoid confrontation.

Seriously, I think they sell handcuffs at the local sex shop.  Seems like a good investment right now.
I haven't done my Wiccan Rede Study for a while, so let's get back to it.  Even if you're not into it, I hope you can appreciate a bit of knowledge. ;)

To bind the spell well every time, let the spell be spoken in rhyme.

I would bet that you, the reader, can remember some nursery rhymes or lessons taught in school, such as "I before E, except after C."
"There once was a man from Peru..."

Very simply, the use of rhymes makes something easier to remember.  All of the power in a spell comes from the person speaking the words, and giving them a meaning.  If you do not concentrate on your words, and the meaning behind them, then the spell will likely not work, or will work incorrectly.

Like prayer, spells can be a simple offering of thanks to a god, or a wish for more money.  One may cast a simple money spell, and soon realize that they come across more money than they think.  And when they do, they will hold onto it.  But don't think that money will materialize out of thin air for you.

One quick note: Love spells that force someone to love you are bad. You can make yourself more open to love, or even make them more open to love, but you cannot force them to love you. Just watch the move The Craft and see why it's bad.

Let's talk about supplies for spells

Now, technically you don't need a thing at all.  Wicca is a really flexible religion, because no one thing is the right or only way to get something done.  If anyone ever tells you otherwise, they probably just want your money.

That being said, there are things that can improve your spell casting.  Writing the spell down on paper, for example, and then burning that paper while you say it. (Be careful with fire!)

Candles can be used to set the mood, and their colors can also help relate to what you're doing a spell for.  White is fine and multi-purpose for all spiritual occasions, and is also popular for protection spells.  Red is good for love spells, fertility, power, strength, etc. Green is a good color for money spells, health, luck, etc. Yellow is good for wisdom, creativity, happiness, mental energy, etc. Blue is a good color for peace, truth, protection, and communication.  Black is also a color for protection, energy, and power.   Finally I will add that purple is said to be the color for the goddess, and gold the color for the god.  For more colors and more meanings for each color, try looking here.

There are also a variety of herbs or incenses you could include for a spell session.  One could use a protecting herb like bay to begin every spell.  There are far too many choices to begin to list. I recommend Scott Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs.  It's really handy and has so much to offer, such as alternative names for plants, a way to look up which plants will help make it rain or other things, and some interesting facts.  (Did you know that witches supposedly chewed celery seeds to help them fly on broomsticks?)  Otherwise, good luck searching on the web. :)

There is no wrong way to cast a spell.  One thing I do recommend is making a ritual out of it, to give the occasion some significance.  A common way to do it is to start by cleansing your area - literally and figuratively sweep out negative energy - and then casting a circle.  Make sure you have your supplies beforehand, and spell in mind.  Then you could open by calling on the gods you pray to, and even doing a North East South West thing.  Say your words - you may want to repeat them a few times (choose a significant number, like 3) - and light any candles or burn any incense that you want to.  Spend a while visualizing what you want to come from this spell session.  Maybe just some serenity for yourself.  Do whatever you want to to reinforce your visualization of what you want.  When you're done, thank the gods and dismiss them, then visualize your circle closing.

Remember that a spell is more powerful when it is written by YOU.  It doesn't have to be long, and it doesn't have to be award-winning.  It actually doesn't even have to rhyme.  Just get out the words that have meaning to you.  GIVE them meaning, and believe in it. :)
I wrote earlier about how people can have some conflicting things about them.  One of mine is that I don't identify with a religion, don't believe in a God, and yet sometimes I really wish that I could believe in a religion.

I don't want to start a debate about religions here.  It's kind of pointless in my opinion, and just ends up bringing out the worst in people.  That's part of the reason why I don't like religions... the people involved, and the fact that it seems to tear humanity apart.

I've looked at the theories behind a lot of religions.  I find that I can respect pretty much all of them, and find them admirable.  In theory, at least.  I've even looked up exactly what Satanism is.  I found out that the only real difference between a Satanist and a Christian is that the former believe that if someone does you wrong, you strike back.  It made me think about how many people I knew who called themselves Christians, but would without a doubt strike back.

Far be it for me to judge someone.  I just wish that when a baby is born in the US, it isn't automatically assumed to be straight and Christian.  It seems like a lot of people just go with what they consider to be the "norm" rather than actually choosing it.  My biggest sign of respect to religion is to not call myself a practitioner of anything.  I refuse to become a hypocrite and further give any religion a bad name.  I studied Wicca for a full year, and decided not to call myself anything of the sort because I knew I couldn't live up to the "harm none" belief, while I still thought it was funny to laugh at other people's short comings. I was only 11 then.

My life would probably be fine like this.  But I still have restless nights when I really think about the reality of DEATH.  It's not a trip to fluffy clouds for me.  For me, that's pretty absurd.  Also, I acknowledge that I'm not a good person.  If Christianity is right (sorry, others, but it's what I'm raised with) then I'd be going to hell.  I've even had a dream in which I received a call from my stepfather and he told me that he wanted to let me know that I wouldn't be seeing him again, because I don't have a soul.

For me, the thought of death goes like this... What will happen?  Will it be like falling asleep, but I never wake up again? Will I see new things, like in a dream, or will that be impossible because my brain stops working?  I guess that it wouldn't be so bad, because if it's just like never waking up, then it won't be painful.  But that's so sad at the same time, to never wake up, and never know.  Just to stop existing.  And then I think, but at least it won't happen to me.  And then I think, No.  It WILL happen to me.  Like a roller coaster you really don't want to be on anymore, but you can't get off, and there's no turning back.  It will happen to ME, whether I'm ready or not.  And it's so scary.

I wish I could believe in a god, any god, and a happy afterlife to look forward to.  But I really can't.  I even wish I could lose enough brain cells to get myself to believe in something that sounds like a fantasy land.  I already have trouble connecting with reality, so this shouldn't be so hard, you'd think.
I want to believe in you, oh sparkly ghost!

People have such interesting brushes with the unknown.  This whole question is why I'm so fascinated by the paranormal, I think.  But those superstitions and religions have existed for years, so I know I'm not the only one.  The question for me is, did they find something real, or are billions of people just desperate enough or foolish enough to believe in a story that someone made up?  How does it feel to be one of the people who say that they can look into their hearts and know these things to be true?  I may find it ridiculous now, but I bet it'd feel pretty good to have faith in something.

And then I remember that it seems like too many people only believe so they can feel morally justified, or other selfish reasons.  I know that doesn't describe everyone, and it shouldn't stop me from finding a religion, but it does.
On the Absolute Write forums, someone posted along the lines of saying that characters shouldn't be based on real people, they should be stereotypes that walk and talk like real people do.
I'm a real person! Honest!
Cue a knee jerk reaction that, Noooo stereotypes are bad.  But it got me thinking, any way.  I still think writing a character as a stereotype is lazy and a bad way to purposely approach making a character.  But basing your character after your best friend is not the wisest move, either.

Writers really shouldn't insert themselves into a story, but is there ever a character that a writer can't see themselves in at all?  I don't think so - not if the character is well-rounded enough.

This is my outward appearance.
People are tricky, complex, contradicting creatures.  I might as well just talk about myself as the only example, because I'm best qualified to talk about me.  If I had to give myself a quick stereotypical description, I'd probably go with "attention whore".  I always want something crazy to say to get attention.  But at the same time I'm really reclusive and I suck at socializing with people.  Is that description accurate?  Yes, but it's grossly one dimensional.  There are a million little things that make up who I am, and most of them are oddly contradicting.

Me as a writer. Yes, this disturbs me, too.

 If you saw my profile on AW, its got an avatar with a fat unicorn and rainbows, and my signature is similarly packed with sickeningly cute things.  Yet I don't often find something worth writing unless it's full of disembowelment or such things.  I love unicorns and glitter, my personality to others is pretty much trying to be everyone's funny friend, but I write about death and mayhem.  If I were a character, you'd probably throw the book against the wall because I'm so wildly inconsistent and badly written.

I am a character.

What?  No, I didn't self-insert.  At least, I didn't try to.  I will confess, when I began my character, she was secondary and I could only describe her in a stereotype, knowing fully well that it wasn't all she was:  "slutty".  That was all that I could put my finger on.  Now that characterization is kind of obliterated, but she's still the same girl.  I see myself in her - namely, the lack of ability to connect to reality.  I didn't even realize it.

My werewolf? I see my shared desire for the macabre.

Her brothers?  I see my struggle with sexuality, how sometimes I can think I'm better and smarter than other people, and my fear of "settling" for what life has given me.

Every one seems to have a piece of me, or something that I can connect to.  Even though one is closeted, one is racist, and one is family orientated, and those are things that are far away from what I am.

What I'm getting at is that it's okay to put a piece of yourself into a character.  There's a difference between writing yourself into a self-indulgent fantasy, and putting a facet of yourself and your experience into a character.

This book emotionally destroyed me. So good.
I've been many people in my life.  I've been an angry little kid.  I've been naive and detached from reality.  I've been a loving friend, and I've been a backstabber.  I've been a criminal.  I've been a philosopher.  I've been the girl who lost a parent.  I've been the one who will fight to the death over what she believes in, but who is too insecure to pick up a phone.  To label myself as one of any of those things is ridiculously narrow, but I can use a few of those facets and build an entirely new character.

It's not just my characters.  Take Animorphs, for example (I loved Animorphs. Okay, I still do).  Jake, the virtuous leader. Rachel, the fighting spirit.  Marco, the joker.  Tobias, the emotionally aloof.  Cassie, the bleeding heart.  Ax, the curious and intellectual.  I see parts of myself in all of them, even if I don't like it.
I'm interested - if you think about it, can you relate to all of your major characters, even if you have to admit it's through a bad trait?

People say, Write what you know.

Since when have you ever known YOURSELF to be a one-sided stereotype?
Time for another blog chain!

This month's prompt: Setting the Scene

Write a location description, and make us feel as if we are there. No dialogue, no introductory comments, just a location. We're the tourists, you're the guide.

There's a divergence along the road, splitting off to the left.  For the last few miles, drivers went by lush green trees with branches full of thick leaves, and only glimpses of a space beyond, glimpses at a silvery expanse of water.  Now this new path leads to a clearing through the beautiful but isolating trees. The road turns from smooth tar to sun-baked dirt as it approached the water.  There is a small row of parking spaces, and not another soul around.  Leaving the vehicle behind, one can walk down to the lake's shore and look over the water.  The sun is hot and bright, but a wind blows just gently enough to keep the air comfortable.  There are colorful canoes along the far away sides of the lake.  The water is a narrow stretch, but it is long - looking straight out, one can only see a endless path of water into the horizon.  Perhaps it even does go out to the ocean.

A rusted sign says No Swimming, but a dip doesn't seem necessary anyway.  A small dock stretches out onto the water.  Walking onto the firm wooden planks is like being on the playground again as a child.  On each side one can see rocks and plants just underneath the water.  They have a yellowish tone, with light rippling around them, and a slightly slimy look.  Unfortunately, there are no fish to be seen.  As one walks out further, the water darkens until even squinting, the bottom is no longer visible.  With a shift of weight, one can gently rock the dock side to side.  There's something entirely relaxing about water, or the calm, quiet day, or the warm weather.  A temptation to go ahead and ignore that No Swimming sign.  Not that a swim would be necessary, but it would be fun.

orion_mk3 - (link to this month's post)
juniper - (link to this month's post)
LadyMage - (link to this month's post)
dolores haze - (link to this month's post)
jkellerford - (link to this month's post)
Ralph Pines - (link to this month's post)
AuburnAssassin - (link to this month's post)
pezie - (link to this month's post)
Inkstrokes - (link to this month's post)
WildScribe - (link to this month's post)
Guardian - (link to this month's post)
Lyra Jean - (link to this month's post)
egoodlett - (link to this month's post)
cwachob - (link to this month's post)
Aheïla - (link to this month's post)
faerydancer - (link to this month's post)
TheMindKiller - (link to this month's post)
Irissel - (link to this month's post)
xcomplex - (link to this month's post)
Robbi Sommers Bryant - (link to this month's post)
I've seen so many things on TV, movies, and books about high school and teenagers that I'm starting to get concerned about what is a 'normal' high school experience. 

I see these 30-something actors trying to act out an edgy screenplay.  There's either so much bullying, these kids look like a hive mind mafia, or there's a large group of BFFs who are so close, they'd use the same bathroom stall and then reminisce in their diaries for an hour.

High school must be horrible for someone somewhere. I'm not even sure, because I've only been to pretty rural schools. No gangs, not much racial diversity, not so much with the rampant bullying.  Do we have problems?  Sure. My school still has drug users, fights, drop outs, and girls who get knocked up in the 8th grade.

Why are the problems so amplified in movies?  There always seems to be a gang of uber-popular girls plotting to basically break some other person's kneecaps.  I realize that a story needs a conflict, and some of these stories are based off of real experience.  Sad for the person who had to go through that.  But can we get a little more of a rounded view of it?  If I based my thoughts of high school off of books and movies, I'd start to think I was going into a warzone, or that there's a 150% chance I'll come out pregnant and addicted to heroin or cutting myself.

First of all, yeah, I've known some people who did cut themselves.  Let's dispell some stereotypes.  They didn't walk around with gothic clothing believing that they are so much emotionally deeper than everyone else.  They were mostly girls, but these were just the ones I knew about.  They wore long sleeves and hoodies even in the summer.  They were not friendless, they were not depressed 24/7 or suicidal.  One girl I knew told me that she cut absolutely anywhere she could get away with.  Not her arms, her entire body.

These people still have friends, though.  Friends, boyfriends, interests, pets, things they love.  At least in my experience, these people were not socially rejected, or completely alone.  It's something else altogether.  Something I don't think I could begin to dwell on, and won't attempt to do so.

Bullying? I won't pretend it's not a problem. Our school seemed to think there was a problem, judging by the poorly drawn anti-bullying posters on the walls. There was one boy that I'll call Greg for the sake of this post. When I first met him, he was picked on by other kids. I felt bad for him... for all of five minutes. Then I realized why he was picked on -- he made ridiculous claims, like that deer had opposable thumbs, or that he'd killed a wolf with his bare hands when he was 8. Moreover, instead of being able to laugh and let it roll off of his back, everything that people said struck him like a fatal arrow.

This is the age group that calls names, cuts other people's
hair off, and could get away with destroying property.
If your high school resembles this... just wtf?

Even when people were nice to him, he took it as the worst insult. He had a girlfriend for years, and in junior year he assaulted her and raped her. Everyone knew about it except for the right people. They stayed a couple.
 The most recent bullying I saw in a movie was a girl with leg braces being called a retard by another girl and having a drink dumped all over her right in the middle of a (conveniently empty) hallway. High school, really? Because I've had drinks thrown at me... in middle grade. I've seen girls blow up about friendships and boyfriends over the slightest thing... in junior high. Why are these the things that get portrayed in high school? We kind of grew out of that, thank god.

But again, I've only been to one high school.  Other ones sincerely do have problems with gangs, hard core drugs, weapons, etc.  I was lucky, I suppose.  I'm not trying to dismiss those other experiences. Just remember that my experience is valid, too.  Not all high schools are full of horrible people.  (But they still feel like prisons and incite anxiety and depression in plenty of people anyway.)   I was not a jock, not a popular person, but I didn't have to live inside a clique.  I was able to be what I wanted, and do what I wanted to.  Popular kids would even talk to me or pay me a compliment now and then.  Imagine that! What a relief.

My tip to anyone still in school: learn to let things roll off your back.  Laugh it off.  Things don't have to be so serious and grave all the time.  Worry more about that 7 page report you have to write for the teacher you hate. But not too much.  Just get it done and bond with some of your peers by complaining about it. ;)
When I talk to people about writing, or ask them questions, I always try to avoid talking about what I'm actually writing about. I admit, I feel a little ashamed.

I am writing a werewolf story.  Yes, werewolves.

Perhaps you don't see the issue. Perhaps you are one who instinctively grits their teeth.  Perhaps you are a concerned sort.  "But Dae!" you cry, "Werewolves and vampires are being done to DEATH. Why would you do this?"

Well, for starters this is no Twilight book full of vegetarian monsters.  The plot started years ago.  I actually remember checking out the book Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause when I was in Junior high, 5 years ago.  I read the book and thought to myself, why do werewolves and vampires always have to fall in love with a human or want to become human?  Don't get me wrong, I loved the book (refuse to watch the movie) but yes, this started as an anti-Blood and Chocolate plot.  I wanted to completely turn it on its head.

I started building my characters and plot about 4 years ago.  It was simpler then. Or not so much.  I worked out the entire family of werewolves meticulously - their names, their origins, history, personalities, relationships, desires, physiology, strengths and downfalls.  I wanted my FMC to be strong, thoughtful, deep, intelligent, disconnected from the human world, anti-social, fiercely loyal to her family, and with an urge to go run free.  She was born in Russia -- she spoke French.  Yes, that was absurd and it got dropped quickly.

My secondary character started as just a girl labeled as a "slut".  The girl with the bad reputation, and she hated it so much she embraced it.  I didn't know what else to say about her.  Here was this girl who would wreck my FMC's world. I didn't know what her parents were like, or her home life.  I didn't know what her goals in life were. I still sort of don't.  But I guess that's okay - when I was her age I wasn't sure if I'd ever see a future. I couldn't imagine one for myself.

Then I realized I wanted to make this story about BOTH of them.  Somehow shove them both into the single spot of Main Character. Leave them each morally ambiguous and deeply flawed. Let the readers decide which one was the hero, and which one the villain.  I kept feeling like my human MC was the villain... and then that she wasn't, and so on back and forth. But how would I ever balance both?

A friend of mine helped me come up with a subplot. While the book would continue to deal with my human becoming infected, there would be another issue - one of the wolf FMC's brothers (who had never had a big feature) hated himself and his family. He considered them monsters. He wanted to forcibly stop the spread of disease.

I had these two amazing plots to twist together.  Now how to write?  Nothing worked. I've been through a dozen different rewrites of the opening scene.  How will the human MC and wolf MC meet?  How will the infection happen?

It took me a while and I realized that my human girl needed a dad.  She'd previously had a bitter mother who was divorced.  Now I gave her a dad.  A police officer - the only one in their small town - and she loved him. Her parents were still estranged, and seemingly about to fall into a divorce.  The dad solved how I would introduce the two characters.  But a new problem arose.  With a dad, my character became a whole new person.  She loves her dad, I realize.  She went from the sexual, aggressive character I needed to becoming a shy, reasonable person. She was lovely.  I needed ugly.

I had to kill her dad.

Not just take him away again.  I realized I had to introduce him... and then kill him.  It was what I needed to make her snap.  I also realized that my human girl and wolf girl shouldn't be enemies from the start.  They had to be friends.  Perfect friends.  In fact, I think that they need to fall in love.

My ultimate revelation thus far was this:  my human MC is the main character.  IS.  No sharing lime light.  No huge subplot.  Her story needs to be told, from begining to end.  And this shocked me.  She started as such a minor character, and a stereotype.  She was nothing more than an addition to the story of a family of werewolves.  But no.  This actually wasn't about them at all.  Which made me cringe in fear -- if I wanted the other plot to ever be printed, I'd have to go for a series, or at least a sequel.  If the first fails, the second will likely never be told. The story of the werewolves I labored for years to create will be nothing but background noise for a character who came out of nowhere.  And I suppose I would be okay with that. I'm not upset - I'm amazed.

My book is strange.  The characters are in the YA age group, yet I'm not sure if the book will be suited for it.  Maybe I'm wrong - I haven't read many dark YA books for a while.  The entire book is mired in blood, death, insanity, murder, blackmail, betrayal. 

I have it plotted from beginning to end and back again.  But what have I written?

5 words.  My title.  I'm afraid. But I feel that inevitably, it will happen.  I have a fully written novel in my head, and not a lick has yet come out of my finger tips.  I'm carrying a werewolf novel around that doesn't exist. I'm ashamed. But also so astonished.
Yesterday I took a long trip to the coast of Maine.  Destination: Castine

The goal was to find my college, and have some fun while doing so.  It turns out that Castine is a pretty rural place, although my previous rural town didn't have a golf course!  The school only has 800 or so students.

The trip began with a stop at our local Cumby's for drinks, and on a whimsy, a $2 scratch ticket, with lucky number 13.  Well, it was lucky indeed... I won 4 times off that number, raking in a $20 prize. Big money!  Mom decided that this was a good omen.

My mother and I started out following the school's directions to the interstate... and then realized that we'd gone 40 miles out of our way to begin with.  What a waste!  But we picked up the right interstates and continued onwards.  Of course, my mother is beginning to have some legendary bladder issues, so our first scenic stop was in Palermo, next to a lake.

Just look at this lush greenery.  It was pretty nice, except for the fact that letting the truck sit still meant that getting back in was HOT later on.

As a side note, I went to a graduation party the day before, which turned out to be lakeside.  My friend and I planned on taking a nice dry paddle boat out into the lake to have some fun.  Well, the sea-doo skipping around the lake decided that we wouldn't stay dry!  Good thing I left my cellphone on shore.

And back to the trip...

So next, our directions became confusing again, naturally.  We went a little too far and decided to go into Belfast and stop to look around.

 This is the coast at Belfast.  The residential houses and businesses were very nice to look at... very colonial architecture and lots of costal motifs.

We stayed just for a few moments to stretch our legs and think about the directions some more. 

We knew we needed to get to Bucksport, and from there we'd make it to Castine.  Fortunately I wasn't going alone because I would need a GPS and a trained guide to get me there.

We hit the road again... and I found myself being dragged into a shop by my very excited mother.

Behold, Perry's Nut House!  What is it, you may ask?  Well they sell foods like candies and assorted -- you guessed it -- nuts.  They also have a safari assortment of toy animals, keychains, t-shirts, and so many things to do with lobsters or moose that your brain would pop.

And delicious fudge, which I am currently eating.  Mmm.

Among the animals they had, there were a few choices of unicorns.  Another good omen for this trip! I brought home a wild-eyed little uni on a keychain, along with a few other good-luck knick knacks.  Little did I know how much I'd end up needing them!

After Perry's, and a lunch stop where I ate my desert out of a plastic children's bucket, we cut through Searsport towards Bucksport.  It was 1:30pm, and our trip had begun at 9am. We were back to business.

Then my mother saw this beautiful monstrosity of a bridge (which promptly made her lose some bladder control, I believe).  She hates big bridges, and this one was quite large for us.  Exciting for me, terrifying for her.

We ended up stopping at a little scenic look-out spot before conquering the beast.  It was nice, but not much to look at.  A little history plaque told me that this was the scene of a big loss for the Americans back when we were fighting the British.  We stumbled across a lot of these flashbacks to the Revolutionary War era.

The Penobscot River.  Scene of a great American loss against the British.  Big, beautiful, and proud.  Hopefully less polluted than the Kennebec.
 Then we drove across the bridge, my mother letting out a continuous scream until we finally rolled onto land.

We'd finally made it to Bucksport, which brought up the question - where was the witch's tombstone?
Are you not familiar with that question?  Well, in Maine there is a legend about a witch whose foot appears on a gravestone at some cemetery.  But we passed many cemeteries and were unable to find it the first time through.  I ended up texting my very helpful brother for an address, which we realized was already behind us. To be continued!

From there on, the roads became very rural.  The houses were small and lovely, and many were for sale. The salt water peeked at us every time we crested a hill, or rounded a shady waterfront road.  We went through Verona Island, Orland, the town of Penobscot, and finally made it down to Castine, and found my school.


We headed straight to the coast and snapped some photos of the ships before trying to figure out where to go on the campus.  On the right is a picture of a tug boat.  It was pretty large, but the training ship the school uses is at least 3-4 times larger, and was unfortunately not docked that day.

This is the football field at my school.  They also have indoor courts for tennis and raquetball, an indoor swimming pool (woo!), a rock wall and more.  There were some frightening pull-up bars by the NROTC office.  My ass is going to be kicked at this school.

We found the bookstore next and purchased a couple items - a very official-looking MMA shirt for me and one for my mother which even had "MOM" written on it.  She was thrilled.

Most of the campus was locked down, so we went around with a map for a little while, looking at buildings, and then decided to leave.  For such a long time, we didn't stay for even half an hour.

Goodbye for now, Castine!
Back on the road again.

We hit a long road and headed back to Bucksport.  I wanted to find the gravestone with the witch's foot.

Imagine my surprise when the truck started drifting into the opposite lane of traffic.  No, imagine my fright!  I felt myself about to literally pee my pants at the sight of oncoming traffic heading towards us.  A truck on the opposite side had to go into the ditch to go around us.

I yelled at my mom, "What the hell are you doing?"

Her response, "I felt like off roading. He needed to get out of my lane."

Thoroughly terrified, and my mom laughing at me to cover her mistake (sigh), we made it into Bucksport safe and sound, and located the cemetery (across from Hannafords).  They have a specially built ramp and guard rail that leads directly to the tombstone.

Two plaques next to the gravestone told us the story behind the gravestone.  This monument was erected for Colonel Jonathan Buck, the founder of Bucksport and all-around considered a great guy.

The legend is that he had a woman condemned as a witch, and burned at the stake for her witchery.  She supposedly cursed him, saying that her mark would appear on his headstone.  While she burned, one of her legs fell off and rolled out.  Her deformed son grabbed the leg, cursed Buck, and then ran off into the wilderness.

Sixty years later, the town erected this monument for Buck, and the leg-shaped mark appeared.  They attempted to sand it off, but it continued to re-appear.  The plaque also states that it is not uncommon for granite to have a flaw that doesn't show up until it's been cut and polished.  There is also a mark on the upper part of the monument in the shape of a sideways heart.

The legend of the witch's curse only showed up after the monument was erected sixty years later. Also, there is no record of anyone being executed for witchcraft there.  Still an interesting legend.

When we hit the bridge later on, I made sure to describe our lofty journey in detail to get back at my mom for nearly killing me.  My favorite was, "Whoa, can you feel the bridge moving back and forth?"  Heh heh.

We had a great trip overall, and we hope to hit some more destinations this summer. 

Next I want to check out the Desert of Maine.
Dear freshman girl,

I had the pleasure of helping you in pep band for a short time. In that time, I grew fond of you, because of your affiliation of being a fellow percussionist, and out of sympathy and fascination for your personal life - namely, your "friendships".

I've heard from elementary teachers before that when you go into high school, even the strongest friendships are often ripped apart. For you, I hope that is true. This may seem awful to you, but in my own opinion, losing your friends could possibly be the best thing to happen for you personally, and anyone else in your position. I know they may seem so important now, but frankly to the rest of us, your friends are batshiat insane. They constantly upset you, and one has so many tantrums and emotional breakdowns it is a wonder that she has any friends at all (and honestly, she reminds me of myself at her age).

There's a sort of magical quality to high school, even one as small as ours. You can see someone every day for a year, but then their schedule changes, and suddenly you never see them at school. Never.

This is the death sentence to friendships, though it doesn't have to be. I had 2 best friends when I started elementary school. I was a horrible little girl back then, like your overly emotional friend. But things change, and personalities smooth out. I went from loving them to hating them to loving them again. And we are still friends now, coming out of high school. We stayed in touch through clubs, after school activities, and social networks.

But this magical disappearing act can be wonderful - and I know this sounds mean - to get rid of old friends. Sometimes you would have to put in extra effort to ever see someone. This means that a bad friendship can grow apart, and you can each go your own way. Perhaps you will become friends again someday. If they aren't good for you, let them go. And I beg you, bass drummer girl, let your two friends drift away. Let them grow with experience and let their minds and emotions settle.

You will all change over time, some more than others. They may come back to you, or you may realize you are so glad to never see them again. You may not even remember them. The thing is, we are not the same person we used to be years ago. I would not be friends today with many people I used to play with. I am friends today with many people I never would have gone near as a kid.

Lastly, one thing I wildly endorse is to be yourself. Dance even if there is no music. Sing when everyone is paralyzed with fear to speak. Do what you want to do, not what everyone else is doing. The result is that you will love life more, enjoy your days, love yourself. Those who make friends with you will truly like you for YOU, as opposed to a mannequin version of yourself who only knows how to follow the trends and listen to the popular music.

I care deeply for you, drummer girl, because I see so much of my troubled former self in you. Know that I don't have the answers to everything, but I have found personal happiness, and that is what I wish for you.

A drummer girl
Graduation is truly an amazing experience. After years of hardship, frustration, and tedium, things begin to clarify and wind down. I've heard many things about graduating and preparing for what's next, and I'd like to put out my own experiences.

Mostly, I'd like to negate a lot of phrases that students will hear in their lifetime.

1. "These are the best years of your life."
Lord, I hope not. Academically, high school sucks. But I will admit, I had so much fun in high school, but here's why - it's because I learned to let myself have fun and laugh at the fashionable shoes of "cool" and "normal". I started as a little dorky freshman who had such low self esteem, she wouldn't look anyone in the eye. I was afraid to speak in class because I thought that I'd fail the course or something if I answered a question wrong. Then I dated, and though I wasn't ready for a relationship, that gave me such a confidence boost. And then I cut my hair. Long brown hair down to my butt - shaved off and dyed into a red mohawk. I had never been happier in my life! From then on I realized more and more that I should do what I want. I still had tons of friends, and better yet I knew those friends liked me for who I was, not because I was buying X brand of clothes. I fell madly in love with unicorns, I wore sombreros and giant sunglasses to class, I sang love ballads in busy hallways. I did have a great time, but it was full of a lot of suck, including a mental breakdown in junior year, when I realized I had to stop being a perfectionist.

2. "It's easy to get involved in __."
Can I just say how hard this can be? Sports, for one, are next to impossible to get into unless you've always been in them. The Fall sports start before school even begins, and you will not get the memo if you're new. Seek it out immediately and join. It's hard, but it's worth it.

In the same vein, music - join early and stick with it. I wish I had even known about music programs back in the day. There are awards that people get in things like marching band or sports teams for being in it for 4 years. Which means if you join a year late, you don't even get a chance. I love shiny awards at the end of the year.

Clubs - stick with them, but especially in senior year. I didn't really have time in my senior year for clubs, but I should have made time. Mainly it was laziness on my part. The trouble is, you could be the go-to person for your club one year, but if you're not in it senior year, no one cares. I joined the school's Honor Society in my senior year. Best choice, because I get all of the nice awards and none of the mandatory meetings.

Senior year is the time to jump through hoops to get your awards, and also volunteer because...

3. "Go to college."
No. College isn't for everyone. Think about it. If you only want to go to college to study some sort of liberal arts philosophy basket weaving thing, you're wasting your time and money. Sure, it might be a good experience, but college is damn expensive and in this day do you really think you're going to get a job as a philosopher? To be honest, I would rather go to a community college and learn how to work on cars for a living than go off to college for women's studies or something whose job market is an abstract concept.

4. "You can afford to go to any college you want."
Yeah, right. I've been told I'll get all the financial aid I need to go to school. My family has no income, I have no income, and I have no college fund. Currently I'm hoping like hell that the last scholarship that hasn't come back yet will come through for me. It's a big one, but there's still a risk that I'll be short 6,000 or more. That'll have to come out my pocket. And by that, I mean I'll have to take out a loan now (and assuming I get the loan at all) and then hope like hell I get a job when I graduate so I can pay off my student loans for years to come. I was literally told by my financial guide that choosing between schools meant "deciding how much debt you want to have." I want no debt at all! But someone like me is screwed because we need help and don't get it. Choosing college wasn't even a thing when I realized there was a 20k difference between my options.

5. "Apply to Scholarships"
This one is not a lie. The lie comes from them not promoting scholarships enough. Apply like crazy. Stay on scholarships as soon as senior year starts, like an angry hornet. Tackle every single one you might be able to get, big or small.

Scholarships tend to look for these qualities:
Academic decency
Atheltic goodness
Community service **
Financial need
You are a woman

To be honest, academic seems to be the least important thing on the list. B students are usually in the clear (okay, well this is coming from an A student so I'm biased). There are many scholarships for athletes but most important of all is the community service part. Scholarships seem to go crazy over you being able to show that you spoon feed old ladies every weekend. DO VOLUNTEER WORK IF YOU PLAN TO GO TO COLLEGE.

6. "You may hate ___ now, but you're going to miss them when you graduate."
No. I'm really a bleeding heart over lots of things, and I'm certainly not a staunch "My class needs to die" person, though I've probably said it at least seven times. As class marshall, I get to stand up in front of the class and direct them. I get a sense of pride when my class marches in, left right left, and they all sit down at command. We clean up nice. But will I miss them?

First of all, I don't really get to pal around with every single person in my class. There are, amazingly enough, a few I've seen just now and I have no freaking clue who they are or where they came from. The nice thing about highschool is that it breaks you apart from your friends. You may have 3 classes with someone every day for a semester, and then your schedule changes and you never see them again. There are kids I haven't seen in so long I didn't even know if they dropped out or not.

So when I see these people graduating, they make look nice for a change but it doesn't make them nice people suddenly. The drug abusers will still be drug abusers. The bitchy assholes will still be that way. The annoying kids will still make my skin crawl. The mentally unstable will still be prone to screaming outbursts. They may change years later... but not in one day.