Seasonal Depression in Spring/Summer

                The birds are chirping, the sun is shining, the days are longer, and I couldn’t be more miserable if I tried. Clearly, I’m not a doctor and I dislike doing research which means everything you’re about to read is from my personal experience and shouldn’t be taken as gospel on any subject.

                For those of you who are asking yourselves, “How can you possibly be depressed in such beautiful weather?” Be patient, I’m about to tell you. Yes, the weather is beautiful TO YOU. To me? Beautiful weather is gloomy skies, a chill in the air, and the threat of precipitation in any form. Unfortunately, for the next four months I must deal with ungodly high temperatures, sunburn, and sweating my ass off. Not my idea of a good time.

                There’s more to it than the general annoyances we all endure in the Spring and Summer. As I said, the days are longer and I don’t handle this well. To me, longer days means more time alone in my apartment. More alone time is NOT what I need right now. I’ve been taking naps almost every single day when I come home from work. I feel exhausted for no reason and taking naps makes the day go faster so I can go back to bed. I measure time by how much longer until I can crawl into my bed. Three more hours, two more hours, FINALLY!

                Depression runs deep on both sides of my family. However, I’m 50% Italian and 50% Irish so no one talks about anything. I’m the chatterbox in my family, the one who refuses to keep their mouth shut, the one who says what everyone else is too afraid to say. I have to talk about this because if I don’t then it only becomes worse and I sink deeper.

                Let me explain how I feel in the Spring/Summer. For one thing, I have a very difficult time sleeping at night. If I’m even the least bit hot I wake up and can’t fall back to sleep. If I wake up in the middle of the night and the birds are already chirping, I can’t get back to sleep unless I put ear plugs in and even then, it’s iffy. My apartment has central air but it doesn’t circulate well (especially in 90 degree weather) and I spent most of last summer sleeping on the floor of my living room. Not fun.

                Then there’s the whole clothing aspect of the warmer months. If you know me at all, you know I struggle with my weight and have for much of my life. Now it’s shorts, tank tops, and bathing suit weather. I would rather burrow into a hoodie, jeans, and under six blankets than wear those things. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve made unbelievable progress over the past two-three years and I don’t just mean on the scale. Yes, I’ve lost almost 40lbs. But I’ve also reached a place where I can look in a mirror and not immediately cringe or cry because even though I’m still big, I’m happier and that’s more important than the number on the scale.

                Honestly, I am doing much better, but I hit my biggest setbacks in the Spring and Summer. I’ve gained some weight back and it’s completely derailed me. It’s not a lot of weight but that never seems to matter, does it? All we see is a bigger number and it sets us off. Hell, I even managed to keep my weight steady during the holidays but as soon as Spring hits, it’s up again.

                Sometimes I genuinely sabotage myself. When I see a higher number, my first thoughts are, “Oh fuck it then, I’m going to eat whatever I want. Screw this. It’s not worth it. It’s never going to be worth it. You’re always going to be fat, come to terms with it and do whatever you want.” Logically, I’m aware this is a TERRIBLE overreaction but it’s the easy reaction. Giving up is so easy and it feels SO good. For about a week before the self-loathing kicks in again. I’ve tried incredibly hard over the years to turn those thoughts around and not let myself ruin everything I’ve done. It’s tough to be kind to ourselves.

                Obviously, with all these thoughts running through my head the last thing I want to do is put on a pair of shorts or sit by the pool. There are very people in my life (mostly my best friends) who have seen me in shorts, even fewer people have seen me in sleeveless shirts. Sleeveless shirts…I mean WHY?! Why is this a thing? I HATE them. Well, that’s not true, I hate my arms. I hate my arms more than any other part of my body and I’d be perfectly content to never let another human being see them. It’s bad enough I have to see them.

                Are you starting to get it? Are you starting to understand why someone with these types of thoughts wouldn’t exactly thrive in the warmer weather?

                You might be saying to yourself, “Shouldn’t this warmer weather motivate you to work harder to achieve the results you desire?” Here’s my answer: NOPE. In fact, I have the exact opposite reaction. I want to hide. I want to hide away until the leaves start to fall. You know why? Because every time I try to set a goal for myself like “Oh I want to lose five pounds before July”, if that doesn’t happen, the disappoint sets me back MONTHS and then I’m miserable again.

                I’m already hard on myself. I beat myself up harder than anyone else. For instance, my Dad took a picture of me when I wasn’t paying attention and I was making a funny face in it. He sent me the picture, with absolutely no harm intended in any way, and I started crying. Because I had no neck, I had 18 chins and that’s ALL I could see. I told him, “Oh my god, delete that immediately and never show it to me again. That’s disgusting.” I called a picture of my own face “disgusting” and I meant it. Can you imagine what runs through my mind when I see a picture of myself in shorts and a sleeveless top?

                I wish I had solutions for any of this. I wish the first thoughts in my head weren’t always negative. I wish I didn’t care what other people think. I wish I thought better of myself. Don’t we all wish to think better of ourselves?

                These upcoming months are my worst. These are the months where every insecurity I have is amplified to the highest degree. I still have good days. I have days where I laugh and smile and have a great time.

                The reason I wrote this is because I want people to be mindful that not everyone loves Spring and Summer. Not everyone wants to sit on a beach all day. Not everyone wants to dress weather appropriate. Try to keep that in mind before you say something like, “Oh my god, aren’t you dying in those jeans?” Yeah, I am sweating in them but they’re also the only reason I’m standing outside right now and not lying in bed so give me a break.

                It’s rough for me right now. It’s rough for a lot of people.

                Be kind to yourselves and I promise I’ll try to do the same.

Writing Prompt #3: If you could go back in time exactly 10 years and give yourself some advice, what would you tell yourself?

                Exactly 10 years ago, I was 19, quickly approaching 20 which means I was a sophomore at Holy Family University. I’m trying to think about what my state of mind was like back then. I could probably pull out my old journals to cheat and see what was going on with me but I won’t. I remember thinking twenty was a dumb age to reach because you’re no longer a teenager but you’re not 21 so who cares?

                Knowing myself though, I can tell you I was still overweight at 19. Most definitely in the 190-200lb range, if not more. I was probably wearing old shirts from my brother and my Dad because shopping was a nightmare and I’d rather look man-ish instead of braving the mirrors of a dressing room.

                My friends ten years ago are almost identical to who they are now. My core group of friends which consists of mostly men and my best female friend. Then there were the people I saw occasionally but still cared about, also the same people as now. Not to mention, my school friends. By sophomore year, I was in the same classes with the same six to eight people and we all became close (only talk to a couple of them now).

                I did get rid of one completely toxic human being from my life. Almost exactly a year before, around Spring Break when I was 18, I had to cut this person out. I had known him since I was kid and he became my best friend the last few years of high school. In college, we had a huge blowout where he said awful, horrific things to me so I said we’re done. Once and for all. It was the first time I ever did this to someone and to this day, I believe it to be one of the best decisions of my life.

                Advice. I’m supposed to be giving advice to almost 20-year-old Veronica. Well, my first piece of advice would be to have a more fun in college. I think because I was so traumatized from high school being the worst four years of my life, I was expecting college to be more of the same. It wasn’t, thank god. Once I was in my core classes for my English major, I found my fellow nerds and it felt so much easier to relax around them. However, I was still tense from the pressure of having maintain my scholarship. My skin was at its absolute worst in college from stress acne.

                My second piece of advice would be to not care so much about what other people think. I spent a lot of time in college trying to be smarter, wittier, cooler than I actually am. I don’t know if it’s because I was around new people and wanted to be a new person or if I was massively insecure about who I was. No wait, I know exactly which one of those it was. I was massively insecure- 100%. When you’re insecure and self-conscious about who you are, you try to adapt to the people around you because they seem more confident. They’re not. Everyone’s insecure. It’ll help you a lot if you keep repeating that to yourself whenever you’re starting to sink.

                Here’s my last piece of advice and this isn’t actually coming from me. One of my oldest and best friends once said this to me when I was having an incredibly low day. Be kind to yourself. Now, this isn’t just for 19-year-old Veronica. This is something I still have to say to myself constantly.  My whole life I have held myself to this higher expectation. It’s not pressure my parents ever put on me or my teachers or anyone except myself. There are certain aspects of my life where I’m always telling myself: you can do better than that. I’m the queen of beating myself up. It’s why when someone does put me down or says something horrible to me, I internalize it so deeply because I’ve already said the same horrible thing to myself a thousand times. You don’t need to judge me when I judge myself harsher than anyone else ever could.

                Be kind to yourself. I get so angry, back then and now, whenever I can’t do something. Whenever I can’t figure something out. Whenever I see other people having an easier time doing something that I find difficult. I berate myself as if it’s the end of the world and it’s NOT. It is not the end of the world if you screw up. It’s so important to remember that. The world will not come to a crashing halt if you don’t do something the way you were supposed to or if you did something incorrectly, or if it’s taking you longer to do something than others. In the words of mother, “Relax. It’ll get done.”

                In conclusion, 19 almost 20-year-old Veronica, here is my advice:

                Be kind to yourself.

                Relax.

                It’ll get done.

Writing Prompt #2: Does religion play an important role in your life? Why or why not?

                Religion. I have such a love/hate relationship with religion. It played a very important role in my childhood and adolescence. I went through 8 years of Catholic grade school and 4 years of Catholic high school. I also did 4 years at a Catholic college but that’s because they gave me the most money for a scholarship.

                Catholicism at its core is ridiculous to me. You’re telling a bunch of CHILDREN to be good and they’ll go to heaven. But if they’re bad, they’ll go to hell. NO PRESSURE, KIDS! Get out of here with that crap. Catholicism is all about putting the fear of God into people. You want me to fear God but also to obey him in every way? No thanks, I’m good.

                Let’s separate God from religion and talk about whether or not I believe in God instead. It’s taken me years to decide what I do and do not believe, and the truth is, I’m still not entirely sure. I used to say I toed the line between Agnostic and Atheist. I dangled between believing in something and not believing in anything.

                I’d say it started after my Grandpop died. He was my favorite person and he died the summer before I turned 14. The summer before high school, the four years where I think I could’ve used him the most. My Grandpop was religious. I mean, he went to Church and he prayed and he believed in God. He truly believed which always astounds me when I meet someone who wholeheartedly believes in God. When he died, I was so damn angry. Angry the God he trusted and believed in so much would take him from his family.

                After his death, Church became useless to me and God was nothing more than a pain in my ass. Especially because my Mom believes in God. Even after her father died, even after her best friend died, even after her cousin who was like a sister to her died. She still believes. How? Why? In what?!

                In my late teens, my Mom was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. That’s when I basically threw my hands up in the air and said, ‘screw it’. There’s nothing and no one looking out for us. If there was, they wouldn’t do this to my mother. Not to mention the fact that the world is terrifying. The gun violence, the rapists, the murderers, etc. It makes it impossible for me to believe there’s a God watching over us.

                Now wait, I know some of you believers are probably getting sick of me talking about how much I don’t believe but stay with me here. As I’ve aged, my views on this have altered slightly. I’ll be thirty this year (I’m not handling it well) and if you met most of my friends, they’re all atheists and they would love to talk to you about it. They’ll tell you when you die, you die, that’s it. You cease to exist, you are nothing but a dead body in the ground. The end.

                Um… does that not freak anyone else out?! I can barely think about it for too long because it gives me insane anxiety. That’s it? When we die, we’re just gone? Life is over and it won’t have ever mattered whether you lived or died because now you’re gone. You cease to exist. But about souls? Do we have souls? If we do, do they move on somewhere else? Where is this place? Is it a nice place or it is a place Dante himself could only write about?

                I think about death way too much. I mean WAY too much. It crosses my mind at least once or twice a day. Not only my death but other people I know and their death. If I don’t believe in anything, then the assumption is when I die, there’s nothingness. I don’t know how you feel, but I do NOT like the sound of that.

                Here’s what I’ve come up with: I don’t believe in anything, but I desperately wish I did. I think I would be able to sleep better if I had something to believe in. But I can’t believe in the Christian God, I can’t. It’s too farfetched, it’s too out there for me.

                When someone asks me if I’m religious, I always say “I’m spiritual, not religious”. I do believe in spirits because I’m not naïve to think human beings and animals are the only things on this earth and in our vast cosmos. In times of crisis, when other people pray to their gods, I pray to my Grandpop. I believe no matter where he is, heaven, hell, or another spiritual plane, he can hear me no matter what. I have to believe in that, at the very least, to get through the day.

                I don’t know what to believe in. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to believe in anything having to do with gods or religions.

                All I know is, I struggle with my beliefs and my faith because I’m not sure I have either one anymore.  

Writing Prompt #1- What would you like to put in storage?

Hello there.

It’s been a while since we last spoke. My fault, of course, for my lack of commitment and the general insanity and unpredictability of life.

Anyway, we’re going to try something different this year. A while ago (June 24th, 2016 to be precise), I bought a book called 300 Writing Prompts (published by Piccadilly). I’ve barely made a dent in those 300 and I thought now might be the perfect time to start. However, instead of only writing them in the book, I’ve decided to also write them here.

Starting with today. New year…well, new year, same me but we’re going to give this a try and hope for the best. Here goes nothing:

Writing Prompt #1: What would you like to put in storage?

All of my old childhood toys. My Grandmom would buy me a new collectible Barbie doll every year either for my birthday or for Christmas. I still have all of them, some in worse condition than others. I didn’t understand the whole concept of “collectible” as a child and I would try to pry quite a few of them out of the box. This is something that’s carried into my adulthood as well since those Pop Vinyl things are also collectibles and yet the entire Breakfast Club cast is out of the box and gathered on my cubicle at work.

I have other favorite toys. My stuffed Winnie the Pooh. The very first teddy bear someone ever bought me when I was born. A stuffed Pluto my brother brought me back from his first trip to Disney. My stuffed hush puppy who I dragged around with me everywhere. I loved all of these and I hate how they’re piled on top of each other in a storage container right now. It makes me think of Toy Story and they’re all waiting for me or someone new to come and free them.

I don’t plan on ever having children. *insert gasp of most women my age here* But that’s something I’m 99% sure of in my life. Even so, I don’t want to throw any of these away. The real hope is my brother and sister-in-law will have children. Then slowly, over the years, I’ll introduce those children to my first and oldest best friends and hope they find as much joy in them as I always did.

Until then, occasionally I’ll open the storage container and hug my old friends. Let them know I’m never too far away from them or my childhood self.

That's a wrap on 2017...FINALLY

                2017 was a rough year. I’m not going to sit here and list all the reasons why because we all know why. Even if you only pay a little attention to the news, you know this country and other countries took major hits this year. There’s no need to rehash them all. There’s only one I want to comment on and it’s in a positive light.

                To the women of the #MeToo movement: Thank you. Thank you to the women who started it, the women bringing awareness to it, and the women taking part in it. To the women who are still speaking up every single day, you are braver than you realize. To the women who are still suffering in silence, we support you, we love you, and whenever you’re ready, we’ll be there for you. Being a woman in this world is not easy. Speaking up about a time when you felt violated, terrified, and useless is one of the hardest things you can do. I commend every single woman who has gone through it and I stand with you no matter what.

                I’m terrible at transitions so I’m going to keep going without one. Personally, 2017 wasn’t too bad. For the first time in 2-3 years, my family didn’t lose a loved one. I didn’t have to put on black clothes and say goodbye to someone and for that, I’m eternally grateful.

                This year I saw a decent amount of movies. Dunkirk, Beauty and the Beast, and Titanic (released in theaters again for the 20th anniversary) were my favorites.  I also went to three concerts this year. Ed Sheeran- Holy shit. The way this guy can command a stage with only a guitar is astonishing to watch. I’ve never seen anything like it and I can’t wait to see him again next September at the Linc.

                Harry Styles- Such an interesting concert going experience, I’ve already written about it if you want to check it out. His music is beautiful and interesting and his fans are also beautiful and interesting. He pushes people to act with kindness and love. Maybe I’ve softened in my old age but a part of me really thinks this world needs more of this and less hate and bitterness. What? But Veronica, you love bitterness, it fuels you! Yes, I know. I’m growing up. How weird.

                Niall Horan- Or as I call him “My Irish Love”. The lyrics on Niall’s first solo album made me feel connected to music more than I have in years. A few songs I highly recommend: Fire Away, Since We’re Alone, and Mirrors. Actually, no, listen to the whole album. It’s worth it, I swear. I saw Niall at The Fillmore and his opening act was another Irish fella, Gavin James. Both were lovely and a lot of fun to watch. I’m so glad I was able to take part in all three of these concerts because they were different in their music and in the experience itself.

                Twitter highlights (no one is going to care besides me about these but oh well): Rainbow Rowell, one of my favorite authors, favorited a tweet of mine (this is the second time, by the way). Noel Fielding, a hilarious and completely odd British comedian, replied to a tweet of mine. Jonathan Tucker, an actor I adore so much, favorited a tweet of mine. I’m twitter famous! No, not really. These people only liked and replied to my tweets because I mentioned them. I’ve had the same 88 followers on twitter (ahem, @valtimari, hint hint) for two years and I don’t even know 80 of them. Still, it makes me smile.

                I was promoted this year too. The reason this is a big deal is because I can begin my search for a house. Some place I can finally feel settled. One final thing happened this year, it actually took place in the car on my way to work this morning. I had a new book idea. I haven’t had one of those in I don’t know how long. Who knows if it’ll stick or if it’ll be any good but for the first time in a very long time, I was excited about the prospect of writing.

                I don’t really do New Year’s Resolutions. I think if you’re someone like me, who puts way too much pressure on themselves, resolutions are set up to make you feel like a failure if you don’t accomplish them. I never set anything in stone. However… I compiled a list of things that look an awful lot like resolutions. Oh well. They’re more like wishes. Yes, let’s go with that. They’re wishes for 2018.

1.       Buy a house

2.       Cut people more slack

3.       Don’t be so hard on myself

4.       Go to more concerts

5.       Go to more movies

6.       Go on vacation

7.       Write more

8.       Try not to lock myself away as much

9.       Let go of dumb shit

10.   Do everything I can do to make sure 2018 isn’t as much as a disaster as 2017

Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays! Happy New Year!

Love,
Veronica

Back at it again...

                This morning was weird. First, I woke up around two and then again at three because I made the mistake of leaving my bedroom window open and the shade up. River, my cat, decided she wanted to play with, hit, and bang the shade every five minutes. When it became intolerable, I closed the window and the shade and she finally settled down. Then I woke up again at six (twenty minutes before my alarm!) to the sounds of birds chirping. Most people love this. “Oh it’s Spring! Birds are chirping! How wonderful! It’s like being in a Disney movie.”

                I have enough trouble sleeping; I don’t need the entire animal cast of Cinderella outside my window at 6 am. I hate the sounds of birds. Maybe it’s because we had two birds growing up and they were the most annoying animals on earth. Maybe it’s because I have enough of a hard time sleeping and having birds chirping starting at 3am doesn’t help. All I know is I hate the sounds of birds. They’re probably my least favorite thing about the Spring and Summer. However, thinking about Spring and Summer gave me an idea for my writing.

                A year ago, I wrote a collection of YA short stories and I thought I was finished with it. But thanks to the wonderful constructive criticism of some of my old teachers, I know now that I have to add more to them. Today, for the first time in about six months (probably more), I had a new idea on how to expand on them, how to make them better, and how to actually finish them off right.

                Then, as if Fate knew it was the right time for me to start writing again, the Simple Minds song, Don’t You Forget About Me came on my Pandora. Nothing in the world makes me happier than listening to that song at the highest possible volume and rocking out to it. It was my sign from teenage Veronica, telling me it’s time to get back to work.

                One of my biggest issues with my writing is finding the time to do it. The only writing I’ve done lately is in my journal and that’s just so I can get through the day without snapping on someone because my head is too full with all the family stuff going on. I stare at Word documents all day long at my job. I edit and write for eight and a half hours a day. The last thing I want to do when I come home is open up another Word document and start writing.

                I used to have a writing contract with a friend of mine to make sure I wrote something at least once a day and it worked for almost a full year, I believe. I think I need to start something along those lines again. I always work better with deadlines so if I give myself a timeline, I’ll be more likely to stick to it then if I try to just go with the flow.

                All of this is just a long-winded way of saying I’m going to start working on my stories again. Hopefully up the word count and take all the notes people have given me and make them better than before.

As much as I hate to say it, I think I have to thank the birds and the changing weather for waking me up from my Fall/Winter coma.

                In the words of Dean and Sam Winchester, “We’ve got work to do.”

2015- A Year in Review

Yes, there's a gif of Tom Hardy saying Happy New Year. The internet is great.

Yes, there's a gif of Tom Hardy saying Happy New Year. The internet is great.

            2015 was a roller coaster of emotions for me. Let’s break it down into categories: family, friends, myself, and writing.

Family:

            My family is large on my mother’s side. I’ve watched my Mom lose a lot of family members but this year was an especially difficult one. My mom lost her cousin, Mary Catherine but Mary wasn’t JUST my mom’s cousin. She was my mom’s best friend and second sister. I’m in awe of my mother the majority of the time. I went with her to the hospital to see Mary several times, I watched this woman who I’ve known my entire life, deteriorate in front of me. The last time I watched something like this I was 13 going on 14 and it was my Grandpop. I hope I don’t have to see it again for a very long time. Mom stayed strong, as she always does. If I have one ounce of her strength, I’ll be eternally grateful.

            My padre gave me a great gift this year. He paid the adoption fee for my kitten, River, after I found out I had to shell out $600 for a security deposit to my apartment complex just to have her. I’m so appreciative for what he did because coming home to River every day is the highlight of my life.

            My big brother. Four and a half years apart and it shows most of the time. I don’t think he really knows how much I admire his life. Although, we don’t’ talk often, I know he’s always there if I need him and vice versa. He proved that this year when I called him out of the blue, hysterically crying and begging him to promise me something. He did promise me. He’s a great big brother.

Friends:

            Oh my friends. They’re the best. I always loved the saying “friends are the family you create for yourself” or however it goes. My friends are all super different from one another but equally odd and I think that’s why we fit together. One of my best friends moved home this year and we’re all so happy to have him back in Philly. My friends have spent a lot of time trying to figure their lives out and I think they all made significant progress this year. While none of us are completely put together (far from it), and we’re not all on the same path or going the same speed, we’re all heading in the right direction.

Myself:

            Hmmm, what to say here…well 2015, I can’t say I’m sorry to see you go. I dealt with death this year which always hits me hard. I think about death more than I think the average person does. I think about it at the most random times and for long periods of time. I try to move past it with humor and sarcasm and I do a pretty good job most of the time.

            Love life. Oh my love life, or lack thereof. Actually that’s not true. I fell in and out of love this year. Slowly, quietly and without anyone really knowing. ß My favorite way of doing anything and everything.

            I moved into my new apartment this year which I love. I bought my very first set of living room furniture and I’m slowly getting rid of all my hand-me-downs. Next, I’ll be purchasing my own kitchen set then possibly a new bedroom set until my entire apartment finally feels like me.

           My River came into my life. When I adopted River, so many people said to me, “I didn’t know you were a cat person” but it wasn’t about being a cat or dog or bird or turtle person. It was about a feeling I had when River was placed into my arms. I wanted her to stay there forever. It’s been two months (tomorrow) of living with her and I love her more and more every day.

            I lost almost 20 pounds this year and gained severe happiness. Partly because of the weight loss and partly because I’m becoming older and more comfortable in my life as a whole. I’m okay with the fact that when I talk about Doctor Who most people don’t care or understand. I’m okay with the fact that I’m never going to be super thin; my body just isn’t built for it. I’m okay with the fact that I’m always going to hate my arms. I’m still going to work on losing weight because it makes me happy to see a smaller number on the scale but I’m not going to let myself become obsessed with it or consumed by it. I’m going to enjoy my life while slowly (and it is a slow process) trying to regain control of my body.

            Being in an embarrassing situation is one of my least favorite aspects of life. I try to avoid being embarrassed at all costs. Even in school, I wouldn’t answer a question unless I was 100% sure of the answer because I didn’t want to be wrong and look stupid. To this day, I avoid guessing at anything because I don’t want to be wrong then be ridiculed. Whether people ridicule me or not, I always feel like they are (whole other issue). In 2015, I was embarrassed a LOT. Sometimes I couldn’t take it. Sometimes I tried to laugh it off and calm down the redness I knew was covering my already rosy cheeks. I tried really hard to not let the embarrassing situations ruin my night. In 2016, I’ll try a little harder.

            My writing. I made major progress this year with my writing. This website is one huge step forward. I don’t update it as much as I should which I’ll try to do more of in the future. I sent my writing to two of my previous teachers who are published authors (Eric Smith and Liz Moore- check out their books). They both gave me helpful and positive feedback on my work which is greatly appreciated and made me keep going instead of losing all hope in this difficult part of my life. I’m only making one new year’s resolution this year. Just one. Any others I think of will just be things to keep in mind as I go through the year.

            This year, my new year’s resolution is to finish a piece of writing. I tend to start things, get halfway through or more than halfway through then I get distracted or I have another idea and I start on something else. I’m the worst with finishing something I write. However, I’m always better when I have a deadline. 2016 is my deadline to finish something I’ve been working on sporadically for a while now.

            All in all, 2015 wasn’t half bad. I’m happy with who and where I am in my life. Here’s to 2016 being even more exciting and productive J

HAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYONE!

Love,

Veronica

Dreaming in Reruns

                                                                                                                   Dumbledore always gets it.

                                                                                                                   Dumbledore always gets it.

Right before I go to sleep, I try to think about what I want to dream about that night. Whether it be about a guy or a funny memory or something I wish to happen that weekend. I do this because I suffer from pretty bad nightmares and sometimes this exercise helps keep them away. Last night, however, I had no such luck because right before I fell asleep my brain decided it wanted to think about every interaction I’ve ever had with another human being.

On nights like this, when I can’t sleep and my brain won’t stop going, I tend to let it run. I want to see what it comes up with and try to figure out why I’m thinking about this specific thing right now. When my brain decides it wants to stay up, it thinks about three major things: Death, Embarrassment, and Anger (sometimes all three of these things interconnect).

For death, my brain goes back over every death I’ve experienced starting with my Grandpop when I was 13, going through my friend’s parents, to great Aunts, and finally on my most recent one with my Mom’s cousin. Usually my brain likes to revisit the funerals, think about how people handle them, how people grieve compared to how I grieve. Not saying one or the other is better but really thinking about it for the sheer fascination of how everyone is different in this department.

The other part of death my brain likes to think about is future deaths. Sometimes when I can’t think of anything else to write, I write eulogies for people I know. Sounds morbid I know but when you have writer’s block and can’t think of anything creative to write about, you write about what you know. I know my people and I know why they’re amazing, so I write their eulogies…Christ, that sounds terrible but whatever it’s what I do. I probably think about death more so than most people, not really sure why. I read a lot of books involving death as a teenager, right after my Grandpop died, trying to understand it or trying to deal with it, who knows? I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that if I think about death a lot, if I picture the funerals of the people I love, if I can fully transport myself into that situation years before it ever happens, then maybe when it does happen I’ll be prepared to deal with it. I know that’s not logical or true but it’s how I try to justify it to myself. Think about it, analyze it, deal with it and I’ll be prepared for when it happens.

After running through all the death, my brain said, “Let’s have a marathon of all your most embarrassing moments!”

                                                                                                                                 Mulan- My favorite

                                                                                                                                 Mulan- My favorite

Oh goody, my favorite. For those of you who don’t know me, my embarrassment bar is set very low. If I say something even slightly stupid, I remember it YEARS later and it plays over again in these horrible brain montages of my life. If I DO something embarrassing, act moronically or somehow end up in a situation where I look stupid, I never forget it. My brain starts with something little like, the time I cut my own bangs in grade school. Then we move onto bigger things, the time I tripped and fell in front of a bunch of people…oh wait, that’s happened multiple times and my brain shows me each and every time.  But to me, the most embarrassing things to happen to me in my life are when I say something and immediately regret it. No one else may notice or think what I said is ridiculous or stupid but I do and it silently tortures me for so long. You would think for someone who considers every situation from every angle and stages conversations in her head constantly would be able to predict the outcome of anything she says. Incorrect. A lot of tossing and turning and slapping my hands over my face to try and force away the memories, my brain moved on to anger.

Anger is a tricky one.

Most people think if I start running my mouth, that’s when I’m really angry. Incorrect. When I’m running my mouth, I’m annoyed, I’m ticked, I’m a bit peeved. It’s when I become silent, it’s when you cannot get a word out of me, that’s when you should worry. That’s when my anger has reached a level so high I cannot verbally communicate it with someone. I have no problem saying how I feel, granted I prefer to write how I feel but if you want me to say it, I will. Very easily. So when my words stop, when my silence is the only sound filling the room, that’s when I’m done. Big fights, really big fights, I’ve only had with a few people over the years. And even those fights, only one or two have ended with me never speaking to the person again. Most people might reflect on those instances and regret cutting those people out, I truly do not. I know who is toxic to my life and who isn’t and I do not regret ending relationships with certain people, not even a little. Do I wish things could have turned out differently? Of course, everyone does but I wouldn’t go back and change what happened.

Death, embarrassment, and anger. Over and over. Round and round. Until next thing I know it’s 4 in the morning and I’m still awake. I know why I pick the worst reruns of my life to go over. I’ve felt weird all week. You know those weeks I’m talking about. The ones where every little thing someone says annoys you.  Little things just piss you off and then you think about all the little things that happened this week and it becomes one big pain in the ass so you’re just constantly saying over and over again, “I hate people”. Or is that just me? I think I uttered that phrase a hundred times this week. It happens when I spend too much time on TheDodo.com and find myself loving animals way more than I like humans.

It’s difficult to explain why I was like this all week. Sometimes I think my life is going really well and yet I feel nothing towards it. What the outside world considers having your life together, doesn’t always feel that way to the individual. Sometimes looking at what you have just reminds you of everything you may not have in your life. Don’t get me wrong, I am very grateful for everything I have and I work my ass off to have it. There are those one or two aspects of life though, they are always just out of reach and of course those are the ones we choose to dwell on. Not all the time, I’d be unbearable if I was like this all the time. But nights like last night, after weeks like this past week, it all catches up and I have to work through it in order to get back to being grateful and happy.

 I was in a funk and last night my brain wanted to go through every possible reason why. I’m not sure I figured it out completely. I think it was really just an excuse for me to write because I haven’t in a while. But I did pose a very important question to a few of my friends this week. I asked, “Do you think it’s impossible to be completely happy?” A buddy of mine gave me the best answer. Here it is:

“No way. I mean you’re never gonna be happy all the time. We’re not robots. I think life’s all about the feelings we get and all the stuff that makes us human. If happiness outweighs everything else then I think that’s technically complete happiness.”

And with that, I hope you all have a really great weekend.

Writing a Query Letter

         

           A couple months ago, I finished a collection of short stories for a young adult audience. I asked a few people with different backgrounds to read them. Those people liked the stories and were very kind and helpful in their comments and notes to help make the stories even better. I used to be terrible with taking criticism for my writing, mostly in high school and a little bit in college. Took me a while to realize the only reason they’re telling me what’s wrong is so I can fix it and make my writing even better. It’s not a personal attack on me or my writing. Constructive criticism is actually awesome even it does give me an ulcer waiting for it.

           Anyway, now it’s time to start sending them out. I chose a couple different stories and sent them to about 30 literary magazines. Unfortunately, none of them were picked but I was told by former teachers this would happen because that’s the way this business goes. Some of my rejection letters were incredibly kind though, complimenting my work in a way I could tell they actually read it and liked it but it wasn’t the right fit for their magazine. But I keep writing and I keep trying.

           I also started sending query letters to literary agents…after doing pretty extensive research into what makes a good query letter. Quick note, I’m not an expert by any means and you should do your own research, this is just my point of view. Also, you should research the person you send your query letter too. Check out the literary agency’s website and look at all the agents and what they’re looking for in a manuscript. Find the one you think would be the best fit for you. For example: I look for agents who have an interest in young adult but I am also drawn to certain agents if they mention they like Doctor Who or any of my other pop culture interests because we might mesh a little better. I look for agents who in their little paragraph on the websites can capture my attention. Then I try to do the exact same thing in my query letter to them. Now back to the letter.

           For those of you unfamiliar with the term, a query letter is kind of like a cover letter you would send with a resume. You write about your manuscript, how many words is it, what genre is it, and then you write a hook. A hook would be like a thesis statement almost. In college, a thesis statement summarized your whole paper and your point in one or two sentences. Don’t crucify me if that definition is slightly off because most of my papers were always lacking in the thesis department. A hook in a query letter is something to really grab the agent. You want this to be the sentence they read and think, “I want to know more”. Coming up with a hook is difficult for me just like coming up with a thesis statement was always difficult. Mostly because I find it hard to summarize long pieces of writing in only one or two sentences.

           After the hook, I quickly summarize the stories as a whole and explain how they’re interconnected with one another. This is a little like what you read on the back cover of books. At least, that’s how I see it. I write what I would want the back of my book to say. Next up, you talk about yourself. Which is weird. Kind of like writing your online dating profile but tone down what you like doing on a Friday night and play up your accolades from school and work. This where I quickly write about my degree in English Literature, the personal narrative I wrote and had published in my University’s Lit Magazine, Folio, and the paper I presented at the SEPCHE conference about the gangster genre of film. That’s all I have, folks. I was on the Dean’s List once but hate to break it to you, no one gives a crap about that after college. I worked as a book editor at a legal publishing company and now I’m a technical writer but again, this doesn’t really matter. The only thing that matters is the work I’m sending out now.

            In the last few sentences of my query, I talk directly to the literary agent. I tell them why I believe we would make a good fit together. I explain to them why I felt compelled to write my stories, why they mean so much to me. I try to convey how much I believe in my work and why they should take a chance on me. And then I thank them for their time and consideration. And after all that, I have a mini panic attack and hit send. No, I’m not even kidding. Hands actually shake every time I hit send. Then it’s off into the world, containing everything I’ve ever wanted my entire life.

           The possibility of being represented.

           The possibility of being published.

           The possibility of being able to call myself an author.

Confessions of a Single 25 Year Old Woman

Note: I wrote this when I was 23 but I've gone over it again and updated it a bit. Whether these are still my confessions or not doesn't make them any less important. 23 year old me poured her heart out and I'm sure she wants me to share (or she's cursing me off, whatever).

Usually when I write for my blog, I try to write about something everyone can relate to in some way and I write about situations my friends are in. But today, it’s going to be about me and my feelings as of late. Maybe someone will be able to relate to it but that’s not what I’m focusing on. Sometimes, when I don’t write for a while, my head just gets filled and my emotions run really high and it feels like if I don’t write it down soon my head will explode.

Here’s a little background, like I said before, all of my friends (with the exception of 4 guys and 1 girl) are in relationships. They are all dating, engaged, married, or practically married. I’m happy for all of them, nervous for some, and envy very few of them. It’s never been a goal of mine to get married and have children; in fact it’s a conventional 1950s lifestyle that I’ve rebelled against for years and years. For some reason, the thought of marriage and being a mother makes me anxious and almost physically ill. Even the idea of spending the rest of my life attached to another person boggles my mind.

When I think about what I want out of life there are only a few things I desire: to write, to travel, to take care of my family, and to live comfortably. Most of the time, when I think about myself being older, it’s only me in the picture. I never needed anyone else. And if we were to go into the psychological reasons behind this thinking it would probably be because I’ve always been severely independent. My whole life I’ve felt like no one could hear me or no one would listen (besides some family) and yet I talk nonstop. I’m a chatterbox. My Grandpop used to pick me up from school if I had a half day and he would take me to Burger King and then we would go home. He would tell my Mom, “School must be torture for her. She doesn’t stop talking from the second I pick her up.” But you know what? He listened to me.

 So…I write. Paper has to listen to me, it has no other choice. As I was saying, I never pictured myself with anyone else before…except Leonardo DiCaprio, he might the only guy to change my mind. But now, with all my friends paired up, a quote from Sex and the City keeps popping into my head (stay with me, guys). It was Carrie Bradshaw’s 35th birthday and she wasn’t seeing anyone at the time. She was sitting in the café with her three best friends and she said, “I’m lonely. The loneliness is palpable.” I never thought of myself as being lonely. I LOVE living on my own. I love coming home to absolute and complete silence. I love having control of my TV all the time and being able to decorate and rearrange things at will without having to ask anyone if it’s okay. Not to say, living alone is perfect. Night still freaks me out from time to time. But other than that, living on my own is awesome.

 Where does the loneliness come in, you ask? Well when I go out with my friends and I become the third, fifth, or seventh wheel, that’s where it comes in. I love my friends, they know I love them and I would do anything for each and every one of them. But even when I’m in a room filled with them, I still feel utterly alone because at the end of the day, when they all go home, they have someone to talk to, someone to listen to them. I’m probably not painting my friends in a nice light which isn’t my intention. I know there are people I can go to talk to and they listen but none of them really get it because they all have someone. No one really gets the loneliness because none of them are alone. I’m not saying if I had a boyfriend it would solve all these problems, I’m not naïve enough to believe that load of bull. What I’m saying is, I miss when my friends were just my friends and not my friends plus *insert name here*.

 Sure, sometimes I can pull them away from their boyfriends for a night but there’s usually one that wants their significant other to come. I don’t know why, they generally just sit there and say nothing like a block of wood. (I’m aware I’m probably insulting people here but I’m telling the truth).  However, a lot of the time, they never go anywhere without their boyfriends or girlfriends. Don’t get me wrong, I like a lot of their significant others, they’re good guys and gals and I enjoy hanging out with them but I miss my friends. I miss when everyone was single at the same time and nothing else mattered. Our twenties are supposed to be fun, right? Staying out all night, drinking, or just having a good time with your friends? Gotta tell ya, those times are rare these days. Now it’s trying to schedule time with your friends between everyone’s jobs or trying to get them to leave the confines of their homes for a few hours on the weekend.

I guess one of the upsides of having a significant other is someone is obligated to listen to you. No one is obligated to listen to me. And I’m not saying this to throw a pity party for myself; I hate people that do that shit. I’m saying it because this is how I actually feel. I feel sad sometimes when my friends tell me all the things they’re doing with their boyfriends or girlfriends. Because it’s the stuff we all used to do together. This is me really nostalgic for when times were easier and life wasn’t complicated and no one was engaged or married or in seriously committed relationships. I understand things change and people grow up, I just didn’t expect it to come this early in life. Truthfully, I don’t believe I’m ready for it.

 This is the part I think most of you have been waiting for in this whole entry. Do I wish I had a boyfriend? Occasionally. If I were to have a boyfriend, I would more or less like him to be part time. Which probably sounds horrible but it’s the honest to god truth, I hate clingy people, I hate people that have to text someone 24 hours a day because trust me, you have NOTHING interesting to say ALL DAY LONG, neither do I. I would hate someone being in my apartment all the time. I’m not a romantic person, I don’t like roses or candles or any of that junk. Romance in my book is you shutting up for two hours so we can watch a movie then AFTERWARDS discuss it. Does it frustrate me that I can’t find a boyfriend? Of course it does, I’m a woman, it’s something we spend more time thinking about than we admit. Even me, the person who thinks relationships are awkward and weird and pointless 75% of the time, occasionally wants a boyfriend. You know, at 15 years old, I thought by 25 someone would love me, someone has to by then right? Well no, that didn’t happen. Here’s the part where it becomes a little intense:

 Growing up, I never had a lot of self-confidence in the way I look. Bullied through high school didn’t help either. I’ve always had a pretty good sense of myself though. I knew I wanted to be a writer at an early age, I knew movies would always be my second love behind writing; I know I’m sarcastic, and I can be harsh sometimes. But I also know that I’m a really good listener and pretty good therapist when my friends need one. My best friend used to call me Oprah for god sake. So I always just assumed once I became comfortable with how I look then everything would fall into place. But when you have gorgeous friends and cousins who look like models, it’s hard to be happy with how you look. “When will my reflection show who I am inside?” Perfect lyric for this paragraph from the movie Mulan.

 However, within the past few years, I’ve started to care less about what other people think of me. I’m 25, I write, I’ve worked as an editor and a technical writer and I do a damn good job, I’m self-sufficient and I’m a pretty good person. And you know what? I like the way I look. I like that I have breasts and hips and an ass. Are they slightly bigger than average? Damn straight and guess what? I’m proud of it. Are there still parts of my body I’m not comfortable with? Of course, everyone has those and it’s something everyone has to come to terms with eventually. My point is this, you know that saying, “You have to love yourself before others can love you”? I call bullshit. Here’s why: I really do love who I am in my life right now. I have my life together and I’m finally, FINALLY, comfortable when I look in the mirror. So uh…where exactly is the love?

 I’ve come to believe everything having to do with love and relationships is completely random and up to fate. It has nothing to do with where you are in your life or if you love yourself or not. It’s a day to day random occurrence that no one has any control over, ever. And I believe if every single girl thinks of it in those terms, then it’s a little easier to get through the day without beating herself up. Personally, I’m hoping to meet mine in Ireland, he’ll be rich, with a thick accent and we’ll live happily ever after. See that? That’s a joke because this post was really hard for me to write and I need the jokes like I need oxygen. There you go, folks. That was more of me than I have ever put out here before. Cherish it, ignore it, scoff or laugh at it, but do me a favor? Just listen when other people speak. It means a lot to them. 

Honesty

Quick Note: I wrote this a while back but it still rings true for me.

I used to have a really hard time being honest with people. Usually it was white lies I would tell but then as I became a teenager the lies became bigger. I would tell them for a few different reasons. The number one reason I would lie is because I wanted to make my life sound way more interesting than it actually is. I could never tell the lies to people like Chrissy or Kait because I’m too close to them and they would know. But to people at Huberts, to "friends" I didn’t see very often, they would get complete and utter lies and fabricated stories. Anything to make me sound like I was a normal teenager.

I didn’t want to be the nerd. I didn’t want to be the girl who stayed in every weekend. I didn’t want to be the bookworm or the freak who’s obsessed with movies and television. The loser. The loner. The freak with no friends. But that’s who I was to the girls at Huberts for two years before I started lying to them. Stupid made up stories just to get them off my back. To get them to stop making fun of me. To get them to shut the fuck up.

When my Mom was diagnosed, I stopped lying. My life, our lives, were no longer boring. I didn’t need to lie because my life now had “excitement” or “interest” whatever you want to call it. So I turned to honesty. Brutal honesty some would call it. I stopped caring what other people thought of how I lived my life. I preferred to go to the movies on prom night because I hated the people at Huberts and I didn’t want to spend any more time with them than I had to and I was damn proud to tell people. I preferred to read than drink from a keg in the woods and that’s okay. I preferred to sit and talk to my family for hours on end then sit in a basement and get high and that’s okay. It took me a long time to realize that.

I’m very honest when I tell someone how I feel about a situation or a person. Sometimes people get really mad at me. Some people won’t talk to me for days afterwards. Some people admire it. Some people act like they admire it but secretly hate me for it. I don’t let negative people stay in my life anymore. People call me harsh. People call me a bitch. People call me unforgiving. Honestly? I don’t give a shit. I rather not have someone constantly poison my mind with their horrible negative comments. It’s easier for me to cut people off. Sometimes I get upset about it. Most of the time, I get over it fairly quickly. 

 The person I have the hardest time being honest with is myself. Which sounds cliché but it’s true. I lie to myself all the time. Tell myself I’m okay, tell myself I can deal with certain situations, tell myself I don’t care as much as I do about someone. Sometimes they’re lies, other times they’re partial truths. I’ll play out different situations in my head over and over again, making sure I’ve planned out every conclusion to an occurrence possible. Half the time I don’t use any of them because I’ll be too scared to go into the situation in the first place. Or I won’t use them because it’s a made up situation. You see, I never really stopped lying in a way. I used to tell other people made up situations, made up stories. Now it’s something I’ve created in my head, a story, a scene, really. A scene I wrote, starred in, and directed. A scene to make my life seem more interesting in my own head. A scene to placate my boring reality. Sometimes I’ll go entire days where I’ll live in those scenes. Act them out over and over again. Mostly in my car when I’m driving, I’ll rewrite them, I’ll act them out in my head, rewrite, act it out, no, not perfect yet. Another rewrite, act it out. Still not right. Another rewrite. Act it out. Perfect. Finally. Next scene.

Probably seems utterly insane to normal people but I’ve always wanted my life to be like a movie. So if I have to live two lives, one in reality, and one in my head where things are easier, more fun, and interesting then that’s what I’ll do. That’s what I have to do for my own sanity. Be honest in reality, lie to myself in my imagination. It’s my normal and that’s okay.