breakfast for the brain

Stop creativity: You are Entering a School Zone?

So my brain has been going through a drought lately. A writer’s drought. It’s like, whenever I get a somewhat interesting thought process going, it just fizzles out like a campfire in a storm. I figured it’s because I’ve been going through a funk these last few weeks, and haven’t really been up to doing anything productive. Or maybe it’s because I’ve been so focused on getting back into a school zone that I’ve sort of put my creative on the backburner, which is completely unfair to the creativity that seeps through my veins on a daily basis. Either way, I’ve been needing a creative pick-me-up, a breakfast for the brain.

Lucky for me, tonight, while at home for Labor Day week, I happened upon a box full of my old writing from high school, mostly from the hundreds of writing workshops I attended during those four years, but also a bunch of free writes and undeveloped short stories. A lot of it surprised me – I didn’t realize how good I was even at age fourteen – but it also really made me miss the good ol’ days. I was so passionate about a lot of things back then. I still am passionate, I guess, but it’s different now. Back then, I used to write all the time: on napkins at Starbucks, or in the margins of my class notes. I used to be known for this passion; my teachers would come to me whenever they heard about a writing workshop or something of the like. But now, I’ve become more passionate about writing to impress my professors, or writing to impress my blog audience, or writing to jumpstart a career, but when it comes to just plain writing, for the bloody hell of it, I can think of 100+ other things to do instead. How sad, that that’s how I treat my life’s fervor – like some old childhood trophy that’s destined to a life of dust-collecting on the back of the highest shelf in the house. I quickly shook off that heavy feeling and realized that that’s the missing piece: excitement. True, honest, raw excitement. And belief, I suppose, in my talent.

Anyway, after that momentary soul searching, I realized how helpful it was that I happened upon this little treasure chest. Like I said, the bulk of this canon-of-sorts was from local teen writers’ workshops: cheap folders full of dozens of unfinished free writes, and useful free writing ideas. Finding a large source of inspiration in the midst of creative drought? Pretty sure you couldn’t write better coincidence even if you tried.

Point is, expect to find some finished (or in some cases, updated) versions of these little gems in the near future. And it’s time for me to rekindle that true excitement and fervor!

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a virtual sticky note

I usually don’t like to explain or prove myself to people, but recently, several people have approached me – usually concerned family members/boyfriend – asking me about “how I’m doing” or if “everything is alright.” Obviously, I completely appreciate the concern because a) it proves people are actually reading my blog and b) it proves people actually care about me. Much love, much love. However, I just want to clear up some obvious confusion.

I am not, nor have I ever been seriously depressed. Sure things get to me from time to time; I sometimes get severely bummed, at most. This is just how I write. These posts about losing friends, feeling lonely, etc. are not some kind of desperate cry for help. It’s just me, being me. I’ve always written about my life, or how I feel, whether in a LiveJournal or a live journal. It’s what I’m used to. This is just me writing out how I feel because sometimes, it’s easier that way. My computer screen can’t talk back, or tell me I shouldn’t feel Emotion X; it doesn’t judge me or tell me when I’m being too sensitive or when I should just let things go. While I try to remain open-minded about advice like that, sometimes, I just don’t want to hear it. So I write. And maybe sometimes my love of words takes over and I find myself sounding a wee bit more dramatic than intended. Okay, there’s that too. Not that I’m lying or exaggerating. I just don’t want people thinking that all I do is toil over my angst. That’s what 90’s teen dramas are for. (And God, I love them.)

So for all of those wondering: I AM FINE. I totally and 105% appreciate the concern, really I do, but I’m just writing. Seriously. Keep reading, and please, keep being interested, but also keep all this in mind. Because if I can’t write about everything – including the bad times or the shades of gray – what is the point of keeping this blog?

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a very new paltz

New Paltz, New York

So, these have been the most unexpectedly bizarre past few days of my life. I am officially back at New Paltz, back to everything I’ve known for the past 3 years, everything familiar to me. Only problem is, I’ve never felt more lost.

As my summer wound down – in a most anticlimactic fashion, in case you were wondering – I started getting excited for New Paltz. For getting back to my school, which inadvertently became a second home of sorts, after spending a semester in a foreign country. While most assumed I should be sad to be back home, I was actually excited. I would take the things I learned in that foreign place – about the world, about myself – and apply them in a setting with which I was more familiar. And holy hell, was I wrong.

For one thing, I don’t even recognize half of campus. While I was away, and then while I was at home for the summer, construction workers finished up their “love child” – a giant glass…something. A mountain, a pyramid, a sad replica of the Louvre. However you want to refer to it, it’s gaudy, unnecessary, and a HUGE waste of money. There was no need for its construction, save for aesthetic “purpose,” though I can’t seem to find one. Except for the occasional, “Hey man, I’m at the big glass thingy. Meet me here in 5 minutes.”

As if this exterior was bad enough, the inside of the “glass thingy” looks like the front desk of a museum. Downstairs features a bunch of futuristic couches, a giant flat screen TV and a “rec center” complete with pool and an air hockey tables. From this area, you can see inside the bookstore, because they changed it to look like some store in the mall: floor to ceiling “store windows” complete with mannequins adorned with our over-priced campus merch. There are now two separate lines, one devoted solely to textbooks (the only good decision made), and it just looks bigger. Speaking of malls, they also felt the need to renovate the entire food area inside: adding, fixing, changing, ruining. I walk into the student union building and I feel like I’m in a food court at a mall. I can no longer recognize what was once there, what it looked like before all our Bob the Builders came along. Most offices in the basement were refurbished – because that many students honestly noticed the aesthetic errors of the R&R office when trying to drop Calc or Psych? – with full glass windows and modern furniture, much like a doctor’s office. If I can’t solve in 5 minutes what I came to that office to do, I’m not going to bother poppin’ a squat on one of their new and improved armchairs. Pointless.

I guess for a newbie, all this new crap must seem exciting. Like, Wow, I go to an under-funded state school but with the illusion that we have a decent budget! But for someone whose past three years were practically planted out in the quad, these changes are a bit jarring. Frightening, even. Especially since I found out that redesigning the school – from the logo to the lobbies – cost us $300,000,000. YEAH THAT’S RIGHT. Upon arrival, my room had one garbage can instead of two, our phone jack was completely destroyed, and they didn’t have “enough of a budget” to provide things like free planners for students – something, I don’t know, useful? – because they spent all their money building a glass thingy and all that came with it. I could vomit.

I can’t help but wonder if I should have lived off campus this year. I’m sure half of you are screaming, Yes!, but honestly, I just didn’t see the point, seeing as how I’m a senior who doesn’t plan on living here past graduation. I didn’t see the point in schlepping even MORE of my stuff up here than normal, and spending time and money (re)furbishing a house to which I didn’t have any long-term commitment. I guess I still don’t see the point. But 90% of the people I talked to on a regular basis here are now living off campus – which, although in some cases is down the street, might as well be in the next town over –  a fact which makes things even more foreign for me.

And the weather, I assume, doesn’t help. Rain comes and goes – in drizzles, drops, and downpours -like a drippy faucet immune to a plumber’s work. I didn’t realize when I arrived in New Paltz, I was also arriving in October, with its bitter air and its bleak, gray sky. Pour me some cider and pick me a pumpkin, where the hell am I?

Here’s to hoping the next 15 weeks aren’t as lackluster as this. *clink*

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too old for standing room only

Roseland Ballroom, NYC

I went to Something Corporate’s reunion show last night with my friend Mery. Once we reached Grand Central, thus began my hunt for a bank after a much needed pretzel pit stop (aka dinner). I know what you’re thinking – for every Starbucks in Manhattan there are probably about four banks/ATMs, so why must a “hunt” be involved? Answer: I’m not about to pay to withdraw my own money. I was going to include a simile here but quite frankly I can’t think of anything quite as ridiculous, especially when the sum of my fees – between the ATM itself and my own bank – would total $4.50. No thanks. Turns out, there are not as many HSBC banks as I previously assumed. After trying my bank card in four different machines – when did they stop posting the fee upfront so you don’t have to waste your time being asked what language you speak or if you’d like to check your balance first four separate times? – I finally reached an HSBC. Bada-bing.

Next was standing in line. Good news: we arrived late enough in the day that we didn’t have to stand there for 5+ hours waiting to get in. Bad news: the line was four blocks long. I’m all about band-loyalty and whatnot, but peeps, there is no need to arrive at 1:30 pm when doors open at 7:30. You already have your ticket. Do you really think once you get inside and park yourself front and center after waiting outside for six hours you will remain in that very spot for the entire evening? Get real, hipsters. Here’s what really goes down: you show up insanely early, park yourself in the perfect spot, and as soon as the band comes on, everyone shoves forward as though running for dear life and before you know it you are parked behind some six-foot-four, drunk frat “bro” with pit stains the size of Alaska. And to add insult to injury, halfway through the show you are elbowed in the jugular by some three-foot-nine teeny-bopper groupie who shoved her way from the back after arriving just moments ago. Lesson: those that show up at 1:30 and those that show up at 8:30 look no different through the eyes of the band looking out from the stage. I could’ve told you that after seeing Ryan Cabrera in concert in the tenth grade. (Yeah, that’s right. I was a fan.)

So there we were, standing on this line full of self-proclaimed “#1 Something Corporate fans” which, to the untrained eye, could’ve easily been mistaken for the line to audition for a new reality show that combines High School Musical with Jersey Shore and the Osbournes. However, at this particular show, I was a little surprised at the variety of wardrobe choices. Normally at a show like this, the majority of guests are 13-16 year old girls who have recently ironed their band tee for [insert band name] or opted for their favorite hipster/scene outfit, probably purchased at either Hot Topic or Pac Sun for this particular occasion. They want to appear “part of that world” right down to which/how many bracelets on each wrist, or whether they should leave their fake black, thick-framed glasses at home. Braided pigtails? Bump-it? Some dudes may even arrive with a [insert OTHER band name] tee, maybe to appear cool by association or in hopes to strike up a conversation with an unassuming stranger about how “totally sick” that band is as well.

Sure, there was plenty of that last night, but mixed in with that whole subcategory of ridiculous was another in which girls wore dresses and heels. What is this, the homecoming dance? The Oscars? I personally opted for a solid tee (admittedly of a neon color), jeggings (do not judge) and flip-flops. Seriously. If Joan Rivers approached me last night asking “who” I was wearing I’d be inclined to tell her “probably some young sweatshop worker.”

In my flip-flops, my knees buckled as tightly as the belt of a 400-lb. man trying to hide his “love handles.” My heels dug through the bottoms of my shoes as I felt all their little nerve endings slowly dying, standing flat with no support below the toe. And then they expected us to stand for another two hours?!

Cut to inside the venue, post-overpriced-tee-shirt-purchase, post-more-waiting, halfway into the show: there I am, having the time of my life, shaking what my mother literally gave me to the sounds of a band that got me through high school, when this ass-crack of a human being shoves his way in front of me and – get this – stops. Right there, two centimeters away from standing on my bare toes. I could’ve sneezed down the back of his shirt if I wanted. And in hindsight, I should’ve. Because the only reason he pushed his way back was so he could stand on top of some innocent bystander’s toes and smoke a blunt. I mean really, dude. Don’t you have some backseat in which to do that? Or maybe a basement party? And as if that was bad enough, he began dancing. Picture someone spinning onion rings on their index fingers while looking down and repeatedly picking his feet out of the gum he stepped in. That’s kind of what Homeboy’s dancing looked like. In a word, atrocious. In four more words, too close for comfort. At one point I caught the eye of a girl next to me, rolled my eyes assuming there was some kind of unspoken girl code about this sort of thing, and that she agreed. Then she tapped Homeboy on the shoulder and I thought, Sweet, I have a supporter. Then I realized she was asking for a hit of his joint, to which he graciously complied. Then they were friends. There goes that. Eventually he left and I was able to at least enjoy the encore knowing that I didn’t have to close one eye and turn my head sideways to see the lead singer.

There was a time when I could tolerate being surrounded by sloppy-drunk, overweight, shirtless undergrads that swung their sweaty blubber around as they body-slammed into each other for no apparent reason (“moshing”) just so I could be closer to the stage. There was even a time I could tolerate having one of them inadvertently slide his man-boob/armpit – where did one start and the other end? – against my fifteen-year old arm. All in the name of Yellowcard circa 2004. But now I’d much prefer staying towards the back where I have little chance of having a scene kid’s Chuck Taylors land on my ear as he crowd surfs above me, forcing me to participate. Kind of makes me sad, but really, how much am I really missing out on?

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empty juice boxes + other ways to carry on

I feel so empty. Like a juice box that has been squeezed past its limit; all my juice is gone and my straw is just sucking up a loud, slurpy air of nothingness. I try squeezing, flattening, even twisting myself for that one last drop. But there is simply. Nothing. Left.

*                    *                    *

So since my last melodramatic post, not much has changed. I was told that these kinds of things happen. People change and not everyone and everything last forever. I can appreciate that statement, since just about every person who has entered my life has just as easily removed him/herself from it. But when did growing up mean giving up? Giving up your friends, your happiness? Am I doomed for absolute loneliness with each day that gets crossed off the calendar? No. Because I was also told that this doesn’t last forever either. I was told I get past this and eventually things become easier. Well yeah, that has the same impact as telling a blind man he’ll see brighter days.

I have to learn to be a bitch. It seems that the bitchy people always get what they want. The girls who lie, pretend, manipulate, cheat, steal…they are happy. Albeit, it’s only a temporary happiness, like when I take a bite out of a Cinnabon, feel completely euphoric for, oh… 10 seconds and then realize I’m about to slip into a food coma. Too much of a good thing never lasts. “They get theirs in the end.” Well, I’ll be marking my calendar for that fateful day.

But really, I’m not really focused on tomorrow; I’m not interested in what happens later on when things “get better.” Do you pop a romantic comedy into the DVD player and skip to the last 10 minutes? I didn’t think so. No, you strap yourself in and board that emotional roller coaster like a champ… you laugh, you cry, sometimes it’s painful to watch. And then at the end, just before the credits roll and they begin that cheesy love song, you feel somewhat at ease with what has just unraveled before you.

I guess it’s a little cliché (and unrealistic) to compare my life to a movie. Okay, point taken. I’m just saying that yeah, I’m sure it’ll all work out. I know I should look to the positives and let everything else just fall into place, blah blah blah. And I’m not dismissing the advice of my mother and boyfriend and everyone else who stuck me with that line. I’m just saying excuse me if I can’t exactly see the positives of this situation just yet. Excuse me if I roll my eyes or pfft at the idea that something good will come out of this shithole of a situation I am in. Because it’s not so much wah wah my friends forgot about me. It’s more like goddammit some of these people turn the other way because some big-haired bitch told them some crap lie about me. Yeah, I went there. I’d be totally fine with knowing that people in this world don’t like me for what I am, because I said or did something totally out of line. But having them stare me down like I just murdered their puppy for no reason, simply because someone told them to? Pardon me, I didn’t realize I stepped back into high school. Was that the homeroom bell? I should grab my brown paper bag lunch and scurry along.

I know I’m just thinking too much. (What the hell else is new?) In the back of my mind I know I should just go with the flow, let all my friends leave me in the dust, and just march forward because in the end, I’ll come out on top. And maybe, ten years from now, if I have a spare second in my busy, precious day, I’ll think about them and either laugh or feel sorry, because they’ll probably still be acting like children at age 30.

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lists schmists

Do you have any words that just kill you? Make you want to throw up in your mouth or all over the person next to you on the bus? Or how about those words that just make your friggin’ day, and you have no idea why, whether it be the way the letters just dance on your tongue, or how exc ited you get when you can actually use that word in a sentence, or in a term paper?

I figured since I’m a writer and an English major, it’s only natural that one (or two) of my lists be about one of my favorite things ever – words. Obviously there are thousands if not MILLIONS of words in the English language, and if I went through the entire dictionary it would take forever for me to comprise these lists. So here are abridged versions of my favorite and least favorite words, based on a) the way they sound/feel to say, b) what they mean/represent, and c) just general opinion lacking any true reason. Warning: some are vulgar.

Words I hate:

The C Word – an obvious starting point

MOIST – see above.

Torn, ruptured, detached, or anything of the like in regards to body parts

Squeamish/queezy

Ointment – stopstopstopstop

Gangrene

Loin

Faggot

Curdled – is it bad that I can smell this word?

Goiter

Clitoris – this word just makes me angry, no real reason why

Maggot – it invokes awful images in my brain

Toot – Just stop.

Any slang word to describe male or female sexy parts

Titillating

Spleen

Pus – why?

Panties – MY LEAST FAVORITE WORD, EVER

Words I love:

Juxtaposition – I try to use it in every English paper I write

Blasé, Passé, Résumé, and any other word that automatically is accented in MS Word

Flabbergasted

Willy-nilly

Wishy-washy

Cerulean – love the color and the word

Scrumtrulescent – I had to

Oblivion

Synecdoche – not only is it fun/difficult to say, but it’s one of my favorite literary devices

Ejercicio – not in English, but still a very delightful word to say

Superfluous

Cornucopia

Colloquial

Xi – especially on a triple word score in Scrabble

Tempestuous

Cantankerous – though I never know when/how to use it

Antidisestablishmentarianism – I was reminded about this word by my uncle; never used it in my life

Plethora

I’d be curious to hear about the words that make you squeamish or fill you with a cornucopia of delight! :)

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listing my neuroses, i mean…fears

So. In an attempt to allow my readers to learn a little more about me – note the empty About the Author page – I’ve decided to compile a few lists in the next couple of days. Because who doesn’t like a good list every now and again? In my eyes, neurotic list-making is about as American as obesity and reality TV. Let’s go!

My Top 5 Strangest/Funniest Fears (in no particular order):

1. Electricity: Yep, you heard me. Anyone who knows me at all has probably been asked by yours truly to plug any major appliance into a wall socket, international converter, or surge protector (the word “protector” means nothing to me) at least once in their life. Ironically, the smaller/”dinkier” the plug, the less afraid I am of getting electrocuted. It’s those dang 3-prong suckers that freak me out. Will it kill me? Unless I’m blow-drying my hair in the bathtub, probably not. And yet I dry my hands 10 times before even walking near a plug, I don’t wear slippers on carpet, and sometimes I stand for 20 minutes, holding the plug, staring at the socket, and pep-talking/praying before actually proceeding.

I tried searching Yahoo! Answers for common cures to this incredibly inconvenient and slightly embarrassing phobia, or at least validation that others share this fear and I’m not insane. To my surprise, someone else actually had this same fear! However, upon further reading, I saw all the answers had been something along the lines of, “Go stick a fork in your toaster.” If I needed any proof of how foolish I am for being afraid of electricity, that certainly took care of it. (But seriously, if anyone has any advice more helpful than that, it would be greatly appreciated.)

2. Eyes: Not in the paranoid, Rockwell’s “Somebody’s Watching Me” kind of way, but more in the “Is than an Xray of my eye? I thought it was an alien fetus” kind of way. Anything having to do with eyes – touching, poking, scratching, slicing, bulging – makes me squeamish (so does the word “squeamish,” but that’s a whole different barrel of monkeys). I refused to wear contacts until I was 15 because I was perturbed by the thought of me having to touch my own eyeball. When my mother told me she had to have cataract surgery, and when she told me she was going to be awake for the procedure, and then when she started recounting the procedure to me, I thought I would die. I can’t stand looking at bloodshot eyes, because my own eyes force me to zoom in on those little clusters of stringy red veins. And if you have a popped blood vessel in your eye, back away now. Because if you think looking like a child accidentally colored in the wrong place with a red crayon is bad enough, try having me vomit in your face. Seriously.

Needless to say, this video will forever haunt my dreams: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jxHQ1zMWSEk&feature=related

3. The Dark: If you’re ever in my room and you happen to see a little pink lamp on my stereo, yeah, that’s my nightlight. Maybe it’s a step up from a traditional My Little Pony or Barney nightlight, but the concept is still the same: can’t sleep in the dark. It’s not a fear only assigned to nighttime, and it’s not so much the fear that the Boogie Man will jump out at me, unannounced, and tear my face open or whatever it is that he does; it’s more the general fear of not knowing what’s in front of- or around me, at any time of the day (but mostly at night, let’s face it).

4. Fire: Or should I say, starting fires. Years ago, when I was home alone, I tried lighting a match for one of my candles. When I lit it, I got freaked out by the thought of burning my finger off, and without any thought, I threw the match to the floor. Still lit. On the carpet. With that little stroke of genius, I could’ve burnt the whole apartment down, giving me more of a reason to be afraid of fire. But thankfully, it went out before hitting the floor. Either way, I’m sure my mother loved reading that little nugget.

Between lighting matches or using lighters, I guess I’m just afraid of the idea of fire being so close to my hand. As if the match is going to burn out in .4 second, giving me no time to do anything but stand there and watch my finger crumble into a pile of ash like someone standing too close to dynamite in a cartoon. Or maybe it’s a fear that subconsciously arose from years of being told that my brother almost burned his nose off from blowing out the candles on his 3rd birthday.

5. Mezzanine seating in a theater/stadium: Okay, so this stems from a larger, more mainstream fear of heights. But something about the height and the depth combination of nosebleed seats sends me running for the hills (the non-steep hills). If a nosebleed is the worst thing to happen to me here, then I can’t complain. Logically, I know it’s no less safe than floor seating. However, in my twisted, worst-case-scenario mentality, I envision myself, oh I don’t know, somehow defying gravity and somersaulting over ten rows of seats and then, unable to stop myself, being hurled over the railing and going kersplat all the way down in orchestra seating. Do I really think that will happen? No, but tell that to my trembling knees when I arrive in Section 507 Row Q.

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