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Saying Goodbye to Summer

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It’s almost September. Kids are going back to school. Clothing stores are advertising their fall line. College move-in day has come and gone. Starbucks is releasing its Pumpkin Spice Latte early. And I am sad.

I love summer. It is by far my favorite time of year. Give me an excuse to wear loose and colorful clothes, spend an exorbitant amount of time outside, and stay out late with the people I love simply because it’s “summer.” I think it also holds a special place in my heart because I have always been such an intense academic, and summer was the one time of year that I would ever give myself a slight break so that when fall came I looked forward to it and getting back into the academic swing.

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However, now that I’ve been out of college for two full years and entered the “adult” world where there are never any breaks until you die apparently, summer holds all my nostalgia for childhood, adolescence, and college memories. “Real Life” with a “Real Job” doesn’t allow for any give like summer did when I was in school. Summer is still fun as an adult although my fun activities are restricted to mostly weekends or holidays which is unfortunate since that’s when everyone else celebrates summer too. I can still go to the beach and amusement parks and see all the summer blockbusters and go swimming at the pool, but there’s always that looming shadow of “Life” behind the fun where I feel guilty if I take even the slightest extra moment to relax. That’s how I felt throughout the entire school year in high school and college, and summer was my one break. Now I just don’t get one anymore.

I don’t want you to think I’m complaining. I get it. It’s life. It’s being an adult. But I think as summer comes to an end, it still warrants some lamenting.

You see, I don’t know how to say goodbye to summer. I just spend the other nine months out of the year aching for the heat and the fun under the sun. In those precious three months of summer, I wear myself out trying to do EVERYTHING so I can get as much out of summer as possible. Somehow it still never feels as authentic or magical as it did when I was a teen and an early twenty-something.

(Full-time jobs ruin everything even if they make it possible to pay your bills.)

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I fell in love a lot during the summer. Those have always been my favorite romances. I know it sounds cheesy and like a Hollywood romantic-comedy (or worse, a Lifetime B-movie), but romance in the summer is the sweetest kind to me. Long nights and bright days and lots of talking and careless abandon. It’s easier to be carefree in the summer I think. The weather and the media combine to influence us that way, I think. We need to put down our defenses to fall in love, and summer makes it easier for us to do so. Alas, I didn’t fall in love this summer so it seems like I missed out on something. I certainly did plenty of fun things! But I’m definitely having a little bit of the “end-of-summer” blues.

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While parents are rejoicing at the return of their trying children to school brought on by the inevitable onset of fall, I’m still trying to pretend summer isn’t over. I have a beach trip in September with my family that I hope will be warm enough for me to extend my flights of fancy brought on by summer a little longer. But after that I won’t have much choice but to accept fall and go into another long nine months of “happiness hibernation.” I’m obviously not asleep for the next nine months, but it sure is harder for me to be happy. I hope that since I’m being relatively conscious of how the seasons affect me that I can work to counteract the end of summer’s effect on me. However, I can’t make summer stay any longer.

So goodbye summer. I shall miss you and every sweet memory I’ve made with you until next June when we begin again.

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Everybody’s Getting Married and I’m Not All Right

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If you use Facebook and you’re in your twenties you’re bound to be bombarded with the overwhelming flow of engagements, weddings, and general “bride glow” illustrated through a plethora of pictures and statuses in your newsfeed. It’s beautiful. It’s great. It really is. They all look so pretty and happy. Oh so very happy. (And yet somehow all it makes me want to do is cry and eat cake.)

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Mmmmmm, cake.
I’ve gathered from my parents and television that your twenties is typically the time that most of your friends get married. I’m 24 so only barely creeping on the halfway point, but this year in particular seems to have been when the shot was fired for all the brides-to-be to start the race. I’m sure this is only the beginning of the inundation of my Facebook newsfeed with Bride Pride, and it’s both exciting (because I love to see all my high school and college friends finding their Prince Charmings) and annoying (because I’m very far from a Prince Charming much less a Happily Ever After). In fact, at this point, I’m quite convinced that Happily Ever Afters don’t actually exist and that we’re fooling ourselves into believing that expensive weddings, white dresses, and elaborate honeymoons will be enough to satisfy a woman’s fantasy for the rest of her life. Disney, as much as you inspired us, you also ruined us.

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You made us impatient and foolish and full of fanciful thinking. You gave us false hope in finding True Love that would inevitably give us a Happily Ever After when it’s not that simple. And yet we’re still striving for it in those pictures. You can see it in the bride and groom’s eyes. They’re so in love and trying so damn hard to be the perfect couple. To be the couple they knew they could always be. No wonder we get Bridezillas, that’s way too much stress to put on any one person.

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You see we’re not perfect creatures. We’re too moved by feeling rather than logic when it comes to finding a mate so that we marry the guy with the grand gestures even if he’s got a shoddy relationship track record. And we wonder why our first time marriage divorce rate is so high? (45-50% in the United States.) But let’s not even talk about our second time marriage divorce rate…(60-70% in the the United States), it’s too embarrassing.
The thing is though that a lot of people I know and have grown up with and with whom I’ve fantasized about our individual “Prince Charmings” are getting married, and I’m just not all right. I think at first, when people started getting engaged, it just seemed like a distant “Well yeah, of course I knew they were going to get married eventually” kind of feeling. But now that the dates are rolling in, the knots are being tied, and the pictures are being posted, and it’s REAL. It’s “THIS IS OUR LIFE NOW.”
Why I think about myself collectively with my generation I don’t know. I’m not sure how many other people do that, but for me when it comes to big life changes that most people will experience I have to see it collectively. When we all graduated from college, despite our differing universities and degrees and future paths it felt like a big, mutual accomplishment. When we started getting our first “real jobs,” it was exciting and united. When we all start going through menopause I might finally feel back on track because marriage is a little different. We’re not all going to get married at the same time. Some of us probably won’t even get married. Some of us don’t even have significant others right now. Some of us love the single life. Some of us hate it vehemently. Some of us want to get married for the wrong reasons. Some of us want to get married for the right ones but are with the wrong person. Some of us just don’t know what the hell they’re doing. (This girl!)

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Sometimes I take a step back and wonder if I’m envious of these girls. If I’m jealous that they’re getting their “Happily Ever After,” and I’m sitting over here jaded in the shadows like a Disney villain—a fiendishly warped artistic rendering of the heroine princess. Well, at least I have no plans to curse anyone’s first born or put anyone in a fruit-induced coma. No, I think I’d rather figure out this life thing instead.
I don’t know if I ever want to get married. When I think about fulfilling that traditional feminine, “the husband is the head of the wife” role, I want to scream or punch something. I know that we’re in “modern times” now, and having a three-course meal on the table every night when your husband gets home and giving up your career in order to raise the children is not considered mandatory by most people anymore.
Although it’s certainly not completely out of the realm of possible expectations depending on the man you marry and his upbringing. Ultra-Christian men especially scare me. Being a Christian myself, every book and mentor is telling me to seek a man that seeks God first which is great, but sometimes there gets to be this twisted seeking God first turns into self-righteous blasphemy that “Christian Culture” (not Christianity itself) seems to accept if not necessarily outright endorse. Essentially, being an independent and strong-willed woman with a career-minded focus and personal goals starts to look threatening to certain types of men. I’ve fortunately never dated any though I have met them, and I wish I hadn’t. I’m sure it was useful to be given an illustration of who NOT to marry. But then there’s also the nagging fear that the older I get without a husband and still try to participate in church activities, the more resistance I might get from women in the Church (aka the wives). I‘ve heard the stories of single woman who are involved in churches being looked down upon as husband-hungry hussies. I don’t ever want someone in the Church to look at me like that. But because of who I am—a young, attractive, and independent woman—I fear that happening at some point.
All I really want is to feel fulfilled in life, and I don’t think that a marriage is going to do that for me. Facebook and all the Bride Pride likes to suggest otherwise—that your life is complete once you’ve exhausted all those creative DIY pins on your wedding Pinterest board—but that just isn’t true. Our lives are more than that perfect cake topper or wedding favor or photo-shoot. Our futures are worth more than the perfect dress or the perfect shoes or the perfect venue. Our “Happily Ever After” is more than a wedding. There’s the “After” too that we have to figure out how to navigate. A lot of my peers are doing that right now. I may never do it. I kind of just want to find my “Happily.” That would actually be quite good with me!

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I think if I had to put a moral to this, here’s what I’ve concluded:

  • All the marriages look like “Happily Ever Afters,” but they’re really just life.
  • There’s no point in being jealous that someone is living life, even if it’s differently than you.
  • Don’t marry the Crazy Christian who doesn’t accept women as individuals. In fact, don’t marry a man that doesn’t except woman as individuals in general. That’s way too 20th century.
  • There’s nothing wrong with the single life. Just live.
  • And finally, your life can be complete without a fulfilled Pinterest wedding board.

So everybody’s getting married, and I’m not all right. Not yet at least. It’s a work in progress. But that doesn’t mean I’m not happy for everyone who is getting married. (Yay! Congratulations!) Rather, I’m having to learn what it’s like to be part of a generational movement without actually participating. It doesn’t make sense, I know. But I’m coming to understand that just because I’m not doing everything my peers are doing doesn’t mean I’m falling behind in life.

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Your Own Worst Enemy: Thoughts on the Suicide of Robin Williams

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I know what it’s like to want to die.

I know what it’s like to be depressed.

I know what it’s like for everyone to look at you and say “But how can you be depressed? You’re so happy and funny and have so much going for you!”

So I feel comfortable saying that I understand in part how Robin Williams came to commit suicide. But in one of his character’s own words, “Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.” (World’s Greatest Dad, 2009). Which is why I advocate in my videos and my writing and my personal interactions for people to speak out about suicidal feelings (because that’s the only way you can get help) and those who hear these cries for help to deal compassionately but strongly with them.

I’ve been thinking about the “Genie, you’re free” quote making its rounds on the Internet. At first, it struck a chord because I know what it’s like to want to be free from the depression and the pain and the loneliness and in a superficial way it does seem like Robin Williams is free.

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But then just NO.

Committing suicide is not freedom.

Committing suicide is letting Depression win.

You see Depression is a trickster. It tries to convince us (and can do a very good job on many of us, myself included) that it is our Master and we are the Genie bound in the bottle. And so we must do it’s bidding in order to live an even halfway decent existence. But this is wrong.

Depression inherently has no direct control over us. It is a deceiver, but we are ultimately the ones who cause our own pain. We are the Master AND the Genie. We trap ourselves in the bottle. We give ourselves rules and bounds and shackles and chains. And we cry and we beg Depression to set us free while it laughs in triumph until some of us cannot bear the burden of living as a Genie any longer and we falsely believe that suicide will give us freedom. But death does not bring us freedom. It brings an end to existence. An end to the fight of which by death we have lost.

What we don’t seem to understand is that we are our own worst enemy. For those of us with depression, this is all the more true. But Depression is not the enemy. It is a leech. A parasite that preys on those of us who war within ourselves too intensely. It is a deceiver. A liar that convinces us we are insignificant and life isn’t worth living. It tries to make us lose the battle. But ultimately, it cannot force our hand. It is a fight with ourselves.

For Robin Williams, one of my favorite actors, I am sad that he lost the fight. That Depression and Addiction won. For the community at large, I am even more sad that we say flippant things like “Genie, you’re free” as a form of paying respects without realizing the implications it has on other depressed and potentially suicidal people.

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On Dealing With Writer’s Block (Novel Writing: Month 7, Chapter 7)

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July was a harder month to write in than I expected. I don’t know if the process is just getting stagnant and monotonous or if I was simply busier this month and therefore couldn’t devote as much time to writing. I did finish the chapter though! Even if for a little while I thought I would have to cut the chapter short in order to reach my goal, but then I realized, is that even reaching my goal? Doing sloppy work to get things done on time rather than taking the time and giving the effort to create a quality product is lazy! And I’m not lazy. So even though by the middle of July I had only about three pages written, I put my thinking cap on and pushed hard until the end of the month.

This chapter was challenging in part because it’s getting past my original brainstorm session from December when I first decided to embark on this novel writing journey. I had ideas for the beginning and ideas for a couple chapters after the one I wrote in July, but there is a lull in the plot for me around chapter seven. Thing have to happen in order for the more exciting things to happen, but that means I need to spend an equal amount of time thinking about those less interesting things in order to write them. It’s like surviving Tuesday through Thursday just so you can party on Friday.

Since I was having some motivation issues and writer’s block, I decided to go back to my original story written from eight grade through my freshmen year in college for some inspiration. I had this grand planning of re-reading all 364 pages, but then I realized that if I was going to get this chapter written and read all of the chapters in my previous novel I needed to borrow Hermione’s Time Turner.

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So I’m going to have to save the old novel reading for later, but I did pinpoint a section of my story that sets up some very important information in regards to prophecy and history that I actually used almost verbatim which helped a lot. I had to change some of the original history in order to make the character dynamics and story I’ve been writing this year make sense, but rather than starting from scratch or trying to vaguely recall the historical record I had created, I simply used the original.

Interestingly, using ideas that I had come up with years ago actually made me more excited about the story. Recently, I’ve been feeling like the story is getting out of hand in a way because it’s deviating so much from my original eighth grade ideas. When you tell the same story to yourself over and over again but then go to actually write it down and it starts spiraling out of control in it’s own direction, it can become disheartening. But being able to go back to my original story, pick out my favorite parts and reutilize them in this new story has helped me connect the two distinct stories in my mind.

I’m excited for month eight/chapter eight, and I plan on perusing the original hand-written story for some of my favorite scenes and inventing a way to include them. Despite my young age when writing the original story, there really are some poetic pieces that are worth editing and including in my latest version of the story. They are what I remember most fondly about the story so it wouldn’t be right not to include them!Writers-Block-4