Good Thing About The Exercise

I just realized that for the past two weeks, I haven’t technically been eating a dinner but rather a mishmosh of frozen yogurt covered in chocolate sauce and sprinkles, graham crackers dipped and swirled in Nutella, cloud-like wisps of marshmallows and some delicious frozen chicken nuggets made gourmet by a secret sprinkling of spices.

. . . how wonderful!

 

“Haiku!” A Haiku*

My nipples are dry

Fine oil drops into space

Moist breasts are shiny

This haiku was submitted by me, to me and for me – to the contest I created just now. There were over 0 entries. Out of those, I won the award for Best Haiku 2014. Congratulations, Amanda!

Please, join me in celebrating myself by submitting your haiku about me to amandameetshaiku@gmail.com*. I will be reading the entries over the next few weeks. A winner will be determined** by the end of June.

Good luck!

 

*Debatable.

**This is not my email.

***Nope. No there will not be a winner determined. Ever.

 

 

 

Oddly Specific

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Don’t I look like a teen from the Midwest who wishes she was from Iceland? And think about everything that has to go into that – I’m not even “exotic” enough to think that I look like what I would imagine some hip chick from Iceland looks like. I’m so unexotic that I have to reduce my look to the ridiculous point of Midwest teen trying to look like she’s from Iceland.

Explanation: my face and lips were really swollen last night and I thought it looked interesting, so I took a picture and now here we are.

Mission Statement, Revised

Last night I was sitting in my bathtub taking notes on how I wanted to write this blog post. I have a few drafts and they will probably never be good enough, so, do you mind if we just move forward and pretend that this is a brilliant beginning?

When I started this blog it was meant to be my own, private, and a pleasure – the goal was to encourage myself to do what I love (writing) and get better at it. Eventually, it became a chore and I felt like I was required to follow so many blogs and talk to the “right” people and get advertisers and open an online shop and make money and so on. So, I backed off the blogging for a while and now I’m back and will not be doing any tedious blogger networking unless I am genuinely interested in that blogger and they are interested in me. Writing will not be my career or a thing I do for any reason besides my own joy, because I do not have the mental fortitude to mix business with, what I feel, defines me.

To Do

Exercise More, i.e. exercise = endorphins = good.bye.depression

Bake More. You’re good at it and it makes you happy. No brainer.

Write More (obviously)

Read The Bible, see: “doing-things-because-you-want-to”

To Remember

Ned is gone and that’s ok.

 

Anyway – hello again! And thanks for sticking around. I missed you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: House of Secrets by Ned Vizzini & Chris Columbus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About a month ago, I won an advanced reading copy of House of Secrets by Ned Vizzini & Chris Columbus. As any literature nerd will tell you, the combination of these two writers is to bookworms and YA novels as crack is to your weird third cousin and his scary girlfriend. Vizzini is a hero amongst angsty, misunderstood book-loving teens everywhere while Columbus is the man, the myth, the legend behind the Harry Potter films, spearheading every Muggle’s fantasy of seeing Harry, Ron and Hermione on the big screen.

It’s basically the best nerd-cocktail to grace bookshelves since Tales of Beedle the Bard.

Yeah. I said it.

That being said, it should come as no surprise that even though I had a free copy of the House of Secrets in my possession, I purchased the super shiny important official copy from my local Barnes & Noble yesterday because I’m crazy. Crazy like a fox. Crazy like a fox that loves books.

It also doesn’t hurt that I’m unemployed right now and therefore have even more time to devote to the awesome story (again).

Let me start this “review” (with the term being used loosely as I have nothing to recommend me as a “reviewer” other than my MA in English Literature and a life-long love of the written word) with a statement to qualify my deep affection and connection to this book: I have depression which I am currently on medication for, but which still has the annoying symptom of making it difficult to concentrate on one thing for longer than about 30 minutes. Sadly, this lack of focus includes books and, as you can imagine, is a very frustrating component of this whole depression thing. In the last year I have had a very start/stop relationship with books and other projects that has been very hard to get control of and as a result I had not finished one book for a very long time by my standards. To give you an idea of said standards: before the depression symptoms took full hold of my life, I was reading a novel a week and loving it.

And then House of Secrets came along. I finished the book in less than a week. In fact, I couldn’t put it down. I came home from work and immediately plopped onto my stomach, head at the foot of the bed, legs spread and feet swinging in the air taking on Reader’s Pose – the lesser known of the yoga poses – to read for two or three hours at a time, unaware of time passing around me and ecstatic when I rose from the pages of the book to discover just how much time had vanished in the joy of reading. It was like being awake after too long a sleep.

So, I suppose this “review” is more of a “thank you” letter than anything else.

However, there are still some important and wonderful things you should know about the book that will no doubt encourage you, fellow book-lover, to buy the book and enjoy as I have enjoyed.

First, JK Rowling, JK Rowling, said this about the book, “A breakneck, jam-packed roller coaster of an adventure about the secret power of books, House of Secrets comes complete with three resourceful sibling heroes, a seriously creepy villainess, and barrel loads of fantasy and fear.” So, there’s that.

Secondly, fans of Inkheart will love House of Secrets because it hits all the important points that Inkheart missed, either due to a bad translation from German or just poor plot structuring, while still a great tale Inkheart leaves something to be desired from both the characters and the telling of the story, while House of Secrets gives you parts of the story you didn’t know you wanted and rich character development, making it an easy and desirable read. There are so many plot turns and great moments to endear the reader to either Cordelia, Brendan, Eleanor Walker or all three that even when they make rash decisions or do things that seem farfetched it doesn’t matter because Vizzini and Columbus resolve it all in one way or another. And don’t mistake “resolve” for “elimination of conflict” in this case; the conflict is never truly eliminated in House of Secrets, rather it is just made less frightening by the determination of the Walker siblings and their refusal to be beaten by an insane witch, incredibly aggressive warriors and bumbling supernatural pirates. This may not sound attractive, but it adds a complexity to the story that other YA novels do not possess.

Vizzini and Columbus waste no time getting right into the adventure with an absolutely shocking event that spins the action into overdrive by page 54. And this book has it all, adventure, the supernatural, family conflict, comedy, romance, great heroes and terrifying villains. One of the ironic joys of reading a YA novel as an adult is being able to exclaim, “What the fuck?!” to oneself while reading, which I am not ashamed to say happened to me every 20 pages or so in this book, with each surprise being better than the last.

And that’s about all I can say. I don’t want to reveal too much, and with this book, I feel like an in-depth review (at least from me) would give it all away.

If you’re interested in the book and want to learn more, here are links!:

“Like” House of Secrets on Facebook: facebook.com/houseofsecretsbooks

Stay up-to-date on Ned Vizzini’s awesomeness: nedvizzini.com/

Click here to purchase the book!

. . . or you can Tweet to win a copy of House of Secrets! Click here for details.

And if you would like to read some stellar YA book reviews from an up and coming YA author, check out the blog of my fellow book-lover friend, Aubrey Cann.

amanda meets depression

Someecards I Hate Mondays Through Sundays

Accurate.

Funny thing happened in October – I was diagnosed with severe depression. So severe that I was bumped to the top of a 80 person waiting list to see a therapist and a psychiatrist. So severe, my doctor almost started crying when I handed her the list of thoughts that had been on constant rotation in my head for the past two weeks. So severe, that I really, truly, honest-to-god thought I was going to crumble into nothing and die. The scariest part was that I didn’t care. In fact, I was looking forward to that moment of oblivion. 

What I have learned since then is that for the majority of my life, I’ve probably never really been sad, but depressed. Apparently, my brain looks at sad and says, “Fuck this! Let’s go the extra mile!”

Another thing I have learned is to not drink alcohol like a sorority girl when you’re on your first month of Zoloft. Present Amanda is trying to reach through a hole in spacetime to past Amanda to give her the following message:

  • DO NOT under any circumstances drink that whole margarita. You will drink another, then one more, then two glasses of champagne (three?) swiftly and with an ease that would embarrass Ernest Hemingway. 
  • DO NOT wear what you like to call your “Classy Dress.” It will be neither classy nor dressy by the time the night is through.
  • For god’s sake, DO NOT eat the green chile enchiladas and a strawberry cream cake in rapid succession only moments after you’ve consumed alcohol noted above. 
  • Move your hand away from your mouth when you begin to vomit so as to prevent any barftastic essence from spilling onto your “Classy Dress.”
  • Listen to your boyfriend when he says, “Stop drinking. Now.”
  • Listen to your doctor when she says, “Don’t drink alcohol with this medication.”
  • Listen to your future self who will have to write about this in blog form. Idiot. 

For the record, it’s funny now, but I really did black out for a moment and then puked into an adjacent pitcher that was, thankfully, free of any and all beverage. Jeff acted with speed and precision to ensure that most of my vomit was projected into something rather than onto my person. I did fill that pitcher with vomit, by the way. And we’re talking to the brim, people. Jeff was proud of me in a weird way – somehow all five feet of me puked up a pitcher full of puke. 

Now, I tell this story not to warn against the dangers of drinking with medications and the whole thing, you guys know that. I tell this story to illustrate what I like to call “My Darkest Hour.” In hindsight, it’s pretty hilarious, but when you’re there and puking green enchilada with strawberry cream on yourself, it all becomes very dark very quickly. The point is though, that I’m here now writing about it. Things got better. I no longer puke into pitchers. Believe it or not, that’s a good thing. I’m making sure I don’t puke into pitchers just like I’m making sure I don’t get caught up in the negative thoughts my chemically imbalanced brain spits outs. 

So, the long and short of it is this – I know I’ve been gone for a while, and I know there are some of you out there who genuinely like this blog; you leave great comments and you keep coming back here even when I’m not posting. I want to thank you for being such a constant while I was, and am, going through such a difficult time. There might be more posts from here on out about my depression, but I promise I will try to put a good spin on it. The posts might not be as scheduled as they were before, but I’ll try. I just want to say thanks, guys. There’s more to come, it will just take time.

Also, tell your friends that have depression or anxiety to COME ON OVER. Let’s talk this shit out. Let’s help each other and try to make sure no one else pukes on themselves.

Autumn: The Season of Unassigned Reading!

Autumn has finally hit Northern California, and I couldn’t be happier. However; when it becomes fall around here, yours truly loses any and all desire to do schoolwork. All I want to do is curl up with my British edition of Harry Potter, drink chai and snuggle with Jeff (the boyfriend), Hermione(the cat) and Zelda(the dog). The last thing I want to do is do assigned reading. Anyone who has ever majored in Literature knows what I’m talking about – it’s a problem that is unique to us. Anyone who has never been a Lit major doesn’t understand how you could take courses where all you do is read novels and somehow find time to procrastinate due to your own reading.

I didn’t used to be like this. I remember in junior high I used to kill my school reading before I did anything else. The first time I ever picked up Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, I couldn’t get through my schoolwork fast enough. Study hall with Harry Potter and Hermione Granger? Yes, please! While everyone else was out at recess or lunch, I stayed behind to do my reading so that by the time school was over I had my book pulled out of my backpack and was there with Harry in Potions before I even reached my grandmother’s old Chrysler. I would devour books, and I would always finish my homework first.

But now? Now I have this weird problem where I’ll really jam on an assigned reading for school, but then I’ll get bored with the next book and do my own reading for pleasure. I also have, and always have had, an issue with assigned reading. I just think it’s shit. I always wanted to be a part of the class where a teacher just got the students stoked as hell on something they wanted to read.

Why is this so important? Because not enough people are exited about reading and I think it’s because “literature” is shoved down our throats before we are even cognitively aware enough to know just what the hell it is we are doing in a classroom full of other eight-year-olds!  Because teachers teach to tests and because some of them became teachers just to get weekends and holidays off. Because you are told that if you don’t read (insert novel here) then you will be punished. Who wants to read anything under those conditions?

I’m also just a hippie about reading. Read what you want as long as you are reading! Read the hell out of that Twilight or 50 Shades of Grey, as long as you’re reading.

When you aren’t reading, just do what I do and look at photos of autumn-ish things on Shutterstock. Like this:

Shutterstock Autumn

Relaxing beauty!

Shutterstock Autumn

Peaceful. Majestic.

Shutterstock Autumn Books

Look at how happy she is! I bet she’s reading something whimsical as fuck!

Shutterstock Autumn Books

Poor assigned reading . . . it got left behind.

Now, excuse me while I go to the used bookstore and buy books that won’t further my education.