Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Crank by Ellen Hopkins // Book Review

Despite this book being loosely based on the true story of her daughter’s experience, something about Crank seemed insincere and distant. It felt too much like a stereotypical story of drug addiction, which made the main character, Kristina, unrealistic. With a quick and happy ending that sounded like an advertisement for kids to not do drugs, Crank is actually the first in a trilogy which I don’t plan on continuing.

Crank follows the story of Kristina (also known as Bree) and her struggle with “the monster” (also known as meth). Written in Hopkins’s unique, poetic way, we follow Kristina through her downfall, experiencing the highs and lows of her addiction. From the start, Kristina is presented as a pretty average girl who basically has a fucked up childhood and family life. Throughout the story we see her react to that, but we never truly learn how it affected her. It felt like there was a whole part of her missing, which was only touched upon in the beginning of the book. That began the initial disconnect from the character, which is perhaps why this story was so easy to read despite its dark topics. Of course, with its writing in free verse, it was a pretty speedy read regardless.

As this was my first time reading a Hopkins book, I was excited to dive into her writing style. It was something that always fascinated me, and I admire her ability to use poetry to write a novel.  The style fit well with her descriptions of Kristina’s experience. It gave the book a very visible mood through imagery and detail. However, there were some things I wasn’t crazy about when it came to the writing. Firstly, not all the verses worked. Some were gorgeous and quote worthy, while other sounded super cheesy and lame. The bad ones were easy to skim over whenever the writing style began annoying me. Overall, it was quite fun reading a book written this way, but I’m not sure I would pick up another.

I honestly think I would have liked this book more as a teenager. Perhaps I would have appreciated more so the beauty of the writing over the mediocre, unremarkable story. The quick ending pulled me right out of the plot, and I really wished it focused more on Kristina getting better instead of just grazing through it in a couple of pages. The happy ending was contrasted by the fact that there are two more books it this series, the next one called Glass, so it doesn’t sound very promising as far as Kristina’s recovery. I definitely drew a good amount of inspiration from the mood of this book, but plot and character wise it felt lacking. Unfortunately, I don’t care to continue the series, but I might give Hopkins’s writing another shot.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Gaining A Minimalist's Mindset

I don't think I've ever not been in the process of trying to minimize the amount of things I own. Especially since about two years ago when I moved into a tiny, dark hole of a bedroom. And even though I'm in a big, bright room now, I constantly feel the need to downsize, to be able to look around my room and feel satisfied with the amount of things I have. Slowly I started implementing minimalist ideas into my life, getting rid of more and trying to live more simply. However, being someone who enjoys things (and tends to hoard books and art supplies) I knew being a minimalist was not possible for me.

But only recently have I discovered that it just might be the way for me to go. Nothing makes me feel more satisfied than looking at a freshly clean and organized surface. And the idea of having a closet full of bins holds me back. So perhaps being an actual minimalist is what I need. Naturally, there are different ideas about what it means to be a minimalist. Some people go to the extreme of only owning a certain number of things. Some only own what they can carry on their back. Personally I know I could never do that, but I do like the idea of being able to fill a car with everything I own. Anymore seems like too much.

But I finally feel like I am becoming able to let go of things. My book collection, which is too big for me to count at the moment, is slowly getting smaller. I've decided that to keep a book I've read and don't plan on reading again is pointless. Why hold onto something just for the sake of having it? So as I read my books, I'm making the decision to part ways with the ones I don't think I'll read again. And I don't feel guilty or sad about it! In fact, I'm really excited to have a collection of books that I truly love.

Okay, so maybe because of that I will never be a "real" minimalist. I know I'll always want at least one box of childhood objects. And I always need plenty of art supplies to make art with. But I feel like I've gained the mindset of a minimalist, or at least my view of one. I feel much more comfortable parting with things that I once loved. Now I really consider how something makes me feel and if I use or need it.

I recently culled down my jewelry collection from a whole box to a little baggy. When I sat down and looked at everything I owned, I realized I never wore half of the necklaces or earrings. Overall I don't wear much jewelry, so the ones I kept I plan on alternating with my outfits. And if I don't wear them for a couple months, I'll get rid of even more. Even though some of them were sentimental, what's the point of owning them if I'm not going to enjoy and use them, when someone else could instead?

I feel really good about finally being able to let go of things. I think it is true that owning less things makes you a happier, fuller person. And if that's the case, then it can only go up from here.

Friday, June 2, 2017

The Importance of Being Your Genuine Self // My Gender Identity

Today I'm writing about gender, my gender in particular. It's something I've barely touched upon on this blog, but would really like to talk about more. For some reason, coming out on here, of all platforms, feels the most like coming out. My blog is different from my other social media. It has always been a home base, a place to hold everything I'm doing on the internet together. It the face of my "brand" and thusly a genuine representation of who I am. And while it is a place for me to have fun and experiment, it's also a place of seriousness.

I’ve been hesitant to declare myself to the world because for so long I've been unsure of who I am. But discovering and learning about my gender has only further allowed me to open up and be myself. Even before telling anyone, just existing while knowing such an important fact about myself was empowering and reassuring. And although it's a risk to come out to the world, I also know it's a necessary step in being my genuine self.

In case you are unaware of what that is, it simply means I identify outside of the gender binary, outside of just man/woman. Non-binary is an umbrella term, so it can mean something different for every person that identifies with it. For me, it means I feel neither like a woman nor a man. I feel like I am without a gender, or agender, yet sometimes I feel like I am somewhere between being a woman and a man. It can get kind of confusing, I know. That is why I love and use the term non-binary. I also really like the word genderqueer.

As a kid, I always seemed to know that when we're not in our bodies, in this life, we have no gender. I believe our original forms are without any kind of category or labels. Gender, as I now know, is a social construct, something us humans decided to make up. (Note: sex and gender are two different things just fyi.) I grew up feeling that in my true form I had no gender. I was simply a girl because I reside in a female body. Back then, the only thing I knew about trans people was the idea of being “born in the wrong body”. As a kid that saying was one of sympathy, but I now realize that it's an unhealthy idea, the same way I feel that using the term "born this way" to describe one's gayness is an apology for being the way they are.

It was easy for me to accept that I was a girl because that was what I was given; that's how I was born. I was also unaware that anything outside of the binary even existed. Because while I just kind of accepted that I was a girl, I also knew that in the same way I would have accepted being a boy if I had been given a male body. It wasn’t a big issue for me at the time. I just did my thing and didn’t worry about it.

It wasn’t until last year that I started to question my gender once more. Now aware of so many different terms and gender identities, I revisited my original feeling of being neither gender. Just like with discovering I was pansexual, it was a slow realization that grew stronger over time. At the end of August last year my mom, sister and I took a trip to Cape Cod. It was there, in the queerest town I’d ever been in, Provincetown, that I first really considered that I might be non-binary. Being in a place of such positive energy based around the LGBTQ+ community was exactly what I needed, it turns out. As we were waiting for my mom to go to the bathroom, I sat with my sister on a bench outside and asked her if non-binary people are considered trans. At the time, even after all I had learned, I felt my sister had more knowledge and experience with the topic as she had several trans friends. She explained that they were (of course, you don’t have to consider yourself trans if you are non-binary) and then asked me why I had asked. I simply said, “Because I think I might be that.” She nodded, and that was that. No big deal. We’d discussed gender before, agreeing on our ideas about it. But in just having said that out loud, in hearing those words come out of my mouth and knowing what they meant, I felt it truly in my soul that that was me, the real me. Granted, I still would do plenty of internet searches for different words and meanings afterwards (and even still now), but I finally had an identity that felt like it fit me. Non-binary.

From then, I walked around that town proud, with my little secret realization. From my first time going to Provincetown when I was a kid and my parents explaining that we’d see same-sex couples holding hands, to walking down the sidewalk feeling like I belonged as a pansexual non-binary person was an incredible, empowering moment that has stuck with me.

Since returning from that trip I’ve played around with pronouns and definitions. I’ve come out as non-binary to my mom and to my Youtube and Twitter followers. I even made a few good friends since putting myself out into the world as something closer to my genuine self. On top of that, I’ve moved in with my mom (aka, my best friend), I’ve started on meds again for my depression and anxiety. I’ve started working online after having been out of work for a few months. If you’ve read any of my other recent writings, you know that I’ve been improving immensely since last fall. And although many factors were at play in making that happen, discovering and beginning to accept my gender identity feels a lot like the catalyst for the start of that change.

I am non-binary. I’m still the same weird person I was before. I still look very much like a conventional girl, but that’s okay with me because I like dresses and makeup and generally looking feminine. Gender expression is another thing I’m currently working on, but in all honesty, I’ve been working on my style ever since I started caring about it in high school. If anything, being non-binary has only made me want to explore fashion and style that much more.

So now you know, if you didn’t already. In saying this, expect more writing from me about being non-binary, as well as about LGBTQ+ issues in general. As I said before, my blog is a place for me to have fun, but it’s also a place for me to talk about serious topics that are important to me, like gender and mental health. They are part of my reality, so to exclude them from my blog would be like introducing myself without telling you my name. I want to share my experience, my knowledge and my life not only to help show non-binary representation, but also in the hopes that someone will take something away from my words and be inspired to become their genuine self.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Badass Babygirl // Movie Moodboard

Melanie Martinez's "Sippy Cup" music video

I've been collecting screenshotted movie stills on my computer for the past couple of years. Whenever a scene inspires me in every aspect of it's composure, I take a few screenshots and save the best ones in a folder on my desktop. Now I want to start putting them together into collections so that they hold a cohesive overall vibe. This is my first post of a new little series! I hope you draw some creative inspiration from them.


It Follows


Mel's "Mrs. Potato Head" music video

i forget lol

American Horror Story S3

Mel's "Crybaby" mv

Friday, May 19, 2017

Life's a Mess But It's Okay

The other day I accidentally spilled an entire container of beads on the floor and it got me thinking about metaphors. Like how beautiful and colorful of a mess it was. Kind of like life.

I've been having lots of ups and downs, many spurts of grand creativity, but then also days lacking any inspiration. I can get so inspired to start projects, like a bookish podcast I still need to finalize. But sometimes something as simple as making my monthly What I Watched post can be too daunting of a task. (That's why I didn't make one for April haha). Recently my trip to Michigan gave me something I can only describe as an awakening. Not only did I feel inspired and motivated, but also peaceful and in the moment. However when I returned from the trip, I realized something. 

Having an "awakening" or becoming "enlightened" does not negate my depression.

Just because I now have the mental tools to move forward in my life with actual positivity does not mean my depression is just going to go away. It does not mean I'm cured. And I realize now that that is an ideal that I've subconsciously been striving for my whole life because we live in a society that fails to recognize most mental disorders as legit. It is too often treated as something we've made up in our heads. Or it's played down as just normal sadness. I've heard everything from "just think positively" to "it's just a slump, you'll get out of it." Even people I know who have mental illnesses have said these things! It's an internalized stigma that needs to stop!

In order to get better or work toward a path of recovery, we need to be reminded that we are not our mental illnesses. We need to learn to see it as something we can mentally rise above, so that when the depression comes we can separate ourselves from it and get through it without mentally or physically hurting ourselves. And it is a constant effort. It's something you will need to work on every time it arises within you. It's one thing to have the tools, it's another to use them. 

This is a reminder to you.

Mental awakening or whatever you want to call it, learning to live in the now, will not cure your mental illness. It will, however, give you something amazing, and that can be clarity, motivation, inspiration, peace and/or joy. Now that you're open to these things, now that you've taught yourself to live presently and think clearly, you also have them as weapons against your mental illness. They aren't magically going to make you better forever, but more and more often you'll be able to think clearly, separate from your depression. In the very least, you'll begin to recognize when you are depressed so that you can get through it safely. 

Like all things, learning takes time (especially if you aren't open to it yet). You can read tons of books, go to therapy, do whatever you need to try to overcome your depression. Regardless of how you do it, it will take time to learn to separate yourself from your depression, in order to think freely from it even when you're feeling really bad. 

It has taken me close to 10 years to even get to this point, and I'm nowhere near being free of my depression. But the best thing you can do for yourself, I think, is to decide that you've had enough. To start truly helping yourself. That's the only way awakening and clarity can start showing up in your life. 

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Death & Awakening

Death is the worst. At least from an outsider's perspective, as someone who just lost a loved one. I can't say what it would be like to be the one to die because that is indeed one of life's biggest mysteries. But losing someone, even someone you don't know very well, is still both numbing and painful. It brings about the strangest sensation of sadness, of permanence, of confusion. Something I've never felt other than in the wake of death. 

This past week my paternal grandmother died. After a long struggle with mental illness and countless physical ailments, her body could no longer hold her inside. My dad was, and still is, absolutely heartbroken. Although they weren't super close, her having lived in Michigan, and my dad here is upstate NY, she was still his mom, and thus my grandmother. 

So we packed up with only a few days notice, and took a trip to rural Michigan- me, my dad, his girlfriend and my sister. The car ride was roughly 14 hours and when we arrived we were greeted by cousins and aunts and uncles, some who had flown out there, some whose house we were staying in. Having not seen them in about 11 years, it was so strange at first. All my cousins, who I knew only as little kids, were teenagers and adults. Some of them looked familiar but some I knew only by name. 

The first night I wanted to come back. I couldn't fathom the idea was waiting out six days of partial-strangers and unfamiliar customs. I found little solace in browsing social media and hoped sleep would calm my anxiety. By the second night, I wished we didn't have to leave. I wish we could have stayed there in those moments, playing pool with my oldest cousin, sister and dad, spending the day putting together poster boards of memories containing the one thing that strung us all together- my grandmother. 

I didn't know her that well, never did. As a kid we visited Michigan a lot more often, in the summer or for Christmas. In those times I have little bits and pieces of memories with my Grandma Judy. One of those is being in her trailer home, eating Froot Loops and getting a Beanie Baby cat from her. In fact, that's one of the only memories I can scrounge together at the moment. All others coincide with photographs.

I remember her short hair, the funny way she breathed, her toothless mouth. I remember not understanding why she didn't have breasts sitting above her stomach. I didn't know that she had survived breast cancer. I didn't know, also, that she had bi-polar, on top of dementia. Or that in most of the time that I knew her, she had already changed from the woman she was before. 

Regardless of that, she was my grandmother, my dad's mom. She had raised five kids on a farm, losing her husband too early and then one of her grown sons. She was so much stronger and tougher than I ever could have wrapped my young brain around. Even after her final stroke, she fought until her body no longer let her.

Death is the worst, but it is also so peaceful. I imagine for her it was especially. Some believe in heaven, in which case she would be reunited with her husband and son. In my own ideas of an afterlife, peace is really all there is, as your soul melts into the universe, connecting to everything. If reincarnated, I imagine she'll be made into something beautiful like a queen or a rose. 

Although bittersweet, my trip to Michigan brought about a sense of peace within myself, as well. Standing in the cemetery, sharing thoughts and kind words with my family, I could feel my place in the world. I could feel that connectedness that doesn't let memories die with the person. Learning bits about my dad's family history, I felt truly like a Meyer, like one piece of a whole. These people I once knew I knew once more. Though things had changed, we fit back together like puzzle pieces, forming our (mostly) completed family again. 

one of the houses my dad grew up in
The saddest thing, I think, aside from losing one of our pieces, is that I probably won't see them again for another handful of years. They all went back to their lives, and I my own, as well. I feel both refreshed, and, admittedly, depressed about stepping back into my life. In one way, I'm entirely inspired to do what I want and move forward, but in another way, reality is too overwhelming to even think about. Things that I once found comfort in now give me a feeling of unease. I'm excited to finally work super hard for what I want, but I'm also terrified of things like benefits and insurance, things that seem like they shouldn't matter in the aftermath of such an event.

Life is funny, weird and scary sometimes. I'm learning that more as I experience more difficult things. It's unfortunate that such awakening comes as a result of tragedy, but that is what life is about, after all. We learn and grow from the things that hurt us, from the things that make us question. Living a stagnant life will only result in stiffness and boredom. If I want to live, I have to fight for it. Just like my grandmother did.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Sprite Girl // Drawing

She's done! If you missed my last post about her, I was working hard with my colored pencils to complete her. I'm honestly really impressed with my ability to use my colored pencils after a short break from them. My favorite part of her is probably where her normal skin colored face goes into her green buggy face. I'm really glad I was able to pull that off, as my last attempt to blend two completely different colors of skin failed miserably. The hair is a bit rough in spots, but overall, I'm quite happy with how she turned out, and I'm already more than halfway done with another colored pencil drawing by now! It feels great to get some work done!