Friday, December 30, 2016

With Dreams So Powerful

I woke up this morning from a dream not with a yawn or a stretch, but with tears running down my face. The dream made me angry, sad, hurt, and confused. When you have dreams as powerful as that, there's no way to avoid your emotions.

Last night, I struggled to actually sleep. I tossed and turned, awoken every hour due to pain. A customer jokingly said to me yesterday that he didn't want to live beyond forty, that it's all downhill from there. I didn't want to tell him that I haven't reached thirty yet, and my last year of my twenties has been awful health wise. This is probably why you should never joke about their being an age where things start to go wrong, because on the surface level, I look healthy. I feel healthy, mentally. That's saying something, because I battled anxiety and depression for a long time.

The dream I had right before I woke up for what felt like the tenth time was one where I was struggling to walk. All of the muscles in my back had tightened again, leaving me helpless. It was the same pain I had that made me go to the hospital, and here I was, reliving it again in a dream. I was walking on the road, determined to make it to the doctor's office, when I collapsed. It was so icy that I slid into a snowbank, freezing, cold, and angry. I started to cry as people stopped and tried to help me.

Those tears followed me into real life, along with some tension pain in my back.

I believe this is a dream about my pent up feelings. I've been putting on a show, much like Michael C. Hall's character in the first episode of Six Feet Under, which I just started watching. I've been frustrated and angry with my body, but I've also been frustrated with not being able to get proper care. I haven't voiced it. I haven't gotten angry. I've been calm and said, "Oh, you know, I'm in pain. It's cool." I've been playing it of like it's no big deal, but really, I'm screaming inside.

When I went to the ER in so much pain that I couldn't stand or sit without assistance, I was given pain killers, a shot of ibuprofen, and sat around for six hours. It's not the hospital's fault that I was one of many people who needed care that day. But I ended up leaving, getting discharged without seeing a doctor or getting X-rays. For all I know, there could still be something wrong with my spine.

Since my primary care doctor recently left my network and my health insurance is switching to a new network on January 1, there was no point in seeing a primary care doctor now to have the X-ray ordered, to bring to a new PCP in January. So I've been waiting.

And waiting on a health issue because of this sucks. We should have never privatized the healthcare system.

So yeah, I'm screaming on the inside.

I say, however, that I am mentally healthy, because I'm also keeping it together better than I did when I was younger. I'm trying to smile despite the pain. I've either been socially trained to have more poise, or I just gained it over time.

Instead of wallowing, I've been making a bullet journal, planning for the future, and getting excited about next year. I have publishing plans, I have blogging plans, I have long-term goals I'm working toward. There's plenty of awesome things on the horizon. I just need to get through a few more days, and then I can get everything properly evaluated.

While I might be screaming on the inside, I'm transferring that anger and aggression into something good. I'm creating a planner for things to come. I'm being as creative as I can be while taking my health into consideration. And at this particular moment, Munster is sitting in my lap keeping my warm. I can't possibly complain about that.

YA Gets Real: Don't Go Inside the House

The lone house loomed at the end of the street, dark and foreboding. Night crept around the car's headlights, trying to shut off what little light illuminated the front of the building. As Trevor cut the engine, a crow cawed in the distance.

"This doesn't look anything like the brochure." Katie held up the bed and breakfast pamphlet, one that promised pampering and relaxation. She glanced between the brochure and the house. The sign that hung on rusted nails came loose at that moment, and half of it fell in a pendulum arc, swaying back and forth to the breeze.

"Yeah," Trevor said, holding his gaze steady on the house. He wouldn't claim to be afraid of whatever was inside, not in front of the girl he was trying to impress, but he also didn't want to step foot inside the house.

The wooden paneling was a gray, faded from the bright white that the pictures of it reflected in its glory days. The paint was chipped and peeled, flaking off in the least bit of wind. Each window was smeared and tarnished with years of grime, unknown in origin. The porch held a single rocking chair, one that eerily tilted with the wind, creaking all the way.

"Maybe ..." Katie let her voice trail off as she stuffed the brochure back in the glove compartment. "Maybe we shouldn't go inside?" She rubbed her arms, trying to stop the goosebumps from forming on her skin.

"I mean, it doesn't look anything like the advertisement." Playing it cool, Trevor tapped his fingers on the wheel. "If you want, I mean, we could ..." He shifted his gaze to Katie, hoping she would tell him to get out of there.

Katie took another look at the house. The roof hanging over the porch seemed ready to collapse on itself. Curiosity had run through her, but she didn't like the looks of those steps. If something happened to her already sprained ankle, she could be looking at sitting out the rest of field hockey season.

Just then, a small flicker of a light danced in one of the upper rooms. The couple blinked and leaned forward, trying to get a better look, but the house offered no answers. The yellow glow eased in and out of existence, almost like it wasn't real.

"We probably shouldn't go investigate," Trevor said. To heck with trying to appear cool, he had no desire to die at this old house.

"No, you're right. This place gives me the creeps." Katie squeezed Trevor's arm. "Hey, look." She held her phone up to him, and he was momentarily blinded by the blue glow. "I found a place with better reviews. Want to go?"

"Sure," Trevor said, turning the car around.

For the seventh time this month, the spirit was annoyed that social media existed. The ghost sighed. Someday, maybe, someone's phone would fail and leave them with no other option than to go inside.

- - -

These posts are silly, parody posts of some scenes that can be found in YA tropes intended to make you smile for your weekend. I adore YA books, as a reader and a writer. These stories are fiction, but provide a possible alternative to scenes from stories we love.

Titles I enjoyed where the MC does investigate (linked images):

Monday, December 26, 2016

Managing Mischief

I think about when I was younger and how, for the most part, I was a fairly well behaved kid. It wasn't because my parents were huge disciplinarians, but because of self-regulation. I felt a tremendous amount of guilt whenever I did anything relatively "bad" or "destructive." The guilt was crippling. A tingling feeling would invade the base of my neck and travel up to my brain, numbing me from the inside out with a painful coldness. Nausea would flood my stomach. I'd be paralyzed, my mind a record repeating the one thing I did wrong over and over.

It was the same feeling I had during the beginnings of a panic attack. Needless to say, young me avoided this feeling like the plague.

I wonder, however, how I came to admire the kinds of characters that I did. I fell in love with Dallas from The Outsiders, thinking of him as a tragic hero. I adored Harry Potter, who wouldn't listen to the rules so long as it meant keeping his friends safe. He was a hero in more ways than one.

Most of the heroes that I read in YA literature have some sort of rebellious nature. What makes them a hero? Doing something heroic, sticking to their guns no matter what? None of them deal with getting caught or the guilt that comes thereafter. If they do get captured, the last thing they are thinking is I should feel guilty about this. No, they do what they have to do.

Though, these heroes are generally not dealing with the mundane, but with tyrants, corrupt governments, and supernatural creatures.

There wasn't a tyrannical government when I was growing up, and there certainly wasn't magic (or maybe I just never received an owl letter). The friends I did have, we had to carve out our own lives. I think self-regulation through guilt forced me into finding different ways to enjoy life. Instead of combating evil, I read. I snowboarded. I wrote. I played games. I drank tea. For a while, I knitted.

I won't get into all the times I spent bored out of my mind or staring vacantly into the distance like a cinematic overly dramatized moment of a slightly depressed teenager (but that happened too).

Because there were not a lot of heroic deeds I could do (at least not the kind we read about), I became the kind of girl who went to parties. But because I wasn't the "party-type," I would grab a single drink and nurse it while having one intense conversation with someone in the corner. I was the kind of girl who wanted to be surrounded by people, be a part of a community, but was terrified to actually get involved (What if they don't like me? What if I'm not cool enough? What if I say the wrong thing?).

Today, I still avoid mischief. Instead, I live out mischief and drama through my writing. Sometimes, the scenes my characters live through are more real than my own memories. Perhaps that's because we change our memories every time we access them, but that's for a different blog post.

So today, I'll sit down and create more mischief. My characters in The Mundane List are almost at the end of their journeys. I always stall with a few thousand words left, because I don't like letting go of them. Once I finish writing the story, I'm onto the first step of publishing, and perhaps, the first step of not having my work be successful (or perhaps, which potentially terrifies me more, it's the biggest hit of my life and I can never, ever live up to that expectation again).

If you feel like reading The Mundane List and seeing what adventures my characters get up to, the first nine chapters are available for free on Wattpad. It is, however, in the very first draft stages (as in, zero editing). I'm going to revamp it this January and hopefully get it published sometime next year.

Hope you all had wonderful holidays! Tell me what mischief you are getting up to this holiday season.