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Coraline

Image Credits: Wikipedia

Wow, long time, no post. Am I right? I apologize for being so quiet on here lately. My initial plan was to dedicate much of my summer to get back into blogging and updating my marketing and deaf awareness social accounts, but then I ended up going all over Pennsylvania and spending a lot of time in Chicago and investing more time into studying and before I knew it summer was over and none of those goals got accomplished. But hey, I’m here now and that’s something, right?

Anyways, guys – we need to talk about Coraline.

For those of you who may not be familiar with Coraline it is a really creepy and really really really freaking weird children’s novel written by Neil Gaiman. This book was published in 2002 and became a movie a few years later (I’m not sure when exactly but I want to say the movie came out around 2007…does that sound about right?)

I was assigned to read this book for my Seminar I course this semester. When I found out it was going to be my required reading I went and watched the movie on Netflix right away. I have heard a lot about the movie and have been meaning to watch it for some time. On the surface, Coraline reminded me a lot of The Nightmare Before Christmas and Corpse Bride, two movies I always really loved. Now that I know that Coraline had many of the same producers and masterminds that those other movies had, it makes a lot of sense.

I thought the movie was interested. I liked it and couldn’t stop watching it, but I also thought it was one of the weirdest, creepiest movies I’ve ever seen in my life. I love horror movies but the only ones that ever really did a good job of scaring me are the Saw movies. I found most other horror movies to be completely comical.

Coraline  was scarier to me than any of the Saw movies were.

…And the book was better than the movie but still somehow even more horrifying to me. I don’t know if I loved it or hated it. I thought it was super freaking weird, but at the same time I couldn’t put it down. I didn’t have to have the book read for class until September 20th. Last night was probably the worst time I could’ve read it since I was running on about 3 or 4 hours of sleep total (isn’t grad school fun?) but I started reading it during my commute to work earlier in the day and I couldn’t put it down. Despite how tired I was, I couldn’t sleep not knowing what was going to happen to Coraline next. It’s been awhile since a book captivated me as much as this one did, so there’s no denying that despite my concerns about the book’s weirdness, it was extremely well written.

But, Mr. Gaiman, I have a few questions for you now, none of which were included in your little Q&A session for the book’s 10 year anniversary edition. Here are my questions:

1. Why in the world is this book considered a children’s book?

I have friends that have young kids who have seen the movie version of Coraline and love it. If you’re three or even five years old and can handle Coraline, more power to you because despite your young age, you are stronger than I am apparently. I would never tell my friends or anyone not to let their kids read or watch this movie. It’s so well crafted that I don’t think you should deny a child the right to watch the movie or read the book if they want to.

But, at the same time when I have kids of my own I don’t think this is ever going to exactly be one of my reading recommendations for them. I might even be the kind of mom who keeps her copy of it under lock and key and tries to shelter their kids from discovering it.

My reasoning has nothing at all to do with the book’s craft, but everything to do with the creepiness of this book. I was afraid this book would give me nightmares last night and I’m 27 years old. The book literally talks about an “other mother” and an “other father” and the mother is really evil and literally plucks kids’ eyeballs out and replaces them with buttons. Is it me or is this not horrifying? How many kids saw this movie or read the book and were suddenly petrified of their dolls afterwards? I mean I’m always kind of petrified of dolls – they are creepy to begin with, but after seeing Coraline I think I’d kill anyone who handed me a doll…

2. What kind of a relationship does Neil Gaiman have with his own parents?

I’m not trying to sound like Sigmund Freud or anything, but Neil Gaiman must have some serious mommy issues to write a book that is this messed up.

But while I think the other mother is much more evil and disturbing, I wouldn’t say the father is off the hook exactly.

What was Gaiman’s inspiration for making his characters like this and is it a positive or a negative portrayal? In the book’s reading guide it seems as though Gaiman wants his readers to connect with the idea of their parents not having time to play with them as kids. I think that is a common theme in children’s books, but Gaiman is going much deeper than that with his portrayal of Coraline’s parents here.

The other mother is completely evil and creepy. Did Gaiman have a rough childhood with his mother? Would his mother or has his mother ever caused harm to him perhaps in a way that she believed would be to his benefit (like how the other mother wants to love Coraline and give her a happy life, but at the expense of her eyeballs?).

Were Gaiman’s parents divorced? Did his mother steal him away from his father as a child (kind of like the idea of kidnapping presented throughout the text?) Did it break his spirit (kind of like the idea of how the other mother stole the children’s souls)? Was Gaiman’s mother evil and manipulative and abusive not only towards Gaiman, but towards his father as well? Was his father simply “whipped” and living in a “whatever your mother says goes” kind of world when Gaiman was a child? Coraline’s other father just seems way too absent and nonchalant and a stark contrast of the other mother in this novel. Even Coraline’s real parents seem to have some issues and tension between them where the mother seems to play a dominating role and her real father is just kind of there.

Or – did Gaiman have a great family life with very loving, perfect parents and perhaps he used that as the inspiration to show children that even though their parents might be busy they still love them and their real parents are better than any kind of substitute they could ever dream of, no matter how mice or similar other people may seem?

Either way, it definitely seems as though Gaiman’s own experiences with his parents could have influenced this book.

3. What is with all of the mice?

Just when you think Coraline couldn’t get any weirder – there is a freaking mouse circus. You can’t make this kind of stuff up. What kind of drugs was Gaiman on when he wrote this book? No, seriously.

It’s really weird, but at the same time this could potentially be brilliant.

Circuses have been in the news a lot over the past decade or so – the time of Coraline’s peak. One of the main reasons why people are so angry about circuses is due to the treatment of animals used. We all care about animals like elephants and tigers and seals and horses and lions which are often used in these circus shows – but what about mice and rats? Do they even count as being animals?

We slaughter these animals in mass quantities because we don’t think they matter. We seem them as being dirty, disgusting, diseased, evil, and not worthy of life. We perform clinical trials on them. We do all kinds of tests on them. If the rat or mouse dies in the process we don’t even grieve for them, we just simply take out the trash and go on with our lives.

This is where Gaiman is doing something really unique. Gaiman does what he does best and brings in the really freaking weird character of Mr. Bobo – most frequently referred to as “the man upstairs”. The man upstairs is training his mice and he seems them as being talented and kind of brilliant for their ability to perform music and hundreds or thousands of tricks. I don’t think anyone would argue that Mr. Bobo takes great care of his mice; he even talks about buying them new cheese to help them out a bit. How many other people would do this for mice or rats? I don’t know of anyone who would go through all of that for a rat. I know me personally if I see a mouse or a rat first off I’m grabbing my cat, Picasso, and making him kill the little menace, and that’s only if I feel like being nice that day.

I’m wondering if Gaiman chose to perhaps include the mice/rats in his book in this way to make a political statement on how we view animals and animals rights.

Or – is this something larger. Is it a political statement on how prejudice we are? How we view good and evil?

The latter statement seems like it may be a bit more accurate.

Because think of this. Most of us will look at a rat or a mouse as being evil, whether it does or does not actually bother us. Sure, a rat in the subway is probably filled with disease and if it bites us we’re probably going to get infected and die and that’s evil. But then there are still domesticated rats and mice that people actually keep as nice little house pets. Are those still evil?

And why is our first human instinct always to kill the rats and mice we found walking the streets? Why don’t we ever think to stop and pick up the animal or call animal control and to get them help and see if we can cure them of their diseases? We would do that for a dog or a chicken or any other animal. Why are rats and mice different?

And to further drag this point along. Let’s compare the mice to the other parents.

The mice – whom on normal non-Gaiman terms would be considered evil, filthy things, seem to represent something good, perhaps one of the only things that are good in this novel.

The other parents start off in the book as being good. We normally think of our mother and father as being loving, kind, and supportive of us. They are meant to protect us from all harm. Originally the other parents were supposed to be better versions of Coraline’s own real parents, but we soon found out that they actually weren’t as kind and loving and supportive as they seemed to be. They wouldn’t have protected Coraline or kept her safe. In fact, these two individuals we automatically assume are going to be a positive force in Coraline’s life are actually EVIL  and a source of harm to Coraline and all whom they come into contact with.

That’s kind of an interesting little juxtaposition there, isn’t it?

4. Is Neil Gaiman wiccan or a witch or something?

Of all of the parts of the book, these were the elements that bothered me the most as a Christian. Gaiman seems to want to chalk it up as being just magic based on the reading guide and his answers to the questions in the Q&A for the 10th anniversary edition of Coraline but this is more than just Hansel and Gretel era-magic. I mean – tea leaves? Really? Miss Spink and Miss Forcible seem like true witches.

But are they evil? I think it’s debatable honestly. I don’t usually see them as being evil or bad the way you’d normally view a witch. This kind of goes back to the idea with the mice – something often seen as being evil is actually good.

But what is going on with those dogs? The images didn’t seem as strong in the book as they were in the movie, but they were equally as disturbing. They literally have a collection of dead dogs in their home. When their dogs get sick they don’t seem to really jump on helping them. I mean I know they take the dog to the vet and everything but I still couldn’t shake the feeling that they kind of WANTED the dogs to die so they could stuff them and grow their collection.

And doesn’t this kind of fit in with the theme of the dolls? Stuffed animals are like dolls right? It’s better to kill real, living things, to substitute them for stuffed items that can be whatever you want them to be or something along those lines? Creeeeeeeeeeeeepy, but it is what it is, right?

Also, who can forget that weird little song Coraline sings about be a “twitchy, witchy girl?”

Is Coraline the witch? Hmm…it’s possible.

5. Does Gaiman believe in God? How does Gaiman view God?

The whole magic and witchcraft stuff is only a small part of a larger whole in Coraline. He seems to be really commenting on bigger issues connecting back to religion and his views on God. I don’t think it’s any wonder that my Baptist friends aren’t all a big fan of this novel because these parts made me a little uncomfortable and these are some reasons why I may hesitate in recommending this book or movie to my future children one day.

First off, let’s talk about the other mother again. Who is she really? She is very evil almost like Satan, but I guess not that evil. Is she playing God? The novel does talk quite a bit about how the other mother created a world for the children and she’d create a world for Coraline if she’ll only agree to live with her. It explains how she could create something new every day so that Coraline would never be bored, but there is no outside because she hasn’t created that yet.

Christians believe that God created all things. We can have paradise in heaven if we only follow Christ and accept him in our heart. Coraline can have all things if she only allows her mother to sew buttons in her eyes and stay there forever. It’s different, but similiar, no?

Also let’s talk about those souls that the other mother is collecting from the children. This seems really really satanic to me. You always here of those sayings of “I sold my soul to the devil”, isn’t that exactly what these kids here have done? Are they in hell? It sure as heck doesn’t seem like they’re in heaven, that’s for sure.

I also want to mention that this doesn’t seem to be the first instance where Gaiman has commented about religion and God, for better or for worst. He has another novel for adults called American Gods. Now, I haven’t read it at all and have no idea what it’s about so I can’t really say anything other than this: it makes you wonder.

These are just five main questions I had after reading Coraline. Now that I’ve written them all out and analyzed this book in over 2600 words I can’t say that I am anywhere closer to knowing the answer to my questions. In fact, I’d argue that I have even MORE questions and I don’t even know if I liked the book or detested it.

To describe this book in just one word, only one word is needed to sum it all up:

WEIRD.

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Image Credits: Joseph AlvaricoImage Credits: Joseph Alvarico

Hey guys! Happy Monday! I don’t usually use those two words together, but I’m really loving my new job and I look forward to the start of a new work week, so it is indeed a happy monday (even though I’m incredibly tired…)

I left off on day 25 of the 30 Day Writing Challenge. This is a fun one: Write About 4 Weird Traits You Possess. So here it goes:

1. I frequently mispronounce words. This is weird when you take in consideration how much I love words. I read all the time and I am a writer by nature. I’m very good with writing words…just not actually saying them. I think this is because I was born with profound hearing loss…approximately 97% deaf.For the first 24 years of my life I really couldn’t hear most words. I learned words primarily from reading them and took a guess at how they were pronounced or how they were suppose to sound. Apparently I’m not very good at guessing…

2. I can’t read anything if there’s music playing or people talking. This trait I really developed after getting my cochlear implants. Now that I can hear sounds and understand them, I cannot focus on a task at hand especially if it requires reading while people or talking or music is playing. I can either listen to a conversation/the radio or read, but I cannot do both at the same time. I’m great at multitasking, which makes this weird. I guess that reading and listening require so much of my energy that it makes it impossible for me to do both at once. This is when I feel the most fortunate to have the ability to turn off all sounds in life. Whenever I want to read and people are talking or music is playing, I take my magnets off and tune out the world. Rude? Usually lol. But oh well, people will get over it. 🙂

3. I love hoagies…but only if I make them. Even though I’ve lived in South Jersey my entire life, I never quite “got” what the big deal with WaWa was. I hate their hoagies. In all honestly though, it’s not just WaWa. I hate just about any pre-made hoagie from any given place. I hate American hoagies. I hate Italian hoagies. Roast beef hoagies freak me out because the meat is never cooked enough. I can tolerate turkey or tuna hoagies…but I hate the cheese they put on them which annoys me. I’d much prefer to make my own hoagies. I love them when I make them. My hoagies usually contain combinations you’d never find on a menu. Here are two of my “signature” hoagies: Olive and munster cheese (this one is pretty simple) and the one that everyone laughs at me for when I order it from Carmen’s deli? An extra spicy one. And by extra spicy I  mean this is what it contains: hot capicola, buffalo chicken, pepper ham, and pepperjack cheese. What can I say? Some like it hot!

4. I only wear eyeshadow if it matches my clothes. I really love makeup, but I’m not very good at applying it. I’m also not very good at understanding it. I think you’re supposed to use eyeshadow that matches your eyes and your skin tone. I never understood that. How the heck am I supposed to know how to match my eyes/skin tone? What fun is that? I much prefer to match my eyeshadow with my clothes. If I’m wearing blue, I have on blue eyeshadow. Today I wore a tan skirt so I had on brown eyeshadow. Tomorrow I’m probably wearing black and white, so I’ll wear neutral eyeshadow (only because I don’t have white and that’s the next best thing). I think it’s more fun that way. Everyone tells me I’m weird for doing that though. Oh well. Like I care.

Do any of you guys share these same weird traits? Which one(s)? What are four weird traits of your own?


 

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Image Credits: Pinterest

Hey guys! So first things first – I hope at least one of you noticed I’ve been doing some work on this blog! My goal is to make it look slightly less like a blog and more like a website. I think it’s (sort of) getting there? It should at least make it easier to find things on here and maybe over time help with my SEO, or so I’m hoping. Eventually I’ll work on purchasing a domain name and hosting, but in the past I’ve spent a fortune on web hosting for a website I didn’t do much with, so I want to make sure I know what I’m doing and have the time to invest in this blog to make the investment worthwhile first.

Today I’m on Day 17 of the 30 Day Writing Challenge. Today’s challenge is to write about a quote that I try to live by. Easy: none.

This probably surprises some of you. I used to be obsessed with quotes. I used to keep a “Quote Book” filled with my favorite quotes (all written in a variety of colored ink to make them stand out). It had hundreds and hundreds of quotes and at one point, I got pretty fanatical with updating that book. I even saw it as my prized possession that I wanted to give to my future husband or kids one day.

I have a little bit of a digital version of the “Quote Book” on my Facebook page right now, but I’m planning to take most of it down since it looks a bit obnoxious, but anyway, here’s a screen shot so you can get a glimpse of how it looks now:

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That’s not even half of what is currently on my Facebook page. Most of them are quotes I cam across in my reading as an English major. Only one is a verse of scripture.

I still really like and enjoy all of these quotes. They inspire me, motivate me, encourage me, and do all of the things a good quote should do. But I stopped living my life based on them or based around them. Instead, I choose to live my life based around scripture, the real truth and way of life. The bible is the book of life. Emerson, Thoreau, Good Charlotte, Stephen Kings, and my friends have some great words of wisdom, but I shouldn’t base my life around anything in the world except scripture.

Here are some of the bible verses/passages that have had the most profound impact on my life. I am purposefully not going to include what the actual verse is because my hope is that I can encourage one or more of my readers to open the bible (in this case, Google also works) and find out for themselves.

  1. Proverbs 3:5 – I can be an anxious person. Sometimes life becomes really overwhelming and I don’t understand what God is doing in my life. This verse is a great reminder for me to not overanalyze situations, but instead, to trust in God.

2. Matthew 6:25-34. This goes along with some of the same principals with why I love Proverbs 3:5 so much. Not only am I am very anxious person, I’m also a worrier. This verse is like God’s way of saying “Knock it off!” This is probably one of my most shared bible verses. Whenever a friend tells me they are overly worried or anxious about an issue, I often tell them to read these verses.

3. Ecclesiastes 4:9: This is a really special verse to me. It is supposed to be talking about the value of friendship and companionship. However, I came across it for the first time at the end of last summer. During this time I was trying to decide whether or not I should go bilateral. My parents told me “Don’t decide, pray to God and he’ll give you the answer”. When I read this bible verse I knew God was telling me to go for it.

4.Proverbs 31: I won’t go into detail, but I made some really, really, really bad mistakes in some of my past relationships. I had major regrets and for several years thought I was unworthy of God’s love and forgiveness. I knew that he loved and forgave me for what I’ve done, but I was so ashamed by actions that I couldn’t love or forgive myself. When it first happened and I first opened up to a friend about it, they referred me to this verse. They told me that I’m a sinner just like every other woman on earth. I’m not perfect, but I don’t have to be. The best I can do is strive to be like a Proverbs 31 woman.

5. Psalm 91: This is a really important bible verse in my family. Back in 1992 or 1993 my dad was about to die from kidney disease.  At this time we attended the Pitman Church of the Nazarene. At the time it was such a powerful, amazing church filled with the holiest people you could imagine and one incredible pastor. One woman we went to church with, Mrs. Helene Vail, would visit my dad in the hospital (she’d visit the family too, and sometimes would watch my sister and I as we were only 3 and  6 at the time) and she told him to read this verse. It always had a profound impact on his life and I think made a huge difference in the fact that he survived. God took care of him, just as this bible verse said he would.

6. Romans 12:2 This verse reminds me not to care so much about stupid, superficial, materialistic things. It doesn’t matter. Not one bit. I can enjoy those things, but God should be my priority. Always.

7. Matthew 12:28: I get stressed, overwhelmed, burnt out, and exhausted at times. Sometimes, I feel like I’m going to have a complete melt down. This verse is my reminder to let go and give it God.

8. Psalm 24:4: This goes along with Psalm 91, and may have also been a verse recommended by Mrs. Helene Vail. Even when death is at your doorstep, you can still find hope in the Lord.

9. Psalm 23:1: This goes along with Romans 12:2. Anything I don’t already have, I really don’t need in life. The Lord always provides.

10. Romans 14:13: I, like every other person in the world, can be pretty judgemental at times. (If you say you’re not at all judgemental, you may have a bigger problems on your hands…because you’re a liar). This verse reminds me not to cast judgement on others, but rather, try to help them out and not further derail them from the path of righteousness.

 

These are just a few of my favorite bible verses that have impacted me greatly. The entire book of the bible is what I strive to live my life based around though. Every single verse is important and impactful. Scripture is far more powerful and valuable than any ol’ “quote” and much more worthy of basing your life around.

 

 


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Image Credits: Amazon

Hey guys! I know you already know by now what I’m going to say; I SUCK at the 30 Day Writing Challenge. It’s May 14th and I’m only on Day 8. But in my defense, at least I’m writing on a regular basis, right? Also, some of my entries have been really long and detailed…one of them even had to be broken in 2 posts!

So anyway, Day 8 of the 30 Day Writing Challenge asks me to write about a book I love and one I don’t.

If you’ve been following my blog, it should come to no surprise that I LOVE The Catcher in the Rye. I mean, I did recently write about how I’m obsessed with J.D. Salinger and everything. If you’ve been following my blog for a longer time, you might even remember my rant on how awful I thought The Hunger Games to beit’s probably my #1 most hated book of all time.

These two novels are vastly different from one another. However, I can easily compare and contrast them to show why I loved one and hated the other. Here’s why I loved one and hated the other.

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Image Credits: Wikipedia

Expectations

I had very different expectations for these two novels. When I first read The Catcher in the Rye, I was a junior in high school. I never heard of the book before. I thought based on the title this book would be about baseball or something. I wasn’t really looking forward to reading it, but I had to for school. I never expected to love it as much as I did.

In contrast, my expectations for The Hunger Games were extremely high. I first read this book my senior year of college, when it was exploding with popularity and the first film was released. I was required to read this book for my Writing Children’s Stories class, but had every intention to read it on my own even if it wasn’t part of my required college reading. I heard so much buzz about this book that I had to see what the big deal was. I also loved the concept/idea around it. I knew it had to do with a dystopian society and it sounded fascinating. However, the book never came close to meeting my expectations. It was incredibly disappointing.

 

Dialogue

These two books vary greatly on their use of dialogue. Catcher in the Rye has a fair amount of dialogue. The reader gets to see how Holden interacts with several characters including his teachers, Phoebe, Sally, Jane, etc. The dialogue helps to keep the story moving and brings it to life. While the novel is told in first person by Holden and we primarily are exposed to Holden’s thoughts and views, we can still get up close to other characters from the dialogue.

On the other hand, The Hunger Games uses very little dialogue. Katniss tells us what is happening. We also get long chunks of text that describe the setting and scenery. After reading this book I still didn’t feel like I knew Peeta, even though he was one of the main characters. All of the characters were easy to forget and I didn’t connect or relate to any of them. It was a really boring, long-winded story.

 

Character Driven Vs. Plot Driven

The Catcher in the Rye is definitely a character driven story. There is no doubt about it. Without Holden Caulfield, you have no story. The story is about Holden’s state of mental health, his thoughts, his feelings, and his actions. It makes him easy to remember and connect with. I really love the character driven style.

In contrast, The Hunger Games was definitely plot driven. The story is about a society where food is scarce and there are too many people to feed. The characters really don’t matter that much in this story. You can get rid of Katniss (please do, she is so annoying) and/or Peeta, and still have your story. I felt that with the plot driven story, I could never really get to know the characters all that well. They weren’t memorable or easy to connect or relate to. They were just kind of there taking up space on the page.

 

Writing Style

I think that the writer’s histories and their own personalities and maybe even the time periods they grew up in had a lot to do with their writing style. It was very very different.

J. D. Salinger is a classic writer, and I have always loved classic novels. Classic writers took their writing VERY seriously, and it shows. Salinger was fanatical about his writing, even if he didn’t publish it all and often said he regretted ever writing Catcher in the Rye. He would lock himself up for hours on hours every single day to write. He didn’t want a life outside of his writing at all. He’d write, revise, edit, rewrite, rinse and repeat. The result? A well-planned, well researched, well-written novel.

Salinger also had one sole purpose for his writing: for his own personal use and enjoyment. I don’t think Salinger’s intention was ever to make a lot of money off of it. I know it probably influenced him (why else would he submit to The New Yorker?), but he hated the fame that came with it. Also, much of his writing is based on personal experience, especially in The Catcher in the Rye. I think his writing was in many ways his way to collect his thoughts and ideas for his own peace of mind/mental health.

Suzanne Collins is a very different kind of writer. She is much less experienced and was likely just writing for fame and money. I don’t see her novel as leaving a lasting impact on people the way Catcher in the Rye did. I also don’t think much of her life was influenced by this novel. The Hunger Games didn’t give me the impression that Collins spent a lot of time doing research or revising her work. Actually, it was just the opposite. The Hunger Games read like a first draft to me. It was very messy and sloppy and as a writer, I was very disappointed in the sloppy writing from this “famous” author.

 

These are just a few of the differences between The Catcher in the Rye and The Hunger Games that explain why I loved one and hated the other. Have you ever read either (or both) of these novels? What was your opinion of them?


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Image Credits: Alter Ego

I’m a day behind in the 30-day writing challenge and the next one up looks pretty easy, so I’m going to try to double up on them today. I have about a half hour of spare time this morning before I have to go to work. The first one up today is to telling me to write 10 interesting facts about myself….so here it goes!

  1. New York City is my favorite place in the world. I love the busyness of it all. I love all of the things there are to look at, all of the things to do, the big shops and the small coffee shops. It’s fun, inviting, and exciting. I’ve been referred to as a “city slicker” before and it’s probably true. I couldn’t survive on a farm if I had to live there permanently….I need stuff to see and do and places to go…I’d be bored.

2.  I have this weird obsession with paprika…especially on vegetables. Cooked cauliflower isn’t complete without it…even though it doesn’t really taste like much.

3. I also pour chia seeds all over my food. They also don’t taste like anything, but I heard they were super healthy or something.

4. I love to go “yard-saling.” in the spring and summer. I’m always looking for buried treasurer — someone selling something dirt cheap that is very rare/collectible but they don’t realize it. I walk to all of my yard sales and use the GPS on my phone to find them. I often don’t have any clue where I’m going…that’s half the fun though. I love walking around town and going to unfamiliar places.

5. I’m an avid reader. I’ll read pretty much anything, but classics are my favorite. The only books I’m not really a fan of are mysteries and sci-fi. The Catcher in the Rye is my all-time favorite book.

6. I am also a really big fan of F. Scott Fitzgerald. I love reading about the 1920’s and 1930’s which is what much of his writing focuses on. I think people had class back then, which they lack today.

7. When I look at the world and the direction people are headed today, I can’t help but feel horrified. Morality truly doesn’t exist anymore.

8. I am a life-long Christian. I currently attend Trinity Christian Chapel which is a non-denominational/evangelical church. I’m not really a fan of denominations because I feel like some Christians get too focused on denominations and lose their focus on Jesus. I am not a member of a church though. I am not really a fan of church membership either, but may consider joining in the future so I can take on an active leadership role.

9. I’ve always known I wanted to be a writer.I started publishing poetry when I was 11 years old. I am also experienced in fiction writing, journalism, blogging, writing for the web/social media, and basically every genre you can think of. I am currently writing a memoir on my cochlear implant experience.

10. I’m a huge fan of the New England Patriots.I am very upset and annoyed by the NFL’s decision to reopen the deflategate case, but confident that Brady will come out on top again. #FreeBrady.

 

Well those 10 facts were easy enough. After work I’ll see if I can tackle today’s real assigned challenge: which is to write about a place I’d live, but never visited.


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Image Credits: CNN

As I sit here and right this tonight, I feel a mixture of emotions. I am very saddened because a close friend who is like a little brother to me is hurting. I know that he just got his heart broken and he feels like dying. And I feel so incredibly angry at the girl who broke his heart even if it wasn’t done intentionally. I don’t know who she is and I don’t know the circumstances but all I see it as is a stupid girl who broke my little brother’s heart.

But I know, regardless of what happens, he’s going to be okay. Maybe they will get back together and put this all behind them. Maybe they’ll realize they don’t belong together afterall. You can’t predict the future, only time will tell how their story pans out. But I do know he’s going to be okay and maybe this is exactly what he needs right now. Being single can definitely suck, but it can also be a blessing in disguise.

It’s been just over 5 months since I called it quits with my boyfriend. That sucked. We dated for a little over a year. It was both of our longest and most intense relationship. I could have sworn I was going to marry him. I felt a connection to him the minute we met. He just seemed like the one. But then he didn’t. As I got to know him more, I realized I loved him more than he loved me and this just wasn’t going to work. I wanted it to, but it just wasn’t met to be. So I called it off.

Our breakup was ugly. Broken plans for the last time. I got my hopes up and he crushed me for the last time. I couldn’t take it anymore. I was so frustrated, hurt, and angry. So I flipped out on him. I told him I was done.Then I hung up the phone.

“Whatever. I’m done.”

Those were the last words I spoke to him.

It’s been over 5 months and he’s never bothered to call me back. That speaks volumes.

It hurt like hell at first. I cried a lot. I wanted to die. I was so incredibly lonely. I didn’t know how to go on with my life because he was my life.

But I did it. I pulled myself together and went on with my life, and did some pretty cool things. And I know that despite my little brother’s broken heart, he’s going to pull himself together and he’ll be okay, too.

Here are 14 weird things that happened when I called it quits with the one I was supposed to marry.

1. I stopped to smell the roses, or look at trees, anyway. I used to like to take long walks without a destination. I’d just walk all around Washington Township and see where I’d end up. But I didn’t do it that much once I was in a relationship. My boyfriend consumed all of my time. He wasn’t home much, so I’d spend all of my time waiting for him to call, text, or get home. I remember one of the first things I did when we broke up was take a very long, far walk. I went to a farm. It was October and all of the leaves on the trees changed colors and the apple trees were in full blossom. I couldn’t believe the beauty of nature. I couldn’t remember the last time I really stopped to look at it. I missed it.

2. I became a member of the library. The library was one of my favorite places to go as a kid and I missed it as an adult. There was a big library down the street from me that fascinated me. The Margaret Heggan library. I’ve been wanting to go and check it out for the longest time. Right after calling it quits with the one I was supposed to marry, I walked there. It was a far walk but it was so worth it. Walking into that library was like walking into my home. Even though I never been there before, I knew it was exactly where I belonged.

3. I fell in love with reading again. I didn’t read very much when I was in a relationship. I’m not saying my boyfriend was an idiot (okay, maybe he was. After all, the bastard did break my heart and cheat on me and all…). He didn’t read like at all. He always told me it was boring which kind of discouraged me from reading. Also, it’s hard to read when you’re constantly spending all of your time waiting for your phone to read or waiting for your boyfriend to feel like actually coming over to see you.

4. I became much less anxious. I think I will always be an anxious person, but my anxiety was at all time high when I was in relationship, especially since I was in a relationship with a truck driver with a wandering eye. Towards the end of our relationship I became so paranoid and anxious that there would be days when I would burst our crying without much reason. I felt like walls were caving in and I couldn’t breathe. Sleeping without medication was impossible. I still take melatonin every now and then to help me sleep at night and sometimes I still battle anxiety, but it’s nothing like how it was before. I’m much more relaxed. I don’t have to worry about where he is, if he’s safe, and if he’s loyal. He’s no longer mine and I’m no longer his. It’s not my job to worry about him anymore.

5. I reconnected with old friends. Often times when we get involved in relationships, we let that person consume us. This is the biggest mistake I made. I felt so alone when I broke up with the one I was supposed to marry. I blew off all of my friends for my boyfriend all the time. I’m still working on changing things and fixing them up, but I am happy to say I started to reconnect with old friends. I think some people held off on talking to  me because I was so exclusive with my boyfriend before, but now we’ve reconnected and we talk and it’s nice. I’m trying to get out and do things with people more often and break fee of my comfort zone. Ideally, I want to make it so that I never feel as alone as I felt initially if I ever go through a breakup again in the future.

6. I finally finished my darn novel. I started writing my novel after I received my cochlear implant, but I was kind of lazy with it. It’s hard to write a novel when your mind is only focused on your boyfriend, what they’re doing, where they’re at, and when they’re going to call and/or come home. I had more time when we broke up so I finally sat down and finished the darn thing.

7. I joined a writer’s group. Thinking of writing, I also joined a writer’s group at the library. I actually just got home from it. I found out about it in a quest to meet new people and make new friends while reminding myself of who I was, what I like, and doing more of the things that make me happy.

8. I strengthened my relationship with Christ. One of the reasons why I broke up with him is because I didn’t feel like he was a real Christian. He wouldn’t pray with me. He didn’t read the bible. Days before breaking up with him I began reading a book by Mark Hall from Casting Crowns called Thrive. This book centers on the theme of thriving instead of just getting by in life. I realized I was getting by with my relationship, but I wasn’t thriving. I also started reading the bible on a daily basis during this time. I truly believe God was pulling me out of my relationship and telling me to end it, so I finally obeyed. Since then my relationship with God has strengthened tenfold. I’m praying more and more often and they are much more deeper, meaningful prayers from the heart. I really engross myself with the word of God. I don’t miss church because I was out all night with my boyfriend. My boyfriend no longer pulls me from Christ. I ended my relationship with my boyfriend so I could have a stronger one with Christ.

9. I started going to a new church. I also started going to a new church. I loved the one I was attending, but I wanted to get more involved and to meet more people my own age. I walked to Trinity and really liked it. I’ve been going for about a month now and really like it so far. I’ve done things outside of my comfort zone like participating in activities even though I don’t know anyone. I met a girl who’s only a few years younger than me that also has a cochlear implant which was awesome. I want to try to make it out to the young adult bible study on Thursday where I should meet more people in my age group.

10. I began the application process for grad school. I decided that I definitely want to go to grad school and I began the application process so that I won’t back out or change my mind again. I mentioned this to my now ex-boyfriend before but he honestly didn’t really support me. He said he did but he was so concerned about the debt I’d be putting myself in. He didn’t think it was worth it. He didn’t value education like I did. Now I’m doing it for me — I didn’t need his approval.

11. I stopped seeking everyone else’s approval. If I want to do something, I do it. I don’t need anyone’s approval. If I want to walk to Glassboro, I wil. If I want to cut my hair, I will. If I want to go to Grad school, I will. If I want to go to NYC, I will. If I want to be front row in center at a Good Charlotte concert, I will be there. If I want to go bilateral, I will. Screw anyone else and their opinions. It’s time to do what I want to do and not care about what anyone else thinks about it. It’s my life.

12. I got extremely angry — and saw everything for what it really was. Nothing like hanging up with the one you’re supposed to marry and, 5+ months later, still not getting a call back apologizing for being a jerk to you. I see where I stand now. I’m only sorry I wasted so much of my time loving someone that clearly didn’t love me back. I won’t make that mistake again. I’d give in and apologize for ending things so harshly, but every time I think that way I remember how angry I am that he just let me go without even attempting to come back.

13. I stopped waiting. I used to spend all of my free time waiting on my boyfriend. Waiting for a text. Waiting for a call. Waiting for him to come over. Sometimes he wouldn’t call or text and I would’ve wasted 48 hours doing nothing but sitting on the couch or laying in bed staring at the phone that never rings. When I’d ask him why I didn’t hear from him he’d say “I just didn’t feel like talking.” (Translation: I felt like talking to my side chick today, not you). The worst though was the time when I started waiting for him to come over and pick me up for a date around noon but he didn’t come until about 10:30 at night. I don’t waste my time waiting on people anymore. Life is too short to waste your time waiting on things that don’t matter or aren’t really that important.

14. I changed. I’m not who I was 5 months ago. I’m trying to go back to being the person I’m supposed to be. I’m rediscovering my passions and interests and reevaluating what I want out of life. I learned that the right person will come along at the right time, and when they do, I’ll know. I won’t have to try so hard. I won’t have to wait on them. I won’t have to change who I am to please them. It will be effortless and they won’t keep me waiting and they will love me just as I am.

Breakups suck. They are perhaps the worst thing a person can go through. Some days are better than others for me. Yesterday was his birthday. Today my TimeHop app showed me all of the pictures of us together the day after his birthday which was when we reunited after being apart for 2+ straight months. They were some really hard days. But it gets better. Sometimes we need to break in order to become whole again. I have so many new and exciting things going on in my life that I know wouldn’t be happening if we were still together. In some ways, breaking up was the best thing to ever happen to me.

It’s hard and it still feels weird and it still hurts, but life goes on. One day, when I’m ready and not a day sooner, I’ll meet someone else that will make me forget I was ever hurt in the first place. One day, that person will show me why this one relationship had to end.

Sometimes good things have to fall apart to make room for great things.

Great things are better than good things. Better days are coming. I’m going to be okay, and so are you, little brother.


The-Fault-In-Our-Stars

Image Credits: Vernon Barford School

I’m always skeptical of books that receive a lot of attention or hype. I’m still pretty mad about how disappointing I found The Hunger Games to be. I put so much faith in that book and ended up feeling so disappointed in the end and like I have been cheated. So needless to say I was a bit of afraid to read John Green’s famous novel, The Fault in Our Stars. Scared, but also very curious.

I refused to spend $17 or so for the hardcover edition of the book. It seemed like an awful lot of money for a book especially one that was by any author I was unfamiliar with for a book I was so skeptical of. So I waited over a year for it to come out in paperback edition.

When I went to Target on Saturday I was pleasantly surprised to find the paperback edition of The Fault in Our Stars resting comfortably on the shelf at the fair price of a little more than $10. I purchased it without thought and began reading it as soon as I got home.

I. Could. Not. Put. This. Book. Down.

This novel hooked me straight from the beginning. I loved the character of Hazel. She was a unique kind of strong and smart.I felt sad for her for being so sick and on the verge of death but I admired her for her acceptance of her faith. She accepted that she was going to die and she didn’t seem scared or bitter about it. She mostly just felt bad for the people she’d leave behind. She didn’t want to hurt anyone. This is something most people don’t think about in terms of terminally ill children. We feel sad for them because they are going to die too soon…but does anyone ever really think about how they feel in terms of dying and leaving behind their loved ones?

I was convinced throughout the novel that Hazel was going to die. I felt really bad for her boyfriend, Augustus. I thought that Hazel would die and leave Augustus alone to live his life and to try to keep the memory of Hazel alive. And I expected him to turn a bit bitter since this would be his second girlfriend to die of cancer.

I fell in love with Augustus the moment he was introduced in the novel. He was so romantic and charming! Very smart too! I loved his obsession with metaphors and how he would suck on cigarettes without actually smoking them as a way of putting deadly items in his mouth but not allowing them the benefit of killing him. He was such a strong character. I  never would’ve thought he’d be the one to die of cancer in the novel.

I was so completely furious at John Green when it was revealed that Augustus was actually in remission and living his last days in chapter 13. It took me by complete surprise and absolutely broke my heart. I don’t think I have ever been so heartbroken by a book before. But this did not feel like a book. It felt like real life. And that just hurt.

Leading up to chapter 14 I have watched Hazel and Augustus begin to slowly fall in love with one another and I was reminded of my own past relationship with Casey and how it feels to fall in love. Even when your relationship falls apart and doesn’t work out the way you want it to, you never regret the falling in love part. Falling truly, deeply, passionately in love is the greatest  feeling in the world. There is no other emotion that come anywhere remotely close to it. And I really saw and felt that with Hazel and Augustus. Then right when everything was at it’s peak — right when Hazel and Augustus became each other’s firsts… BOOM! Augustus is dying. How heartbreaking is that?

I kept rooting for Augustus to pull through, even though I knew death was inevitable. I literally made a wish when I seen it was 11:11 that Augustus would live. I just loved this character so much that I couldn’t stand the thought of him dying. It was hard to remember he was fictional. I admired Hazel for standing by and supporting Augustus as he grew sicker and sicker. She herself was not well and it couldn’t have been easy to watch the love of her life die from the same disease that was killing her. She was literally looking death in the eye and seeing exactly what would happen to her in the near future. There was no doubt that she really loved him.

And what about Augustus? In his final days he did everything he could to be with Hazel and give her everything she could ever want. This is what love is. This is real, pure, true love.

Augustus may have died in this story (still so  mad at you for killing him, Mr. Green!!!!) and Hazel may be knocking on death’s door step, but the love shared between Augustus and Hazel will live on forever. These two demonstrate what it is to love someone in sickness and in health. What it is like to live like you are dying and to love like there’s no tomorrow.

I always wanted to die young. But after reading The Fault in Our Stars, maybe I should reconsider that. Maybe it’s just more important to focus on the now, the present, and to live each day like it’s my last dying day.

Because you just never know when that might be.



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