The Metamorphosis

Hi friends.
Isn’t it crazy how different your life can be from one point to another? I look back on my life at this point last year, and I hurt for what that girl was about to go through.

Life already wasn’t perfect for me at that point; I had graduated college for one thing. And that’s a wonderful, amazing thing to accomplish, obviously, but it just left me… floundering a little bit. I’ve talked before about how school really provided a lot of the framework for my life and time, and when I graduated I was suddenly faced with a world of utter uncertainty. On the other hand, I was happy because I re-fell in love with my novel and started working on it constantly. Then, shortly after graduating, I began getting sick every time I ate. This time last year, I literally could not eat without feeling like I had to vomit shortly later. I lost a great deal of weight in a period of two or three months and essentially lost my appetite, and it took a very long time to finally figure out the problem and treat it properly.

In September, my best friend died. My cat Boo was my most faithful, loving companion for 16 years and losing him simply devastated me. I couldn’t sleep at night; instead, I would lay on my couch and just cry, always trying to muffle my sobbing so I wouldn’t wake anyone up. The littlest things would set me off and at times it felt like I truthfully was never going to be able to function normally.
Finn became so affectionate and sweet after we lost Boo, like he knew how much I needed him– but he just wasn’t Boo. Getting Gus in November both helped and hurt, as well. He is a hilarious, energetic, mischievous cat that keeps us on our toes, so it was a good distraction. But on the other hand, it felt so painfully wrong. Boo had only been gone two months; how could we get a new cat? Gus got worms only a few days after we got him and I had to take him to the vet. They put me in the same room where they’d told me Boo had a tumor– I cried in the room until the vet got there, and then cried the entire way home.

I wanted to take Gus right back to the Humane Society. I suddenly felt the most overwhelming panic– what was I thinking getting a new cat, one that was only going to get sick and die and shatter my heart, just like Boo had? I already was feeling this agonized resentment mingled with love towards Finn, and then I just added one more cat to feel that about.

None of this was their fault, of course, and they’re both wonderful, amazing cats that I love deeply (Finn is laying on my arm and half on my laptop as I type this, purring happily and blocking half my view of my keyboard). But I was going through some serious grief and trying to cope with it. I was finally beginning to make some sort of sense out of life again at the end of November; holidays always help cheer me up and I love Thanksgiving.

Then, two days after, my youngest dog Cash died in my lap. I know I talked about it before, but the memory is just so strong in me of how it felt as I kept bending over and clutching my stomach and saying over and over, “I can’t stand this, I just can’t stand it.” There was literally so much pain and hurt and devastation inside me that it just didn’t seem humanly possible that my body could contain it all. How could this happen?  An already uneven world suddenly tipped completely upside down, jumbling and jarring and setting into chaos everything within it.

By this point, I’d already been applying for jobs and getting rejected–repeatedly. Over the next few months, my nana had a stroke, we found out my uncle had cancer and his Hepatitis C (got in the 80s from a blood transfusion, before they screened for that) worsened considerably, and I hurt my quad muscles and ended up not able to play soccer for almost four months.

After Boo had died, I suspected I was depressed. When Cash followed him so soon after, I was pretty sure of it. But I thought it was something that would just get better.

It didn’t.

Every night seemed endless for me, because I couldn’t stop reliving all these bad things that had happened and crying about them. I slept poorly and never felt rested, so I was tired all the time. I lost my appetite again, and I just felt upset a lot. I have ALWAYS been a cheerful, happy person. I am passionate and enthusiastic about life, and there are so many things I tend to get excited about. But my novel that I’d been so feverishly working on seemed stupid and awful, and I abandoned it. I just started watching movies on my laptop at night, just to try and distract myself from the bad memories. I started re-reading all my favorite old books to give myself something to do when I couldn’t sleep.

Another thing I started to notice was how anxious I felt all the time. As morbid as it sounds, I started just being swamped by this overwhelming worry that my loved ones were going to die unexpectedly. I thought about it almost constantly, and I couldn’t make myself stop, no matter how hard I tried. I’m not the type of person who can hold a grudge or stay truly mad at someone for a long time; I just don’t have the personality to sustain it. I’m a happy person.

But that was no longer true. I wasn’t happy; in fact, I just felt terrified and upset and off-balance all the time. I also started getting sick chronically again. The day I left the vet after hearing Boo had a tumor, I bawled the entire way home. I was by myself and when I got back I got horribly sick and eventually passed out for a minute. The night before Boo died, I threw a screaming hysterical fit for hours and made myself sick again. After Cash died, I was so angry, and I just wanted to lash out at everyone and everything. I was aware of this, even as I couldn’t stop myself from feeling like it. I would feel so furious, and then suddenly I’d be in the shower and I’d just start crying.

One night I came home from soccer (before I got hurt), and my mom was afraid that Gus had eaten something poisonous. I started feeling sick and so I got in the shower, because that used to help when I was having all my stomach issues. I ended up getting dizzy and sick and my mom and sister had to help me out of the shower. I started bawling, and I kept asking what was wrong with me. I laid on the couch in my towel and cried and cried; I just couldn’t seem to stop. At some point we read in the paper that someone had seen a mountain lion only a few miles from my house. For a whole month, every time I heard my dogs bark outside at night I eventually went out there with an air rifle and a flashlight, convinced they’d been mauled to death. When my nana had her stroke, I got horribly sick again, even though she ended up being fine. My cat Finn also developed a horrible cough, where he would sound like he was choking and hacking but never cough anything up. He gulped and swallowed constantly, and at night he would often wake me up with a coughing fit and send me into a panic attack. I took him to the vet and they guessed it was bronchitis, so they gave him an antibiotic to take. It seemed to help only moderately, and then he went back to doing it and I kept panicking.

One day, I went outside and found a huge lump on my dog Riley’s hip. Quite simply, I melted down. I was home alone again, and I got sick and started crying and became convinced it was cancer and he was going to die just like Cash and Boo. By the time my sister got home, I was desperate and felt out of control. We called and scheduled an appointment for the next day at the vet.

When we got there, it didn’t take long for the vet to tell us he didn’t think it was cancer. Apparently it’s very common in older dogs to have lumps, and as this one was right over his hip the vet figured that he’d simply lost a lot of the muscle on his hip joint and scar tissue had built up to protect it.

Riley was okay, but I wasn’t. Increasingly I felt this almost constant sense of overwhelming doom, like at any moment something horrible was going to happen. I was sick and anxious and upset almost all the time, and was home constantly by myself. I kept getting rejected by jobs and my family was all at work, so it felt like all I did was sit around and think about awful, horrible things.

I kept making excuses for why I couldn’t see my friends or go anywhere, because I was afraid something might set me off and I’d have a panic attack. I never wanted to leave the house; I just wanted to lay in bed. I was essentially just a shambles.

The next time some little, silly thing set me off, and I found myself crying and upset, I talked to my sister. As you’ll know if you read my blog, my sister is my best friend and there is nobody more important to me in the world. I share everything with her. And though I’d talked some about what I was feeling–it was impossible to miss– I’d never really come right out and said that there was something wrong, because she was having stress of her own as she’d taken a long-term sub. She was busy and tired most of the time, and I just didn’t want to bother her–I also didn’t want to admit something was wrong with me.

When I finally spoke up, my sister– who has a degree in Psychology– told me she had suspected I was depressed for a long time. We both agreed that something needed to be done; it was starting to affect my daily life and I was getting to a point where I felt like I couldn’t even function right anymore. I was having panic attacks weekly, sometimes two or three or four or even five times a week.

One night I sat down and just opened up to my parents. I told them how I felt scared and anxious all the time, and how I thought something was wrong and I needed to get some help. They were wonderful, just like my sister–loving and supporting. I had a doctor’s appointment only a couple of days later. My doctor told me it sounded like there was absolutely something wrong, and she recommended me to a counselor so she could diagnose me and then my doctor would be able to treat me appropriately.

I felt very apprehensive about going to a counselor. There truly is an enormous stigma around mental health issues in our society; even though if someone told me they were going to counseling for depression or something like that, I would NEVER think ill of them, somehow it seemed like people would think I was lying or over-exaggerating or just crazy.

My counselor was incredibly nice. I saw her three times, and over that course she gave me tests to take so she could diagnose my problem. Turns out I had GAD, or Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and it had gotten so bad that it was causing me to have Panic Disorder as well. I also was suffering from a moderate to severe case of depression.

It was so terrifying to hear this put into words. It felt like I was doing something wrong, or I was being a baby, or just overreacting to everything. On one hand, I didn’t want to hear it and I didn’t want to talk to a counselor or a doctor.

On the other hand, this was a nearly unfathomable relief. To actually hear a qualified professional tell me that, yes, there is something going on here and you aren’t just making it up was liberating. She explained to me that essentially what had happened is my brain’s coping mechanism had just gotten overwhelmed and basically shorted out. I could no longer react and cope with things appropriately, so the littlest things were setting me off and I was overreacting enormously and having panic attacks. She referred me back to my doctor with this diagnosis.

My doctor explained things to me. Depression, and the other things I was feeling, were being caused by a lack of serotonin in my brain. It’s the chemical your brain creates that makes you feel happy essentially. What was happening is that my brain was creating the normal amount of serotonin, but then reabsorbing it way too fast so it wasn’t staying in my brain. She discussed with me how medication could help get me back to normal.

I didn’t like it. I resented the need for medicine. But she explained to me how it was the same thing as taking an antibiotic for an infection. I think that’s what is so hard for us to realize; that taking care of your brain is just as important as taking care of your body, and both can get sick and need to be treated. I still didn’t like it, but I knew I needed to do something.

My doctor gave me something called a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor–or an SSRI. More specifically, she gave me Zoloft, which I take daily. This would stop my brain from eating up the serotonin too fast. She also gave me something called “Boost Bars,” which were little pills to take in case of a panic attack that would work almost immediately.

In the beginning, I had to take them fairly often. We thought a tornado might be heading for Mustang, and so I took a couple. Quite a few times Finn woke me up from a sound sleep coughing horribly, and I had to take them. Various other things would start to set me off, and I had to take them.

But since I first went to the doctor a few months ago, I have only had a panic attack two or three times. I feel unspeakably better–I’ve felt like myself again.

My life, which for so long seemed to be on a downward spiral, slowly began improving. Little things started happening.

I began bringing Finn in the bathroom with me while I showered, because I read somewhere that the steam could help with something called kennel cough, which we think is the most likely culprit. It’s incredibly common in animals that come from a shelter or a rescue, which is where we got Finn, and there’s just not really a cure. It periodically acts up. But since I’ve been having Finn in the bathroom with me, his cough has gotten a hundred times better.

My nana has been doing very well, and after the last stroke they finally prescribed her some regular medicine to take that will help her from getting another.

I met my idol (and future husband) Steven Adams randomly at the mall, and he really was incredibly nice and took a picture with me:

Don't mind the height difference

Don’t mind the height difference

Incredibly, I finished, edited, and self-published my book, and the support and encouragement I have received has been overwhelming (that’s my next post). I published it exactly one month before my 23rd birthday and fulfilled one of my deepest dreams.

And then, like a miracle, not ten minutes after I met Steven Adams, I got an email asking me to come in for an interview to the bridal shop I had applied to on a whim and without hope for getting it.

The interview went really well, and they seemed incredibly nice. A week later I had a second interview. Then I took a wonderful, amazing vacation with my family to Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon(!!!). A few days after I got back, I got an email inviting me to become an employee of Meg Guess Couture Bridal.

Today marked one week since I started at the shop, and it’s already been one of the most wonderful experiences of my life. One of my biggest fears was that the people who work at a bridal shop would be snooty or hateful, but they are exactly the opposite. Meg is one of the nicest, most encouraging people I’ve ever met and I love all of my coworkers already. Every day has been different, and an adventure, and I love it. I’m excited to get up and go to work in the mornings.

Even more amazing, the evening after my very first day, my very first best friend Brenna got engaged, and a couple days later asked me to be her maid of honor.

It’s like after months of seeming famine, suddenly there is feast. Life is bright and exciting and filled with possibilities again. I feel happy and passionate and enthusiastic about the things I am doing, and surrounded by my wonderful loved ones. I laugh and smile and enjoy life again.

I guess the reason I waited so long to talk about my anxiety was because I didn’t know how to talk about it. I felt embarrassed and confused and overwhelmed by it. But after steady medication and a couple months of life being good instead of bad, I finally feel like my old self, and it’s so important to me that I share my experience. I want to make sure anyone who has gone through the same things doesn’t feel stupid, or crazy, or melodramatic like I did, and I want them to know that it IS possible to get better, no matter how bleak or hopeless life seems. I was never suicidal, but I have an all new understanding for people who feel that way. Some days it just seemed like I didn’t want to be here. To people who feel like that, and that the only answer is to end things, I beg you– try counseling. Try medication. Try just talking to your friends or your family or even a random stranger. That’s the hardest part to overcome, I think, the trying. Because after awhile it seems like what’s the point?

But there IS light at the end of the tunnel. Looking back on where I was this time last year, I still hurt, so painfully, for what that girl would have to go through. But the only constant characteristic of life is that it changes. I have grown into a whole new person. I named this post The Metamorphosis because of one of my favorite short stories of the same name by Franz Kafka.

The basic plot is that a man suddenly wakes up one morning and realizes he has been turned into a bug. There is no explanation for this change, and he slowly loses his humanity as he struggles to continue living life exactly as it was before the change. Eventually he becomes so lost to humanity that his family becomes terrified of him, and ultimately causes his death, which he accepts willingly.

The sudden dark turn that my life took was as bewildering to me as if I had suddenly woken up and turned into a bug. I felt the same sense of unfamiliarity with my own self, as if without my permission it had changed into something I did not recognize or understand and had no control over. Life felt absurd and pointless, and it seemed as if I was trapped in a dark room alone simply waiting for what life might throw at me, much like the main character in Kafka’s story was. I struggled miserably and in vain for months to try and regain the patterns of my old life, to keep going on as I had been.

But that was the thing– I was not as I had been. I had been irrevocably changed, without warning or permission, and the person I was had essentially died. I had to accept that I was not the same person.

I don’t know what lies ahead for me. Maybe at this point next year I’ll look back on myself at this point and feel the same agony for what I will face. Or maybe I’ll look back at this point and think what an amazing, wonderful adventure I have to look forward to. I have no idea, of course, but I do know that life is series of peaks and valleys. I could be facing the Mariana Trench, or I could be about to climb Mount Everest. I’m sure you’ll hear about my view when I know.

Either way, I’m looking forward to my next metamorphosis.

We Interrupt an Attempt at Self-Publishing to Bring You This Blog Post

Hiii friends.
So. I know it’s been almost a month since I blogged anything, and for that you have my apologies. It’s been kind of a whirlwind lately, and lots of factors have contributed to my unintended month long break. For example, I: went on a date, met Steven Adams, had two interviews for a job at a bridal store (waiting to hear back), went on vacation, got rejected by Avon, and decided to self-publish. Also the World Cup.
Mostly the World Cup.

But things have been a bit busy, you might say.

I intend to address the date, Steven Adams, job interviews, and vacation in another/other posts, but for now I just want to bring everyone up to speed on what’s going on in the world of Sara Rowe, potential author.

About a month ago, I submitted my manuscript to Avon. I can’t say I was surprised when I received an email telling me they weren’t interested a few days ago, because most authors get rejected hundreds of times and my book is just hella long compared to average romance novels. As I mentioned before on here, I have been toying with the idea of self-publishing anyway, and this was the necessary ingredient to push me into doing it. I still plan to pursue traditional publishing avenues, but in the meantime, I’m going to take advantage of the ever evolving and changing literary market and self-publish with Amazon’s KDP program.

This is much, much easier said than done. I knew when I initially looked into self-publishing that it was going to be a bit complicated. But, lo, how young and naive I was–I had no idea just HOW complex the process is. Let me just shoot you my top three concerns right now:

1. You have to copyright your book before you can self-publish it, and it costs $35. I do not have $35. A friend suggested a Kickstarter but that seems so weird– “Please give me money so I can publish this book that you’ll need to give me more money for!”

2. TRYING TO CREATE AN ACTIVE TABLE OF CONTENTS IN A WORD DOCUMENT IS REALLY REALLY HARD AND JUST PRETTY MUCH THE WORSE. To convert your Word Doc to an ebook, you have to preformat it in a certain way. One of those ways is putting in a navigable Table of Contents that will transfer to ebooks. Spoiler alert: SUPER CONFUSING AND AWFUL  AND GOD I’M STRUGGLING.

3. Designing covers– also really, really hard. Especially when you don’t have Photoshop. I started at about eight or nine yesterday, and didn’t finish creating my cover until about 9:30 this morning. I used a combination of an online photo editor, the KDP cover creator program, and Microsoft Paint. Because I’m just fancy like that. Now, for you viewing pleasure, I will debut my cover:

slow cover 2

I’ve actually had a few people on Facebook offer to help me create a cover, which is just ridiculously kind and wonderful and I’m not sure how to answer them. To be honest, I love this one. I really, really, really love it. I put an ENORMOUS amount of work in it, including finding a background; finding a picture of a girl in an appropriate dress and editing the colors and the style and then painstakingly cutting it out of its background in Paint; finding a picture of a flower and pasting it into Paint over and over and over again in varying sizes and then cutting out different pieces of it to create the flower train of the dress; and trying to appropriately format the title and my name in the very limited capacity of the Amazon KDP cover editor.

Is it truthfully that good? I can’t tell. Much like with a child, I put so much work and struggle and pain into this cover that all I can see is perfection, but it’s just probable that I may not be very objective. But I have essentially reached the limits of my cover designing abilities, and after twelveish or so hours, I’m pretty much just done with the whole thing anyway.

When creating it, I had in mind the covers of my current favorite author’s most recent series:

courtney milan cover

 

(Just a quick PS, if you like historical romance, you are committing a crime by not reading Courtney Milan. She is unspeakably wonderful and amazing and talented.)

Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that I’m really just riding the struggle bus right now with the whole self-publishing thing.

Meanwhile, my brain has been overflowing with ideas for the second novel in what I plan on being a series, and I’ve just been busily working away on that. You would think that simultaneously going through all the awful, horrific editing/revising/trying to publish nonsense at the same time would put me off, but alas, I just can’t be that sensible.

Maybe this means I really am a writer at heart.

Speaking of, a writer isn’t officially a writer until they have their own webpage, so I have created one where you can find info and updates on how publishing the novel is going. It’s pretty basic and bare right now, but I’ll be working on it periodically and adding things as they come up. Hopefully I’ll actually have something more to put on it soon. You can also like and follow my Facebook page for updates, there’s a little box in the right upperhand corner that you can click and you’re set!

So that’s pretty much a quick summary of what’s going on right now. For the first time in probably ever, I’m going to publish a post that’s not even 1,000 words.

Maybe that will tell you guys how sick of doing work  I am.

Poem: To All The Shy Girls

This whole Tinder thing lately has really got me flustered. In case you were wondering, I never again heard from The Lad, even after bucking up and messaging him. Ah, c’est la vie. But still, the whole process of setting out, deliberately, with intentions admitted, to find someone romantically feels rather bizarre to me. You’re essentially just shooting in the dark, hoping that the right person for you will come into your orbit by the most unlikely, randomest of odds. Instead, I’d always imagined that one day I’d simply stumble into the right person, and he’d catch on pretty quickly that there was something between us, and we’d just figure out things from there.
But what people have kept telling me, all with nothing but affection for me and the best of intentions, is that love will never work like that. You have to put yourself out there, take risks, get outside your comfort zone. You have to do the work, or you’ll never find anyone. That’s why I need to give dating a try, even if it’s scary and uncomfortable for me.
But here’s the thing–I’m just not wired that way. I’ve always thought that it was because I’m just too shy, but at the same time, I’m not really actually that shy. It’s always strange to me, this weird state I get in when I imagine actually dating a guy. So I did some thinking, and when I finished thinking, I did some writing. And I have concluded that, with all due respect to anyone who prefers other methods, I think that I’m just going to wait until I find the guy who feels like he’s worth the risk.

To All The Shy Girls

I used to think
that I was shy
that the reason
I couldn’t meet a boy’s eye
was an excess of embarrassment

And when I got
my first kiss
I chattered nervously
against his lips
and the second time
I giggled
helpless

Then one year passed
and then two
where I dreamed of
realer kisses
more than just a few
presses of lips

But again I couldn’t
meet their eyes
without a sudden tide
of bashful, red-cheeked stammering
to their amusement

How come when I
felt a blow
a fluttering clench in my chest
at the way his lips quirked
or his hair would rest
just so
on his cheek
and it seemed as though
he might feel the same for me

I was always gripped with a rush of panic
fathoms, oceans, miles deep
I believed it could only be
this overwhelming
overbearing
over-awkwardness
in me

Yet lately
I have come to think
that I am not shy because
I don’t want to be seen
No, I shy away
from men who never seemed
good enough to look upon
all that I have dreamed

I do not fear I’ve nothing to give
I look away, embarrassed
for they should fear me instead
I laugh nervously
for them
because they don’t know just how
lucky they would be
to press their lips to mine
as I’m giggling

So if someone looks away
when you don’t
meet their gaze
and cannot divine the crackle
of power
in your stuttered lines
know you have managed
successfully
to hide your riches
from lesser beings

You are a goddess
hidden in plain sight
wait for the one
who looks on your downturned head
and can recognize
your might

 

It’s Going Down, I’m Yelling Tinder

Hi, everyone.
I know it’s been a while since I last wrote, and I apologize. I’ve been pretty busy lately running around with friends and trying to find a job (as ever). You might remember that at the beginning of May, I wrote about how the Buzzfeed post I authored went viral, and it resulted in me getting a job offer to write articles for the British website WhatCulture.com. In the month of May I wrote three articles for about 90 bucks (whoop WHOOOOOO)!!!

SOMEONE PAID ME MONEY TO WRITE WORDS THIS IS CRAZY

You can check them out here:
9 Underrated Kid’s Movies You Didn’t Realise Were Awesome
20 Reasons Being A Single Woman Is The Best 
20 Obscure Movies With Hilarious IMDB Descriptions

Just a note, the single one was originally written as just being directed at single people in general, but then my editor randomly changed it after I submitted it and so now the title doesn’t really makes sense.
Ah, the realities of writing for someone else.
But seriously, I love writing for What Culture and everyone has been incredibly kind and I strongly encourage you to go check out, not just my articles, but everything else on their cool Britishy website. I’d love it if you’d share or comment on my articles, too, as it helps my standing within the pecking order.

But now, on to the most exciting thing I’ve been doing lately.
Friends, it’s finally happened.
I joined Tinder.

Heh. Heh heh.

I know what you might be thinking here. Sara, you’re saying, don’t you know Tinder is for hooking up?
Yes, yes, Unspecified Mystery Reader, I had heard that. That’s why I never tried it or anything; I was just as skeptical as you. But I actually talked with one of my friends that had Tinder, and she told me it’s not really that bad and she recommended I try it.

I thought about this for a good long while. As you all may or may not have figured out by this point, I’m a bit awkward and unfamiliar with this whole dating tomfoolery. If you don’t count times when parents drove because we were too young, I’ve never been on an actual date. At the age of 22, this often comes as a surprise to people, and makes trying to date even more awkward. It’s made it easy to make excuses and never really give dating much of a go.
Now, as I have said repeatedly on this blog, I do NOT think there is anything wrong with being single. In fact, I think being single for a long period of time is one of the greatest things I’ve ever done. It allowed me to really sort myself out and figure out what I wanted and needed in a potential partner.
On the other hand, however, I’m just getting dang curious what all the “dating” fuss is about, and I’d really just like to give this whole thing a whirl. I even made a resolution for New Year’s that I would go on a date this year (probably).
But by May, my options still weren’t looking good. So impulsively one day, I plunged in and downloaded Tinder.

Eh, why not?

Let me explain the basic premise of Tinder for those of you who have never been desperate enough to use it. You create a profile where you can pick a few pictures to put on, along with a short bio. Then you set parameters like age range, gender, and distance from you. Then, Tinder looks for people who fit into your parameters in your area

Genuinely one of my favorite things to come from the internet.

You look at the profile and pictures of the people Tinder suggests to you, and it will show you if you have any mutual friends or likes on Facebook. Then, you either swipe left if you’re not interested, or right if you are. If someone you’re interested in also swipes that they’re interested, too, then it will show you that you are a match. You then have the ability to message each other and start a conversation. If you swipe left, then you never see that profile again–even if you swiped left by accident.
The first time I tried to use Tinder, I became very stressed out. I am terrible at making decisions, and Tinder is literally making what is essentially a snap judgement about someone based almost entirely off their appearance. I didn’t even swipe the first time I got on, because I felt so agonized about the prospect of making a mistake. I stared at this one guy’s profile for like fifteen minutes, paralyzed with indecision, before I finally panickedly closed Tinder by hitting the back button like five times unnecessarily. It took me a few hours to get my courage up again.
Tentatively, I tried again, resolving to be firmer and more hard-hearted. I braced myself, and swiped no on a couple of people. I immediately felt incredibly proud of myself. I could do this… I could Tinder!!!!
Then I came to a guy who I WAS interested in. Again, I felt crippled with indecision. What if I swiped yes on him but he didn’t swipe yes on me?! What if I was rejected BY A PHONE APP?!
And then, the beauty of Tinder dawned upon me.
WHO CARES IF YOU ARE REJECTED BY A PHONE APP, YOU NEVER HAVE TO SEE OR SPEAK TO THEM EVER AGAIN!!!! IT’S LIKE DATING WITHOUT ANY SORT OF PHYSICAL CONTACT!!!! I DON’T EVEN HAVE TO LEAVE MY HOUSE TO PARTICIPATE!!!

The excitement this realization brought me is perhaps a bad omen for someone who claims to want a date.

But back to my story. Bravely, I overcame my trepidation, and swiped yes for the first time. Instantly, a little message popped up on my phone saying we were a match.

Classy girls protect identities.

Classy girls protect identities.

Wait…. we’re a match? We really are? You’re saying someone looked at my picture and my profile and thought, YeahI’d be interested in her?!?!?!

God, what was I waiting for?! This dating thing is a PIECE. OF. CAKE. I started swiping like crazy, soon becoming drunk with the power to reject or approve potential soulmates (probably). And, even more heady, almost every single guy I swiped that I was interested in had already said they were interested in me.
It was a miracle– THESE GUYS DON’T THINK I LOOK LIKE I’M TWELVE YEARS OLD!!!!!!!!
Pretty quickly, a few guys even MESSAGED me. I was chatting with guys in a romantic context on my phone…. THIS IS THE FUTURE.

And, happily, most of the guys were really nice. Unfortunately, one fella got right off to a bit of a personal start, and inquired about my feelings on “butt stuff.”

And so I blocked his ass; hopefully that got the message across. One of the nice things about Tinder is you can block someone at any time and they can never see your profile or contact you again.
Overall, most of the guys I was matching with who messaged me were really nice and not creepy. However, there were definitely a few interesting profiles I came across:

Oh, hi there, pretend Eric Church.

Oh, hi there, pretend Eric Church.

Okay, but I really like his style.

Okay, but I really like his style.

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I left his name because, oh my god his name is Countryman?! Also, I thought he was Kevin Durant for a minute.
But speaking of NBA players, the most exciting moment of my Tinder experience came when a profile was suggested to me that is most likely someone pretending to be Steven Adams of the NBA Thunder (my new favorite Thunder player if Derek Fisher retires), but OH MY EVER LIVING GOD IT COULD BE STEVEN ADAMS ON MY TINDER AND THERE IS THE POSSIBILITY HE MIGHT SWIPE RIGHT ON ME.

THE ONLY PROBLEM IS I WOULD PROBABLY SPONTANEOUSLY EXPLODE

I should’ve taken a screenshot of it, but I have NEVER swiped yes so fast on a Tinder profile in my life.
The most traumatizing moment definitely came when I discovered my own cousin on Tinder (I CAN NEVER UNSEE), and also horrifying was when one of my best friend’s younger brother appeared. But also cool was finding a couple guys I knew and went to school with. We both swiped yes on each other and then laughed about how we were both on Tinder.

Then, a guy I went to high school with but I didn’t know at all during that time matched with me. I’d actually played against him a couple seasons in indoor, so we’d at least nominally met, but I didn’t think he’d really remember who I was. Yet he straight away asked me to play with his indoor team, but I unfortunately have been injured with quad tears for the past two months (a whole other story that I will get to on another post). But, to my shock, even after I told him I couldn’t play, he asked me to still come watch his game. AND there was definite flirtiness (I think).
Was… was this a…. DATE?!?!

COME ON SARA KEEP IT TOGETHER

Let me just explain how surreal this is to me. This guy, who we will call The Lad (remember, classy girls protect identities), was really popular in high school and played football. I NEVER even came into contact with him in high school, much less spoke to him. I always just admired how hot he was from afar. And now I think he might have possibly asked me on a quasi-date??????

hahaha what I don’t know how to react or handle this or even breathe send help please help

But, as with all things when it comes to me and guys, this situation is not so simple. The Lad asked me last Sunday to come to a game that is tomorrow, Saturday. So Sara, you’re saying. What’s the problem with that? That actually sounds really simple. Why don’t you just go up to the game and watch? It’s not a big deal, and it’s not like you don’t spend a majority of your time in soccer arenas anyway. Just do it. DO IT. GO TO THE GAME.
Well, Overly Insistent and Pushy Mystery Reader Who Sounds Like My Family and Close Friends, here’s the problem.
I haven’t spoken to him since then. He hasn’t messaged me or contacted me at all since Monday. What if he forgot he invited me, or he only matched with me so he could ask me to play and then when I couldn’t he felt obligated to invite me to the game to be nice? If he was really interested, why hasn’t he talked to me? What if he’s just a big creep?
Now you may be thinking that I sound absurd, or silly, or why in god’s name don’t I just message him? But I have accepted this about myself and dating– I have to take baby steps. Really, really tiny baby steps. Maybe more like a couple weeks old baby steps that aren’t really steps at all but are just the baby kicking its legs around in the air under its mobile.
To date, I’m going to need a LOT of encouragement and reassurance. I am the most oblivious girl alive sometimes, and I NEVER realize when guys like me unless they come right out and say it– and even then I’m still a bit skeptical. Dating is just a whole new world for me, and I am no Hernando Cortez to go rushing right in and conquer it ruthlessly and without fear– the natives reportedly ripped out hearts, remember.

Yep, I mix history and dating. Maybe why I'm still single?

Yep, I mix history and dating. Maybe why I’m still single?

And so I waver indecisively, as agonizingly unsure as the very first time I faced a profile on Tinder. Should I go? Should I not? Should I message him? The answer is not clear to me, and I am struggling mightily with my natural shyness and awkwardness in a romantic context. I’m sure I’ll update you on the thrilling conclusion to the pathetic sagas of my love life, whatever they may be.
I just don’t understand why I ever thought Tinder was a good idea. Maybe I’m going to give up on this whole dating thing after all; my stress levels are rising exponentially and I don’t understand how so many people do the dating.

I’m starting to seriously question whether I’m cut out for it at all.

I don’t think it’s for me.

 

 

Poem: Couch Potato

I haven’t posted any poetry on here in ages, so I decided to share one of my more recent efforts. In case you were wondering, this comes from the miserable experience of being an unemployed post-grad living with her parents. The job market sucks, you guys.

 

Couch Potato

I am organic
made of the earth
a tender young thing
still a little green on the vine

But like a budding bloom
plucked in spring
or a just ripening fruit
before true succulence

I have been cut off
pulled from the richness
of my nurturing soil
picked from strong, sheltering limbs

My growth suddenly arrested
on the verge of blossoming
clipped from my garden plot
and arranged in isolation

I am a brown root vegetable
dug from the ground
packaged with my fellows
and sent off with little ceremony

Now I sit at home
trying to recover from the shock
putting out tentative little shoots
but lacking the food for proper growth

Always stationary
a lump resting in the same spot
all wild eyes and dreams
but growing nowhere

I cannot shake the fear that
I am slowly decomposing into my couch

Going Viral

Well, Readers.
It’s been an eventful few weeks since I last posted.
First in my big news, I wrote an article for Buzzfeed called 27 Embarrassing Things That Can Happen When Substitute Teaching that went viral. I got the idea from my admittedly rough experiences with subbing, and then thought to myself, just think how much worse it could have been! I started working on it at about ten or eleven on April 18, sat up all night finishing it, and submitted it to Buzzfeed at about 5 in the morning on April 19.
Just in case you’re not familiar with how writing for Buzzfeed works (I certainly wasn’t), you sign up to be a member of something called Buzzfeed Community. Once your first piece gets approved by an editor, you get to the first level of something called Cat Power. You can then continue to submit things which then get posted to Buzzfeed’s Community section, under the Just Launched tab. Everyone with Cat Power gets put on the Just Launched section, but there’s no guarantee your article will really get seen.
When I woke up in the afternoon of that day, I had an email from Buzzfeed that morning saying that my post was getting a lot of interest, and I should watch and see if it got promoted to the front page of the Community section, instead of just the Just Launched section. After I read that, I opened up my next, more recent email that said an editor had really liked my post, and so it had been promoted to the front page of the Community.

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I was crazy excited, so I went to my article to look at how many views I had. And then, to my utter shock, I read that I had nearly 8,000 views. EIGHT THOUSAND.
Guys, the most looks my blog has ever gotten in one day is 373.
I couldn’t even wrap my mind around the fact that almost 8,000 people had read something I had wrote. I floated about in a haze all afternoon, hardly able to believe it. As far as I was concerned, 8,000 views was viral for me.
At around 9pm, my parents and I decided to go eat dinner at the restaurant where my sister works. When we were leaving, my post had 12,000 views–I didn’t even know how to handle that.
And then, just before we left, I got an email saying that my post had been promoted to the actual front page of Buzzfeed, the one that EVERYBODY sees.

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My mind just went blank. I didn’t know what to think or what that even meant. I couldn’t conceive of this fact, that my post was actually going crazy.
At the restaurant, I was telling my parents what had been going on. You have to be on a laptop to see the number of views on your post, so I didn’t know what my front page promotion had meant, but I figured I was probably getting more views.
My dad, who had never used the Buzzfeed app on his phone ever before, opened it to see what Buzzfeed was like. Then he said to me, “Sara, isn’t this your article?”
I took his phone from him and looked–and I discovered that my post was the very first article on Buzzfeed.
THE. VERY. FIRST. POST.
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My mom opened her app, and it was the same on hers. I opened it on my phone, and found that it really was true, not a fluke. Not very long later, I got a text from my dear friends Skye and Lauren, both freaking out because they saw my article on the front page of Buzzfeed. Skye asked me how many views I’d had now, and I told her I couldn’t tell from my phone. She got on her laptop and checked for me— 38,695 views.
Thirty. Eight. Thousand. Views.
In the hour that I had been at the restaurant since my post had been promoted, 26,000 people had read my article, over double the amount that had read it before that. As we ate dinner, I just couldn’t stop smiling. I was euphoric, in a word. I just sat there with this stupid grin on my face. I couldn’t believe what was happening.

And then, people happened. I hadn’t even really thought to look in the comments sections, because half the time I forget that Buzzfeed articles even have a comments section. I was only reminded of the fact when Skye texted me telling me there was a hateful comment, and that she wanted to say something back.
Immediately, I felt a little uncomfortable. What could someone possibly say bad about the post I’d written? I went and started reading the comments, and quickly began to understand.

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Unprofessional? I had never been accused of being unprofessional in my life. In fact, I’ve ALWAYS been a goodie two-shoes. I love rules, and I love following them. It made me feel good to do my best and to do the right thing.
I couldn’t understand this– didn’t they get that this was a joke? It was a humorous list on Buzzfeed–maybe ten of these things happened to me in reality. And I’d said it right there in my title–these were embarrassing things that COULD happen when subbing. Not that these all happened to me in one day.
And another thing–some of the things on my list included showing up a little late, or getting a kid’s name wrong, or making a reference that they didn’t get. And you guys are telling me that these things NEVER happened to you? Not once, ever, in all the time you’ve been doing this?
Because, I’m sorry, you’re lying. EVERY teacher, substitute or not, has mispronounced a kid’s name at some point.
But I could feel myself getting worked up, and I realized I needed to calm down. It was two people who had left negative comments, I just had to accept that they had completely missed the point and move on. Skye texted me shortly after to tell me that I had 46,819 views. I was immediately distracted by the fact that 8,100 people had read my article within a ten minute frame. I didn’t even know how to take that.

If you ever have something go viral on the internet, you’re going to learn the lesson that I did. As the hours went by, more and more people started saying awful things on my post. A girl called me a piece of smut. A piece of smut, guys. I’ve never been called smut before in my life. How did this girl who had never met me and knew not a single thing about me feel that she had the right to pass judgement on me??
One girl commented and literally said, “This post is irrelevant.” What??? What does that even mean? Irrelevant to what??
After about thirty comments of that nature (some from people who were going back and commenting again, like they were just so offended by my very existence that they felt they had to say something about it twice) I decided it would be best if I stopped looking at the comments.
The lesson I learned is this– people can be incredibly obtuse. My sister told me that someone said that they were really angry because they clicked on my link thinking that it was going to be something useful for teachers, and it was just my trashy list. Really? You thought that a list on Buzzfeed was going to offer you serious advice? There are always going to be people in a world who just don’t understand when something is a joke, regardless of how obvious it is, and these are always the people who are going to comment on your writing.
I feel the experience was best summed up by one of the comments. Someone said something along the lines that I made teachers look bad, and I was a horrible example for students, who are the future of our world, obviously, and that I should be ashamed and not allowed to sub. It just seemed ironic to me that  they were so concerned about me setting a bad example for students, and yet they were the one commenting spiteful hate on the internet. That’s certainly not the kind of example I would want my child seeing from their teacher.
That evening around 12:45, I received an email from Buzzfeed saying that I had passed the 100,000 viewers mark.

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It helped put things in perspective a little bit for me. Yes, I had about 80 or 90 mostly rude comments on my post, but that was such a minute fraction of people compared to the 100,000 that had read it. I had to believe that most of those people–including the Buzzfeed editors who had promoted it–had gotten the joke and laughed along at the picture I was painting. Buzzfeed even tweeted my list out on their official Buzzfeed account.
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Apparently Twitter got my joke a lot more than actual Buzzfeed did, because every single retweet or tweet about my post I saw was positive–it went a long way towards making me feel a little bit better. I had numerous people tweet me and tell me that these exact things had happened to them.

The next day I received like twenty emails from Buzzfeed, most telling me I had won different awards (none of which I understood, as this was literally the third post I’d made for Buzzfeed and I didn’t really get what was going on or what it meant). I got emails telling me my post went viral on Facebook, and that it went viral on Twitter, and that it went viral on Buzzfeed itself. The higher the views got on my post, the more unreal the whole thing seemed to me.
Yes, it was incredibly amazing and mind-blowing that this many people had read something I had written. But after a point, it really didn’t mean much. I got an email saying that I was one of Buzzfeed’s Top Ten Users–but I couldn’t even figure out what that meant, or if it was even significant. As wonderful as it was to have my post go viral on Buzzfeed, it didn’t really affect my life that much–aside from teaching me that people can be very mean behind the safety of a keyboard. This has always been a lesson I knew existed but I had never really experienced the effects of. People on my blogs have been unfailingly kind to me, and for that I am eternally grateful.
My post, which is pretty much in retirement now, sits at 319,113 views. To me, that’s an astronomical number, and an enormous achievement. I can say to people, yep, I was featured on Buzzfeed’s front page, and I had 319K views. But aside from the cool factor, it didn’t really do anything to change my life. It’s not like I suddenly got to become a paid writer for Buzzfeed.
I eventually moved down the list, and then got taken off the front page, and then faded away altogether. That’s generally the thing with going viral–as fast as it happens, it’s over. I think I ended with about 150 comments, most of which I’m assuming are bad, but I’ve decided it’s not worth it to look. Because when it comes down to it, it doesn’t really matter what those people said about it. I know that I’m a good substitute teacher, who has never cussed before in front of a student ever, and who has never slept through a class she was supposed to substitute for, or really done any of the more offensive things on my exaggerated for humor list. I’m not a piece of smut, thank you very much.

So thus was my experience with going viral.
For my second bit of big news, well, remember how I said that going viral didn’t really do anything for me or change my life in any way?
Well, I lied. After some of the furor had already began dying down a few days after my post went crazy, I got on my official Facebook writer page (which I beg you to pleeease go like if you haven’t already, you can follow this link or just look on the side of this blog where I have connected the page to this one and all you have to do is click the little like button!). To my astonishment, I saw that I had a message from somebody–I didn’t even know you could get messages on your official writer Facebook page.
Even more to my shock, the message was from this really nice guy named Scott, an editor for the Music section of a British website called WhatCulture.com. He told me how he’d saw my post on Buzzfeed and the amazing number of views it was getting. And then he asked me if I was interested in becoming a paid writer for their website.

I’ll admit it, Readers. I was pretty sure it had to be a scam. It seemed too good to be true– someone actually wanted to pay me to write funny lists, something I do for free on this blog and on Buzzfeed, too. But the more I read and looked into WhatCulture, the more I became convinced it was a legitimate site.

And one that wanted to PAY ME TO WRITE.
I began emailing Scott, telling him immediately that I was interested and figuring out how things would work. Now, anybody can sign up to write for WhatCulture.com (including you, and if you do sign up to write for them, please mention my name, it helps me out!), and the way it works is you earn 40 pence for every 1,000 views your article gets, and you get paid at the end of the month. But since someone contacted me and asked me to write, I don’t have to go by that system.
Scott is my official editor, so basically my boss, and when I get an idea for an article I get his approval; or he can suggest an article idea to me and we can tweak it until we’re both happy with it. Then, I write it and submit it for review when I’m done. Scott looks through and edits it, and then once the post goes live on the site, I know I will get a certain, set amount–regardless of whether one or one million people look at it.
It’s not a full time job, of course, but I’m getting paid a very fair amount to do what I love. And there isn’t really a limit on the number of articles I can write. As long as Scott approves them, I can write as many as I want. This is real experience, something that people can go and look at on an official, proper website and see.
My first piece, 9 Underrated Kid’s Movies You Didn’t Realise Were Awesome (British spelling of realize is my editor’s work haha), was just published on May 2nd, and it already has almost 20,000 views. It also has ten or eleven comments. Now, those numbers are not as lofty as my Buzzfeed article, but you know what? Every single one of those comments is kind or helpful or just friendly discussion. Oh, and it includes one of my favorite comments I’ve ever received:

I honestly don

I honestly don’t even care you used “your” instead of “you’re”

Oh, brandon. You flatter me… Please keep it up.

And so, I come to the whole point of this long, slightly crazy post. This whole experience has taught me a number of important things about being a writer, for example:
1. Some people are going to say awful things about your writing.
2. When you choose to write for public consumption, you better accept that people are going to hate your work.
3. Sometimes, making it big is not a pleasant experience.
4. Sometimes, out of an unpleasant experience comes something really wonderful.

Basically, if you’re a writer, you just have to keep writing and putting yourself out there, regardless of what anyone thinks of you. After all, you never know who might be reading, and what kind of opportunities might come your way.

Speaking of–Brandon, if you’re reading this, hit me up, son.

Book Review: Renegade by L.A. Wilcox

Hello Readers!!
Today I’m doing something new– a book review!
I’ve known Laura Wilcox since we were young kids in elementary school, and I love reading her blog As Told By Laura, which I highly recommend– this girl has been Freshly Pressed, guys, and for a good reason.
When I heard she was about to self-publish her first book at the beginning of April, I was so thrilled for her, especially since I am in the midst of trying to publish my first book. I was even more thrilled when she offered me a free copy of her novel if I would review it on my blog– something I was happy to do. Unfortunately since Laura asked me, life has been a little crazy and with one thing or another I’ve never been able to get to it. But last night, I finally made myself sit down, and I read it through crazy fast because I couldn’t put it down (sorry I took so long, Laura!!).
I think it’s so incredibly important that authors and writers help out their fellow authors and writers by supporting them any way they can, and it’s especially easy to do when you consider them a friend!

Laura’s book Renegade is the first in her ongoing series. It’s a time travel novel set in the future but which ventures back to pre-Revolutionary Boston. The hero, Andrew Simmons, is a member of a hereditary line of time travelers governed by an Agency and a specific set of rules, one of which forbids human interaction with any person in the time period they travel to. It’s a fascinating, well-developed concept that immediately caught my attention and my imagination. Each time traveler has a special talisman unique to them that they must have in order to move through time. In the beginning of the novel, Andrew manages to lose his talisman while breaking the rule against interacting.
In a desperate attempt to get his talisman back, he makes a bargain with a shady figure in the Agency that catapults him back to Boston, where he must attempt to fit in while simultaneously trying to find his talisman within six days. If he doesn’t, he will be stuck in Boston forever–and he will cease to exist in the future.
I very seldom read books that are from a male point of view, and it was a nice switch-up for me. I was impressed by how well Laura did it– I know I never could! It was also interesting to follow Andrew’s infatuation with a girl from colonial Boston, Elizabeth, and the way that relationship developed. Andrew is someone that is very easy to relate to; he’s awkward at times, moody, and he makes a lot mistakes which he fumbles his way around trying to fix. There’s also a lot of twists and turns that keep you enthralled, not to mention a surprise ending to the first book that will leave you wanting to read the second.
The book is short and not a difficult read, but it sucks you in with the mix of futuristic and historical settings, as well as the fast-paced plot and the urgency of Andrew’s quest. There’s a cast of colorful characters that Andrew comes into contact with along the way, and some of them may end up surprising you. Overall, it was fun, balanced book that had a lot of interesting development and left me impatient for the next one. I highly recommend it!!

You can find Laura’s book here for $3.99 on Amazon Kindle, and it’s already getting great reviews. Also remember to go follow her hilarious blog, and you can stay tuned for updates when the second book in the Renegade series will be out!