One Year

Exactly one year ago, I lost my best friend and the light of my life.

It seems impossible that it’s been a whole year, because not a day goes by where I don’t think of him and miss him and feel the ache from the hole in my heart that was left after he was gone. For sixteen years, my cat Boo taught me unconditional love and comfort, and brought peace to my soul even when it was the most troubled. And although I will never be able to resign myself to the fact that I had to lose him, I am amazed at how he continues to teach me how to grow as a human being even after he is gone.

I’ve spoken before about how after his death my life took a very dark turn and I struggled enormously with depression, anxiety, and panic attacks. It’s not an experience that I would want anyone to have to go through, but as times of trial often will do, it helped me mature and gave me strength and wisdom that I might never have had otherwise. Some of the most important lessons I have ever learned came from my love of one chubby gray cat and I will never stop missing him. But I’ve learned that’s the comfort in loss– just because he is gone doesn’t mean I have to stop loving him. I truly believe that love really is greater than death, because what effect does death have on our love for others? The loss of Boo has not dimmed my love for him even the tiniest bit. It remains as strong and steady as ever. And I truly do find comfort in that; even though he is gone, no one can make me stop loving him.  

These realizations have been especially relevant to me lately. On Tuesday, my uncle VW passed away at the age of 73. It wasn’t a complete shock, but can we really ever fully prepare ourselves for death? The utter finality of it is unequaled to any other experience on earth, and I don’t know if that’s something we can ever truly be ready for. But lately I’ve begun to wonder if grief is something that you have to practice. Of course, that is not to say that you can get used to grief because every loss is different. But with every loss of a loved one, I have learned new lessons. And these lessons have helped me go through the process of grief with at least a little more understanding than the last time. 

I was terrified when we lost my uncle that I would be plunged right back into the same morass that overtook my life the last time something like that happened. And though I am utterly devastated by his loss, because he was a wonderful uncle and one of the kindest, most amazing people I have ever met, I can take the very, very hard-earned wisdom I’ve gained in the last year and comfort myself that, even though the pain is enormous, it was still worth it to have him as my uncle. And the comfort is that I never have to stop loving him.

But having experienced grief before can only do so much, and it in no way lessens my desire to have my uncle or my cat back. Sometimes at night, the spot against the back of my leg where Boo always used to sleep will feel so cold it’s like there is a block of ice pressed against me, burning my skin–and I recognize it’s the physical manifestation of how much I miss him. And, of course, there have been times when the pain of losing him was so great that I could almost wish that I’d never known him– but then I imagine my life without that cat and I know it was all worth it to have the privilege of loving him for sixteen years.

One of my favorites quotes of all time comes from one of my favorite books of all time–The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. I read that book over and over after losing Boo, and a few months later after we so suddenly lost Cash. I have said before that I think it’s an amazing book to help deal with grief, and it has helped me come to terms with losing my baby boy.

In the story, a fox explains what will happen if the little prince tames him. He tells the little prince that, as he is now, he doesn’t know one human from the next, and they all look and sound the same to him– they mean nothing to him. But if the prince tames him, then he will be special to the fox, and when he looks on the wheat fields he will be reminded of the little prince’s bright golden hair. This quote follows:
“So the little prince tamed the fox. And when the hour of his departure drew near– “Ah,” said the fox, “I shall cry.”
“It is your own fault,” said the little prince. “I never wished you any sort of harm; but you wanted me to tame you…”
“Yes, that is so,” said the fox.
“But now you are going to cry!” said the little prince.
“Yes, that is so,” said the fox.
“Then it has done you no good at all!”
“It has done me good,” said the fox, “because of the color of the wheat fields.”

I am crying as I write this, and I have cried more tears in the past year than I can ever remember crying before in my life. I’m probably going to be crying about losing my baby until the day I die. But when the pain seems too big for my heart to handle, I will think of sixteen perfect years of love and know it has done me immeasurable good. 

I planned to write a long post about this, but I honestly don’t know what else there is to say. A year’s distance from losing him has rather reduced things down to the simple truths of grief– the facts are that I will love him forever, I will never stop missing him, and the pain is not going to go away. There’s the old cliche that time heals all wounds, but really I think time just allows you to come to terms with things. The pain never actually leaves, but you learn to live with it. I told a friend that today is very bittersweet, but the strongest emotion that comes through is, and I think always will be, how much love he brought into my life. And I also comfort myself with the fact that no one could have loved that cat more and I believe he was well aware of it. Just as he gave me sixteen years of utter happiness, I like to think that we did the same for him. 

So to finish this post, I think I’ll leave you with another quote from The Little Prince that also helped me to deal with my grief. It’s beautiful and poignant, and worthy of a post about the love of my life, and in memory of the very best uncle anyone could ask for.

“In one of the stars I shall be living. In one of them I shall be laughing. And so it will be as if all the stars were laughing, when you look at the sky at night… You–only you–will have stars that can laugh!”

And he laughed again.

“And when your sorrow is comforted (time soothes all sorrows) you will be content that you have known me. You will always be my friend. You will want to laugh with me. And you will sometimes open your window, so, for that pleasure . . . And your friends will be properly astonished to see you laughing as you look up at the sky!”

 

I miss you so much already, Uncle V.

uncle v

And I’ll love you forever and for always, my precious Boo baby.

boooodie

 

The Secret Life of a Wallflower

I know I keep apologizing for my long absences on here, but I really do mean it.
Life has just been crazy busy lately, what with my new job and all. Also, our wireless router broke and so we’ve been having to poach off my nana’s wifi (she lives next door) which has not been a terribly successful method of operations. This has resulted in it being very difficult to get online and write posts or edit different versions of my book for different platforms.

Today, I am finally going to write the post I’d been planning about publishing my novel. As you may have guessed by now, I like to have a little time to reflect on the big changes and things that happen in my life before I write about them. I also intended to have information on here about all the different avenues you could purchase it on, but with the no wifi thing, it’s been essentially impossible to accomplish that. All I can offer you is the Kindle version, which is $2.99 and I DESPERATELY hope you will buy. Seriously, I will love you forever if you will click this link and make a purchase:
http://www.amazon.com/Secret-Life-Wallflower-Lives-Book-ebook/dp/B00M0EVCGU/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1406770072&sr=8-1&keywords=the+secret+life+of+a+wallflower

Another thing I have to beg of you is that if you read it, please please PLEASE review it. So far my novel has exactly two reviews, one from my friend Kayla that is kind and generous, and one from a random stranger that gives it one star and says it’s full of contradictions and the language isn’t true to the era (Newsflash: romance novels are works of fiction, essentially NOTHING ABOUT THEM is really historically accurate when you come right down to it. So if you’re looking for historical accuracy, read a history of Regency England. Hello.)

Even with only two reviews, one of which is ONE STAR, 304 people have still bought my book in a little less than a month. Let me just say how utterly mind-boggling that is. Like, seriously. My brain cannot fathom this. This is even more strange to me than when 100K+ people read my viral Buzzfeed post– because this is a NOVEL that I spend FOUR YEARS writing and which COSTS MONEY. And 304 people have said, yep, I’ll give that a go! 

Now, I know a large portion of that number comes from my amazing friends and family, who’s support has been overwhelming to me. But regardless of the reason they bought it, people are actually BUYING it. Even more exciting, this helps increase my chances of being noticed by a major traditional publisher– or at least gives me something to brag about when I write query letters, which helps improve your chances because your novel is demonstrably sellable. 

For anybody out there who doesn’t have a Kindle, I promise I am working on versions for Nook, Kobo, and the Apple store. But just a note, if you have a tablet or a smartphone or even a laptop you don’t mind reading on, you can download the Kindle app and buy my book that way. So technically you don’t even need a Kindle.

As for a print version, well, I’m considering. The problem is that when you print a book on your own, it becomes very expensive for the buyer if you want to make any viable profit off it. First, you have to pay to produce the books and have them shipped to you. THEN I have to pay to ship them to everybody who orders them. Based on the number of people who told me that they want to buy a hard copy, according to the math I would probably make 50 bucks on the whole venture for an enormous amount of time and effort unless I wanted to charge like 13 or 14 dollars for my book.

And that just doesn’t feel right to me. 

Right now I’m playing with the idea of ordering the books and then having an author signing event when they come in, so that way people could pick them up and it would eliminate the cost and need for a second round of shipping. But then you run into problems like where do I have it and what if people can’t make it to the signing to pick up their book? I’m still working to find a viable solution for both myself and the people who would buy the book, but I’ll keep you updated.

Another thing I’ve learned is that trying to market your book when you’re a self-published author is pretty difficult. I know I should’ve written this post before now to help with some of that, but like I said– things have been crazy. 

To anyone reading this who has a blog or something similar, I would be THRILLED if you might want to read my novel and post a review on your site. I would be happy to give you a copy for free in exchange for the promotion. If you have a book club that is interested in using my novel, I’d be happy to come speak or answer questions or something. A book club that my old soccer coach and a mom of one of the girl’s I played with have actually asked me to come speak at their book club before they read my book for the month of September, which is just crazy and amazing and terrifying all at the same time. But I can’t wait to do it.

So that’s about it, I guess. That’s where Sara Rowe, author, stands currently. I’m hoping that you, my amazing and wonderful readers, will join my fan club.

Here’s the links to some of my pertinent social media pages:

My Facebook Author page: 

https://www.facebook.com/sararowewriteswords

The Secret Lives Series FB page: 

https://www.facebook.com/thesecretlivesseries

My Twitter: 

https://twitter.com/rowemygatos

My Goodreads Author page:

 https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8402241.Sara_Rowe

and again, the link to my novel:

http://www.amazon.com/Secret-Life-Wallflower-Lives-Book-ebook/dp/B00M0EVCGU/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1406770072&sr=8-1&keywords=the+secret+life+of+a+wallflower

Again, regardless of whether you buy it or read it or not, I still cannot thank you enough for following my blog. It means the world.

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.

wpid-screenshot_2014-06-01-18-40-27.png
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