NOT OKCupid and PlentyOfFish (ButNoneYouWant)

Hi guysss.
As is very evident if you read my blog, I am the definition of perpetually single. When I was younger, especially in college, this was something that was really tough for me, because I felt like there was something WRONG with me. But thankfully, college was an enormous character building experience and coming out of it I really kind of figured myself out and became comfortable in my own skin.
This recently led me to the decision that since I was finally happy with myself, it might finally be a good time to start looking for someone else to be happy with. And that was how I stumbled innocently, naively, into the world of online dating apps.
I documented my rather interesting experiences with Tinder, the first app I tried last summer. But things just never quite clicked for me and eventually I gave up on it.
I had essentially quit my pursuit of dating, but this fall, as something of a lark, a couple of my coworkers signed me up for OKCupid. And so I was sucked back into the wild world of electronic courting.
I started out, as I mentioned, with OKCupid. I liked it a million times better than Tinder, because you actually answer tons of questions about yourself and you can see what people you’re potentially interested in have answered to those questions. So, I can see if guys smoke or are against gay marriage or are virulently conservative or if they’re into threesomes, and I can harshly, harshly judge and reject them. It’s really quite fabulous.
And, shock of all shocks, I actually went on dates with TWO different guys I met on OKCupid (and naturally, because my life stubbornly remains a cosmic joke at all times, they both had the same name. Like, the same first name. And like, one guy’s middle name was THE SAME as the other guy’s last name. God). It didn’t work out with either, but the experience really wasn’t that unpleasant. I was slightly reassured that maybe, just maybe, online dating could work.
But after the first two guys, things seemed to go downhill. As always seems to be the inevitable rule, if I was interested in a guy and liked them, they never were interested back. If I looked at a guy and had no interest, naturally that guy would send me a message. It was all very disheartening and reminded me of my tragic youth where the guys I liked never liked me back (SOB).
I was starting to give up on the whole thing–eventually scrolling through endless profiles of guys just made me tired. What were the odds I’d find the guy who was right for me here? It seemed essentially impossible. I started to think that I was honestly just too used to being single, and deep down I didn’t even want to date.
I basically quit looking at the website, as the whole thing just started to get kind of stupid and I felt like I’d seen EVERY. GUY. and none of them were right.

So, naturally, I signed up for another dating app called Plenty of Fish.

At first, it was actually pretty exciting. There were tons of cute new guys who sounded appealing, and my irrepressibly optimistic, hopelessly romantic heart thought, “HE’S GOT TO BE HERE!”
Sigh.
Readers, let me tell you something. I just don’t think he is there.
Come along with me as I lead you down the magical and always delightful (HEAVY SARCASM) paths of online dating.
First, I will include a selection of my very favorite messages I’ve received. Enjoy.

“You into black guys??”
I’m just into guys??

“Hey, kind of off the wall question lol but would you be into having a threesome with two guys?”
LOL THREESOMES, A LITTLE OFF THE WALL AMIRITE?! Though you do get some points for giving me details, it’s nice to know just what kind of threesome I’m being propositioned for.

“Let me unsingle you girl ;) lol”
;)

“Hello Sarah, okcupid sent me in your direction and I’m glad they did.”
Too bad OKCupid couldn’t send you in the direction of spelling my name correctly, even though it’s right there on my profile.

“Would you dat a black guy just asking no disrespect”
Okay, 1. What is “dat”? 2. Why would this be disrespectful to me?!

“Hey I’m looking for a sugar baby. I own my own business and would love to take care of a good looking girl like yourself. If this interests you let me know.”
My personal favorite. I’m not going to lie and say I didn’t consider this. The older I get, the better a sugar daddy sounds.

“Pics”
Of what? My cats? Because that’s about all I’ve got pics of.

“Hey sweetheart how are you”
Hey sweetheart, good thing I’m like three years older than you, you patronizing little twit.

“heyyy are you single?”
Oh, dear lord.

And, the BEST of all:
“sorry you’re still single. i cant help with that with my current situation but if you’re crazy enough to come to okc and get some head then im your dude haha”
So. Many. Questions. Like, what is wrong with you?

One of my favorite things about online dating, aside from the completely inappropriate propositioning of my person and lack of any recognizable grammar, is looking at the profile pictures guys select and wondering just what in the hell they were thinking when they did so. I suppose at heart I’m a horrible, awful person but I take so much joy in looking through a guy’s pictures and judging them cruelly. I’m sure there are guys who think the same about my pictures, but thankfully I remain blissfully ignorant of them.
I was deeply tempted to post all the screenshots of the really, really SPECIAL ones I’ve seen, but that seems just a touch too personal and mean-spirited. So instead, I’ve created a compilation of some of the most common types of profile pictures I see, performed by yours truly.
They are as follows:

The WAAAY Too Close-Up
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I’m not sure where any human being could get the idea that the closer to your face one gets, the hotter it is. Someone needs to show these guys a few Monet paintings. I’ve seriously seen so many pictures where the camera was so close to the taker’s face that I couldn’t even tell what his hair looked like. Literally the ONLY excuse for that is if you have T-Rex arms.

The Bathroom Selfie with Tons of Crap in the Background

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Not only do I get to see your best selfie pose, I also get to see every product you use in your shower routine as well as every single thing on your bathroom counter. This particular type is also at times taken in front of a closet, complete with random hangers and piles of clothes. The two are interchangeable, though the bathroom is by far the most prevalent.

The Shirtless, Pensive Romantic in Bed 

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This is a particular favorite of mine and one of the most common. These seem to be some kind of attempt to show a softer, more intimate side of the guy, because everyone knows that’s only accomplishable in bed. Most often it is accompanied by a dreamy look, sometimes with the subject gazing at a point just out of focus beyond the camera. Bonus points if a hand is put to the face with the eyes peeking up at you as though overcome with shyness.

The I Don’t Realize I’m Supposed to Look at the Mirror and Not My Phone Screen Selfie

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Though this type isn’t always taken in a bathroom, that is a frequent setting. Other acceptable locales include the gym, dressing rooms, or other public bathrooms. This particular guy seems unable to overcome the challenges of technology and optics in order to realize that, while it is a good idea to check your selfie on your phone screen, you need to actually look up in order to take a picture of your own face.

The I Kill Animals So I’m a REAL Man

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Maybe this is just a Southern thing, but the number of times my eyes have been assaulted by a grinning, self-satisfied fellow posing jauntily next to a dead or a large number of dead animals is really depressing. Nothing screams romance like the sight of blood and gore and death! Am I supposed to be impressed because you went into the woods and shot a defenseless animal with your high powered rifle? Sadly, I seem to be in the minority in Oklahoma, but I am so sick of dead deer and ducks popping up in my face with blood leaking from their mouths. There’s even a guy on there posing next to a dead zebra. A DAMN ZEBRA. I guess this is supposed to show me that you, the big he-man, can provide for me, the little female. Talk about caveman mentality… I’m by no means claiming that I’m a saint and that I don’t eat meat, because I do, but I don’t go sneaking up on animals and blowing a hole in them before posing triumphantly with my grisly trophy. Even if you are hunting simply to feed yourself, doesn’t it seem just a trifle disrespectful and hateful to paparazzi the poor, dead animal like you’ve done something SO AMAZING? Ugh. Thanks, but NO thanks.

The I’ve Got A Little Free Time In My Giant Truck

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I’m not really sure what the deal with this is, but I’ve noticed a strange but overwhelming phenomenon where guys take selfies in their vehicle, which is almost invariably a truck. Like, what’s going on? You’re just on your lunchbreak and you’ve finished eating and you think, Well shoot, I’ve got a little more time before I have to clock back in, might as well take some photos of my face?
Sometimes, I can’t tell if they’re actually parked or not, and then I have terrifying images of single guys swerving between lanes as they snap pics of themselves for their dating profile.

The I HAVE ABS NOTHING ELSE IN THE WORD MATTERS LOOK AT THEM

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I AM NOT EVEN A NORMAL HUMAN, I CONSIST OF NOTHING BUT PERFECT, BREATHTAKING, SIXTEEN PACK ABS. THAT IS LITERALLY ALL I AM, CHOOSE ME AND YOU ENTER INTO A RELATIONSHIP WITH A DISEMBODIED, FLOATING WASHBOARD OF MUSCLE.

There are, of course, variations and there are even some nice guys who don’t seem to have any of these in the repertoire. But unfortunately, those guys seem to be the minority. Perhaps you’ve now gained some idea of why online dating is so very treacherous. For now, I’ll keep giving it a chance, and hopefully I’ll come away with some more good stuff for you guys, if nothing else. Stay tuned as I continue my search to find someone who could possibly live up to my true love, Steven Adams.

So, for my final thought– I used to think there was something wrong with me because I was single. Now I’m starting to think that maybe I’m doing something very, very right by staying single.

A Measure of Time

Sigh.

I don’t know what’s happened to me lately, Dear Readers. As always, I’ve really meant to post sooner but to be honest, I just haven’t known what to say.

Last year I wrote a post with my New Year’s resolutions, and I had every intention of doing that again. But the problem was, I just couldn’t think of any.

A year is a perfect measure of time to reflect on the changes in life. It’s long enough for so many things to happen, and yet it’s so short as to be bewildering when we realize that another one has gone by. Throughout my life, the difference of one year was always staggering to me. Every single year, I would look back on the person I was at the same time a year previous and marvel at how far I’d come, how much I’d changed and (hopefully) improved. Every single year of college I came SO far, and after college was such a period of upheaval in my life that I almost couldn’t recognize the person I’d been when I graduated.

I accomplished every single resolution I made last year, and they were BIG ones. I found a job after a year and a half of desperate unemployment; I got a tattoo; I moved out; I went on dates (MULTIPLE dates, may I add); I published my book. For me, 2014 was a year of checking off some of the biggest changes you can make in your life, and I expected to enter 2015 even wiser, and feeling–FINALLY–like an adult. 2014 was the year where I grew up, for all intents and purposes. I mean, I PAY BILLS now.

But 2015 rolled around, and you know, I realized the weirdest thing. For the first time in I don’t know how long, I didn’t feel like I had changed all that much. I suppose if I really do look back on myself a year ago, in January of 2014, I was very different. I was unemployed, depressed, and I was still a couple months from taking the first steps to getting help and medication for my anxiety and panic. I was also still a month away from even finishing the first draft of my novel, much less the editing and the self-publishing.

One thing I did in 2014 that I never really ACTUALLY dreamed I’d do was dating. If you’d asked me in January 2014, the thought of going on a date would probably send me into a slight panic attack. But last year I went on multiple dates with multiples guys (okay, only three guys, but still THAT’S THREE TIMES AS MANY AS I HAD) and I handled them pretty much without problem. This was strange to me, and it took me a while to figure out what was suddenly different.

But then it hit me–I was finally comfortable in my own skin. I was actually HAPPY with myself and my life. I liked who I was, and it gave me the confidence to believe that plenty of guys would feel lucky to get to know who I was, too. It’s such a simple thing, but I have struggled with self-esteem issues my whole life. It was so bizarre to suddenly find that, with the exception of the people I respect and love, I didn’t really care what someone thought of me, or if they liked me. I mean, of course I prefer for people to like me, but it was totally fine with me if they didn’t. I had finally, through all the turmoil and darkness and stress and upset in my life, found self-acceptance.

So when I really look at myself in the measure of time from one year ago to now, I have made some of the most drastic changes I will probably ever make. I have learned to love myself and I feel like it has liberated me–that is has opened up life to me in all its glory.

I think the reason that it doesn’t feel like I’ve changed since a year ago, is that the person I was one year ago–sad, lonely, lost, and struggling–is so far away that it seems impossible that it’s who I was a year ago. In some ways, I’ve come farther in the last year than in any year before.

So I decided that I wasn’t going into this year with a list of specific things I wanted to accomplish. I thought about resolving to get my second tattoo; to at least finish the first draft of my second novel; to submit my first novel to more publishers. There’s always some other goal you can set for yourself, some other elusive thing to strive constantly towards. But the thing is, once you find happiness with yourself, all those other things just come as they’re meant to. I don’t feel a need to resolve to do any specific list of activities or accomplishments. Instead, the only thing I feel resolved to do is to keep loving myself, to try to become a better person every day, and to do things that make me happy, whatever they may be.

One year from now, in January 2016, I have no idea what the previous year will have brought, and I’m fine with that. Life for me now feels full of possibilities, and I’m ready to find them out–and the best part is I get to make it up as I go.

So instead of a resolution, I’m going to make a New Year’s wish. I hope that every single person that reads this finds the same acceptance and happiness with themselves that I have found with myself. I hope you accomplish all your resolutions, and a couple more beyond that. I hope you fall in love; get that dream job; learn a new language; make a new friend; travel somewhere you’ve always wanted; win that championship; and maybe, just maybe, even make it to the gym.

But above all, I hope you really fall in love with yourself, even if you don’t accomplish a single resolution. Because I truly believe that happiness is the most important resolution of all.

In the Interim

Ohhhh, goodness.

It’s been a while, hasn’t it guys? Boy have I got some catching up to do.

I know I always make the excuse when I don’t write for a long time that I’ve been busy, or lots has been going on, but I promise that when I don’t write for two months, there’s been some things going on.

Let me explain.

In my post from January when I talked about how I missed my friend’s wedding because I got lost, I also talked about New Year’s resolutions, and I made a short and simple list of what I hoped to accomplish this year. In case you don’t want to click that link and re-read that (I certainly try to forget that ever happened), let me refresh you on what those resolutions were.

Sara’s New Year’s Resolutions for 2014
1. Finish my novel.
2. Get a job.
3. Move out with my sister.
4. Get a tattoo.
5. Go on a date (maybe).
6. Not miss any other weddings I am invited to.

So, to bring you up to speed, let me tell you how close I am to achieving any of these.

1. Finish My Novel.
Okay, this is kind of a throwaway if you’ve read my blog at all, because I not only finished my novel, I self-published it on Kindle in July. And while I haven’t checked in a couple months, I’d sold like a significant amount. Like, well over 500 as of Septemberish (Maybe? To be honest, I stopped checking because I was afraid people would stop buying it and I didn’t want to know).
But anyway, I well surpassed any expectations I ever had. I also am about to self-publish the first run of paperback copies of my novel, and so many of my amazing and wonderful friends have signed up to buy it, which still just blows me away. Like, I still can’t really believe sometimes that people want to read my novel, much less PAY MONEY for it. I honestly still find it hard to believe that people actually want to read this blog.

Whoa.

Whoa.

But anyways, the point is that I think I can safely check this resolution off as completed.

2. Get a job.
This is also kind of obvious if you read my blog, because I’ve also been working at a wedding shop since July. Getting to dress people up in wedding dresses and veils and also getting to do so myself = automatic awesomeness. Not much else to say about that. I’ve truthfully already picked out my dress, belt, and veil and I tried to say yes to the dress, but my boss pointed out that I might want a fiance first. I just laughed that off, because I probably need a boyfriend before I even worry about that hurdle. But the job hurdle? Check!

Just call me Gatsby!

Just call me Gatsby cause I’m making paperrr.

3. Move out with my sister.
Okay, so this is kind of the big one. This has rather been the one occupying most of my time. As I type this, I am laying on the couch in the living room of the house I share with my sister.
That’s right, guys. I moved out. And it’s super, super weird. Like, I honestly feel like I did in college, when I was just living at school but my home was with my parents. It’s not helping that I had to leave Gus with them because he’s obsessed with running outside and we live on a super busy corner of a super busy street. I also miiiight have gotten a new cat named Henry who is like ridiculously adorable.
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He had to live with my parents for a while though, because it literally took us like two months to get our new house (duplex, actually) ready for us. I swear to god, it was a money pit. We just kept finding more things wrong that had to be fixed. I’m pretty sure that I have spent as much money in the past three months as I have in my entire life.
But he and Gus instantly became best friends, and now I feel incredibly guilty about taking him to our house, especially since we’ve already brought Finn up here (who took a full two days to come out from under my bed and even look around). So this has resulted in me going back home rather a lot.

HOW CAN I LEAVE THEM THOUGH

HOW CAN I LEAVE THEM THOUGH

But for better or worse, we are moved out and giving this thing a go. It is exciting, because we moved in just in time to celebrate Halloween and we had some adorable little trick or treaters come visit.

I also might have made a visit to my parents' house...

I also might have made a visit to my parents’ house…

We’re also planning on having Thanksgiving for my parents and some of my other family members at our house, so that’s also pretty cool.
But moving out? Check.

4. Get a tattoo.
So this is also kind of a new one. One of the main issues with getting a tattoo that I’d had before was that I couldn’t decide which one I actually wanted first. But after I lost Boo, it kind of helped me realize that I wanted a cat tattoo first in honor of him.
Thanks to my amazing best friend Brenna and her (then) fiance Jennings, I managed to accomplish this one.10699704_10153380516909057_5693046581355142999_o

Best photo of the whole experience.

Best photo of the whole experience.

The final product and its inspiration.

The final product and its inspiration.

Getting a tattoo is not exactly the most pleasant of experiences, but it was nowhere near as bad as I thought it would be. I have like zero pain tolerance so I honestly was terrified I wouldn’t be able to get through it. But the whole process only took about 10-15 minutes, and Brenna held my hand the whole time so I managed it. I am unbelievably pleased with the result.
I decided to get it on up my upper left leg, right where Boo always used to curl up and sleep against me. It makes me feel like where ever I go, I have him just right there with me. It’s honestly one of the best, most important things I’ve ever done for myself, and I love it.
So tattoo? A painful but well worth it check.

5. Go on a date (maybe).
Ah, despite my strong misgivings and uncomfortableness with the whole idea of dating, I even did this. Thankfully the date I went on was with a friend from high school who was very cool and nice about the whole thing and picked an awesome date (going to a local art museum) and the whole experience was really perfectly fine. (Except for the part where we got trapped for thirty minutes in the same parking lot where I went the wrong way and backed into a car–I’M TELLING YOU THAT PARKING LOT IS SENTIENT, IT IS EVIL, AND IT HATES ME).
But I did it, guys. I went on a date. Check. (But seriously, no rush on the next one because those things are emotionally EXHAUSTING)

6. Not miss any other weddings I am invited to.
Perhaps the hardest one of all with my sense of direction. And yet the two weddings I’ve attended since I last wrote were two of the best, most wonderful of my life.
In September, my long time friends from college, Lauren and Scott, were married in a sweet and elegant ceremony in Tulsa. They even asked me to read a poem or something along those lines during the wedding (they also told me they didn’t want me to tell them what I was reading, which let me tell you IS PRESSURE.) I went with one of my favorite poems of all time, Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116. Luckily, I think they liked it and my speech, and I was absolutely honored when they asked me to be one of the witnesses that signed their marriage license. It was truly an absolutely wonderful experience, especially since I got to go to the rehearsal and dinner and spend the evening before with Lauren.
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In July, on the exact same day that I started working at the wedding boutique, my very first best friend Brenna got engaged. It was one of the best days of my life when she subsequently asked me to be her maid of honor. She was married in an absolutely gorgeous and stunning ceremony in Norman, and I literally cried through the whole thing. It was both strange and wonderful, because I couldn’t see her the entire time after she came down the aisle, but I could see her fiance’s face and the way he was looking at her was just pure love. I could tell he adored her and I was just so happy I couldn’t stop crying. I had tissues hidden in my bouquet and I’m sure it looked like I was literally wiping my face with flowers, and it was still one of the best moments of my life. I was afraid from the moment that Bren asked me to be her MOH that I would bawl my way through my speech, but luckily I think I cried it all out during the ceremony. Though I choked up a couple times, I managed not to cry during my speech.

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I also managed not to miss any of the weddings I was invited to. Check, check.

So. As you can see, I genuinely have been busy. I managed to complete all my resolutions, and by October–with a couple of months to spare!

That being said, life, as I have learned repeatedly, is always up and down. And the past few days for me have been very down.

My cat Gus, as I mentioned, stayed at my mom and dad’s house. A few days ago, he started throwing up everything he ate. My mom eventually took off work and took him to the vet, and they gave him a nausea shot to help and said he didn’t seem seriously ill. Unfortunately for me, I didn’t take the news well. I had a panic attack–the first I’ve had in months.
I talked before about how much I struggled with depression and anxiety in the past year and a half and what an enormous challenge it was for me to overcome. But with the help of my family and my doctor, I got counseling and I also got medication, and it has seemed to make all the difference. That’s why it made this panic attack so absolutely terrifying–I thought I was better. I though I was DONE with panic attacks.
It was so scary to realize that, even with regular medication, even with special medication to help me prevent it if I felt one coming, I could still have panic attacks. It was exactly the way it used to be, the same sickeningly familiar symptoms. I got dizzy and nauseated, and I couldn’t seem to stop crying, and I felt convinced that Gus was going to die at any minute. Ironically, an incident when we thought Gus might have eaten something poisonous and I had one of the worst panic attacks I’d ever had is what made me finally stop and say, I think something is wrong and eventually led to me getting help. It was a bizarre kind of full circle.
My sister drove me to my parents’ house, and I spent the evening there with Gus, who seemed to be doing better and who even managed to eat and keep it down. I started to feel better, and it seemed like he was better as well.
The next morning, I woke up and started getting ready for work, only to get a call from my mom that Gus was throwing up repeatedly again. We both agreed that we desperately needed to get him back to the vet for bloodwork–the problem was, no one could take him. Thankfully, my incredibly understanding boss let me have the day off so I could get him to the vet.

The experience I’m about to relate is not for the faint of heart, so if you’re squeamish about medical stuff or have a weak stomach I suggest you skip it.
I rushed to my parents’ to get Gus, who absolutely hates riding in the car. So, he proceeded to climb into my back window and howl for the fifteen minute drive to the vet. The vet doesn’t take appointments either, so when we got there we had to sit in the car and wait. We waited for almost an hour, and the only reason they called us back was because they had to have the bloodwork done by 10 in order for us to get our results back that day (it was Friday, and if we’d waited any later we wouldn’t have gotten them back until Monday).
So they took us back to like a nurse’s station where they do the blood drawing. They had to shave a little chunk of poor Gustav’s hair off, so he has a little bald spot on his neck where they drew the blood. Now, let me preface this by saying that as you may know if you’ve ever met me, I kind of have a problem with needles. Like, I hate them. Like, they literally make me sick. Like, I haven’t gotten a shot since I was 17 and my mother could no longer make me get them.
So they were trying to draw blood from a vein in Gus’s neck, but the first needle they used was too small. So then they had to get a bigger needle. And as they’re struggling to draw blood, the nurse is like “I think I should’ve got an even BIGGER needle.” Now, you may be wondering why I didn’t step out of the room since I have such a problem with needles, right? Well, in the first place, I didn’t realize I had a problem with needles when used on pets. I’ve seen my dogs get shots a hundred times and it never really bothered me. Second, poor Gus looked absolutely terrified as they held him down and I know it cannot feel good to have people stabbing at your neck with different needles (that phrase literally makes me sick to my stomach). So, trying nobly to be a good cat mom, I stayed so I could pet him and talk to him. As they were drawing the blood, however, I heard one lady say, “Man, this blood is so dark and thick.” I, of course, immediately looked at the syringe, because this concerned me. What did that mean? Was that a bad sign?!
She followed it up by saying, “Of course, you’d expect that in a cat that’s been throwing up.”
I felt immediate relief, followed by immediate heat. A short time later, I realized that I was staring at that little bald spot where they had the needle in, and I was getting even hotter. I realized I probably should’ve taken my coat off, and proceeded to sling it somewhere (I honestly don’t know where I put it). Abruptly, I realized I was also very sick to my stomach, and somewhat desperately I inquired where the bathroom was. They told me it was out of the room, down the hall and around the corner.

Now, I remember walking out the door of the room, but after that my vision disappeared. All the sound started roaring in my ears, and I felt myself fall against a wall. I was sentient enough to realized I had fallen into the wall, and I heard myself say, “Oh, oops!”
I don’t have any memory of what happened after that until I woke up and found myself sitting on the floor. I was incredibly confused and disoriented, and couldn’t figure out where I was in the vet or how I’d gotten there. I probably wasn’t out more than five or ten seconds, but I was DEFINITELY out. A nurse came out into the hall and goes, “Oh my god, are you okay?!” I sort of realized then that I’d fainted, and I replied in a low miserable groan, “Noooo.”
Then, I proceeded to throw up on the floor of the hallway at the vet’s office.
Yep. On the floor. In the hallway. At the vet’s.
I heard someone go, “Oh no.”
Then, a trash can was shoved at me and I managed to throw up three more times into it before dry heaving for a bit. At this point, there were people flitting about everywhere, because the more people to see my shame, the merrier! Someone handed me a roll of paper towels as someone called for a mop and I realized that I was half-sitting in my own throw up. It was then it occurred to me that I was within one of the lowest moments of my life.
I started apologizing repeatedly, and everyone was super nice, of course. The nurse brought Gus out into the hall and he was just meowing in her arms like, “Um, what are you doing? I am the one who is sick, not you!”
They made me sit in a room and drink a glass of water while I was waiting for the doctor so I could recover. Unfortunately, this also left me time to sit and stew in my shame and humiliation.
When I finally got to go home, I immediately collapsed in an embarrassment-and-exhaustion-fueled sleep. When I woke up that afternoon, I realized that I still had some throw up in my hair and I had to take a shower.
So, all in all, definitely one of my finest, proudest moments.

This was only the second time I had actually fainted; the other was when my sister had to have surgery and they put the IV in and got blood all over her hand. I made my way into the bathroom, sat on the floor, all the sound started rushing and getting louder in my ears, I passed out for a few seconds, and then I threw up three times in the toilet. Nice and tidy. To be fair, I hadn’t eaten dinner the night before, then I’d barely slept, then I didn’t eat breakfast that morning, and I was overall incredibly stressed.
I have to say, my second experience with passing out was much worse than the first. Again, to be fair to me, I hadn’t eaten dinner the night before (panic attacks kill my appetite), I didn’t sleep well, I didn’t eat breakfast, and I was incredibly stressed.
So I think I’ve figured out the recipe to make me faint. Needles + blood + lack of sleep and nourishment + stress = shame and embarrassment. A winning combination.
Luckily for my sanity, we got the results back that same day and Gus’s bloodwork was completely normal, so I count it as worth it.

Basically, in the interim since I last wrote, I have been checking off resolutions… and humiliating myself in brilliant, awe-inspiring form.

So pretty much the same old, same old.

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.