Written Desperation.

It’s hard to write sometimes. There are so many topics that float through my mind and all of them are worthy to examine and publish, but a lot of the time I feel like I don’t know enough about it or have a strong enough opinion so I don’t write about it. Other times I just don’t know what to say and I stare at the blank page for so long that I get frustrated and walk away. In the meantime, time passes away and soon there is a long time between my last post and the new one I’m trying to write. In desperation, I try to write something, anything, just to get something written down and out there for people to see. But then, to my utmost horror, I realize that what I’m trying to write is saying nothing at all. And with that desperate knowledge, I go back and press the delete button. Nobody needs to know what my inner turmoil of forced writing looks like.

And so here I sit with my head hung low, my hands held out in front of me in surrender. I have nothing to give you: nothing from a new perspective, nothing that will make you laugh, nothing that will make you gasp with the brilliancy of the prose. All I can tell you is that my mind needed a rest. My fingers couldn’t turn my thoughts into anything meaningful to make your day that much fuller. My mind, in its complicated essence, needed a break from producing creative words.

I hope you haven’t left me, disappointed in my lack of writing. I hope you saw my hiatus as an attempt to bring back what I used to be so that I can have a clearer mind in my future posts. If you were one of those so patiently waiting for me to get my act together, I thank you. I want to come back to my space full of thoughts and written meditations for you to read and appreciate.

My Blog Reading List.

I read different blogs for a variety of reasons: to learn something new, to see what others are up to even if I don’t know who they are, to gain perspective of others’ lives, to laugh, cry, think…the list could on and on. I’d like to take a minute to share some of the blogs in my reading list. These aren’t all of them, of course, but some that I click on fairly frequently. I hope you stop by and visit yourself!

  1. The Bloggess
  2. Raising My Rainbow
  3. Papaya Pieces
  4. Andilit
  5. From My Brain to the Internet
  6. Surrounded by Imbeciles
  7. Coming East 
  8. Writing For Myself
  9. Kelsey L. Munger
  10. Mysterious Heartland
  11. The Captive Reader
  12. And this is why I will die alone surrounded by cats
  13. A French American Life
  14. Bottledworder
  15. Hedgers Abroad
  16. The Captain’s Speech

The Need for Superheroes: Guest Post by Krista

Krista is a good friend of mine who studies creative writing at a college in New Hampshire. She enjoys books and movies of all different varieties including, but not limited to, Harry Potter, science fiction, fantasy, young adult, and superheroes. She works at her local library where she discovers new books and ideas for her writing. I’m lucky to share her piece on superheroes and why we need them in our lives. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I have.

With the release of the new Superhero movie, Avengers: Age of Ultron, it occurred to me that the popularity of Superheroes has grown to a heroic proportion. Bad pun, I know… But, the idea of having super powered heroes to save the world, or displaying astounding moral fiber, has become a larger theme in many recent films and novels. These fantastical, powerful heroes have existed in the world’s mythology and folklore for thousands of years, and we still use their heroic themes today.

The themes that come from these Super films and novels have become less focused on the “perfect” heroes, such as Superman, and have focused more on flawed heroes and anti-heroes. Heroes such as the Avengers have a combination of flawed and broken characters that create a functioning single unit. Even redeemed villains have a more prominent place in films and novels in today’s pop culture, such as the new adaptation of Loki in the previous Marvel films. Another example is an upcoming Disney Channel movie “Descendants”, which focuses on the Disney villain’s children in their possible search for redemption.

Themes in movies and novels that promote the Hero’s Journey is something that has always interesting me, so the big Hollywood interest in Superheroes has had me excited. It’s sometimes hard to except facts that we’re either not strong enough, brave enough, or we keep making wrong choices. Watching characters portray those flaws in ways that explain the message while also giving us something to admire, is fantastic. While some people may have an issue with all the Superhero films, TV shows, and novels, I for one am grateful to still see them around. Superheroes are large moral motivators because they are not perfect and they need help sometimes to get through hard times. The need for superheroes has grown since their creation and I don’t see them ever disappearing. They’ll just adapt to the culture, and that makes me super excited!

“You only have your thoughts and dreams ahead of you. You are someone. You are something.”

– Batman

“You’re going to make a difference. A lot of times it won’t be huge, it won’t be visible even.  But it will matter just the same.” – Commissioner James Gordon

Movie Review: Before I Go to Sleep

Christine is a forty year old amnesiac who wakes up remembering nothing about her life with a man she never recognizes. Every morning he tells her that he is her husband and that ten years ago she had a car accident that left her with an impaired memory. One day, Nicole receives a phone call from Dr. Nasch, who tells her that they’d been seeing each other for several weeks to help regain her memory. He tells her she’s been keeping a video diary about herself and tells her where she’s hidden it, hoping that her diary will help her get her memory back. As she becomes more aware of her surroundings, Christine begins to suspect that not everything is as it seems and that her husband Ben is hiding something from her, something so dangerous that he might kill her to keep it from being discovered.

It’s been a while since a movie featuring an amnesiac has been produced, so I was interested in watching Before I Go to Sleep, especially when it has Nicole Kidman playing the lead. The movie was suspenseful and kept you at the edge of your seat. It became a little predictable at the end, as many movies have tried to play on memory loss before, but overall, I found the movie to be intriguing. I was a little skeptical about the whole memory loss thing, so I went online and discovered that such a traumatic memory loss does happen to people and that there are various ways of helping the patient who is suffering. Being a writer and avid reader myself, I could see how having such a medical problem would be something that any writer or movie producer would love to play on, especially in a scenario where the victim’s family might be trying to kill them.

I realize that Before I Go to Sleep is based on a book by the same name by S.J. Watson, but after having seen the movie, I’m not sure if I want to go back and try to read the book. I tried reading the book once before and it didn’t grip me as well as I’d hoped. Seeing the movie helped me grasp the major plot lines without having to delve any deeper into the movie.

I wouldn’t consider watching the movie again, but it’s a movie worth watching just once to see what the hype is all about and especially if you’re not the one to read the book.

Thriller: Vampire Evolution in Television, Guest Post by Sarah Doebereiner

I have the honor of sharing a guest post from my good friend Sarah Doebereiner. Sarah is a writer from central Ohio who graduated with a bachelor’s in English. Her writing has appeared in publications such as Dayton Daily News, Nexus Literary Journal and Screech Owl and is expecting a novella to be published in the near future. She enjoys writing in all forms and genres. 

Monsters. We’ve seen strict interpretations that draw on ancient lore, and modern reimagining of those classic notions.  Many people think we are reaching the point where we have seen it all.  There are no new stories, only new voices. To me, it seems like the market has a distinctly circular pattern.  It shifts from romanticized versions to murderous realism and back and back and back.  But why?  Are monsters meant to be scary? Are they friendly and misunderstood; or perhaps they are both?

I think it’s simpler than that. The market shifts in direct response to the oversaturation of a trope. The viewers like the clichés because they make the genre what it is.  If you deviate too far from the original lore, then you have to ask yourself if the creature still deserves inclusion in their subcategory. However, too much cliché is boring and lifeless.  So, our culture switches back and forth between two clichés and champions the one trending at that moment. For the purpose of this discussion, I’ll focus on a cross section of mainstream vampire movies.

The first stories were cautionary tales invoking the old superstitious.  With Nosferatu in 1922 we saw the rise of the beast vampire.  The fear and terror of the monster dominated the characters. Their attitude towards humans was derogatory at best. There was little room for reason beyond the pursuit of sustenance.  A savage hunter trope emerged.

Times changed and technology made people less afraid of the old lore. Modern culture grew tired of the beast vampire. Soon a subtle splice of humanity crept in. The Lost Boys in 1987 was a shift towards the romanticized vampire. The vampires in this movie are still tough on humans, but they value them as more than merely cattle.  Part of this shift is that vampires in this cross section used to be humans. So the innate value of the humans extended as far as they would make decent additions to the group.

Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992) and Interview with a Vampire (1994) continued this trend towards an attractive vampire.  Charm moved these vampires another step away from the snarling beast and towards a gentlemanly refinement. The focus becomes the struggle of morals/manners, yet we still get the impression underneath the class, they have the capacity for brutality. Interview with a Vampire explores the themes of humanity vs. savagery in depth.

After a while people felt that these more rational vampires had lost the original intent of the creature. They were too plagued by their humanity to be scary. In fact, they had stopped trying to be scary, and seemed much more interested in seduction and conversion. These frustrations caused a move back to the beast vampires of Blade (1998) and Vampires (1998). These movies were a return to the old tropes.  Vampires were vicious killers who toyed with human beings.  You should run or fight, not snog them. It’s worth mentioning that Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003) also emerged during this time period although the show swings back and forth between the tropes with the trending cliché.

Dracula 2000 and Underworld (2003) focused on the misunderstood nature of the monsters. They were sympathetic, reasonable, and more human in their emotional struggles. In many ways, the stories became more about individuals struggle to find a place in the world.

Shortly after that, 2007 brought us 30 Days of Night and I am Legend.  These vampires verged on zombies so there was a little bit of ambiguous beast mixed in. These were pack hunters with mob frenzy mentalities. The moral of these stories was clear.  It’s daft to become a monster. It’s daft to reason with a beast.

But just how daft is it, and why can’t we learn our lesson? Twilight (2008) was full of teenage angst and romance. The story is basically one girl falling in love with, and trying to become a vampire despite the obvious problems. The rise of this kind of sparkly, vegetarian vampire created a backlash wave that we are still recovering from. Most people agreed vampires needed a little more bite. Daybreakers (2009) and Abraham Lincoln Vampire Slayer (2012) are evidence of this.  Daybreakers showed the ethics of widespread vampire existence and shed light on the stupidity of everyone becoming vampires. ALVS went full on beasty.

We thought we were safe. The romantic vampire was gone.  Except it wasn’t. Dracula Untold (2014) took us a step back towards the vampire with a heart of gold.  The race was generally abhorrent, but we have one step in the romanticism door. That Vlad was definitely supposed to be snog-worthy. It nicely stepped back into the previous romantic Bram Stoker’s Dracula. The circle continues.

Now it’s true that many of the above stories contain elements of both clichés. Many of them have the rules of the vampire set up in a certain trope, but then one character or small group of characters deviates from the trope.  So the argument could be made that the cycle extends not only to trends over time, but also to trends within specific components of the larger arc.

Sometimes we like our monsters to be horrific beings who destroy, torture, and detest the general public.  However, we also like them to be approachable with moments of clarity and kindness. You see these trends in all monster forms: werewolves, zombies, hybrid monsters like the Frankenstein creature. We have a bipolar attitude towards evil. When the scare stops making our hearts race, we want to be wooed. It’s the cliché love/hate relationship, literally.

Angels and Devils: The Body Image in Clothing Campaigns.

There’s no secret in the fact that American society’s obsessed with body image. Through movies, music, and advertisement, we’ve become conditioned to believe that being young and thin is attractive and something to obtain by whatever means necessary. Clothes, diets, pills and exercise are so entrenched in our psyche that we hardly notice them anymore. Even underwear ads such as Victoria’s Secret plays upon it through their Angels who are young, thin, attractive and by all means fit and athletic. They look like angels, for a lack of a better word (and they’ve probably had that in mind when they created the line).

In recent years, many people have protested a lack of diversity in advertising, not only racially, but for women of all ages, shapes, and sizes. There have been suggestions that marketers create ads that celebrates women from all walks of life and to break the image that women have to look and be a certain way. Lane Bryant has become the most recent company to try and counteract this image with their “I’m no angel” campaign. On the surface, the ad appears innocent enough, celebrating women of all shapes and sizes and allowing everyone to feel comfortable in her skin. But upon closer inspection, the ad is just as damaging as a Victoria’s Secret ad for what they imply about age, race, and size.

Let’s take a look at their line “I’m no angel.” To me, it says that plus size women aren’t perfect or “angelic” because they’re not the size of someone who can fit into something at Victoria’s Secret. They’re personalities are loud and abrasive, women who don’t care what anybody else thinks by what they say and act. They are in essence, the epitome of being a devil in sheep’s clothing. While plus sized women can be vivacious and energetic, it’s not to say that there aren’t those who are quiet and reserved or anywhere in between. A woman’s size shouldn’t stereotype her into what her personality should be to the point of making her feel uncomfortable and untrue to herself.

Then there’s the mitigating factor of age in the ad. The models in the Lane Bryant ad are middle aged, implying that only women past their prime are the ones that might be interested in wearing plus sized underwear. Time to hang up Victoria’s Secret and put on your big girl panties. And what if you’re in you’re twenties or early thirties and need attractive, plus sized underwear? Well, maybe if they work out a little harder, they’ll be able to fit into “normal” sized clothing and not wear something more appropriate for a soccer mom.

And finally, what about the representation of people of color? Lane Bryant has used a few women of color for their campaign, but they aren’t given any testimonials or speaking roles until the end of the ad and only then do they say “I am no angel.” I’m not an expert on African American representation in the media, but Lane Bryant seems to suggest that women of color are wild and untamed from the African plains, women who should be treated with suspicion for the fear of straying good people off the straight and narrow.

I’m not a plus sized woman, nor a woman that fits into any of the above categories. However, I’m a woman living in a world that values body image more than anything else in the world. Nobody should be made to feel bad because of how we look. We come from all around the world with all shapes and sizes. We are who we are through personal experiences and those of our ancestors. While we can’t force ourselves to be a different body shape, neither can we promote certain body images as those of angelic or devil-like tendencies. We can, however, change our views of the world and how we should be represented in the media so that hurtful stereotypes can no longer flourish.

15 Things To Do After Breaking Up

Being at the tail end of a relationship is rough, whether you’re the one ending it or not. It hurts for everyone involved because the person you thought you wanted to spend a long time with (if not forever) is no longer the one who will be a part of life’s journey with you. In the aftermath of breaking up, it’s understandable to feel down and out about the experience, yet at the same time we need to maintain a perspective that these feelings won’t last forever.

While there is no exact process on how to move on from a breakup, there are some activities you can participate in to get back on track and enjoy your life as a single person. Here are some ideas:

  1. Go for long walks. I enjoy going on walks. I especially love hiking. Walking, or any sort of exercise can help get any energy and emotions out. Not only that, it’s good for you.
  2. Listen to some uplifting music. Or even create a playlist filled with them.
  3. Play a sport. Kicking a ball or punching a bag is a great stress reliever.
  4. Write a long letter to your ex. You don’t have to send it (and you probably shouldn’t), but write out everything that made you upset and angry. Then, tear it up. Getting it all down on paper can help air out your thoughts.
  5. Write in a journal.
  6. Take yourself out to dinner.
  7. Watch the sunrise/sunset.
  8. Take yourself out on a date.
  9. Go for a drive.
  10. Hang out with some best friends.
  11. Get rid of any pictures of your ex, including on social media. Out of sight, out of mind.
  12. Allow yourself some down time to be upset. You did spend part of your life with someone. Let yourself grieve.
  13. Try something new.
  14. Watch your favorite movie.
  15. Read a good book.

What things have you done to get over a relationship?