Monday, October 28, 2013

"Why Don't You Write Happy Stuff?"

Why don't you write happy? As a writer who dares to write dark pieces every once in a while, I get this question a lot. If any non-writers are reading this, be assured that this is an incredibly annoying question to us writers. For me, it's especially annoying because it's simply not true. The better question would be, What compels you to write sad pieces?
This is a deeply unhappy world that we live in. There are absolutely lovely, wonderful pockets to it, but it doesn't change the fact that life is tough for a lot of people. For a long time, I was a deeply unhappy girl struggling with depression and anxiety. Of course my work isn't going to be happy all the time (or even most of the time) because that doesn't reflect my reality and it doesn't reflect the reality for many of the people around me. Refusing to acknowledge this fact is ignorant. There are certain issues that need to be talked about and talking about it through my writing makes it easier.

Happy writing certainly has its place. We can't be depressed 24/7 and continuously writing depressing stuff isn't healthy at all. In fact, continued depressing writing can sound repetitive, cliche and leave you in a rut (as my work from my black periods will show). Happy writing is a wonderful form of escapism. When I write my fantasy or romance novels, I do that. I can't do that all the time, though. I'm a human being and I'm not happy all the time either. That wouldn't properly represent my experience. 

Sometimes, I need to let out my negative emotions or make sense of some of the things that have happened to me or the people I know or even in the world itself. And so my bleaker pieces emerge.

And oftentimes, they're the pieces that rise to the top. For whatever reason, my darker pieces are the better ones. I think that's because they have more intensity and more soul. Darker pieces tend to be more raw, more authentic. I grow from the darkness in my life and my poems grow along with me. As much as I love being happy, happiness doesn't shape who you are or make you grow as a person. Darker pieces are more memorable; they're the ones that resonate with people.

My favorite pieces are ones that make the reader feel a range of emotions. That's why I love black comedies and tragicomedies so much. Those pieces represent life the best and all of its ups and downs. It helps avoid cheesiness or ridiculousness. I try to do those as well. I also enjoy pieces that aren't fully dark, that have a little bit of hope.

My dark pieces definitely do have that for the most part. Most people seem to ignore that. I shared a piece during coffeehouse and, while I got many compliments, one guy went on and on how bleak it was. Never mind that it had a happy ending and that everything turned away in the end. My protagonist in my poem struggled but then things got better. 

A friend of mine described happy writing as "fluff". In a way, I have to agree most of the time. When something is happy, it's harder to make it memorable and authentic. There are exceptions but most of those fall in the tragicomedy section anyway. 

So there you have it, that's why I don't write "happy" all the time. Please stop asking me. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


I see the world through the lens of my camera. Already, I see the world through words, but this helps me see it in a different way. Through writing and photography, I see it in an entirely different way.

Through my camera, I can see different perspectives and different ways to capture something. I love to take pictures of pretty much everything, capture it in different angles and different perspectives.

I'm not entirely sure how I got into photography. All I know is that the idea suddenly occurred to me one day and I wanted to try it. I snapped pictures on my phone and then edited them. Admittedly, they were bad at first but then I kept going anyway. I became serious enough that my parents decided to give me a camera come Christmas. I've been loving it ever since.

I never knew how many different ways there were to see the world until I pursued photography. Instead of just snapping a picture of something, you have to be more creative. The artist must ask, How can I capture this in a way no one else has? How can I capture this in a way that will show the true essence of what it is? So I have to think of how to pose things in a way to make them as artsy as possible and, when I am trying to do a candid, I have to decide quickly which pose the person is doing will show them in the best light. There are so many decisions to make. I love to snap the thing in as many different angles as I can in order to figure out which one is best.

Then, it comes to editing the photo. Different exposures, colors, etc. will show the photo in a whole different way. Do I want to add a more serious, melancholy feel? I make it darker. In the reverse, if I want to make it happier, I make it lighter.

Recently, I've taken up a film photography class. Film has taken everything that I know about photography and turned it on its head. If I want to change the exposure, I have to change the shutter speed and the aperture. I'm not sure how to edit it in other ways. Also, developing those photos have proven to be an incredibly difficult process, much more difficult than I ever thought was possible. It is awfully rewarding when you finally do get a print, though.

Overall, I absolutely love photography. I've been involved in a recent project involving it and I've had so much fun!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Gay Marriage in NJ

Gay marriage is now (for the moment) legal in New Jersey. New Jersey is the fourteenth state to allow marriage equality thus far. Governor Chris Christie announced that he is no longer going to fight this legally.

I'm not going to write a post on why gay marriage should be allowed because that's moronic. Clearly, the reasons are obvious enough: two consenting adults should be allowed to do what they wish, despite any religion telling them otherwise. I am simply going to say that it's beautiful and wonderful that one more state is finally pushing past bigotry, that this is another tremendous victory.

One day during my lifetime, I know that I will see gay marriage become legal federally. It's only a matter of time. If it becomes legal at a federal level, the state constitutions that ban it won't matter: they'll be overturned. Perhaps legal all over the Western world.

For all those groups that are working to oppress gay people and keep gay marriage banned... They'll die out. Exodus International already did. And their leaders are dying out too.

Plus, my dad had the wonderful happenstance of having this occur on his birthday.

All very cool :) 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

RIP, Mac

I have sad news to share to the world: My beloved iPod of five years has officially died. Indeed, the audio jack has finally stopped working; at first, it sputtered out with only allowing one earbud to play but now it won't let me play altogether. This is just one last straw in a series of failures. I finally had to give in and get a new one or risk facing a life without music. I call him Mac (I know, not very creative but still). 

It gave me a good few years, allowing me to store as much music to my heart's content. It played without protest until its end and it gave me an experience of mutual satisfaction. Admittedly, it was the replacement of my original iPod but no matter there. This was the true iPod that served me and for that, I will be grateful.
Of course, I'm still sticking to my iPod classic instead of getting the iPod Touch everyone recommended that I have. Why? Because, quite frankly, I'm afraid of change. I've gotten accustomed to my iPod classic; it's become my baby. It can also hold much more music than anything else can and, even more startling yet, it's much cheaper. Sure, it can do a lot of fancy things but, at the end of the day, music is all I care about. There was a time I bought the iPod Touch but I had to quickly return it because I was having too much angst.
And I'm loving this iPod Classic. It has all of the benefits of the old one, but it has this newness about it: it plays much better than the old one and it charges better too. Not to mention, it just looks new too, sleek and shiny.

But still, the old one did service me well.

RIP, Mac. 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

My Temporary Stint as a Journalist

One of the things I love most about my new school is all of the new things that it lets me explore. One of those things is working in the newspaper.

I had dabbled in working at my newspaper at my old school, yet this is different. This almost feels like more of a commitment. And honestly, it's more fun too. It might be because I like writing about things relating to this school more than the last but still, I like it.

Anyway, it's not hard-hitting journalism (school journalism rarely is) . I'm not trying to seriously investigate something or whatever. Instead it's a cute fluff piece: I'm writing about the dogs on campus.

It still requires me to ask interview questions, to reach out to people, to take pictures and do meet-ups and all that. It sounded like it would be a lot of work and at first, I was a little reluctant to do it. But now, it's a lot of fun, even more fun than a lot of other articles I've done in the past. Plus, they're not just random pieces that I'm writing but articles that requires a bit more journalistic type of work. 

The questions I thought up were silly and it was fun to do that. Then I got to see the responses and they really made me laugh.

Meeting up with the teachers was a lot of fun too. I felt so cool just interviewing everyone like that with my pad and pen and all of that.

And the dogs! They were such a joy, sweet little balls of energy that just loved to be around people. I'm such an animal person that I couldn't help but gravitate towards them. Meeting them really helped add to the article and add a new perspective for me.

I'm taking a break from my research paper in order to write this article. It's hard to capture these dogs' personalities in such little space (I could write articles individually about all of them), but I'm definitely doing my best.

I'll be sad when newspaper ends for sure. This is so much fun!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Drowning in Work

My brain is fried. Actually, so is everything else about me, now that I come to think about it. I have a ten-page research paper due by the first of November. How in the world will I do it? I don't know. I have a few other assignments due, too, but they pale in comparison to the sheer work that this involves. I'm taking a break from it now to gain a little bit of sanity.

Of course, this is a fascinating topic in a course that proves to have a variety of nuances to it. Before, I would just glean all of the facts together and report them. But now, I have to analyze the facts and use them to prove my point. I did this when I was in debate, to a degree, although I had a little bit more flexibility than I do in a full-on class setting.

But God, there are so many sources to comb through. So much analysis to do. For now, I'm simply trying to organize the sheer mass of information that I have on the subject. How do I prove that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was the single greatest piece of equal rights legislation and also the greatest advancement for African Americans? Not only can I say what it is; I have to compare life beforehand to life in the present as well as a variety of things. It makes searching for sources even harder.

I literally have stacks of papers I've printed out, books I've found in the library, etc. And it's all surrounding me like some sort of vise.

Did I mention I still have my Shakespeare adaptation to do for English? That's much more manageable, of course, but at this point, it's something else to do.

This is definitely teaching me a lesson in time management. The effects of such a lesson, however, are brutal. Thankfully, I still have three more days off to do this (thanks Columbus Day!). I'm really glad that I'm having to do this assignment in this school at least as I'll have ample time off (and ample time free during the day) to get this done. But still.

I guess this is what I get for choosing to take an AP class.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Being Bisexual

I'm bisexual. I know this is a strange thing to announce but it's National Coming Out Day. I'm not necessarily coming out, per se, as I already have for the most part. I know this day wasn't meant for me but, since those at my school are celebrating it, I might as well join in the fun.

There's a lot of people who don't take bisexuality seriously. Even some people who identify as gay or lesbian don't take it all that seriously. Hell, even most of my family doesn't take it seriously.

Not that I blame them. There's a huge myth in our society that sexuality is a binary system and that bi people just "can't decide". Or that bi men are just secretly gay and bi girls are just curious or trying to be lesbian so that guys will like them. Most people seem to have trouble thinking on complex terms so the gray area of bisexuality seems to really confuse a lot of people.

I also personally don't identify as part of the LGBT community. It's a perfectly lovely community for the most part (although it has a lot of biphobic elements to it at points). I don't feel personally involved in LGBT issues. I suppose I just always figured that, while I might fool around with some girls, I'll probably end up settling down with a man. There are a lot of lesbian girls who refuse to date bi girls out of jealousy anyway so maybe I might just have to do this. 

As a bi person, I have a few luxuries a gay person doesn't have. I have more choices, for one. More importantly, if things get bad enough, I can always just stick to guys and feel satisfied for the most part. If I were a lesbian, doing this would mean giving up a fundamental part of who I was. I can "choose" to be straight, in a way. And honestly, I will, simply because I'm not sure I want to deal with the difficulties of having my relationship subjugated to second-class status just yet. I think the fact that bi people can so seamlessly switch between both worlds probably frustrates many gay and lesbian people, but then again, this also means we never truly belong to either groups. 

It is easier to be a bi girl than at least it is to be a bi guy. It seems to me that there are a lot of bi girls out in today's day in age (not that I blame them, of course), but not a lot of bi guys. In many ways, bi guys might as well be coming out as gay. They'll be perceived that way, after all.

I understand if my sexuality confuses people. It confused me for a long time too. My sexuality fluctuates all of the time. One day, I'll like boys and girls equally. Sometimes, mostly just boys. Sometimes (but less so), mostly just girls.

When I first started experiencing attraction, I felt them solely for boys. It was only later I started to feel attraction for girls but the change was so subtle I hardly recognized it. I also believed that part of me didn't want to believe I was bi. I was totally fine with other people being bi. But not me. That just wasn't supposed to happen. I wasn't disgusted or ashamed of these feelings but rather confused. Could it even happen? Was it even happening? How could I go a year without feeling attractions towards girls and then suddenly feel it? I assumed my feelings were hero worship, especially given my low self-esteem at the time. My mother confirmed this. After particularly strong feelings for a particular girl, I finally had to acknowledge that maybe I wasn't quite straight.

My family is mostly in denial about it still. They would argue that I don't talk about these same-sex attractions I supposedly feel. That I'm confused. My sister thinks I'm just doing this because I want to rebel and be different. This really makes me mad sometimes, but there's no point in fighting them. I am who I am and I've accepted it; I'm not going to try to fight with them to get them to believe that I really am bi because I honestly don't care. Of course, I know they'll love and accept me no matter what I do, but I think they're not entirely okay with it. After all, my mother pictured me marrying a guy when I'm older and having grandkids with him. A possible detour into lesbianism might prevent this from happening. 

I don't talk about my same-sex attractions as liberally as I do my opposite-sex ones simply because I can't. I can't just check out some random girl on the street or say how hot I think a female celebrity is. That just won't happen. Even people who claim to be accepting will say that I'm pushing my sexuality on them, even though I can go into much more graphic detail when it involves a guy than with a girl. Any crush I have for one has even less of a chance of being fulfilled than for a guy. If I have a boyfriend, I'll be able to hold his hand out in public and gush about it. I can talk about the difficulties of dating and how men are so confusing. This will be normal and accepted and people will think nothing of it. My perceived heterosexuality will just be a part of who I am. People will cling vicariously through me and my relationship with him. But a girl? I might get a reluctant nod or a slight grimace. No girl will ever meet certain family members, not because I'd be ashamed of her but of their possible reactions towards her.

Yes, I'm bi. Yet that's really just one aspect of who I am. I'm also a writer, a friend, a daughter, pet owner, etc. and these things define me much more.

This is probably going to be one of those blog posts I want to take down, but I won't. I can't. I don't want to be ashamed of this part of me and I shouldn't have to.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Standing Up for Yourself

It's a harsh world that we live in. If you aren't your own biggest advocate, you'll never have anyone else who really will. This is why it breaks my heart to see people who don't believe in themselves, especially as someone who used to be one of those people.

Lately, I've been having someone repeatedly treat me in a way less than what I deserve. I'm not going to get into it here as the person may be reading this blog. But you know what? I, once again, stood up for that person once and for all. It's been a bit difficult, given that situational disrespect is less easy to identify than outright verbal disrespect. But you know what? I'm still not going to tolerate it.

I've written about speaking up for yourself before and confronting people who have hurt you. But you know what? I think that's slightly different than just speaking up for yourself. Speaking up for yourself is the first step to standing up for yourself. It's protesting when someone stomps all over you. Standing up for yourself is making sure that no one stomps on you in the first place. It's not the occasional thing you do every once in a while when you still need it; it's a daily process.

Before, I would have brushed it off. I would have diminished it and said that it was nothing. Why? I would be much too afraid of jeopardizing our friendship. And I still want this friendship, but I won't give up my self-respect just to keep it.

Standing up for myself is great, though. It feels so empowering and refreshing. Kicking myself down feels so black and painful that this is such a nice change. Like I'm kicking away the shackles that have held me for so long. I can look in the mirror and smile because I can live with myself now and be proud of who I am.

Another benefit is standing up for other people. When some other guy was being an asshole to this girl who admitted that she liked him, I stood up for her. Because screw that, she deserves so much better than him. And I deserve so much better than to be disrespected by above guy too for similar reasons.

And this is just one example of many. I hope that having the courage to stand up for myself here might give me more courage to stand up for myself on a daily basis. I hope that I can make standing up for myself a way of life.