{Writing Wednesday} – There Was Too Much Dust

Writing Prompts. Every writer has used them at some point in their career, (whether willingly or not.) They’re like an adrenaline shot to your muse. You know, usually.
Looking for a way to keep our writing fresh and versatile, my friend Anna and I are going to be starting a prompt inspired post that we call Writing Wednesdays.

Breakdown: Every first and third Wednesday of the month, on both Anna‘s blog and mine, we’ll post a prompt that we’ve either found or come up with ourselves, as well as our own flash fiction or short story for that prompt. Please feel free to join us! Just make sure that when you post, you link your work back – and comment with a link – to one of ours so everyone can read yours too!

PROMPT: There was too much dust.

(From @writingprompt)

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Daily Prompt | Truth or Dare

Is it possible to be too honest, or is honesty always the best policy?

As a general rule, I try to always be an honest person. When asked a question, I always give my genuine opinion. But I will be the first to admit that there are definitely some questions where giving an honest answer can get you in trouble.

The thing is, a lot of those times, the people who ask aren’t looking for the truth. They are looking for comfort and reassurance. Like when a woman asks if her jeans make her look fat. She doesn’t actually care whether you think she looks fat, she’s just fishing for compliments.

So if we want a more honest world, shouldn’t we go back to the source. It’s not the answers that are the real problem. It’s the questions.

Stop asking questions if you don’t want to hear the answers!

(Can you tell this is a pet peeve of mine?)

Really though, I am one of those people who tries to be completely honest in every situation I can. I may be a bit prone to exaggeration, but I try to never outright lie. That being said, I’m a fiction writer. I lie for a living, so sometimes I slip up.

I would really always rather people be honest with me as well. I’m anti-social so if I am making the effort to actually ask a question, I want a real answer. Be honest with me and I will afford you the same courtesy.

So feel free to ask me anything in the comments and I will answer – Honestly!

 

A Brand New Me

I am terrible at keeping New Year’s Resolutions. It probably doesn’t help that I always seem to make the same, cookie-cutter resolutions: eat better, lose weight, get fit, save more money. They’re the same typical resolutions that everyone makes and at the end of the day I only feel committed to them because they are what I should want. I’m pretty sure that I’ve never actually kept a resolution before in my life and I think it’s because I just don’t care enough.

Do I want to lose weight and get fit? Of course I do. Do I want to save up more money? Absolutely.

But do I care enough to actually put a year’s worth of effort toward it? HA! More like I make it about two months and then I get knocked off track and give up for a couple months before trying again some time in June-ish.

Which is why this year I am going to make entirely different resolutions. Instead of the same, generalised, broad resolutions that I make every year, I’m going to make some different, specific resolutions. Things that pertain exactly to me. Things that I really care about seeing accomplished.

1. Have an adventure!: This is something I’ve always wanted to do and this year I’m going to make it finally happen. I’ve done new things and taken trips before but I want to have an actual, genuine adventure. I want to see new places and do new things and meet new people. This is a task that will hopefully be checked off during my spring break trip to the UK.

2. Lose 30 pounds: Yes, this is still the same old resolution, but this time I’m being more specific. I am setting an exact number. This isn’t just a vague plan, it’s a concrete goal. (An FYI, I’m already 2 pounds in. Booyah!)

3. De-clutter: I own a lot of s***. Like, a lot. For someone who doesn’t have much space, I have sure accumulated a lot of things. And a lot of unnecessary things, at that. So this year, I’m going to thin down the stuff and get rid of a lot of things I don’t need. The bonus is it’ll clear out more space for books, which is always a good thing.

4. Learn something new: I’ve been thinking about crocheting. Or cross-stitching. Something crafty like that.

5. Stop making excuses to cancel plans: This is one of those things I’m really bad about doing. I make plans to go do something, and then at the last minute I come up with some excuse to stay home. “I’m sick.” “I got called in to work.” “I had a family emergency.” The truth is I’m a little bit anti-social. I want to make new friends and do things and live, I’m just always too socially anxious to go through with things. This year, that changes.

6. Go to a bar/club: As a 24 year old, I am ashamed to admit that I’ve never actually been inside of a bar or club before.This is partly to do with the fact that I’m social awkward and don’t do well with big crowds. Also doesn’t help that the majority of my friends are LDS housewives. But it’s one of those things I feel like every person should do at some point in their life, and I want to give it a shot.

7. Go out on a date: Another shameful moment here. I’ve not been on a date in well over a year.

8. Give up soda: I’ve been trying to do this for years, with moderate success. This is not just for health reasons but money as well. I spend way, way too much money on Dr. Pepper. Not to mention calories.

9. Take one day a month to tech-detox: We live in such a technologically dependent world, and I especially spend the majority of my time on the computer. And when I’m not on the computer, I’m on my phone. So I’ve resolved that at least one day a month, I will turn off all of the tech – the phone, the computer, the tv, the radio – and I will just exist.

10. Finish (and publish?) my novel: By and far, this is the most important resolution I’m making this year. I actually made this one last year and failed it epically. This year though, I will finish my novel and I’m going to start sending it out to publishers. If things don’t pan out with the contacts I’ve already made, then I’m going to self-publish by the end of the year. Either way, come 2015 I will be a published author.

Resolutions are made for a reason. They are made to give you goals to work toward; to give your year a direction and purpose. 2013 might’ve been a year of stalling and stagnancy for me, but everything is about to change. I’m going to do things differently. I’m going to be a different person.

And 2014 is going to be a whole new year.

Growing Up Disney

I am a Disney whore.

For those of you who don’t know what that means:

Really though, I belong to that generation that grew up with at least one new Disney film every year and an endless supply of happily ever afters floating in the air. Even when I was living with my then-single mother and single grandmother, we made a trip every year to Disneyland Anaheim. As a kid I watched The Little Mermaid so many times I’ve no idea how that tape didn’t just implode (because this was back in that so-far-ago time of VHS cassettes and the constant fear that the tape may just one day break.) Even as a straight-up tomboy, I always kind of wanted to be a Disney princess – Belle, because she gets that kick-ass library – and I was an avid follower of the ritual of wishing on stars. Although I never did master that whole “paint with the wind” thing; I could never figure how to get the wind to stick on my paintbrush.

To make a long story short – too late – Disney has always been a crucial part of my life.

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For the most part this has been a good thing for me. Disney films, and fairy tales in general, give us all that one commodity that is so precious in life: hope. They teach us to believe in good, that bad will always be beaten, that there’s nothing wrong with being different, and that in the end, no matter how difficult the journey, we will all find a happily ever after. That optimism and faith got me through more than one dark time and even now, when things get tough I always fall back on my favorite Disney flicks for comfort and reassurance.

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The Disney franchise as a whole also teaches the importance and power of imagination, which is obviously a lesson that resonated with me since I grew up – I use the term “grew up” loosely, mind – with the aim of being a fiction writer. Imagination is my favorite trait about myself, and it would not be a stretch to say that my imagination, and by extension my writing, has saved my life. I genuinely would not be here today otherwise. Imagination gave me a safe place to retreat when things became difficult, and there I was able to cope with the things that I could not make sense of in reality. Life problems became dragons and wicked witches, and in my mind I found the sword that helped me to slay them even if it didn’t exist in the real world, which helped me to put those troubles to rest at the back of my mind. It helped me find peace and work through the harshness of life.

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Disney as a whole has been such an influential part of my growth that I can’t differentiate between what I believed before and what has been touched by the world of Disney’s magic. I grew up in a world of mystery and adventure and magic, and that mentality has never really left me. Deep down, beneath the cynicism and weariness that adulthood has brought upon me, I still unequivocally want to believe in happy endings.

And there, in and of itself, is the one crucial defect that Disney has left implanted in my mind. I believe too much. I see the good in everyone, whether they deserve it or not. I want to believe that there is a prince hidden beneath the coarse exterior of every man, and that he only needs my love to break the curse. I want to believe that just fearlessly jumping into a new world in search of my dreams will somehow always work itself out. And every time that I am proven wrong, it hurts. Not just on a basic, “I failed and that’s upsetting” level, but on a deep, spiritual level. It puts a scar on my soul. It’s like having someone give me definitive proof that my God isn’t real.

Because in the end, I think that’s what fairy tales have become for me. They aren’t just charming tales for children, or musical films to cheer me up. They are my mythology, my faith, my religion. I am a Disney-ian. Disney-ist? Something like that.

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When the chips are down though, I wouldn’t trade my mentality for anything. I have something that so few people get to have anymore. I have innocence and naivety. I can still look around at the world through the eyes of a child and find the magic and beauty hidden behind everything. I can look into the darkness and see hope and a future. I believe.

Disney has taught me so many valuable lessons. That a person is who they are inside, not what they look like or the circumstances they were born into. That love can be found in the most unexpected places. That nothing is more important than chasing your dreams and finding a way to enjoy the life you live. That growing up doesn’t mean having to get old. That you can do anything, if you’ve got faith, trust, and a little pixie dust.

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So when the rest of the world is caving into depression and hopelessness, I will still be there, wishing on my stars and chasing my dreams and having faith that, at the end of the road, there will always be a happy ending waiting for me. Because I can do it. Because I can keep moving forward. Because every good, great thing that’s ever happened in this world has been started by one, singular person. And I can be that person.

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I make my own happy ever after.

Romance in the Digital Age

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I have always been incredibly sceptical about online dating, and for good reason. Despite the thousands of people who have found happiness through online dating sites, these sites have also gotten a bit of a reputation. Let’s be honest, anyone who’s tried one of these sites encounters at least three creepers for every genuine person you meet on there.

But isn’t dating in real life the same? I don’t know about you, but for me the ratio is a little closer to 10:1. And as we established before, half of the time that 1 will be gay because that’s just the way my dice have rolled apparently. Dating is time consuming. It’s tedious. It’s disheartening and awkward and is generally doomed to either the uncomfortable “sorry but I’m just not interested” or if you make it passed that part then you get the painful break-up.

I make dating in general sound so very defeatist, don’t I? Let’s be realistic though, just like the Hunger Games, the odds are not exactly in our favour.

So for the longest time, I’ve been pretty firmly against the idea of online dating as a whole. I mean, even if I did meet someone I liked, it was likely they’d live somewhere far away and then we’d get stuck in that soul-sucking void that is the long-distance relationship and we all know how often those work out.

Only when my last relationship crashed and burned, I started realising just how much of a minority I am in Utah. Sure, I’m your standard middle class white female. I’m also a feminist, which doesn’t fly too well with a lot of the old-school thought processes that happen around here, and I’m an agnostic. You can imagine why the state full of devout Christians frown upon agnosticism. Then there’s the extreme nerdiness that is Me, so clearly I would need someone equally nerd-tastic.

When you take those three traits – progressive, non-religious, and nerdy – and put them into a Venn diagram of all the men in Utah, that intersection is pretty damn tiny. Then, as I started weeding through them for someone who I got on with and felt any sort of attraction to, it occurred to me that I might need to broaden my search radius a bit.

Originally I had resigned myself to just waiting until I finished school and was able to move away from Utah, where my chances of finding someone I could get along with were a bit higher. Then, while hanging out on the website of the greatest online community of all time, Nerdfighteria, I happened to find a forum dedicated to nerd dating. Expecting nothing to come of it, I posted a short advert about myself and sent messages to a couple guys in my age group.

The first few were as dismally uneventful and unproductive as I anticipated. We turned out to have little in common or personalities that didn’t mesh or different life trajectories, and our brief conversations fizzled into non-existence. A couple where just straight up weirdos, who were obviously just searching for a cyber-sex partner. Then there came two guys who I struck up friendships with, chatting and learning about each other with no pressure and expectations. And from one of those came a very good friend, and the other, well…

He’s the one I like who just so happens to live somewhere very, very far away.

So I’ve been converted slightly when it comes to the prospect of online dating. I am still an overall sceptic. I still believe that there are a lot of dead ends there, and a handful of serious creepsters in there just for good measure – and this time I have experience to back up my claims. It’s still just as tedious and prone to failure as dating the old-fashioned way.

But it has it’s perks too, for sure.

One of the nicest ones for me has been that you don’t always need a personal picture. I’m not what one would consider a classically beautiful girl, and that destroys a lot of opportunities before I even get the chance to scare them off with my personality. Yes, I know, those aren’t the kind of guys I want to be dating anyway, but still… I love the fact that I got the chance to get to know these guys first for their personality, and then physical appearances came in later (or in some cases, not at all). It makes for a stronger connection and circumvents the stereotyping that always comes with a person’s appearance.

Also, no awkward first dates! No sitting across the table from each other searching for a topic and trying not to eat too much so you don’t look like a pig, or worrying over your outfit and makeup and whether your dinner has too much garlic in case there’s a good night kiss. No stress of whether or not there will be intimacy. You can take your conversations as slowly as you like. If you can’t think of a conversation starter then you just take an extra few minutes to answer the email, instead of sitting in an awkward silence. This way, by the time you actually meet, you already know enough about each other and how to sustain conversations with each other that you can avoid the first date lull zone.

It all comes down to what you’re looking for. At this stage in my life, I was really just looking for someone who could be a best friend; someone I could enjoy talking to, who made me happy and made me laugh, who wouldn’t put any pressure on me to move faster. The possibility of there being something more someday just makes it all the more delicious.

So date accordingly. Do what works best for you. But most of all, don’t stress about it. The odds may not be in your favour, but they aren’t a completely lost cause. Hang in there, learn to love yourself, and let it happen. Because most of the time, it comes when you least expect it.

A Letter to My Future Child(ren)

Dear Future Child/Children,

I’m going to go ahead and apologise first off. With my intense nerdiness, odds are that you’re named after a fictional book character. Depending on who your father is and if he’s as awesome as me, then you’re probably named after a character from Harry Potter. Actually, if that’s the case, I don’t apologise. I’m sure that I’ve read the books to you enough times that you realise it’s an honour to share a name with one of them. In fact, come to think of it, I take back my apology.

I have no idea how far down the road it will be before I have kids, although I’m hoping that someday you will actually exist. It would be a wonder, really. When I was a kid, I had all these dreams of having a huge family. Then I became an adult, learned about childbearing and labour, and I started to feel leery. I was less enthusiastic but I still wanted a family.

Then I met this guy. He was charming and funny and obnoxious and completely insufferable. I fell in love. And remarkably, somehow he loved me back. We lived and loved and laughed and started making plans. We talked about getting married and having children and settling down. And for three brief weeks, it seemed like those plans might be coming to fruition a bit sooner than we expected.

And then it all fell apart. The family, the plans, the relationship.

So after being so close to everything I had wanted since I was a kid, I found myself broken, disheartened, and alone. A visit to a doctor told me that my chances were slim and deteriorating, so I began to change my plans. I started focusing on other things. School, my career, and myself. Ideas of marriage and children and family were pushed to the back burner. I’ve reached a point where I actually have a hard time imagining that future anymore, because there are just so many things that are easier to do and require less commitment – something of which I can admit to being a little afraid.

But there will always be a part of me that wants to be a mother, no matter how it happens. So it is a wonderful, pure pleasure to meet you.

I hope you’re happy and healthy; that you have a good life and we have a good relationship. I had a great relationship with my mom, still do by the time you read this hopefully, and it was pivotal in making me who I am. It was good to have someone to always talk to, someone who I knew would absolutely always be there for me no matter what I did. She was always there, every day, waiting expectantly for me to come home from school and tell her about every banal detail of my day. It was comforting. Familiar. I will never take for granted just how glorious those days were.

I want you to know that I am proud of you. I don’t care who or what you are, if you’re tall or short or gay or artistic or sporty or a collector of bugs. I’m still proud of you. Because I’m your mom, and that’s my job. No matter what happens, I want you to be whatever you are. I know there will be times that you hate me, especially once you hit that teen angst stage, but you should know I will always be your mother and I will always love you.

I really do hope I pick a normal name for you, at least not something mental like Albus Severus. And I hope I don’t mess you up too badly, damage your brain with too much of my nerdiness.

And it may be years down the road still, but I can’t wait to meet you.

Love always,

Your Future Mom

I Believe In…

There are a lot of reasons to be cynical in this world. Bad things happen all the time and good people get hurt. All of those fairy tales we hear as a child promise us that good will always win, but in the end it doesn’t always work out that way. We lose. We fail. The bad guys win and we can’t make sense of the whole world could possibly be so unfair. We start to lose faith in the good things of the world.

I’m as cynical as they come but here are ten things that I believe in unequivocally.

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1. Love – It may not be the fantastic, happily ever after sort that we see in all of the stories but it’s out there. It’s real and powerful and if we’re patient and look for long enough then we can all find it. It starts with loving yourself and grows to include others.

2. Knowledge & Curiosity – There is nothing more powerful in improving a person than gaining knowledge. Never stop asking questions, never worry that your questions will make you look stupid, and never stop learning new things.

e8e78-rainbowgif3. Miracles – Sometimes things just happen. There is no rationalising it. It might have been a coincidence. But sometimes good things don’t need to be “made sense of,” they’re simply wonderful things. Don’t question it, just embrace the magic.

4. The Power of Self – Nothing in the world is more powerful than you. Encourage it, embrace it, and use it. It makes everything attainable with a little nerve and persistence. There is no more important relationship than the one you make with yourself.

21424-equalgif5. Equality – It doesn’t matter who you are: man, woman, gay, straight, religious, atheist, white, brown, purple. In the end, beneath everything, we are all the same. We can all accomplish the same things if we’re just given the chance to try. There is no winning argument for discrimination.

6. The Soul – Science can explain so many  things about a person, from appearance to certain personality traits, but there’s always that one piece that can’t be explained. The Why. Why do they do the things they do? That is the soul, and we all have an unique one.

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7. Creativity – That drive to build new things, to dip into the mind and indulge in pure creation. To write, to paint, to dance, to make. Creativity is what inspires us to delve into new worlds. It’s what’s brought around every great innovation  and should never be dissuaded.

8. Beauty – Whether it’s in art or in nature or even just in simple everyday things, beauty is all around us. It’s in the things that make your heart swell and cause a feeling of peace and adoration and divinity. It makes us better.

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9. Empathy – This one’s pretty common sense, really. Wouldn’t the whole world be a better place if we just empathise with each other more? Tried to understand and not be so quick to judge? I think so.

10. Respect – The ability to appreciate others for the good things they’ve done and the greatness that they have inside of them. It’s not putting people down, it’s lifting them up. It’s called respecting one another, and it’s a thing, people. Use it.

What do you  believe in?