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If The Review Fits – My book review blog.


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Danielle Skillings Art – You can purchase all of my art here!


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Not Enough Time

To anyone who’ll read this,

I’m sitting here next to my bookcase full of unread books, looking up and down at it while the inevitable looms in the back of my mind. It’s no wonder I have anxiety. There’s not enough time.

Not enough time to play all of the video games all the way through, finish all of the puzzles that surround my room, to finish writing that book that’s in my drafts, or to read all of the books that are piling up. The end is inevitable, but I choose to fill it with mind-numbing hours on my phone and in my laptop doing homework.

Graduation is in December, maybe May 2020, but that’ll be a year (or year and a half) until I can have all the free time I need (barring any part time job of course). Yet, I can’t help but feel like that year is just going to fly by and I would’ve wasted it.

Having ADD is a lot of work, my mind is always in overdrive and I can’t sit still. The only things that’ll turn off my thoughts are puzzles and sleep. Yet, here I am. Typing up a blog on my phone, when I could be journaling or reading. Oh well, at least this is an entry! So, my time wasn’t wasted.

2019 is going to be the year of creativity whether I realize it or not, I just have to keep fighting and focus on the right things. No longer will I wait around for replies or notifications on anything. I need to focus on me, and me alone.

So, I’ll continue to date myself this year. Figure out who I am. The creative person is inside me, I just have to meet her again.

Thanks for reading,

Love, Danielle

Catharsis

Why do we do it?

Why do we put ourselves through things like catharsis just so we can feel? We deliberately listen to songs that hurt us. Songs that remind us of pain from our past, songs that we listened to when we were with someone we no longer talk to. It isn’t just music either, we watch TV shows that make us cry even though we know it’s coming. But, why? (Looking at you Grey’s Anatomy!) woman-sad-near-water

Well, I can’t speak for everyone, but I’ll tell you why I do it. Currently,  I’m listening to a
playlist I made. It’s not even supposed to be as deep as I made it, but somehow it came out that way. There are 30 songs, and eleven of them are indeed that deep. In fact, all day, I’ve felt myself on the verge of a breakdown and here I am. Listening to those ten songs, that now have more meaning to them than I originally planned.

I’m not sure if it’s a good thing that  I made the playlist that deep, or maybe my brain is just in overdrive from recent events, but either way. While I’m writing this blog on catharsis, I’m putting myself through it and honestly it feels a little fucked up. My eyes hurt, my fingers are shaking, and my heart feels shattered. Plus, blowing your nose with a septum ring in is just a pain in the ass.

Also, I should’ve mentioned this earlier, but for those of you who don’t know by know, (or haven’t gotten from the context clues I’ve loosely provided), catharsis is the process of releasing emotion… on purpose. The fact that we even need to push ourselves to release emotions like that is just insane and this is coming from someone who builds up emotion like a pro. Wow, while I wrote that, even I knew it didn’t sound healthy yet here I am with almost twenty-two years of pent-up emotion.

Let me say this though… I’ve been working on it. While some of my nights still consist of crying on the bathroom floor after a day of difficult emotions and stressful moments, I have managed to fight the urge to do it alone. Even though it’s been a long journey to get to where I am now, I’ll forever be proud of the fact that I’ve shown at least a little progress… even if it did take quite a few years to get here.

Tense

The midsummer sun was pounding down on me while I dug my hands into the dirt. I could feel the wetness in the layers of mud as I kept sifting through the moist soil. My daughter’s voice ran through my head after every rinse in the water hose, just wear gloves, Gideon, but I never listened—why would I? I liked the feel of it. The grunginess of my hands after a long day outside, they made me feel like a mechanic. At first, I thought it was unusual that planting flowers and various herbs was my way of escape, but it felt right. So, I quickly got over the judgmental stares of passersby watching a six-foot-tall man with his knees in the dirt because I kind of had to.

Today though, it wasn’t about the flowers or the herbs. Today, I was tasked with tearing apart the dirt in front of my daughters’ home. Tasked to destroy what was once beautiful, but it had to be done. There were unwanted dandelions, chickweeds, purslane, and bluegrass interrupting the growth of the sunflowers and morning glories I planted a few months ago. These pesky weeds were relentless; they kept coming back, even over the summer. Although, I could never understand why she couldn’t do this herself. All it took was a good pair of gloves, and a little patience. The task was easy, but ever since we buried her husband a couple months ago, she wasn’t motivated to do any of the outdoor chores. Although, I was amazed that she even invited me over—my wife must’ve had something to do with it. We never got along, even before my grandson’s father died. Our relationship was fine, but it was always uncomfortable. The tension was inevitable though; she’d never forgive me for what happened.

My thoughts were quickly interrupted by a checkered ball hitting the window and landing in the array of weeds in front of me. Soccer. They were playing soccer. My grandson quickly rushed over, apologized, retrieved the ball, and ran back to continue playing with my daughter before I could respond. I looked over and she didn’t acknowledge me; she was still mad. She’s lucky my wife was persuasive enough to get me here.

Last time I saw my daughter was a week after the funeral when I let slip that I thought his son should return to his biological mother. I’ll never understand why she couldn’t let him move back. She always had this way about her where she just had to control everything; including him.

His son’s life was never just his, just like my daughter’s was never really hers. After my son-in-law was six-feet-under she had to start anew. Discover who she was, where she belonged, and what she needed to survive. She barely scraped by after his passing, it’s no wonder she never let his son leave her side. Don’t get me wrong, I love the kid; he just doesn’t love us. The word grandpanever came out of his mouth, but collectively we were a familyfor over a decade. It wasn’t his fault though, it was his fathers. He alienated them from us, and if I hadn’t have done what I did, I’m not sure how much longer it would’ve been before I lost my daughter completely.

It’s Okay.

It’s okay to be sad.

It’s okay to let your guard down once in a while and to just wallow in your emotions.

It’s okay to express how you feel.

It’s all okay.

Because you’re human.

Hi, I’m not sure if you’ve read my resolution post for 2018 yet aptly named The Year(s) of Growth, but if you haven’t, then these were my top ten resolutions:

  1.  Stop comparing
  2.  Break my bad habits
  3.  Leave the house more
  4.  Eat healthier
  5.  Listen to more music
  6.  Read more
  7.  Produce more art, whether it’s paint on a canvas or a new blog post — writing is an art too
  8.  Make it on to the deans’ list
  9.  Stop letting people take advantage
  10.  Ignore the insults

It’s a long and hopeful list, right? I’ll dig into them in December, so for now, we’re only going to focus on number two; “break my bad habits.” I didn’t discuss this in that blog, and I’m not sure I’ve talked about it yet (maybe I should “clean house” and check all of my blogs), but my all-time worst habit is not letting people in. For some reason, there has just been a mental blockade around that portion of my brain, and I’ve just discovered how to cope with it.

Today, I had what I like to call a Twitter Episode, which is where I air my “dirty laundry” out publicly, with hopes that my tweets get lost in the abyss of memes and self-deprecating humor. Yet, today they didn’t. I was seen, heard, asked about, and apologized to. No one knew exactly how to fix my problem, but I was still seen. A few people reached out and they helped me realize that it’s not going to be the end of the world–at least, not yet anyway.

But see, that’s the thing. As I write this blog about opening up, I’m still extraordinarily closed off. I’ve closed myself off from those that care about me, and today I realized just how self destructive that can be. Not only for myself, but to everyone else around me.

It isn’t fun seeing those you care about be sad or upset, but you have to remember that if they’re hurting, don’t ignore their cries for help. Don’t let them do it alone because if you truly care about them, you’ll help them in any way you can.

Honestly, the hardest thing to do, is to ignore those posts that tell you how toxic you are when you are upset, because those are complete bullshit. It’s not okay to build a fortress around how you feel. If something’s bothering you, don’t just let it pass; TALK about it. TEXT about it. WRITE about it. Do anything you can to get those thoughts out of your head and into the world. It doesn’t matter if it’s going to be written in a note on your phone, in a Word.doc that you never open again, or even if it’s in a diary that’s closed off to the world… as long as it’s written down, it’ll help.

Also, I realize how this must sound coming from me of all people. Like I said before, (or did I?), I’m an expert at bottling things up. I have almost twenty-two years of it under my belt, so you might be wondering; “Who are you to give me advice on letting people in?” Well, my dear reader, I can only write how I personally feel, and you can take from it as you please. It’s entirely up to you and you alone. However, with as much experience as I have, I can say for sure that one thing helps when it comes to opening up, and it only takes a few steps:

  1. Get. Out. Of. Your. Bed.
  2. Move.
  3. Don’t slow down.
  4. Find a friend(s).

After you’ve established some sort of trust with said friend(s); open up. Let people in. Don’t let your anxiety, inability to trust because of your past, or your overthinking affect the fact that there is someone out there that will listen. They may be hard to find, but they are out there. Somewhere. You just have to go out and look. You honestly just have to trust me.

Once you find your person, or what us Grey’s Anatomy fans like to call “your Cristina,” never let them go. Your Cristina might not always be the same person as your Derek, but if they are then that’s great! It’s much harder to find two people who care about you as much as Cristina and Derek did for Meredith, but if you’re as lucky as I am; you’ll find them both.

Chapter One: Commute Home

Before reading, see: Prologue//Flashback: Maddy’s 

Disclaimer: This is a revised version of chapter one! I workshopped the hell out of it in one of my classes this semester, so I thought I’d update it here too. Thanks for reading! I hope you guys like these characters just as much as I do and that this is the start of something worthwhile. 

Chapter One: Commute Home (Revised)

Today, I decided to walk home a little lackadaisically. It wasn’t my usual speed, but I knew it would get me to where I was going — especially since I wasn’t in much of a rush. For some reason, this particular Friday just felt different. It was nicer outside than it had been this past week, so I decided to take it all in. The cool spring air was slowly caressing my bare legs with each step. It was chilly and almost unbearable, but I didn’t mind. After all, it’s my fault that I woke up with hope that the Texas weather would stay consistent throughout the day. The mornings were always deceiving compared to the afternoons.

With each step, I noticed the trees were coming back to life, the grass was slowly becoming greener after each watering, and the animals were thriving off it. It’s sort of ironic to see all of the animals coming out of hiding, as if Texas knew what the winter season was. Here we just get a handful of freezes and a bunch of cold wind. We barely get any snow. Most birds even come here from up north to avoid their states’ weather, as if the sunny beaches of Cancun were too far of a flight.

As I walked, I counted the steps between each sidewalk crack. “One-two-three, one-two, one-two-three-four,” it was almost like a dance, albeit an unusual one, but the counting came naturally. I started to imagine a polka band playing at each step. The casual “oom-pah-pah, oom-pah-pah,” that was filling my brain took me down my path. I took this course home every other day, so I was bound to get there eventually.

After quite a few “oom-pah-pah’s”, I turned the corner next to my family’s old diner and knew I was almost home. Or rather… I thought I was, until I bumped into something sturdy. I should’ve looked up, god damn it, I thought to myself as the man I bumped into started to turn red.

“Shit! Watch where you’re going!” he exclaimed, holding his cup away from the damage I just caused. He didn’t notice I was watching him until he started wiping off his laptop bag and flannel with his hands. With just a quick glance, this man really had a lumberjack thing going on. Beard and all.

“Oh my god, I’m so, so sorry. Please let me help you,” I said to him, while I opened up my backpack to find my pack of wet wipes.

“Thanks, but I’m fine. It’s fine,” he said kind of aggressively, but his expression softened when he finally looked up; his light brown eyes pierced my greens. “Ugh, I’m sorry. I’ve just had a long day,” while he held his hand out, “My name’s Alexander, I didn’t mean to frighten you.”

I didn’t expect him to take such a turnaround, but I closed my bag and shook his hand anyway, “Maddy, my name’s Maddy. I’m so sorry.”

“Please, just stop apologizing. It’s okay. I said it’s fine, and I meant it,” he said more calmly while he put his hand on my shoulder.

Almost immediately, I shrugged his hand off, “Okay, are you sure you’re okay? That coffee had to have been really hot. Please, let me buy you another one.”

“Alright, alright, you can buy me a new cup. Is the diner fine?”

“Actually, would it be okay if we went down the street to Starbucks instead? I don’t really want to set foot in there.” Immediately, I mentally crossed my fingers and hoped he wouldn’t ask why. Especially since Gordon and I haven’t had time to fully evaluate it.

“Umm, yeah. That’ll be alright. I’d actually prefer it if that’s what you’re more comfortable with. Just lead the way,” he said.

* * * *

On our way to Starbucks I realized that there was more to this guy than I thought. He wasn’t just a tall, rugged man, but he had quirks of his own. Not only was he avoiding the sidewalk cracks as he stepped, but he kept the same number of steps between them too.

“What on earth are you looking at?” he asked.

“Oh, nothing,” I laughed nervously. “I just noticed that you never step on any cracks. I do the same thing.”

“Were you counting? I try to keep at least two to four between each crack. I’m not superstitious or anything,” he chuckled while he rubbed the back of his neck, “I just kind of kept the habit from when I was a kid.”

“Oh, I suppose I was,” I blushed, “I do the same thing… except I imagine polka music playing.”

“Polka, huh? Care to elaborate?” he asked, and I reluctantly let him in on my little secret, because he let me in on his. And to my surprise, we ended up walking my weird, and quirky way all the way to the coffee shop.

* * * *

When we got to Starbucks, I ordered my usual iced green tea latte; the matcha was my favorite part. It made me feel as though I was actually taking a step towards something healthy. I didn’t even know Starbucks had this drink until a few weeks ago, but I fell in love at first sip.

“Your total is $5.75,” the barista said. So, I quickly went to search my backpack, but noticed my wallet was missing. I could’ve sworn I had it earlier, and it wasn’t long until I started shaking in panic.

“Um, Alex? Do you mind getting this?” I asked nervously, “I can pay you back later. I promise.”

“It’s Alexander, and are you asking me to pay for your coffee after you spilled mine all over me?”

I couldn’t read if he was serious. All I could get out of my mouth was, “Oh, yeah… I’m sorry. Um, I might have some kind of cash in this bag somewhere,” and I started to search again.

“Nooo, stop! I’m kidding,” he smiled and put his hand on mine. “It’s really no problem, I swear. You can get the next one.”

We went to a table in the back corner of the cafe to wait for our order, and I still couldn’t stop thanking him. He even pulled my chair out for me, and suddenly I couldn’t remember the last time I was ever out with a guy. Clearly, I wasn’t used to this kind of chivalry.

“Maddy, it’s fine. Stop thanking me,” he said. “But, if you don’t mind me asking, what was that back there?” he asked.

“What was what?”

“Why couldn’t we go into the diner? I mean, I prefer Starbucks, but you seemed a little reluctant to go in there.”

“Oh, it was nothing.” I could tell by the look on his face that he didn’t believe me, so I quickly added, “I just have a few bad memories there, that’s all.”

“Yeah? If you don’t mind me asking, what are they about?”

“That depends,” I said, “Why Alexander? Why not just Alex?”

“I just don’t like shortening my name. My mom gave me my whole name for a reason, ya know?” he said, while he messed with the straps to his bag. He was fidgeting, just like what I do when I’m talking to new people. This is insane. We really were so similar.

“Oh,” I said. “So, I suppose you’ll just call me Madeline then?”

“Madeline, huh?” he winked, “Would it be alright if I called you that? It’s so beautiful.” Suddenly, I could feel my cheeks turning red, this guy really had an effect on me. I couldn’t believe how easy it was for him to make me blush.

“No, I suppose that wouldn’t be a bad thing. So, now I guess I have to tell you my story then,” I started, right before my order was shouted out to the whole café.  “Well, that’s me,” I moved to get up, but Alexander stopped me.

“I’ll get it, they just set mine on the bar as well.”

“Uh, alright. Thanks.” I shot him a smile and he went for our cups, but on his way back, I noticed that he was looking at my drink like it was a foreign object.

“How on Earth do you drink this stuff?” he asked, while holding up my drink and inspecting it. He looked like he was looking at an undiscovered object. Like matcha was the strangest thing ever.

I laughed and asked him, “What do you mean?”

“This dark green stuff… it looks like there’s dirt in your drink.”

“Uh, have you ever tried matcha before? It’s ah-maaaze-iiing,” I informed him.

“No, I haven’t. I don’t tend to drink or eat food that looks like dirt,” he said, and I immediately felt myself start to shut-down. We just met, and he was already criticizing my drink.

“Well, it doesn’t taste like dirt. I’d ask you to try it, but you probably don’t have fantastic taste buds considering you got a grande black coffee at Starbucks of all places,” I snapped.

“Woah, woah, woah… calm down. Madeline,” he grabbed my hand, “I was just kidding.”

I quickly pulled it away from him. “Well, it’s really hard to tell if you’re kidding Alex. I don’t read sarcasm very well with you apparently and I don’t know how to deal with it.” I slowly started to scoot my chair away from the table, “Maybe I’m overreacting, but you’re not great at being facetious.”

He threw his hands up in defeat and said, “Okay, okay, okay. I’m sorry. I’ve been told that my face isn’t very great at expressing itself.” I could see the remorse in his face, and I felt horrible. I really need to stop doing this to everyone. “So, what is it about the diner? I know we just met, but I wish you’d talk to me. There’s just something about your eyes that resonates with me. I want to know everything about the girl who spilled coffee on me,” he said, while rubbing his finger along the outside of his coffee cup lid.

I could feel a wave of warmth wash over me, I seriously needed to interact with more people, I thought to myself. It shouldn’t be this easy for him to make me feel this way. Reluctantly though, it was only fair I told him a little bit about myself, so I decided to tell him, “Okay, well since you told me your weird name thing, that diner actually used to be my parents. The place was originally named Maddy’s after my grandmother, who was also my namesake. At first, it was awesome. They bought it when I was around eleven-years-old. I spent all my summers there, my first job was there, and it was great… until they sold it. Now it’s just a run-of-the-mill restaurant. I’m just glad the new owners kept some of the nostalgia intact even though my parents’ menus aren’t there anymore.”

“I’m really sorry to hear that, it must’ve been hard having to adjust. Have you gone in there since?” he asked, and this time I let him grab my hand. First, this man is everything. He was complex, but I could still understand his quirks at the same time. Second, how did this all come out of a spilled coffee?

Before answering his question, I decided that it was time to leave before things got a little too personal. “Actually, I hate to cut this short, but I should probably get going. Swanson needs me. We can always dig into this later, if you want?” I scooted away from the table.

“Wait, who’s Swanson?”

“My cat. He’s very particular about when he gets his food,” I said while I stood and started to put my backpack on.

“Oh, you have a cat? That’s another interesting note on Madeliiiine… what was your last name? Mine’s Woods,” he said.

“Alexander Woods, huh? That sounds fitting,” I told him. I almost had to stifle a laugh to cover up the irony. This man looked like a lumberjack, and his last name was Woods. He was definitely going to hear about this later; if there is a later. “I’m a MacCarthy. Not like Melissa, more like the usual Scottish last name.”

“So, Madeline MacCarthy. That explains your hair and eyes. Are you Scottish?”

“You know what Alexander, seriously. Let’s save this for another time. I really need to get home to Swanson.”

“Alright, alright, alright. Let me give you my number and we can meet again? Maybe next time you won’t get my shirt dirty,” he joked.

I pulled out a scrap of paper from my backpack and a pen, “Sure, actually, here’s mine. Don’t lose this,” I grinned.

“Oh, trust me. I won’t.”

 

Molly

“Mom, where’s Molly?” I asked. Molly was my favorite stuffed bear. My parents made her for me at Build-a-Bear when I was only one.

“I just got her out of the dryer,” she said, “Here she is! All clean.”

“Thank goodness, night mommy. Love you.”

“Love you too, Char,” she said, while she closed my door, leaving a crack so the hallway light could seep in; her version of a nightlight.

She thought that if I had a real night light, I’d be up all night reading. I kept telling her that I needed one to scare off the monsters, but she didn’t believe me. All she said was, “You’re nine-years-old now Charlotte, I know your tricks. You’re not getting a night light so you can read all night.” Little did she know, I wasn’t lying. I did need one.

See, things often weren’t what the seemed in my house, but I was the only one who noticed. I’d wake up screaming for my parents nearly every night, just to have them check my shelves and find nothing.

“No! There’s something over there I know it!” I would tell them, in a pit of frustration.

“There’s nothing over here, honey. You’ve got to stop doing this every other night, just go to bed,” my dad would say while shuffling me back into my loft bed.

After he left, I barricaded myself with every stuffed animal I could find. Making my bed a safe space filled with a variant of critters surrounding me while I slept, but the only way I could, was if I got as far away from my shelf as possible. So, I scooted into a corner, shuffled everything around, curled myself into a ball, found Molly, and managed to squeeze in whatever sleep my brain would allow.

Now, you might think I was being ridiculous, but there was just something about that area of my room that made me uneasy. My loft bed was sitting just a foot away from my ceiling, so I could see everything in my room; including that shelf. The shelf. It was a little 1×4 shelf that my mom hung up in my room to hold all of those items off of the floor, made out of nothing but a piece of wood held up with four pieces of really strong rope.

Yet, every night it sounded like something was falling, but I’d wake to nothing on the ground. I’d wake to crashes, bangs, and thuds that seemed like they were only a foot away from my pillow. I kept telling my parents all about the noises, but they never believed me, and they never would. It got to a point where we had to take the shelf down altogether after a while because they were tired of my paranoia. So, they set the American Girl dolls safely in their boxes, along with all of the ceramics and little trinkets I’ve collected over my eight years of life.

There was no way those noises would come now, I thought while I was brushing my teeth, hoping I would get more sleep than I have been.

I finally settled my head down on my pillow, my stuffed animals back where they belonged, squeezed Molly, and everything felt lighter. It wasn’t long before I drifted off to sleep and let my dreams take ahold of my subconscious.

“CHARLOTTE, WAKE UP AND GET OUT OF THIS ROOM,” my mom screamed and shook my bed, and suddenly I felt hot.

“Mom, what is it?” I asked her, still groggy, but she left the room before I got the whole question out. What time is it? I thought to myself. The sun was just starting to seep in through my windows. It had to be early, but what was going on.

After I finally got up, it wasn’t long before I saw what freaked out my mom so much. The shelf was back up. With everything in it’s place.

This had to be a joke. I thought to myself. A sick joke, but who would’ve put it up while I was asleep? Dad’s in the field, I don’t have siblings, and my mom always slept through the night… I kept staring at the shelf dumbfounded. I still couldn’t believe it.

“Mom! Who did this??” I yelled for her.

“It doesn’t matter Char. Just get out of there, I’ll deal with it later!” She yelled back.

I kept staring at the shelf, at the dolls, and all of the trinkets, and suddenly, a wave of panic ran through me. I knew what was making the noises.

The realization flooded through me as I saw what it was. What put the shelf back up. It wasn’t my mom; it wasn’t my dad; it was the dolls. Their expressions weren’t smiling anymore, and they weren’t alone.

I kept eye contact with them while their faces changed. Their brows became furrowed, and their smiles turned to something I’ve never seen before. They weren’t American Girl dolls anymore; they were monsters.

Similar faces came between the two I had on my shelf, they bared their sharp teeth, and looked almost real. I could still see the pink wall behind them, but they appeared as solid as the dolls. I couldn’t help but watch them uncover. My body felt paralyzed while they came out of hiding. I tried to scream for my mom again, but my mouth wouldn’t move. Stricken with fear, I started to look around the room at my other shelves. Hoping there wouldn’t be anymore, but I was mistaken.

There were around fifty faces staring back at me with their angry, terrifying expressions, and they were scattered all around my room. It wasn’t long before I saw them everywhere; I was surrounded, and the only safe place was in my bed.

I scooted back into my corner as quickly as my body would let me and closed my eyes tightly. In my cocoon, I started to say the “Now I Lay Me” prayer to myself until the I could feel the individual hairs stand on my neck. Something was breathing on me in long, hot breaths. Slowly, I turned around, and Molly was tucked between the bed and the wall. Her face was the same as all the others.

It wasn’t long before I started to scramble out of my bed. I turned to put my foot on the ladder so I could get down, but my foot didn’t touch anything. The ladder wasn’t there anymore. It was just gone, and my bed was too tall to jump off of, so I tried climbing over the side. After a slow descent, I felt my toes touch the cold tile, and started to run towards the door. There were faces everywhere I looked, and the door wasn’t getting any closer. The small hallway that led to it kept expanding, I would never reach it. I was trapped in my own room.

Soon, the floor began to darken. The tiles were hot beneath my feet, and when I stepped, they disappeared. The floor was falling, and I was going to fall with it. I could feel my body tense up as I tried to figure out how to get out of this. I had two windows, but they were surrounded. The only other places to go were the closet, or back in my bed where the height would give me more time to think. Despite Molly, I chose my bed. I hugged the side while I climbed up the wooden posts, but when I got to ledge, my bed was covered in even more faces.

I held on tightly to the post while I watched them move closer and closer. They reached my hands and I tightened my grip. Their hands started to pry each finger off slowly, I cried and begged for them to stop, “Molly, please. Don’t let them do this. I’m going to fall!” But she didn’t care. Instead her face twisted into something even darker while she joined in. Molly wasn’t in there anymore, she was my sole protector my entire life, and she wasn’t in there.

It wasn’t long before the only thing that was holding me to the post was my arms. I refused to move them, but the creatures were persistent. I kept latching my fingers back onto the wood, but they pried them off again to a point that there were splinters underneath my nails. I won’t let them drop me. I won’t let them drop me, but they got smarter.

The creatures across from us started to pass my pink duct tape around the room and while they pried each finger, they taped it to the previously pried one’s joints. Leaving me with the inability to grasp. I felt myself start to give up. This wasn’t worth it. There’s no way I’m going to get out of this, and soon they were crawling all over me. I could feel their sharp nails penetrating my back, leaving bloody trails wherever they went.

My eyes started to water and I let out a piercing scream while they shoved my arms off of the post and tape them to my torso. I’ve become their prisoner, they were going to shove me off into the dark pit below me, and I was going to let them. As soon as they were content with their tape job, they let me go, and my body jolted itself awake.

“Charlotte, are you okay? I heard screaming,” my mom said. “What’s going on?” Immediately I started crying, I couldn’t believe I was hearing her voice, it was all just a nightmare. I was just having a nightmare. My pillowcase was soaking wet with tears and snot, and my sheets felt damp. I was sweating more than usual.

Quickly, I climbed out of my bed and hugged my mom. The floor was intact, the ladder was where it was, and the shelf was still gone. No more creepy faces.

“Honey, what happened?” my mom kept asking, but I couldn’t bring myself to tell her. “Did you have another nightmare again? I can schedule another appointment with Dr. Landcaster if you need. Would you like that?”

Dr. Landcaster was one of my therapists, except he was allowed to prescribe me with medication that would help my nightmares and daydreaming. Dr. Haslett was my other one, but he only let me play board games in his office while we talked about things. I liked him more, but I couldn’t have that dream again. “Sure mommy, thanks for taking the shelf down again. I didn’t like the dolls.”

“Char, what shelf? You’ve had your pink bookcase up for a while, why would we take it down?” she asked, puzzled.

NO, this can’t be right. “Never mind momma, it must’ve just been a dream,” I said while I hugged her tighter while fresh tears started to fall down my cheeks.

“Okay, well if you’re okay then get dressed. We’re visiting your dad at work today,” she told me, I loved visiting him. He always let me color on all of the old documents and sit in the big trucks.

“Alriiiiight. I’ll be ready in a minute,” I told her, knowing she already laid my clothes out for me. In a rush of excitement, I started getting dressed, but then I felt it. The hot air on my neck was back, and I slowly turned around. Molly was on my bookshelf, breathing hot, hot air on me, and suddenly, I screamed.

Disclaimer: This is loosely based off of things I used to see in the dark as a kid. It wasn’t as extreme, but the faces were just as creepy.

Prologue//Flashback: Maddy’s

I could still hear my mom yelling at me from the kitchen, Maddy! Come clear these tables, please! It was the early dinner lunch rush at the diner, so it was packed as usual. Every afternoon after school, I’d start my shift at Maddy’s, and every afternoon I got picked on over the fact I worked at a place that shared my name. I mean, it wasn’t my fault that my grandmother had such a huge impact on my family; kids were just mean.

Regardless of all of their mocking, I still came in after school and set all of the unoccupied tables and sat down in my designated “homework booth” that my parents made for me. It was set in the back near the kitchen and it was the perfect little nook. Complete with an outlet for my mom’s laptop, a printer in case I needed to print anything, and a booth that opened up like a chest, so I could keep my backpack out of the way. My favorite part though, was the window that overlooked the little strip we were on. This way, I could watch the outside world and all of the animals scattering around… although, I wasn’t necessarily allowed to keep the curtains open if I had a lot going on.

For a kid who gets easily distracted, working next to a window was definitely a no-go, but it was my favorite booth designed just for me. After all, how many twelve-year-old’s can say they have their own booth in a diner specifically for them? As far as they’re concerned, they can all suck eggs.

I mean, the last time I reached out and tried to make friends, it didn’t go so well. She was nice to me, until she wasn’t. She broke my trust and I wasn’t really able to recover—I never had time to. I just kept pushing past it. Reading was more important, school was more important, better yet, moving on was more important. So, I did.

My parents always seemed concerned that I never had friends with me, they always asked what happened to “whatshername”, but I just didn’t care to get close to anyone. Everyone thought I was weird for staying at home, but they just didn’t know how hard school was for me. No wonder my booth was my little sanctuary; it’s the one place I didn’t feel like the weird kid.

Yet, three years later, my parents decided to sell it. I can still remember just how devastated I was. “How could you?!” I screamed and yelled at them, I couldn’t believe the fact that they would betray me like that.

“Now what’s going to set me apart from all the other kids?” I asked. “I need a place to do my homework and God knows the house isn’t quiet enough with dad home all the time. High school has been kicking my ass lately, what am I supposed to do now?”

“Madeline Joanne MacCarthy! Watch your mouth! I realize you’re fifteen, but you cannot talk to me that way. You don’t need a booth to set you apart from them. It’ll still be there,” my mom told me in the middle of my breakdown. At fifteen I wasn’t sure what to call tantrums, so a breakdown would have to work.

“That’s not the point!” I let out an exasperated gasp. “I can’t believe you would sell it. What would grandma say!?”

“As far as me and your father are concerned, your grandma is fine with it. She wouldn’t want us to hang onto something that takes so much out of your father,” she said calmly. “So, you’re just going to have to get over it. Maybe I can talk to the new owners about you using the booth after school.”

“Whatever,” I said, rolling my eyes. “I’ll just go to the library or something,” I said a little too aggressively. I’ll never forgive them for this, and I don’t understand how my dad could just give up. Now my sanctuary was gone. My little home away from home practically demolished.


imageDisclaimer: I’m not sure if I’m going to keep this as a prologue, or as a flashback in another chapter. Alexander and Madeline are still VERY much a WORK IN PROGRESS, so stay with me! Thank you all for reading, I appreciate all of the support!

Never. Stop. Creating.

07/20/2018

I’ve published 49 things over the span of four years. That’s it. 49. Well, now there will be 50. What started out as a basic journal, has turned into a plethora of things. Projects from school, NoWriSum (which I inevitably quit), and various other writings.

So, what about this deems me as a writer? On average, I’ve written 12-13 blogs each year… which sounds ridiculous. However, “writer” is still plastered on all of my social media platforms. I’m constantly talking about how I want to be a published author, yet I can’t sit down and write for the life of me. Does that mean I’m any less of what I claim to be? Well, I don’t think so…

The majority of my writing has been about things that have occurred in my life, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. As Jake Gyllenhaal says in Nocturnal Animals,

“Writers don’t write about anything other than themselves.”

That isn’t direct, but it was something along those lines and it’s 100% true. I’m going to let you all in on a little secret… Madeline is a more extreme version of myself (read about her here in chapter one). She’s introverted, she has a long-haired cat, and she daydreams a lot. There’s more to her than just that, but ultimately the whole idea of Madeline has come from my main personality traits.

After I watched Gyllenhaal, (who, let’s face it, I’m madly obsessed with… especially in Nocturnal Animals), play a writer and use such relatable quotes, I’ve come across a few realizations:

(for anyone who creates, just replace your hobby with “write”)

  1. You don’t have to write every single day in order to be a writer. As long as you put your all into things you do write, you can deem yourself a writer all you want.
  2. Blogs are not just for the followers. Just because you think people aren’t reading it, doesn’t mean no one is.
  3. If you ask your friends to read your blogs or even drafts you’re unsure of, they most likely will if they really want to support you and your craft. I’m not sure why it took me so long to figure this out… but it turns out that it’s true.
  4. Writing isn’t meant to just give and give and give. Ultimately, you’re writing for yourself. So, if you love writing and just want to put all of your thoughts into a notebook/Word .doc, then do it! You don’t need to share your thoughts with the world if you don’t want to.
  5. Support goes two ways when you first start out, it’s all about spreading your work as far as you can. If you have friends/family who want support from you, ask them to read something you wrote in return.
  6. Don’t second guess! Writing is hard. Carving through mental blocks, rereading things in your own voice, or just opening up the laptop is hard. If anyone tells you otherwise, then they haven’t struggled to run a blog. It might come easy to some, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy for everyone.
  7. Writing comes in many forms. IT’S A FORM OF ART! Writing can be random poems, songs, cute paragraphs you write to your significant other or friends, vents you write in the notes section of your phone, or just random typography that you doodle in your notebook. Writing itself is subjective.
  8. Learning how to market is a must if you’re going to continue to pursue a lifestyle as a blogger/author. While it’s just as important to write for you if you’re going to take on writing as a career… it’s also important to share your blog wherever you can.

Unofficial ninth tip: Try to pull inspiration from anywhere you can! Producing quality photos for a bookstagram is just as important as the actual content. Create eye-catching photos, use editing software (Lightroom and VSCO are my go-to), and just have fun!

 

Ironically, while I write this… my bookstagram has remained on standstill for a little over a week, and the last blog I wrote was published a few days ago. However! This blog is also going to work as an advice/motivational piece for a later Danielle–which is always nice. So, I hope that whoever reads this uses it in the same way. Keep these tips in mind. They’re valuable tidbits I’ve received from friends, fellow bookstagrammers, bloggers, and classmates. Some of them are things I’ve told myself since I started my English Writing degree last May (’17). However, no matter where they’ve come from, they’re always going to be useful and to all my fellow artists, writers, poets, liberal arts majors, songwriters, or whatever else you deem yourself…

Never.

Stop.

Creating. 

Digital vs. Analog Writing

Click-clack-click, click-clack-click, are the sounds of the keyboards’ keys beneath my fingertips as I type out this writing log. Ah yes, we’re in the world of digitally typed up manuscripts, roughly written down notes, and the inconsistent savior we call auto-correct. The simplicity of typing gives us such ease that we almost forget how nostalgic it is to put pen to paper. Our pens/pencils sit idly by on our desks in cups, drawers, or pencil pouches.

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My QwerkywriterS: a typewriter-inspired BlueTooth keyboard

More often than not, they’re only picked up to keep our hands busy.

While our fingers tap away at the keys, our pencils sit in their designated areas woefully. Thier erasers untouched, the points left either unsharpened or brand new, and they’ve never felt the warmth of a hands’ embrace; or at least, they don’t remember the feeling. Even the iPencil gets more attention than the average pencil or pen. It comes with the ease of digitally drawing or writing, as well as the several options the iPencil plus the iPad gives us.

However, the iPad isn’t the only thing that provides us several options when it comes to the digital world. As I’m typing, I’ve found that you can read this more legibly than if I were writing this by hand.

I’ve often found that I tend to take advantage of the ease of access during a digital writing session. The thesaurus is just a mouse-click away (even though there’s a physical one on my desk), and instead of drawing out photos I can just Google them. However, there is something that writing with a pencil gives us that typing on a computer doesn’t and that, my dear readers, is nostalgia.

Picking up your handy black Ticonderoga, shoving it into the sharpener in front of a class or at your desk, and cramming that #2 pencil onto a piece of paper can take you back. Writing by hand can give you more nostalgia than typing will ever give you, (Unless you have one of those orange desktop key covers from fifth grade – ya know, the typing test ones?).

Regardless, just look at these results! The differences between the two are so clear and obvious.

Halfway through the “old-fashioned” writing, my hand cramped up! I’m not sure if it’s the many years of 12-hour RockBand marathons, or if I’ve been writing too much, but ow! Also, did you notice the cursive? It seems as though it’s a lost art in today’s society. My fifteen-year-old brother was never taught how to sign his name or write his ABCs in cursive and he’s already in ninth grade! It’s ridiculous.

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Just a few of my pen/pencil cups.

I remember back in first-grade when we got those little handwriting journals to practice in. They were always my favorite because we got to write in the books and you don’t get to do that often. Still, to this day, I’ll admit I love workbooks. I’ve even bought a few from Barnes&Noble, ya know, the “100 Writing Prompt” or “List Yourself” books? They’re usually no more than $10, but I love them. Like I said, there’s just something about writing in books that is just so revealing and, here’s that word again, nostalgic.

It seems as though nostalgia is the number one difference between the analog and digital worlds of writing. Yet, how important can nostalgia be if we continue to ditch our pens/pencils in their rightful places? I’ll tell you all one thing, I’d choose the click-clack-clicks over the hand cramps any day. While nostalgia may be a fun characteristic of life, we’ve evolved into the digital world for a reason: simplicity.

Yes, I said it.

Simplicity.

The digital world has made it to where we can avoid those writing cramps and illegible notes. It’s wonderful that we have the option to alternate between the two as we desire unless you’re an online student like me… then it all has to be digital. Fortunately though, currently I can watch Freaks and Geeks while typing this blog, so the all-online option definitely has its perks.

Now, don’t forget about the pens/pencils you’ve bought and forgotten. While they may be with others in their many jars, they could still be used for art, writing, or just simply jotting down reminders. So, next time you go to write, pick up a pencil and let it take you back to the days in grade school before you learned how to type.

Also, make sure to keep up with me these next few weeks.

There’s bound to be more.