Podcast: Fiction

From the time I learned how to read, I’ve always read fiction. I could get lost in Wonderland or Hogwarts, just by opening up a book. The simple stumble into a couple hundred pages could result in many hours, or even days, spent entwined in the content between the cover pages. Yet, one of the best parts is the smell. Oh, the smell of a book. If you’re an avid book reader who’s in love with printed literature, describing the smell is almost impossible. It’s easy to get lost in it. Just picking up a book and sniffing the pages, old or new, it’s enticing. A digitally printed book doesn’t even compare to a hard copy, especially since a hard copy could be placed on a shelf. Personally, I love having my books on display.

Ah, the display. IKEA really has some fantastic bookcases even though they’re cheap. Alphabetically organized and divided between read and unread, the books give off a floor-to-ceiling library effect. Now, let’s not forget about the people responsible for my aesthetically pleasing case.

There are currently 266 books, or rather 178 authors that are alphabetically aligned on my shelves, but let’s get down to the authors I have the most books from. Off the top of my head, there’s JK Rowling (who we all know and love), Danielle Rollins (a, as she puts it, candy-coated horror novelist), and Chuck Palahniuk (who you might know as the man behind Fight Club).

These three authors have the most books on my shelves, and here’s why:

For one, all three authors write in some form of fiction. Whether it’s considered fantasy, horror, or transgressional, fiction is always my go-to.

Joanne Rowling, or JK Rowling, is the writer behind the entire Harry Potter franchise. Naturally, I have more books of hers than I do anyone else’s (besides Chuck’s) and I’ve been reading and rereading her books since 2006.

The Harry Potter series has had such a big impact in my life. Right from the start, my mom read me 60 pages a night so I could get through them before the big AR tests we had. Now, for those of you who don’t know what AR tests are, they’re Advanced Reading tests we used to have to take in elementary school. We got points for each one depending on our grade and I was number 2 in all of the fourth-grade class of Martin Walker Elementary, all thanks to JK Rowling and her magical books. Immediately, I got hooked on Severus Snape (RIP Alan Rickman), Mad-Eye Moody (may he rest in peace, as well), and all of the mythical creatures throughout the books. While the series may be finished, Rowling still continues to produce widely-loved novels even to this day. I’ll always appreciate the boy who lived under the stairs, and I’ll always appreciate the woman behind it.

Danielle Rollins is a different story. She’s a fireball with her words. One minute I’d connect with a character and the next I’ll start feeling queasy due to some gory scene she slipped in. Her books are like roller coasters and if you go under her pseudonym, “Vega,” they just get gorier. Now, I’m not talking Saw-gory, because she is technically candy-coating some of the scenes and the books are for young adults. Yet, somehow, someway, I can’t read them all the way through without taking a few breaks. Rollins, or Vega, has published a total of six books, and I barreled through them in a matter of weeks. Now, let’s get into my all-time favorite author, Chuck Palahniuk.

From this point forward, for the sake of not mispronouncing his last name, I’m going to refer to him as Chuck. Chuck is a trangressional fiction novelist who refers to his fans as Chuckleheads. All of his books plotlines were written so that the main character broke out of societal norms. For instance, in Fight Club, the main character got tired of working a nine-to-five job, so he started doing illegal activities after hours. Which, coincidentally, I can’t talk about due to the number one rule: “Don’t talk about fight club.”

Chuck has published a total of 21 books and I have 17. Alphabetically, by book title, there’s Beautiful You, Choke, Damned, Diary, Doomed, two copies of Fight Club, Fight Club 2, Haunted, Invisible Monsters, Invisible Monsters Remix, Lullaby, Make Something Up, Phoenix, Pygmy, Rant, Snuff, Survivor, and Tell-All.

Surprisingly, there’s actually a story behind one of the copies of Fight Club. On Black Friday, my fiancé and I woke up at 7am to go and get a signed copy of it. Now, we didn’t meet Chuck because he wasn’t there, but we now own a signed first-edition copy of Fight Club and we’re planning on putting it in a shadow box. It’s become one of our prized possessions and we don’t let anyone touch it, which sounds obsessive, I know, but the Chucklehead in me can’t resist.

Anyway, I think that’ll be enough for this podcast. I hope each and every one of you go out there and find a good book, get lost in the pages, and have the same experience I do when I find a new favorite. Make sure to keep up with me to find out more about the vast world of literature, multimedia topics and the study of writing.

Reflection

My composition process changed by switching to a more audio approach because I had to think about how I’d say it while I typed it. I included commas where I’d usually take a breath.  On Microsoft Word, I typed up the blog so I could read it easier. That way, I could double-space the text and increase the readability. Overall, this was an interesting and fun experience and I’m glad I finally did a podcast.

November 12, 2014

It was a humid, yet chilly Wednesday night; which oddly isn’t unusual for Texas. The sun had just left to awaken a new part of the world and I was just getting off work. As soon as the clock hit 10:23, I would leave the confinements of C.R. Clements and set off to my destination: home.

Copperas Cove, Texas was a small town that I knew like the back of my hand. It used to only take 20 minutes to get through the entire thing, no matter which direction you went through. Surrounded by five hills, with a school district that worships the Bulldawg football team and faculty scandals, Copperas Cove isn’t a place that is well-known. Yet, it’s very close to the third biggest military post in America: Fort Hood (1). Primarily made up of military brats (me included), the town only holds 32,000 people as of 2016 (2). So, it’s a melting pot.

Now, the school that I worked at was my old intermediate, my fifth-grade alma mater, and where I walked the halls as a part of Ms. D Smith’s Snakes; my homeroom class. As a freshly graduated eighteen-year-old, it was a bit uncomfortable to walk the halls as a custodian, but I did it anyway. I started the full-time custodial position in August of 2014, so by November, I was already three months into my job. At the time, I was living with my mom and I was about to hit my one-year mark with my boyfriend Cody Lee. We started dating my senior year of high school, but we went through a long and winding path until we finally were the complete high school definition of official; it was on Facebook. However, we won’t go too far into those details because they’re pretty personal. Let’s just say, that we were both involved with other people when we first started hanging out, I met his parents, he met mine, and we were basically dismissing the inevitable.

“You know you like him, I don’t know why you’re staying with that guy who hasn’t talked to you in two weeks,” my mom would say while I’m on my way out the door to see Cody.

“I know. I know. I know. I have to break it off because we’re going through the same cycle of nonsense that we go through. Every. Single. Time,” I’d tell her.

This wasn’t the exact conversation, but at the time I still dismissed it. Eventually, I realized I wanted to be with the beautiful brown-eyed boy I met in the aisles of Wal-Mart a few months prior. So, I had to break it off with the guy in Indiana who had been ignoring me for weeks. Since he blocked me on Facebook (wow, I was clueless when I was seventeen), I decided to text him and break off the relationship officially before we finally crashed.

Cody on the other hand, well, his story is for him to tell. All you need to know is that, after months of self-doubt, we officially got together on November 12, 2013.

After he got off a shift at Wal-Mart at 10pm, he walked up my parents’ driveway with a bouquet of roses and asked, “Will you go out with me?”

To which I promptly replied, “No,” and walked away.

“Okay then,” Cody said as he walked back to his Suzuki Forenza.

“No, no, no stop, wait! I was kidding! Yes,” and I ran up to him, put my hands on his face, and kissed him.

Now, there we were almost an exact year later. November 11th. While I was walking to my car after a long shift, my “David Tennant as the Doctor” text tone went off and I checked it.

Are you still coming over, Cody asked. (We had an agreement that I’d sleep at his parents’ house tonight because we stayed at mine quite a few in a row.)

So, I texted him back: Yes? Let me go get my things and I’ll be right over.

Drive safe. Text me when you get there.

I arrived at my moms’ house at around 10:40pm, sent a quick text to Cody, and went inside to get my stuff and tell my mom about my day. It was my usual routine, so I grabbed my makeup, hair products, pajamas, and a few outfits. I always tended to overpack, so it all went into a suitcase. After a year of dating and sleepovers, Cody’s parents were definitely used to me hauling in my things. So, I updated my mom, said a quick goodbye, and as I headed out the door she said, “If he proposes, you better come back here and tell me.”

“We’ll see,” I yelled back at her as I shut the door.

When I pulled up to Cody’s house, I texted him that I finally arrived at around 11:45pm.  The moon was glaring through my ’77 Chevy C10’s windows and the air was cooling down. As I got out of my truck and went to grab my array of bags, David Tennant went off again.

Just come in the front door… don’t knock.

The text wasn’t usual. The whole thing wasn’t usual. So, I decided to leave my bags. Cody would’ve normally helped me with them, or he would’ve at least came out and opened the front door for me. Walking straight into the house though? That never happens. The door was always locked after 10pm. However, I continued my journey down the driveway and up to the front door where there was a note. Since this was a few years ago, I don’t remember the exact words, but I believe the note said to walk inside and follow the clues.

Inside the house, the lights were dimmed and there were red rose petals scattered on the floor. On the side table, next to their brown pleather couches, were more rose petals and another note. It read:

Danielle, if you’re a piranha. Then I’m a piranha.

The next note is where we baked our first batch of cookies together.

The saying was from Finding Nemo. Originally it was from the little girl in the dentists’ office, named Darla, who tried to shake Nemo awake (3). She was kind of a terror. Sitting in the dentists’ chair, she revealed her braces and said, “I’m a piranha.” Somehow, it evolved from there.

On the way to the next note, I avoided stepping on the rose petals on the destined path while I walked through the house. The next note was found on the kitchen table, also scattered with rose petals. This makes note number three over a span of maybe thirty feet from the front door to the back door. The clues were unneeded, but they were such a nice touch and the moment felt so surreal. My mom’s voice was running through my head, “If he proposes, come back and tell me.” Nevertheless, I continued to read the note:

I love you to the moon and back, now check the back door.

Quickly, I looked behind me. The back door was unlocked, but there was a note covering the peephole. This made note number four. Which simply said to open it and when I did, Cody quickly told me to shut it which caused my anxiety to act up. I started to get a little shaky, but I only waited a few minutes before I cracked the door a little and asked if he was alright.

“I’m fine, I’m ready, come on out babe,” he said.

I walked onto the back porch and there was a fire going with stuff for smores on a chair next to it. The air was only getting colder, so I was glad that I was wearing my letterman that night. Along with the fire, the smores, and the cool winter night, there was Cody. Kneeling on one knee in a suit holding open a silver box.

My hands flew quickly to my mouth. I was in complete shock. After all of the clues, I kind of knew what was coming. I had my mom’s voice in my head yet, I still couldn’t believe what was going on. My boyfriend, of a year almost on-the-dot, was kneeling in front of our favorite pastime; roasting marshmallows.

“Danielle Mahriahna-Skillings Johnson, will you marry me?”

Tears streamed down my face before I could even get the words out; this moment was so surreal. “Yes, oh my gosh, yes!” He stood up, put the ring on my finger, and it fit perfectly. I was seriously in-awe that he remembered my ring size; I couldn’t believe it. He wrapped me in his arms and I just continued to cry. After all the failed past relationships I went through in the past to get to this point; I was engaged, I was happy, and I was utterly in-shock.

It immediately hit me that I had to tell my mom. It couldn’t wait, and she wouldn’t have liked it if I waited until tomorrow. I had to tell her. So, I told Cody and he said that he already knew we would have to go over there. In fact, he planned to take me back home afterwards to tell her regardless.

So, we walked back in to the house and both of his parents were standing there in their pajamas with their chihuahua. They were in on the whole proposal the entire time.

“Welcome to the family! Even though you’re already like a daughter-in-law to us,” they said while hugging the both of us. I still couldn’t believe it. I was going to be an AllBee.

Creative Non-Fiction Inspiration

In this blog,  I’m going to discuss a Creative Non-Fiction piece and answer a few questions. This piece, in particular, caught my eye because of the name and the hook the author wrote in the beginning. The following is a link to the piece itself by Jane Bernstein:

CNF Inspiration Piece: The Marrying Kind 

Summary: The Marrying Kind is a short essay about the narrator getting ready to officiate the wedding of someone they’re very close with (the bride). She then proceeds to discuss more in-depth on the lengths her officiating goes through, bringing up her past marriage, the several weddings she’s officiated, and her relationship to the first bride she writes about.

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At first, she doesn’t think she would or should do it. She thought that an online officiating site was just a scam until she joined her first couple in matrimony. After that, she continued to keep on going. Marrying people left and right. Same-sex couples, different religions, different families, she just kept going further on her quest to be an officiator but she still only married couples who she felt were in love.

Now, for the questions:

1. How does the form contribute to the meaning of the piece?

The form of this essay is traditional and it carries several descriptive characteristics. It’s estimated at around five pages of text and it kept me hooked throughout the entire thing. While this essay could’ve fit into the “shell” of a hermit crab essay, I feel as though the traditional route was better in this instance. Throughout the piece, the author incorporates several different factual statements, along with analogies, irony, and a few flashbacks.

2. What literary devices make this piece aesthetic?

The author uses quite an analogy when writing about the process of officiating a wedding ceremony. They compared a wedding ceremony to a simile; the form is precise.

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There’s also underlying irony in the text as well. The narrator often points out that it’s great being single, while also on her way to officiate a wedding that’s very dear to her. I found it ironic that she was relieved that she was divorced from her husband, yet she still found the sanctity of marriage to have an emotional aspect. However, this irony also gave her a reason to keep officiating. She knew all the trouble it took to be in a relationship. All the fights and the turmoil were inevitable, but if these couples were truly happy she wanted to be there for them because she went through them herself.

The author also uses flashbacks to make the story more in-depth. The narrator points out in the beginning that she knew the bride because she knew the bride’s mother. She brings up moments from the past in order to build onto the relationship she has to the bride and I feel as though it was very successful. A few would be:

  • the time when she felt the bride’s mother’s stomach before the bride was born
  • when she planned her wedding to her ex-husband
  • when she left her husband
  • her past relationships where she didn’t marry, but “played house”

In one of my personal writings that I’m working on, I’m including flashbacks as well.  I feel as though this tactic is very effective in increasing relatability, depth, and potential tension.

3. What sort of ethics does the writer seem to be following?

Along with the irony that the piece has, she often points out the different characteristics of marriage. Due to her recent marriages, she predicts which couples are going to be happy and which ones aren’t by the way they interact with one another. She went through a lot of what everyday couples go through; arguments/disagreements/etc.  So, she followed through with the ones she felt would last. The ethics she follows might not be solid in logic, but they’re her own beliefs and she wouldn’t go through with something she felt was wrong.

Writing as a Metaphor

Writing is an art. 208cf27b2e80467fb7fed0b834ee564f

As Lakoff and Johnson state in Metaphors We  Live By, life, in general, is a concept. It’s a concept that we cannot understand because it is not obvious (Lakoff). However, it’s up to us on how we choose to live that concept. Sure, it’s easy to dissect and evaluate your own life, but there always seems to be an underlying meaning behind it all. The simple four-word sentence I wrote above could be dissected in a number of ways, so here I am to do just that with help from the aforementioned book.

When anyone asks what I do, the first word that comes to mind is “writer.” Yet, it used to be “artist.” I often wonder why it can’t be both. Writing is an art. It’s a form of expression and it leads to a result you’re proud of; even though you’ll always be your worst critic. After all, writing is never perfect and neither is art.

secrets-of-short-story-writingIn Metaphors We Live By, they used the metaphor “argument is war” as an example. They said that if we were to change “war” to “dance” we would view arguments differently (Lakoff).  When I think about war, the first words that come to mind are strategies, defense techniques, artillery, military, treaties, and foreign countries (unless it’s a civil war). When I think about arguments, the first words to come to mind are defensive,  close-minded, social media, debating, and a resolution. By combining the two, it makes the word argument out to be this horrid thing when in fact, it can be eye-opening. However, would comparing an argument to a dance make arguing come off as any less evasive? Yes, yes it would, but would it make the statement about an argument being similar to war any less true? No, it would only lighten the load a little. paint-brushes-jar-over-wooden-aqua-blue-background-51063951

Well, let’s get back to the original metaphor at hand. “Writing is an art.” When we take the two contents of the metaphor; writing and art, what do you get?

Personally, when I think about writing, I think about pens, pencils, laptops, BlueTooth keyboards, and notebooks. Coincidentally, art involves most of those things too. When you write, the whole point is to put your voice on a page. When you draw you’re putting your personal view of things on a page. No artists are the same, they merely contain different mediums or styles, just like writers do. Except in the writing world, we call our styles our, well, styles and we call our mediums fonts.

Putting a pen to paper, a brush to a canvas, or your fingers on a keyboard are all similar. They all do one thing: express the style of the person behind it.

download (4)As a writer, I feel it’s important to consider writing as an art. It’s not just a task you set out to do just because you’re assigned a paper or have to write a resume for a job. Writing is another form of expressing yourself, as I stated several times above, therefore, it is an art regardless. While you read you can create your own versions of the stories you read in your head. You create the images, but the writer creates the imagery. The mind is such a crazy, imaginative, and wonderful thing and when you express yourself, it’s even better.

 

 

 

Reference

Lakoff, George, and Mark Johnson. Metaphors We Live By. Univ. of Chicago Press, 2011.

Dance Gavin Dance vs. The System of Grammar

Music is a universal language. The simplicity of listening to a group of instruments and vocals can result in a complex mood change, or even help create a memory of someone/something significant. A strategic rhythm set to a beat can get stuck in your head in an instant. The magic of a symphony in an auditorium can give you goosebumps—especially if you’re listening to John Williams or Stephen Sondheim. Luckily, today there are several other ways to listen to music other than live. Whether you’re looking for country, rock, pop, indie, folk, opera, metal, or post-hardcore, music will always be powerful. However, in this case, we’re only going to narrow the vast subject that is music down to one genre and one band.

The subject: Dance Gavin Dance. The adjective: post-hardcore. The collective noun: band. Established in 2006, in Sacramento, California, Dance Gavin Dance consists of five members: Tilian Pearson (clean vocals), Jon Mess (messy vocals), Matthew Mingus (drums/percussion), Tim Feerick (bassist), and Will Swan (lead guitar). This band contains a lot of attributes towards grammar, not only with their lyrics but with the group members themselves.

To further explain what “messy” vocals are–they’re vocals that are “screamed” into the microphone. They create an intense effect on the lyrics and exaggerate (or italicize), their meaning. By switching between messy vocals and clean vocals, the band creates different rhetoric altogether.

Usually, the messy lyrics would consist of primarily utter nonsense, but when Jon Mess screams them, they somehow seem to fit. For instance, in their song “Chucky vs. the Giant Tortoise,” the line (or should I say a sentence): “Riding a rhino pico de gallo. Roosters beak, I’ll go to sleep when I leap that jeep,” is screamed by Mess (CITE). Even with the rest of the context, it’s unusual:

“[Jon Mess] I’ll go in cryo and return to life h-. And make a Bisque, some tomato basil s—, Riding a rhino pico de gallo. Roosters beak, I’ll sleep when I leap that jeep. (Mess)

[Tilian Pearson] Don’t close your eyes tonight. Perfect melodies are hard to find. I got a feeling we could touch the sky.” (1)

When you listen to the lyrics, they come off a little easier. Also, since the “screamed” lyrics aren’t entirely necessary for some of their songs, Jon Mess’ portion would/should be surrounded by parentheses.

Tilian also partakes in partial “messy” singing. He often switches back and forth between the two when it’s necessary, but he isn’t the “messy” vocalist because he doesn’t scream. His way of choosing either way of singing would be the perfect example of a slash in grammar.

The simple act of singing and playing their guitars/drums would be their verbs. They play their guitars, drums, and bass. They sing/scream their lyrics. The names signed on their instrument cases are an example of apostrophes because they’re possessive. Also, in brackets next to their part on their lyric sheets, there should be the bands’ names.

While each member plays an essential and vital role in the band, Tilian and Jon are the direct objects because they’re always front-and-center. The rest of the group are indirect due to them playing in the background and supporting the singers. However, musically, each instrument couldn’t stand alone, or else this wouldn’t be a post-hardcore band (since they can’t stand alone musically, this would be an example of a conjunctive adverb).

Dance Gavin Dance has changed a lot since 2006. They’ve gone through several members over the years. The band cycled through Jonny Craig and Kurt Travis before Tilian came along in 2013. Before it was just Will Swan, he played alongside Sean O’Sullivan back when the band began; before there was Tim Feerick on bass, there was Eric Lodge. These weren’t the only switches over the bands lifetime, but we’re only going to focus on the 2018 edition of the band. Coincidentally, there hasn’t been a change in their role-call since 2013.

Before their sets, the owner of the venue announces the band, which would be an example of metadiscourse. The owner informs the audience who’s up next, and Tilian tells the audience what song they’re going to play. These announcements would result in the venue owner or Tilian being considered as the appositives due to them explaining who’s next or what song is up. Along with these announcements, a colon would be placed on the general admission ticket or flyer announcing the set: “The Black Sheep Presents: Dance Gavin Dance and Chon, featuring Eidola and Vasudeva.”

Most of the bands’ cohesiveness (or when all the words in a sentence link together to give the sentence more meaning), is when the members are all playing together. For their music to make sense and stay in rhythm, they must agree with one another. Each member of the band must make sure that their hands and mouths are playing/singing in coordination with each other. In general, all bands must follow this rule, or they wouldn’t thrive and continue to gain fans. Coincidentally, the coordination between the band members results in a hyphen. They’re used for word division, yet they also combine words. In this case, they’re combining the members. Without cohesion or coordination, Dance Gavin Dance’s music wouldn’t be able to create the symbolism they have, which would result in a lack of underlying meaning in their music.

For instance, in their song “Here Comes the Winner,” there’s plenty of symbolism behind it if you read between the lines. The song was released in 2016 when the presidential election was going on in full force. One of the verses (or clauses) in the songs suggests that all the public figures were lined up on a stage to win the hearts of America. They incorporated a few political statements within the messy vocals, and altogether they made everything agree.

Another line that could be used to show symbolism is a verse from their song “Inspire the Liars”:

“So, let’s start a religion, they’ll believe in what we say. Let’s start a religion; we can blind their eyes with faith. A new religion, we’ll tell them where our spirits go. Start a religion; I need my ego to explode.” (CITE)

This verse is towards the end of the song, and it symbolizes the “cult-like” mentality of some of the religious groups in society. It suggests that some of the religions result in “blind” followers and that people will follow anything that interests them.

Throughout their songs, there is a known-new contract. As you listen, you begin to learn the choruses (the known) and are gradually introduced to the verses (the new). In this “contract” they also created ties into their listeners’ expectations, (or readers expectations). Their fans expect their set to flow together and their music to keep with their usual style, (or the way they establish their overall mood or meaning). To keep the contract and the expectations of their listeners up-to-par, the band also needs to keep their (sentence) rhythm.

Rhythm is among the top qualities every type of band needs to know. If one instrument/singer is off-beat, then the whole group is off. The bands’ rhythm would be where the punctuation would set in. Their music breaks between lyrics could be considered as semi-colons because they create a new mood. The breaks between their songs would be considered commas due to the literal breaks between independent clauses (or songs). The line, “Are you ready?” would end in a question mark, and their lyrics all contain quotation marks around them because they’re direct quotes coming out of their mouths.

The choruses could pass as a predicate. They’re the primary voice in the song, and they contain verbs that state something that they’re doing or are going to do. For instance, in “Inspire the Liars,” the chorus represents an antithesis (by showing opposition in one sentence), and a predicate: “Say you want to know the truth, well you can ask me a question. I’ll tell you something that you may wanna hear, but I’ll lie” (3). The chorus states that if you want to know the truth about something, then you should ask them even though they told you they’d lie. So, why ask them in the first place?

The choruses could also represent parallelism because they’re repetitive and show importance throughout the song. Their parallel structure is consistent throughout all their music when it comes to how often their choruses are played.

If Dance Gavin Dance were to break down, it would result in over-excessive songs with minimal lyrics or meaning—which could also serve as a run-on sentence, (or in some cases a comma splice).  Luckily, to decompose the system a little, music breaks (or their form of semi-colons), can help divide up the extended run-ons or potential comma splices.

Musically, the band creates a solid post-hardcore sound altogether. While they’re not the only band in this genre, they are certainly unique in their own way. Since 2009, they’ve had a significant impact on my life. A big part of the reason why I got into Dance Gavin Dance was that of their unique song names and unique verses. It’s part of their style and their voice. Actively, they sing these lyrics with pride and create their overall rhetoric by doing so. Dance Gavin Dance proves that music is universal with their take on the genre they’ve been placed in. With their careless demeanor and their relatable lyrics, this band really puts the phrase, “fake it ‘til you make it” to good use with some of their songs.

 

 

 

Works Cited

Mess, Jon. I’ll go in cryo and return to life h-. And make a Bisque, some tomato basil s—, Riding a rhino pico de gallo. Roosters beak, I’ll sleep when I leap that jeep. “Chucky vs. the Giant Tortoise.” Mothership. Vinyl. Interlace Audio Recording Studios. 2016.

(1) Pearson, Tilian. Don’t close your eyes tonight. Perfect melodies are hard to find. I got a feeling we could touch the sky. “Chucky vs. the Giant Tortoise.” Mothership. Vinyl. Interlace Audio Recording Studios. 2016.

(2) Pearson, Tilian. So, let’s start a religion, they’ll believe in what we say. Let’s start a religion; we can blind their eyes with faith. A new religion, we’ll tell them where our spirits go. Start a religion; I need my ego to explode. “Inspire the Liars.” Mothership. Vinyl. Interlace Audio Recording Studios. 2016.

(3) Pearson, Tilian. Say you want to know the truth, well you can ask me a question. I’ll tell you something that you may wanna hear, but I’ll lie. “Inspire the Liars.” Mothership. Vinyl. Interlace Audio Recording Studios. 2016.

 

Dead Media: the Phonograph & the Creation of Audiobooks

This is a conference poster I did for one of my classes! I’m pretty impressed with how it turned out and it’s so professional looking. The photo in the middle is of my mom when she was five-years-old back in the 70s. She’s the main reason I have over 300 records in my collection and I’ll forever be grateful to her for putting her records in my care.

Introductions

School has officially started and I feel more inclined to write than ever.

I’m not writing for school – for now – but I’m writing for myself. This semester is jampacked with three English classes and a biology class. Which means – a LOT of writing. So far, I’ve accomplished quite a few introduction discussion boards. They all sound kind of like this:

“Hi, my name’s Danielle Mahriahna-Skillings Johnson, but I just go by Danielle. This is my 3rd introduction discussion board and I want to kill myself (not really). I have most of you in my other classes so you already know everything about me that you need to. So, have a picture of my cat Theodore.”

Okay, maybe I didn’t write all of that but it’s close.

It’s so funny to me how it’s important to introduce yourself to people you’re never going to meet.  I understand the reasoning, but this is all online. I don’t want to stand up and tell you my favorite color. I want to sit here and finish my homework and pet Theodore. Sorry, I’m grouchy.

All of my classes are filled to the brim with discussion boards. Tell me about your life. Tell me about the major you’re pursuing. What do you want to do with it? What’s your opinion of online college (I’m in it aren’t I)? If you were to write a novel, what would it be about?

Now, I’m not here to complain. I’m here to express myself further and let all of my readers know that I might be inactive until further notice – which means my site visits will go downhill.

NEVERTHELESS!

I.

Am.

Still.

Writing.

I’m going to update Keeping Up With A Skillings (along with my other two brand new blogs) all throughout the semester. It just won’t be as often — so bare with me!

I appreciate every one of you so please continue to keep up with me,

Danielle

I See You

I see you,

 With your green slitted eyes,

And your long pointy nails.


The way you move,

through the mulch,

and the way you eat,

I see you.


Scales,

Tails,

Nails and all,

I see you.


And even though,

Others are intimidated by you,

I want to hold you,

And the anticipation,

 is killing me.


I watch you through,

The glass cage,

 that confines you.


I watch as you scurry,

When people take photos of you.


I’m one of those people.


It’s been almost six

years.

Since I’ve found

my love and

fascination towards you.


I have a list of names

in my phone

already ready for you.


So,

blue iguana,

sitting on top of your house,

made of logs,

in the middle of Petco.

I see you.


And I’m almost ready,

to bring you home.

The Cycle of Self-Hatred: An Anthology

The Cycle of Self-Hatred: An Anthology

Ever since we were kids, we were told that we could do anything. If we wanted to; “we could be astronauts, we could be superheroes, we could be Disney princesses/princes, we could be the President of the United States” (T.F. Anon.), but how many of us have attained these goals? NASA is not flying people out anymore until approximately 2021. The superheroes in the comics and the movies do not exist (unless you’re filthy rich and can afford Batman or Iron Man’s lifestyle). Disney princesses/princes must follow intricate roles for low wages (in FL and CA they are not sustainable), and now we are on our 45th president.

Personally, I wasn’t brought up with these unrealistic goals because my mom wasn’t the kind of person to tell their kids they could reach for the moon. (I say mom because she’s been there through it all, my dad was absent during most of my big decisions). Instead, my siblings and I focused on the here and now. I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up until the Spring of 2017. Up until then I set my own goals and crushed them. When I first started college I went through about six different majors before I stuck with English. Throughout the whole debacle, my mom was still there for me. She didn’t care what school I went to or what career path I wanted to follow, she just wanted me to be happy with my own decisions. While my brother and I have remained indecisive (for most of my life) and my youngest sister is still six, my eighteen-year-old sister has known what she’s wanted to be since kindergarten. So, the way we were brought up has differing affects on all of us.

These unrealistic goals have been inflicted onto us since before our parents were parents, before their parents were parents, and so on. Setting these goals are a prime example of what society wants us to be. There isn’t anything wrong with telling your kids that they can be astronauts, princesses/princes or the president, but sometimes they grow up to think about this more literally than it’s originally meant. Thanks to a few anonymous participants, I have concocted an elaborate example on how three things can start the cycle of self-hatred and how they can be resolved.

COMPARISONS

Let’s begin with what exactly self-hatred is. It starts out as an internal argument with yourself. You don’t like the way you look, the way you compare yourself to others, the way others seem to compare you to how society thinks you should look and act. The simple act of following a blog or fashion magazine can lead to the downfall of positivity. As soon as you start comparing yourself to others, you can start to lose your self-love.

Keeping a firm grasp on your self-love is very important. I had it once. My grip was tight, and nobody could touch me. Over time, things started to change. Social media became more readily available. My bare face with bags under my eyes, acne, and large pores weren’t enough. The times changed. Makeup was the new norm, and when I started to figure it out, women started to get praised for baring their naked faces. So, which is it?

Society will always evolve, but I’m not the only one who has fallen into this cycle. There are several others. According to a few men and women I interviewed; Darnell, Emmanuel, Marisol, and Braxton (these are pseudonyms to keep them anonymous). I am not alone. All four of them have informed me that their cycles of self-hate begin with comparisons.

Darnell and Marisol were brought up to think that there is a certain age for certain life achievements. If you’re not married by the time you’re in your mid-20s, you’ve failed. If you don’t move out at eighteen, you’ve failed. If you don’t get your own home with an established income by the time you’re 30, you’ve failed. All of this became preprogrammed into their brains as they grew up. Filled with “you must” and “you have to’s”, Darnell and Marisol were sent into the real world with high expectations. Soon they were met with the sudden reality that the goals that were set cannot be planned, and if they were planned, they were not easily attainable. (Marisol eventually discovered a potential solution, but we’re going to get through everyone’s personal growths later.)

Emmanuel was brought up the same way. Except he grew up with the lack of a great parental influence. His mom was absent his entire life. Sure, Dad was physically there, but he wasn’t there mentally. Soon after graduation, his dad decided “wait a minute, I have a son. What is he doing with his life?”. This left Emmanuel with two choices that his dad gave him. Either he had to join the army and get out of his dad’s house, or he had to quit his current job that put miles on his car. Regardless, it was an ultimatum that his previously-absent father set before him. Despite having a long term intermittent (yet serious) girlfriend, Emmanuel chose the military.

Braxton often finds himself thinking back to the “good ole’ days”. He kept focusing more on the “what-if’s” instead of the “here and now”. Nostalgia was taking over his thought process and he constantly compared his current life to how it could’ve been if he just changed one step in his past.

STRESS

Another factor leading into the cycle is stress. Personally, I go through days of questioning everything and wanting to pull my hair out. School and quite a few personal issues have taken a toll on my mental health these past few semesters. There would be times when I’d quit showering or eating, and there’s times when my fiancé would force me out of the house for mental breaks. I’m not alone in the amount of stress I experience either. Sarafine, Spencer, and Mark (pseudonyms of course) have similar stories.

Sarafine has recently started college and the number of classes and the amount of debt shoved upon her has increased her stress level. She goes through periods of self-doubt and moments where she’s just wanted to drop out.

Spencer grew up learning incorrect ways to cope with her stress. Instead of handling it, she would shut everyone out and isolate herself. After isolating herself too much, she’s ended up spiraling into a pit of depression and anxiety starts to set in.

Mark used to be a happy, easy-going guy until he “let the stress of job hunts cause him to get weak-minded” (Mark). He let his guard down and decided to listen to the bullies around him and eventually ended up breaking down. The meaningless words from his close friends and family caused him to feel more down than he already was, and he still hasn’t found a way out of the cycle of self-hatred and lost hope.

UPHILL BATTLES

The final factor leading into a cycle of self-hatred would the continuous uphill battles we face every day. Some of us face more than others and they can range from continuously fighting off your mental disorders, to changing the way you’ve thought about something your entire life, to trying to ignore bullying. Jamie, Alice, and Bridget have all given me their personal experiences with these uphill battles.

Jamie’s self-hatred started as early as kindergarten when she realized she liked girls. In kindergarten, she told her mom that she really liked one of her friends, who was also a girl, and her mom told her it was wrong. This lead Jamie to believe that liking girls was wrong all throughout her life because her mom engrained this thought into her head at such a young age. The conflicting emotions inside Jamie’s head eventually grew worse. She started to suppress her feelings and started lying to herself whenever she thought that her feelings for a girl increased to more than a friend. As she got older, this suppression eventually turned into depression. She felt isolated and it drove her crazy until she realized she wasn’t alone.

Alice discovered that she was looking for love in all the wrong places. She was raised with an abusive mother, who wasn’t biologically related to her. It wasn’t until she was five-years-old that she discovered that she was adopted and in her teens, her mom prevented Alice from expressing herself. Since then she realized that she didn’t belong with her adopted parents and the closest thing she had to a family was her uncle and grandma. However, their relationships only stood until her grandma passed away and her uncle did something her dad didn’t like so her dad secluded him. Luckily, her and her dad still had a closer relationship than she did with her mom, so she had someone to talk to while he wasn’t away (he was in the military). After a ton of realization hit Alice, she started to experience the true symptoms caused by her parents that put her up for adoption. As she got older she started to put more pieces together on why she is the way she is mentally and has surrounded herself with likeminded peers.

Bridget told me that some factors that contribute to her self-hatred is internalized racism, abuse, and isolation. She was treated differently while she was growing up and people talked down to her because she was half-black, which left her feeling inferior. Even though she’s aware that it isn’t rational, she feels that she would be treated better if she were fully white. Bridget studied psychology and sociology in college and she learned that sexual abuse is one of the main causes of eating disorders, and that being in isolation increases self-hatred and suicidal depression (Bridget).

RESULTS

Now what happened to the man who helped me realize how many unrealistic goals are embedded into our brains at a young age? He’s focusing more on his career and what he wants to do with his life (T.F.).

Marisol eventually discovered her passions, she discovered her love for animals and pursued a career in the same field. She’s surrounded by dogs every day and it helps, but the urge to compare is still there. Emmanuel faced a difficult decision and chose the more logical route to please his father. Braxton also found his passions, but unlike Marisol, his passion was more in the vehicle area. Braxton decided that working on cars was more important than living in the past, so he put his all into his work.

Sarafine cut all the toxic and negative people from her life so she could start focusing more on the positive. School is still just as overwhelming, but she’s made sure to fill in her free time with fun activities. When she isn’t working on a paper, she’s hiking with her dog or going on adventures with her boyfriend.

Spencer decided to focus more on her personal health and changing her nutrition helped her improve her overall lifestyle. Her mind became clearer, she’s able to concentrate, sleep soundly, and her stomach issues caused by stress went away.

Jamie watched YouTube videos with several people who went through situations like her own. She read personal stories about the LGBT community on various sites and felt more comfortable with herself. While she still couldn’t understand why her mom put those negative thoughts in her head, she still makes sure to remind herself that she isn’t alone.

Alice has undergone a lot of counseling to help realize all the things that she was repressing. Going to counseling has helped her ease her mind and take into consideration that what she’s experienced throughout her life, wasn’t her fault. Now she’s more vocal about her opinions than before and voices all her concerns to where everybody hears them. Also, she’s surrounded herself with friends who have gone through similar experiences and they’ve helped her realize she isn’t alone.

Like Spencer, Bridget began to focus more on her nutrition as well. She started to get really into skincare products and started to express herself more. Also, she now does this little trick where she replaces the negative thoughts in her head with positive ones. Thinking this way has helped her increase her self-love overall but it’s still an uphill battle.

While Darnell and Mark haven’t found their paths yet, they all remain positive on their journeys. Self-hatred might not have a cure and it’s incredibly hard to fight your personal battle towards self-love, but if there’s a will there’s a way. Eventually, you will achieve complete happiness. It might feel like an uphill battle right now, but if you’re determined enough you can keep fighting and succeed. Erase social media if you must. Take more selfies every day. Dive into your passions. Do anything that will distract your mind from constantly comparing, stressing, or creating more issues for yourself. Everyone feels down at some point, even those that seem happy-go-lucky 24/7, but don’t give up just yet.

I quit.

When I was little,
I used to play piano.
I started when I was 5-years-old, living in Germany and I stuck with it until junior high.
Well. Needless to say, I quit.
I quit pressing the black and white keys.
I quit singing to my favorite songs.
I just. Quit.
But, do you know why?
Because my piano teacher yelled at me.
She didn’t yell because I was arguing.
She yelled because I refused to practice.
All throughout my young life, I refused to practice.
I took guitar lessons.
I quit.
I managed to hold onto the flute for almost eight years, and the piccolo for five. But, I still quit.
I even practiced those two.. after I hit a certain point in high school where I realized;
“Oh.. I have solos. People can hear me.”
So, I practiced (almost) every night.

I’m not blaming anyone for my bad habit of quitting. Anyone but myself anyway.

However.

Today, I played my beautiful sparkly pink Daisy Rock guitar and I was still where I was when I first started.
Plucking to “Ode to Joy”,
strumming the five or six chords I still know by heart.
Playing around with “Seven Nation Army”, “Smoke on the Water”, and “Welcome Home.”

Well.. picking back up the guitar started a few months ago when I tried to learn “Without You” by Oh Wonder on my acoustic.
When I realized that my coordination was gone. I could no longer sing and play but I could still just get the chords. Plus now that my fingers are a little stronger/bigger than the very first time I picked up my beginner guitar, I could get to the chords a little faster. However, that’s not the point.

To play “Skinny Love” by Birdy, or “Without You” by Oh Wonder, or “All About Us” by He is We.. you have to be able to strum and sing. I asked a few of my fellow guitarists, which was primarily researching Yahoo Answers replies, and everyone said that this will take anywhere between a few months to a few years.

Well, I don’t have months or years because I don’t have patience. So I can feel myself on the verge of quitting. Mainly because I hate not being able to perfect something the first time I try it. Plus, I hate practicing. So much.
How is it, that I can play the guitar and sing on Rock Band, but I can’t strum and sing on the real guitar?

Tomorrow, I might (re)try the piano. But we will see.