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Good Thing About The Exercise

I just realized that for the past two weeks, I haven’t technically been eating a dinner but rather a mishmosh of frozen yogurt covered in chocolate sauce and sprinkles, graham crackers dipped and swirled in Nutella, cloud-like wisps of marshmallows and some delicious frozen chicken nuggets made gourmet by a secret sprinkling of spices.

. . . how wonderful!

 

Mission Statement, Revised

Last night I was sitting in my bathtub taking notes on how I wanted to write this blog post. I have a few drafts and they will probably never be good enough, so, do you mind if we just move forward and pretend that this is a brilliant beginning?

When I started this blog it was meant to be my own, private, and a pleasure – the goal was to encourage myself to do what I love (writing) and get better at it. Eventually, it became a chore and I felt like I was required to follow so many blogs and talk to the “right” people and get advertisers and open an online shop and make money and so on. So, I backed off the blogging for a while and now I’m back and will not be doing any tedious blogger networking unless I am genuinely interested in that blogger and they are interested in me. Writing will not be my career or a thing I do for any reason besides my own joy, because I do not have the mental fortitude to mix business with, what I feel, defines me.

To Do

Exercise More, i.e. exercise = endorphins = good.bye.depression

Bake More. You’re good at it and it makes you happy. No brainer.

Write More (obviously)

Read The Bible, see: “doing-things-because-you-want-to”

To Remember

Ned is gone and that’s ok.

 

Anyway – hello again! And thanks for sticking around. I missed you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: House of Secrets by Ned Vizzini & Chris Columbus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About a month ago, I won an advanced reading copy of House of Secrets by Ned Vizzini & Chris Columbus. As any literature nerd will tell you, the combination of these two writers is to bookworms and YA novels as crack is to your weird third cousin and his scary girlfriend. Vizzini is a hero amongst angsty, misunderstood book-loving teens everywhere while Columbus is the man, the myth, the legend behind the Harry Potter films, spearheading every Muggle’s fantasy of seeing Harry, Ron and Hermione on the big screen.

It’s basically the best nerd-cocktail to grace bookshelves since Tales of Beedle the Bard.

Yeah. I said it.

That being said, it should come as no surprise that even though I had a free copy of the House of Secrets in my possession, I purchased the super shiny important official copy from my local Barnes & Noble yesterday because I’m crazy. Crazy like a fox. Crazy like a fox that loves books.

It also doesn’t hurt that I’m unemployed right now and therefore have even more time to devote to the awesome story (again).

Let me start this “review” (with the term being used loosely as I have nothing to recommend me as a “reviewer” other than my MA in English Literature and a life-long love of the written word) with a statement to qualify my deep affection and connection to this book: I have depression which I am currently on medication for, but which still has the annoying symptom of making it difficult to concentrate on one thing for longer than about 30 minutes. Sadly, this lack of focus includes books and, as you can imagine, is a very frustrating component of this whole depression thing. In the last year I have had a very start/stop relationship with books and other projects that has been very hard to get control of and as a result I had not finished one book for a very long time by my standards. To give you an idea of said standards: before the depression symptoms took full hold of my life, I was reading a novel a week and loving it.

And then House of Secrets came along. I finished the book in less than a week. In fact, I couldn’t put it down. I came home from work and immediately plopped onto my stomach, head at the foot of the bed, legs spread and feet swinging in the air taking on Reader’s Pose – the lesser known of the yoga poses – to read for two or three hours at a time, unaware of time passing around me and ecstatic when I rose from the pages of the book to discover just how much time had vanished in the joy of reading. It was like being awake after too long a sleep.

So, I suppose this “review” is more of a “thank you” letter than anything else.

However, there are still some important and wonderful things you should know about the book that will no doubt encourage you, fellow book-lover, to buy the book and enjoy as I have enjoyed.

First, JK Rowling, JK Rowling, said this about the book, “A breakneck, jam-packed roller coaster of an adventure about the secret power of books, House of Secrets comes complete with three resourceful sibling heroes, a seriously creepy villainess, and barrel loads of fantasy and fear.” So, there’s that.

Secondly, fans of Inkheart will love House of Secrets because it hits all the important points that Inkheart missed, either due to a bad translation from German or just poor plot structuring, while still a great tale Inkheart leaves something to be desired from both the characters and the telling of the story, while House of Secrets gives you parts of the story you didn’t know you wanted and rich character development, making it an easy and desirable read. There are so many plot turns and great moments to endear the reader to either Cordelia, Brendan, Eleanor Walker or all three that even when they make rash decisions or do things that seem farfetched it doesn’t matter because Vizzini and Columbus resolve it all in one way or another. And don’t mistake “resolve” for “elimination of conflict” in this case; the conflict is never truly eliminated in House of Secrets, rather it is just made less frightening by the determination of the Walker siblings and their refusal to be beaten by an insane witch, incredibly aggressive warriors and bumbling supernatural pirates. This may not sound attractive, but it adds a complexity to the story that other YA novels do not possess.

Vizzini and Columbus waste no time getting right into the adventure with an absolutely shocking event that spins the action into overdrive by page 54. And this book has it all, adventure, the supernatural, family conflict, comedy, romance, great heroes and terrifying villains. One of the ironic joys of reading a YA novel as an adult is being able to exclaim, “What the fuck?!” to oneself while reading, which I am not ashamed to say happened to me every 20 pages or so in this book, with each surprise being better than the last.

And that’s about all I can say. I don’t want to reveal too much, and with this book, I feel like an in-depth review (at least from me) would give it all away.

If you’re interested in the book and want to learn more, here are links!:

“Like” House of Secrets on Facebook: facebook.com/houseofsecretsbooks

Stay up-to-date on Ned Vizzini’s awesomeness: nedvizzini.com/

Click here to purchase the book!

. . . or you can Tweet to win a copy of House of Secrets! Click here for details.

And if you would like to read some stellar YA book reviews from an up and coming YA author, check out the blog of my fellow book-lover friend, Aubrey Cann.

amanda meets depression

Someecards I Hate Mondays Through Sundays

Accurate.

Funny thing happened in October – I was diagnosed with severe depression. So severe that I was bumped to the top of a 80 person waiting list to see a therapist and a psychiatrist. So severe, my doctor almost started crying when I handed her the list of thoughts that had been on constant rotation in my head for the past two weeks. So severe, that I really, truly, honest-to-god thought I was going to crumble into nothing and die. The scariest part was that I didn’t care. In fact, I was looking forward to that moment of oblivion. 

What I have learned since then is that for the majority of my life, I’ve probably never really been sad, but depressed. Apparently, my brain looks at sad and says, “Fuck this! Let’s go the extra mile!”

Another thing I have learned is to not drink alcohol like a sorority girl when you’re on your first month of Zoloft. Present Amanda is trying to reach through a hole in spacetime to past Amanda to give her the following message:

  • DO NOT under any circumstances drink that whole margarita. You will drink another, then one more, then two glasses of champagne (three?) swiftly and with an ease that would embarrass Ernest Hemingway. 
  • DO NOT wear what you like to call your “Classy Dress.” It will be neither classy nor dressy by the time the night is through.
  • For god’s sake, DO NOT eat the green chile enchiladas and a strawberry cream cake in rapid succession only moments after you’ve consumed alcohol noted above. 
  • Move your hand away from your mouth when you begin to vomit so as to prevent any barftastic essence from spilling onto your “Classy Dress.”
  • Listen to your boyfriend when he says, “Stop drinking. Now.”
  • Listen to your doctor when she says, “Don’t drink alcohol with this medication.”
  • Listen to your future self who will have to write about this in blog form. Idiot. 

For the record, it’s funny now, but I really did black out for a moment and then puked into an adjacent pitcher that was, thankfully, free of any and all beverage. Jeff acted with speed and precision to ensure that most of my vomit was projected into something rather than onto my person. I did fill that pitcher with vomit, by the way. And we’re talking to the brim, people. Jeff was proud of me in a weird way – somehow all five feet of me puked up a pitcher full of puke. 

Now, I tell this story not to warn against the dangers of drinking with medications and the whole thing, you guys know that. I tell this story to illustrate what I like to call “My Darkest Hour.” In hindsight, it’s pretty hilarious, but when you’re there and puking green enchilada with strawberry cream on yourself, it all becomes very dark very quickly. The point is though, that I’m here now writing about it. Things got better. I no longer puke into pitchers. Believe it or not, that’s a good thing. I’m making sure I don’t puke into pitchers just like I’m making sure I don’t get caught up in the negative thoughts my chemically imbalanced brain spits outs. 

So, the long and short of it is this – I know I’ve been gone for a while, and I know there are some of you out there who genuinely like this blog; you leave great comments and you keep coming back here even when I’m not posting. I want to thank you for being such a constant while I was, and am, going through such a difficult time. There might be more posts from here on out about my depression, but I promise I will try to put a good spin on it. The posts might not be as scheduled as they were before, but I’ll try. I just want to say thanks, guys. There’s more to come, it will just take time.

Also, tell your friends that have depression or anxiety to COME ON OVER. Let’s talk this shit out. Let’s help each other and try to make sure no one else pukes on themselves.

My friend and coworker, Courtney, has a blog. She was recently diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Believe it or not, she found a way to be positive about the whole thing.

Read her blog and be inspired! I know I am.

MS. Courtney Says...

My mom (and someone…we’re not sure who ;)) could not have said it better,
“Life is no dress rehearsal”.

I guess Drake says it pretty well too…

Ha…but really.
Sometimes life throws you the unexpected, and you really start to think about these quotes (and maybe sing them too).

Three days ago I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.
It feels really weird typing that out…

Those of you who know me well have probably heard me mention my ‘weird, tingly leg’, but I will explain…

Around 7 years ago, I woke up with my left leg asleep. I didn’t think much of it until it didn’t seem to go away. An hour or two later, I called my mom, not really knowing what to say besides “Umm…my leg is asleep…and it’s not waking up”!

Tests, an x-ray, nerve conduction study & an MRI later, the doctors found nothing. The…

View original post 402 more words

Sacramento, California – It Sucks

I hate Sacramento. OK, maybe this is because I got to spend a relaxing week in Santa Cruz, but still. I’m not happy about my return home y’all.

Seriously – when you enter Sacramento there should by a sign that says, “If You Lived Here, You’d be Miserable by Now.”

My downstairs neighbors are adolescent meth users.

Everyone has allergies.

People are always sweaty because there is a constant, dry heat from the end of May to the end of September.

Everyone drives like shit. And I can say that because I have been on a few road trips and I swear to god, people actually know how to merge the moment you make it out of Sacramento. It’s like being freed from an enchantment of bad driving.

The level of unhappiness amongst Sacramentans is through the roof.

Actually, wealthy people are usually pretty happy here. That’s because they can afford big houses sans neighbors, great allergy meds, a really nice pool and a driver so they don’t have to worry about the traffic – they can just hire someone else to do it for them.

What is awesome about coming home from Santa Cruz? Well I got a sweet job that allows me to (gulp) leave my job at the mall.

I made this face when they told me:

ermahgerd dog

The job is the tennis ball. It’s a metaphor.

This means I will have nights and weekends and a job that I truly enjoy doing. But I think the picture says it all.

We also got a dog:

Rescue Dog

Scarlett Divine – Mistress of the Underworld (Rapist Killer)

For anyone who is wondering: we have her in a crate because her previous owner trained her that way and it makes her a little more chill in her new environment. We want her out of the crate and solving crime throughout Sacramento as soon as possible, but it’s all about baby steps.

Also, apologies for not posting yesterday. I had to go to the doctor and get put on some meds and then I slept for 14 hours. Any post I would have produced in my brief moments of lucidity would have been not just awful, but unintelligible. So, really what I should say is, you’re welcome.

And what about books, Amanda?

Well, to be quite honest, I’m not reading any fucking books right now. Between being sick and taking care of the new dog I feel like my brain is going to melt out of my head. I’m serious – last night I watched three hours of TobyGames on Youtube. My brain is not in the mood for reading. Shit happens, you guys.

And if I had to pick a book to read it sure as shit wouldn’t be this one:

Catching Fire Book

Awarded Best Sequel in the World by No One.

I tried reading this. I really did. It’s the only book I’ve ever gotten more than halfway through and then quit. Why did I do this? Because it’s the first book all over again. Here’s the deal – it starts off all original and I was all, “Shit Katniss, how you gonna get out of this, girl?” And then I was all, “Oh, because you’ll just go back in the arena and do the first book over again.” I would have given a heads-up about spoilers, but it isn’t a spoiler because if you’ve read the first book it already happened. So, I gave up on the series, and listen, I’ve had about a million people tell me I need to finish reading the damn thing and I’m just not going to do it. You fucked up, Suzanne Collins. You have fucked up.

And to be clear, I still stand by the fact that even though I think Catching Fire is shitty, if you love it and it gets you reading, well that’s awesome. Keep on reading and read what you want. I’m just a bitch with an opinion.

Bet you have a book you hate! Tell me about it in the comments and we can have a healthy discussion about terrible reads!

Santa Cruz on Puberty

Ok, this post is a day early, but I was too excited to wait until Monday.

Dude. Santa Cruz is rad.

You want to know what else is rad? Staying in a beach house with a view of the ocean for free.

Don’t believe me? Here’s a picture of what I get to look at while I’m writing this up for you beautiful people:

Santa Cruz | Disc Golf

Jeff being one of those hot dudes that hangs out on the beach.

Holy shit, right?

I wish you could be here to experience the glory that is this vacation.

The story:

Jeff’s parents are really good friends with the woman who owns this house. Once a year, they get to come here and stay for a week or two. Why so lucky? Their friend is just really fucking awesome. That’s why. We’re here this week just because someone in the world is awesome. I don’t know if that inspires you, but it inspires the hell out of me.

So, thanks to the woman I don’t know who is letting us stay in her house. She’s the shit.

The last time I was in Santa Cruz I was fourteen, chubby and super awkward. I was in the period of adolescence where one wears a baggy sweater year round to hide the body that they believe is a hideous wreck when really it’s just a normal pubescent bod. I remember hanging out on the boardwalk, trying to stand in the shade so as to not sunburn, not going swimming at all (even though I really wanted to) and trying really hard to flirt with a boy my age who was visiting from Australia. In my mind, we were going to fall madly in love, become pen pals (how romantic) and I would move to Australia to live with him in his family’s mansion.

We never even spoke to each other. I think I asked him if he wanted a piece of taffy and then my weird little fourteen year-old brain was like, “I’m gonna run with this and give you a totally unrealistic fantasy for you to pine over for the next two days,” which pretty accurately describes most of my puberty.

With all that being said, I had not so fond memories of Santa Cruz and was really stoked to come here now that I’m older and, for the most part, a lot less awkward.

For the record, I don’t think I’m any less awkward than I was at fourteen, I think I’ve just gotten used to and accepted my eccentricities which allows me to function better in public.

So, this isn’t really that sassy of a blog post because I’m feeling all grateful and happy and shit.

Sorry.

But don’t worry, by next Monday I’ll be a huge crazy bitch again.

Book for Puberty

I think I read Teen Angst? Naaah . . . A Quasi-autobiography cover to cover about 5 times when I was fifteen. Ned Vizzini (who, holy shit! is still writing awesome stuff. I just discovered this while getting the link to his website. I do believe my love for Ned has thus been rekindled) held my hand through the awkward years. I even used to write him emails which he would always promptly respond too. I also had a pretty big idol-crush on him. My thoughts were, “Wow. He writes. So do I. We are meant to be.”

You may know him from the book It’s Kind of a Funny Story that was turned into a film with that little person related to Julia Roberts. The book, It’s Kind of a Funny Story along with Be More Chill were his follow up books to Teen Angst and they were just as good.

Actually, now that I think about it, Ned is so awesome that he sent me a signed book once – he did a lot of freebie stuff on his website. He had a thing set up where you could pick the free thing you wanted and write down how you wanted him to inscribe it. So my smart ass was like, “write something about how awesome I am.” So, he did! I wish I had the book with me so I could get a picture, but it says, “To Amanda – you’re awesome. And I didn’t even put “awesome” in quotes like a dick.”

Tell me about your pubescent years and the books you read in the comments! Nothing like a telling a story that makes everyone feel awkward.