Thursday, December 20, 2012

Top Five Books I Read This Year, and an announcement...sort of.

I had no clue what I wanted to write for this post, so it may come out super awesome, or...not. But I thought I would name the books I really liked reading this we go:

In no particular order(god, don't ask me to do that. It  was hard enough limiting myself to five favorites), here are the books I loved this past year.
(P.S. Click on the book titles to go to their Amazon pages)

1.Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce:
This author has a few books based off of fairy tales. There's one that is a re-telling of Hanzel and Gretel and there's one of The Little Mermaid, but this is a re-telling of Little Red Riding Hood. The story is told through the perspectives of two sisters who hunt were wolves. It is written so beautifully. It's funny, and there is also a lot of action. Also, the werewolves are pretty scary. In addition to that, these sisters kick ASS. One uses knives and the other uses hatchets. That's all I'm going to say.This was fun to read. : )

2.This is How by Augusten Burroughs:

 I usually don't do the whole self-help book thing. BUT. Augusten Burroughs is one of my favorite writers, and I knew it would be amazing. He did not disappoint. I dare you to name another book that tells you how to feel like shit, or how to be sick.
This book is funny, sad, and truthful. I'm sure it would be helpful to me if I was reading it for that purpose, but I just enjoyed reading the true stories he had in each chapter to demonstrate how to do things like be fat. This man is an amazing human being. You should read every book he writes.

3. Joe by H.D. Gordon:

Holy shit. This book, this book, this book. I absolutely love how H.D. Gordon writes, and this is probably my favorite thing she's done thus far. Jesus. It has everything. Perspective switches, a clairvoyant girl who has a limited amount of time to stop a school shooting, love, death, fear, and so, so, so, much more. I took my kindle with me camping over the summer and loaded 15 books on it. I only read this. I finished it in two days and then I read it again. Do yourself a favor and read it, then bow down to the master of story telling that is H.D. Gordon.

4. The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson:

Another book that floored me. I have to say, I loved Girl Who Played With Fire more, but the way this book was written was awesome too. You have to piece together different parts of what is going on. Some reviews of this book I read said that they didn't like how Lisbeth was in the hospital for a good chunk of it, but those were my FAVORITE parts. The fact that this girl has been shot in the head and still manages to hack into computers and basically write a fucking memoir to use as evidence in a trial is amazing. This character is probably one of my favorites of all time. She makes her own rules. She fights back. She's a hero. Everyone should give this series a try.

5. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green:

Okay. Do yourself a solid:
1.Just go onto amazon, or go into your local book store.
2.DO NOT read the description/inside flap of this book.
3. Read this book. And keep reading it until it's done.
4. Cry.
5. Question everything.
This book is funny, sad, and there is a truthfulness to it that runs so deep it was hard to believe it was fiction sometimes. I usually don't read books like this, but I took someone's advice (not reading the inside flap) and read it. I loved every minute of this book. There's a reason John Green is on all of the end-of-the-year-best-book-lists. DO IT.

So, that's it. I know this post is a little short, but I haven't written anything about other peoples' books in a while. Also, you should all mark your calendars for January 1st. There will be THINGS happening. and you don't want to miss it.
So...give someone a book for the holidays and I will see you on January 1st! : )

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Types of Anxiety Disorders

So, I've been really, really busy.
There's been school work, work work, writing work.
And a little thing called NaNoWrimo.

But  I have been writing shorter things to share, mainly in creative writing class.
I am particularly fond of this one, and hopefully everyone else finds something comforting, recignizable, or at the very least, funny in it.

The assignment was to take a "non-literary form"(like cook books, brochures, math problems, etc) and add literary elements to it.
What I tried to do was take a standard "Anxiety Disorder" explination form and pick out and exploit the parts that always bugged me whenever I read them when I was trying to find out what was "wrong" with me. Mainly the fact that while most of the information on anxiety breaks down the basic symptoms, they never explain exactly what a panic attack is. And of course, there's a lot more to it. This was one of the rare times I wrote something and knew I was going to like it once it was done.
A lot of me is in this one, so maybe that's why I like it. I hope you do too. : )

Types Of Anxiety Disorders.
 1. Panic Disorder: Fear of having panic attacks is mostly what Panic Disorder is. Many times the person does not know why they are having an attack. Sometimes, it seems to come from “out of the blue”, but more often, it comes from your mother asking you what’s wrong every five seconds, your classmates believing that there is something wrong with you, and a general fear of every little thing around you.

A panic attack is usually accompanied by shortness of breath, people yelling things like, “breathe” at you, dizziness or faintness (because you tried to breathe), increased heart rate (because breathing didn’t work), trembling (because you are going to die), hot or cold flashes (from the life slipping in and out of you), and a sense of detachment because in the ten minutes it takes someone to have a panic attack, their life passes before their eyes and they begin to accept their inevitable demise, and living after you know for sure you are going to die really messes with your head. Other symptoms include fear of “going crazy”, and the fear of “losing control”. These fears are irrational because you are crazy and you have lost control.

2. Agoraphobia
: The fear of having panic attacks in public places (because this is the only place you will ever have them).

It is anxiety-causing not to know when your next panic attack might occur because it will happen when you are at your grandmother’s birthday party eating cake, in the dark of a movie theater with your boyfriend, or when you’re especially lucky, in the middle of a really good dream as you sleep.
As the panic attacks occur more frequently and in different locations, the person begins to fear going anywhere as “unsafe”, which is anywhere that is not the bathroom of their home, where they can curl up in a ball on the cold linoleum without anyone telling them that “everything’s okay”.

3. Generalized Anxiety Disorder
: Excessive worries about more than one thing characterize this disorder. Many times the worries are unrealistic, such as “What if I have a panic attack at school and everyone stares?” or “What if I marry a man just like my father and he divorces me and leaves me with three kids and no money and they grow up to hate me and I hate my life because everyone I loved hates me and my anxiety and depression get worse because I have no one?”  All of us think about things like this, but people with Generalized Anxiety Disorder fixate on them and can’t get them out of their mind.  

Symptoms include (but there are a shit-ton more): body tenseness (what if I have to pee and get up in the middle of class and everyone stares at me), lump in the throat (what if I have to throw up in the middle of the restaurant and everyone stares at me), trouble falling asleep (what if I sleep in and am late and everyone stares at me), and difficulty in concentrating (everyone is staring at me).

Some people with Generalized Anxiety may have experienced panic attacks in the past (whatifwhatifwhatif) or become Agoraphobic (couldn’t go to school anymore because of the fear of everyone staring at them, making fun of them, and  they hate people in general anyway so the school nurse did them a favor in suggesting they go on home bound). Without treatment, they continue to remain restricted in their lives and fear going too far away from home (where the bathroom is).

4. Social Anxiety Disorder
: The constant fear of being criticized or evaluated by other people (because you always will be). Simply attending a business meeting, trying to find a job, or looking for their keys in a supermarket because they lose everything and can’t remember the simplest of things because their brain is too full of thoughts, can be highly nerve-wracking.  Although people (everyone except you) with Social Anxiety want to be social and fit in with everyone else, their anxiety keeps a tight hold of them at all times like a clingy toddler. They freeze up when they meet new people (or people they have already met, especially if they try to hug or comfort them).

They are particularly afraid that other people will notice that they are anxious (or not notice)—and this fear causes the anxiety to get worse.

Most socially-anxious people remember being called “shy” as a child and can name experiences from their past that correlate with the Social Anxiety they now have. (Like when their Mother made them join girl scouts and they never earned any merit badges because none of the other girls wanted to be in a group with them because they were that weird kid that always freaked out over nothing.
Things that contribute to this disorder include: your father leaving, your cat dying, your step-father dying, your goldfish dying, your mom getting cancer, your mom surviving cancer, your other cat dying, your father becoming a monster, your father living, and living, and living, and the fear that you will die.

Most anxiety disorders come from traumatic life events like rape, abuse, or wartime experiences. Of course, none of those things ever happened to you, so you’re fine.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Boo: A Rememberance

When I was in forth grade, I was put on homebound for the first time because my anxiety was so bad that I could not function in a school setting. I would have panic attacks wherever I went, and I was afraid of having them which made it worse and made them increase, and also made almost everyone at school think I was the weird kid that always freaked out for no reason.
So I was happy and sad about being put on homebound. I was happy because a lot of the things I worried about went away with being able to relax and not worry about what the kids at school thought, but I was kind of sad because I didn’t really have anyone to talk to or interact with during the besides my mom, my therapist. And a teacher that would come for about three hours a day to tutor me.
I think my Step-Dad picked up on this. One day, while my sisters were at school, he came in the house with something tucked under his arm. I asked him what it was, and he looked around, making sure the coast was clear. “If I show you now, you have to keep it quiet until I tell your mother,” he said in a hushed tone. 

I loved sharing secrets with Bob, so I agreed.

He unfolded his arms and sitting against his chest, sleeping, was a little yellow and orange kitten. It was hard for me to contain my excitement as he handed the kitten over and I took hold of it, its soft baby fur tickling my face as I kissed him and cooed at him.

My mom was a little mad at him at first. He had joked a few times about getting me a cat, so she was kind of surprised that he actually did. Bob was allergic, severely allergic to cats. We already had one, Whiskers, when he moved in and he always had watery eyes and red skin because of it.
 It was the last thing I expected him to do for me. 
 Bob always surprised me like that.

Anyway,  my mom said I could keep the cat, whose name (already given to him by the owners) was Boo Boo, as long as I took care of it, fed it, potty trained it, and made sure Whiskers and him didn’t fight.
For the first time since I was put on homebound, I had a friend. I had something to look forward to each day besides endless doctor’s appointments, therapy sessions, talking, always talking. Adults always asking me how I felt, how my parent’s divorce was affecting me (even though it happened years and years before), if I was having anxiety attacks and if so, when and where and how often.
For the first time in a long time, I could just sit quietly and not worry about anything. I could play with him, make sure he was warm, make sure he had food and water. We didn’t need to talk. I didn’t have to answer any of his questions besides maybe if there was more food or if I had time to play.
 I got a call from my sister tonight. She told me that Boo died.

She walked into the bathroom, and he took his final breaths and died.

I was upset. I was so upset and I am still so upset that I do not know what to do with myself or any of these emotions that I’m feeling.
So I do what I know I can do: write about it.
Boo slept on one side of my bed for a good portion of his young life. He stole my most comfortable pillow and claimed it as his own. So I got the left side of the bed, him the right.

Boo was the type of cat that was always small. When he was a kitten,  his head was so much bigger than the rest of his body that people thought there was something wrong with him. I would tell them that he just had a big brain that his body had to catch up to.

The first week I had him he ate a whole tray of brownies and I thought I had killed him. But he was fine. He played for a while, running up and down the house for hours until the sugar wore off, then went to sleep and wake up the next morning fine.

He won’t be waking up tomorrow.

And I’m really sad, as anyone is when a pet dies.
Boo was the type of cat that looked like he had wisdom behind his eyes. It sounds strange, but it’s true. Sometimes I would look at him and just think, God, cat. What do you know?
And he was there for me when I needed him. He was always a comfort. If I was upset, or having an attack, he could sense it and would be there. He 
until I calmed myself. He was an anchor when I was drifting.
And I miss him already.
In the past years, I haven’t seen too much of Boo. I’ve moved so many times, I couldn’t take him with me for any of those journeys, and I wish I could have. Some of those times I really needed my anchor and didn’t have him.

 When Bob died, he didn’t have a will, most of us didn’t get anything to remember him by. I had three things: A ceramic lighthouse that he liked, A rusty can opener, and Boo.
Boo was always, always the most important of the things Bob left me. It was like a part of him lived on with Boo. Like I would look at Boo sometimes and remember how Bob would joke about how small he was, or how he would pretend he was angry when he fell asleep in his work boots, causing him to have red itchy eyes for the rest of the day. I would remember his raspy laugh when I watched Boo sometimes. And it sounds dumb. It sounds so ridiculous, but the last living piece of my stepfather died today, and I think it deserves a moment of attention.
One time, I couldn’t find Boo. I looked everywhere and I was freaking out. A few hours later, I found him asleep behind the dryer, curled up on a metal coil. I thought I had lost him that day, and I remember the feeling of relief when I saw his tiny body and huge head sound asleep. I was so happy when I picked him up and he mewed and stared at me with his all knowing eyes like he was saying, relax. I’m right here.

Boo was an outside cat for a lot of his life. He liked going outside for days on end, coming back when he was done doing whatever he did. He brought in a dead rabbit one time. He came up to me with it, giving it to me as a present. And my mom chased him out of the house, screaming, “DON’T PANIC.”
When we moved for the second time, the cats went to live with my nana. I like to think that they were a comfort to her. She definitely liked having them around. Then Whiskers died, which deserves a post of itself, because he was also one of the pet loves of my life. Then my Pop-pop died, and Boo was there for her in the same way he was there for me.

One time I went over my nana’s house when I hadn’t been there in a while. Boo looked different, but he was only getting old. Cats shrink and get skinny when they get old. I knew this because of whiskers. But for some reason I could not wrap my mind around it. “he looks like Bob,” I said. I don’t know why I said it, but I think it was because by that point in my life, I had seen two living things waste away to nothing and die in front of my eyes, and I was afraid that it was happening again. 

 But it didn’t. Boo lived for six years after that.

And when my Nana came to live with my mom and sister, so did Boo. And when my nana had to be put in a nursing home after being in the hospital and not coming home in between, we brought Boo to her window so she could see him and talk to him before she didn’t see him again.
Boo was the type of pet that loved you because you loved him. If you showed him attention, he’d warm up to you and be your best friend.

In the past year or so he got skinnier, older, but his personality never changed. He would steal food from your plate if you weren’t looking, meow at you if he wanted you to do something, then look at what you wanted him to do.  
Fridge: feed me human food.  
Cat bowl: why is this crap not human food?  
Eddie: Why won’t he be quiet so I can nap?
He had a really good life. I know that’s a cliché and expected thing to hear when someone talks about a loved one passing away, but it’s true.
What’s also true is that I had a good life because of him. I know for a fact that if he didn’t come into my life when he did, and continue to be there when he was, I would not be who I am now. Not at all.

And he was there for others too. So if you have a memory of Boo, please feel free to share. I just posted whatever came to mind first. Besides spelling mistakes, I’m not editing this at all. I want to remember him the way my brain remembers him, and changing the words will change the memory of writing them down.
So anyway. Boo was…he was the best friend I ever had, and I hope that wherever he is now, he has a ton of cheese, fields to play in, and Whiskers and Bob to keep him company.
I love you Boo/Nooky Thompson/slenderman/little man/Purple rain/baby Boo/slender man/pweasle/Boo Boo Bear.
You’re going to be missed by a lot of people you helped.   

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Painting

I've been meaning to post this poem for a while.  
I think it's the first poem I have ever truly written for someone. And that someone is my sister, Kelly. If you don't know Kelly, first of all, you're missing out and you should find out how you can know her(but you can start here). Second of all, you should know that she is very brave. I say she is very brave because she is doing and has done more than I could ever do. That encompasses a whole shitload of stuff, but mainly, for the purposes of this post, I'm talking about making art and going to art school.
I'd be lying if I said I wrote this only for her. I was once in her shoes (albeit not as intensely because it was only at the community college level), and I hope I got it right. By it, I mean the whole experience of making art in an institutionalized setting (I think there's a pun in there somewhere...) and having it judged on a daily basis. You get the shit beat out of your creativity and ego and probably more, and in addition to that, you have to keep it together and not have a mental breakdown every day
But I digress.
I wanted to write a poem that was different for me, but that I could still get right. 
Hopefully I got it right, and hopefully Kelly thinks I'm a little bit more brave by posting this. 

(And special thanks to my sister, Kelly Colligan, for giving me permission to use her art in this post. I love you.Everyone should check out more of her art.)

 The Painting
I don’t know if I’m an artist
Or a magician.
And I’m tired of hiding
That under the coat
My skin is scraping off.

That when I see you,
Or any human,
I want to eat a piece
So I can resemble the person
I was before
More complete or finished. 

Some days I’m completely asleep,
I feel it slowly
Then all at once.
Ordering the pieces from largest to smallest.
Like a mosaic.
Like I meant to do it.
Pulling rabbits from my hat.
I wonder how much I have to destroy
Before I am satisfied.
How many times I must smash myself
Before the picture is whole.