The Ignition of My Passion for Storytelling

I can pluck it from one event in my life. Certain memories of mine stand solidly in my mind while in other cases, I can’t remember much from a span of years. In one of those gaps, third grade, one of the hardest years of my academic and personal life, my grades slipped. Not drastically, I still had A’s and B’s, but for one solid year I got consistent, heavy C’s in English.

I can’t remember if English was my favorite subject or not at that point, it was probably art, but I do remember one specific project. We were tasked with recounting a time in our life and retelling it as a short story. We used odd yellow paper that was larger than the usual size and had an uncomfortable texture to it without being flat. The lead hardly showed up on it unless the tip was ready to carve through the page.

I wrote about the most recent Thanksgiving and considering it was the first after my parents divorced, it was just my mom and me. She was making the turkey and getting the table ready when our dogs, allured by the scent of savory meat, were crowding her feet. I can’t remember if our one dog, Buddy, an old Yorkshire Terrier, had passed away at the time, as I remember he passed away in third grade as well. Either way, she fed the dogs as I likely stood uselessly waiting for food. Maybe I was good and set the table, something that was a simple task for me to do just for two.

After dinner when she was cleaning up, she happened to come across a miscellaneous dripping of sauce on the counter. She wiped it up with her finger and popped it in her mouth. What she thought had been turkey juice or gravy was actually juice from the dog food. Her face twisted in bitter disgust and I remember us both laughing at the grievous error. Check that off the “never have I ever” list.

The moment, although brief and enough to gain a small laugh and carry on, meant everything to me in a time where it was hard to smile. Besides the divorce, my best friend had moved away that year as well, and I my little world had shaken so hard it knocked me down for a bit. Although most people at first glance likely wouldn’t suspect that sort of depth from a third grader who still can’t use proper grammar and spell common words correctly. (I still suck with grammar; I wish I could remember the years we actively studied it.)

My teacher didn’t find the story entertaining either, and wrote something to the effect of “this isn’t funny” or “this isn’t interesting.” To her defense, it was likely neither to an adult, especially a teacher reading about thirty of those papers. However, as a child, I took great offense. I believed it to be funny, and if she couldn’t see that— well, I’d just have to write more and get better to prove I could write a good story.

In third grade, I was still playing pretend at recess with the friends I had left, and when that friend group disintegrated around fifth grade, I started writing my ideas of worlds and villains instead of acting them out. Although I moved them onto a backup drive to save space, I wrote a little more than a hundred stories. I hardly finished any of them, but I had so many ideas I wanted to write I just had to get them down somewhere. It wasn’t until sixth grade when I finally wrote a “book” (about 30 pages in size 18 font) that had a narrative arc to it. The rewritten version of this book was the first I ever finished at about 260 pages. I planned four books for the series but only ever had three of the books on a “first draft” basis (all less than 30 pages, if I’m honest).

I’ll never forget what it felt like to finish writing that book. I realized that I actually could. The first hurdle I needed to jump through to become a writer I had vaulted over: I could complete a manuscript. Of course, it took years and shows the clear progression of improvement as it goes on and thus needs many more drafts, but I had done it.

I still have that paper. The decaying pages from almost a decade ago. It sits in a bin at my mom’s house, I think inside of a plastic bag for some form of preservation. (When I return to my Mom’s house I’ll take a picture of it and attach it to this post.) It taught me how to take feedback. While I wasn’t pleased with it, I took it into consideration, and I went to work. It was one of the hardest lessons to learn, but an absolutely necessary one, and I’m glad I learned it early on. I am forever thankful to this teacher in particular, among many others that I couldn’t have grown without the aide of. She was the one that ignited the flame to my passion that’s glowing brighter with time.

The Seeds of Storytelling

When I was little I wanted to do many things. This lead to some interesting choices in ‘career day’ presentations throughout my elementary school career. I only remember presenting about becoming a veterinarian and another about becoming a fashion designer. Barbie could be everything; why couldn’t I? Looking back, I recognize that all along the different elements of my passions were present throughout my childhood in different forms. I even recognized an additional form recently.

We didn’t have quite the powerful feminist campaigning back in the late 90’s and 2000’s, I still remember the jingle saying, “Be who you wanna be, Barbie Girl.” That alone was inspiring.

I was fortunate enough to have a basket of Barbies, complete with their own 3 story, four foot Barbie house. The thing was taller than me for the majority of my time owning it. At some point with a box and some creative direction thanks to my Mom, we even made a school for all the Kelly dolls to go to. I wish I had pictures: it was incredible. I was an only child, so I had a lot of time to myself and spent much of it playing with my Barbies (and Bratz, but I had more Barbies). I could play for hours just with my Barbies and creating different stories and worlds to explore with them.

I vividly remember playing with Barbies with my best friend and the entire plots we’d come up with. There was one series of play sessions I remember where there were warring vampire factions that got so intense my best friend wound up ripping one of the dolls’s heads off. There were also a series of play sessions that focused on the differences of economic statures between the rich and the poor, somehow inspired by the movie Anastasia. (That much I remember clearly.)

As I got older, the story became that of playing pretend in the playground. We’d have intense play sessions there, too. Most of those play sessions were using existing characters and storylines from shows we loved, but we still would add our own twists. I remember one time where my best friend was possessed by Devimon and in order to save her we were going to have to kill her to free her from his possession. Explaining that to a recess aid who thought I was going to literally kill her is something I’ll never forget.

He was nasty though, like seriously. Poor T.K. and Patamon.

I already was crossing into roleplay territory with those games, however when I got to middle school I began to chat with my friends on AIM for roleplaying. It wasn’t so cool to be running around pretending anymore. By that time I had already started to try to write stories on my own. I still have ancient files from sixth grade of old stories I had started and never finished. Roleplaying on a chat messenger was approximately 50% of my life from the ages of 13-15. For a science project during this time we had to measure how much time we spent doing certain things in a day. I can’t remember what it was for, but I remember the outcome was that I spent 36 hours a week on the computer. And when I was on the computer I was always roleplaying. And that was before I spent every free moment roleplaying. It only stopped when our friendships faded.

More recently, I recognized that my pursuit of art and animation was to support storytelling. My art was either scenes, or character designs for different stories and universes. This recognition lead me to realize why I could never have a job in animation: I want to create my own stories, not work off of someone else’s. I’d even argue my art now continues to further my stories in one way or another. It’s rare for me to do an art piece for the sake of doing an art piece.

I fondly remember these moments from my childhood while reflecting on the evolution of my creative process. It reminds me of how far I’ve come in just 21 years of life and the possibilities of growth in the future.

“Who Is Your Hero?”

I’ve been on YouTube longer than almost the history of my entire public school education. I remember the days where I would await whatever FRED video would be posted. The days where cats playing pianos were just the start of talent —before keyboard cat. Where the Numa Numa guy was cool and not a meme yet, not that we had memes back then. I mean, I would find just about anything cool when I was like 10 years old on the internet. Thankfully I was sensible enough to find Shane Dawson’s occasionally racist skit videos distasteful. (Along with Onision’s content, who has somehow remained unabashedly negative? Come on, dude. It’s 2018.)

In my Foundations of Story class, we were asked to think of our personal hero. A hero, for the introduction assignment, was defined as “a figure in any medium whose exploits and life demonstrate admirable skill or exceptional persistence.” I could’ve chosen my parents or any celebrity figure or fictional hero. It took me a long time to think of different people who were inspiring to me that I would consider a hero. For some reason, I couldn’t stop thinking about different YouTubers and debating with myself over which one to choose until I looked at the back of my phone to find Shane Dawson’s Illuminati popsocket. It was then I realized that Shane was my hero, duh. Which definitely sounds confusing based upon the last paragraph: let me elaborate.

I started really watching YouTube videos —albeit somewhat addictively— around 2015, and I know this because I switched from a cringy old channel to a newer one. I’m fairly certain I rediscovered Shane through collabs with Joey Graceffa. I remember being surprised, considering my last memory (at the time) of Shane was him being painfully obnoxious and extra in ways that made me uncomfortable. For Joey to do a collab with him was unexpected, but it made me reconsider watching Shane if someone as #familyfriendly as Joey was including him on his channel. Shane’s channel had changed significantly, and so I resubscribed.

It’s been almost three years now that I’ve been following him again, and wow. He’s changed a ton. Instead of creating the problematic content from the late 2000’s, now Shane is producing high quality content on a near daily basis about things he is genuinely interested in. You can tell when someone’s enjoying themselves, and you can tell he’s passionate about his content nowadays. I respect and am inspired by the dedication it takes to produce multiple great videos every week that often require loads of research (for the conspiracy videos especially) or even coordinating schedules with other people on a basic level. I tried coordinating schedules once and you know what happened? Nothing.

In addition, Shane has been wildly open about his own personal struggles. Of course, being a well-known figure on the internet is going to lead to your life being less private than the average person, but Shane has spoken out his own issues —whether it be on YouTube or his books I Hate MySelfie and It Gets Worse— concerning eating disorders, his sexuality, and other personal information like his relationships. It takes a lot of personal strength to come to terms with your personal struggles, and a monumental amount to talk about them online for millions of viewers to see. I value that and aspire to be that certain and honest to not only others, but myself especially as well.

In the past few months, Shane has also featured other smaller content creators and given them a platform to support their talent endeavors and promote them to his own audience. A few people from Fiverr including Antonia Marquee and Jesus Christ. Then there’s also the Psychic Twins, Terry and Linda Jamison who already had a following via other resources but were able to establish themselves on YouTube to his help. He also boosted a vastly talented young singer/songwriter by the name of Sophie Pecora. In some of his videos he also hires a child actor by the name of Christopher to act as a son as a joke for a fake family as a sort of test run for the real deal. Both the latter two children had their families around during the filming and spoke highly of Shane’s professionalism.

When I went to share with my class who my hero was, the day before a very quickly debunked accusation was spread about Shane (which stemmed from a chopped up, out of context audio piece of a shitty joke he had made during his offensive years). I almost changed my answer to the prompt due to the fear of what people would think who had only followed media headlines instead of investigating to find the truth themselves. I worried they would think I supported someone who wasn’t a good person. I recoiled from that selfish thought once it arose and I couldn’t even imagine how I would feel if I was accused of such things, nonetheless how Shane must’ve felt.

I went into class the next day and still declared him my hero, because he truly is and it would be wrong to say he wasn’t. I doubt Shane will ever see this, but he inspires me to be my truest self and strive for the best in others and my own work. If I had alcohol, I’d raise him a glass. Unfortunately (or fortunately) I do not. So, thanks Shane! 😁

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2018 Goals

Last year I separated my goals into more topical categories, but I was inspired by seeing many bullet journal spreads organizing them by frequency that I decided it would be a potentially more effective way than before. It’ll be harder to achieve the once a week goals, but I look forward to the challenge!

For my weekly goals, perhaps the toughest of all, I want to keep up with three things: go to the gym once a week, make a blog post once a week, and upload one YouTube video once a week. The gym goal will probably be the hardest to achieve. My current student dorm is the second furthest from either of the gyms, but one of the buses I would have to take to get back to my dorm stops by it. I’m not athletic by any means, and because my dorm’s so far from the walkable area of town, I don’t get any exercise anymore. I would theoretically by okay with just half an hour at least once a week. I also would like to make a blog post once a week along with a YouTube video once a week. These two I’m more accustomed to completing on my own. This blog I usually update once a week, and I’ve been getting more persistent with YouTube. I made an entire list of video ideas to get started on as well!

For my monthly goals, they seem rather relaxed but with those intense weekly goals I want to be able to complete them on a regular basis. I want to read at least one book a month in my free time, and not for school. This upcoming semester alone I have eight books to read, and I don’t want to include them. I got a lot of books for Christmas this year, and I look forward to reading them all! I miss leisure reading. Besides reading, I want to submit to two publications each month and have something polished to go out to them. The only non-literature based goal is to hang out with my friends outside of class at least once a month. Usually I become a hermit and rarely leave the dorm except for class but I want to work on being more social and developing the friendships I currently have because I’ve met some great people in the past year or so.

For my major goals for the year, I’ve got a handful of writing goals. Last year I completed my goal of finishing three books, so I was trying to think of how to challenge myself this year, considering I had originally never imagined finishing even two. So this year, I want to finish writing the first drafts of two books, write one feature film, write two pilot episodes to different series, and finally, have my one book from last year ready to send out to agents. The way I’m planning it is having a third draft, fourth draft, sending it out to beta readers and getting their responses, editing a fifth draft accordingly, and then a sixth draft to polish it off.

I’m not entirely sure which task will be the hardest, but it’s a tie between having a polished book and going to the gym once a week. The only days I’ll accept as a gym day, if I’m not at the gym, is if I did at least 30 minutes of walking in an activity like shopping around somewhere or walking a distance like to get to my café. (My cafe takes almost half an hour to get to from the bus stop. The walk back as well would make it count.)

I have a lot of goals this year, and honestly, I’m not entirely sure if I’ll be able to complete them all. But if I manage to do at least three quarters of them I’ll be satisfied with myself and call it a productive year. Happy 2018!

2017 Resolutions Results

2017 was the first year I gave myself solid goals that I didn’t forget after the end of the week. I uploaded them to my YouTube channel and let them free into the world. I realized later on I felt a little awkward about letting one of my more personal goals out and decided that I wouldn’t cover it. So here they are:

The road trip must’ve been the one on Spring break, because that was the only road trip I took last year. It was fun jamming in the car with my best friend, and the hours faded away from my memory until we began to get down to the last one where we critiqued Florida’s naming system of towns and looked at all the farms in the middle of generally nowhere that we felt could be a horror story of some sort. I originally had plans to go to the beach in the summer, but those fell through.

I finished all of the books I had been working on last year. The first two I finished last January by adding over 61,000 words in a few weeks alone during my free time from my classes. In July, I focused on completing my third novel for the year and did so as a part of the King Challenge I invented. Over my Winter break in December, I managed to slay the second draft of it. I wanted to surpass my goal by completing a first draft for a novel in NaNoWriMo, however, that didn’t happen.

The final goal I had was to post more frequently on social media. While none of my YouTubing was consistent, I managed to upload 11 videos, which is more than I ever had produced in a year before. I consider that a small victory. I also active on Twitter at the expense of my Tumblr. I haven’t been drawing much serious work, so my art blog isn’t very active but I recognize that that’s okay. Now that my major’s changed and I’m on a different life path, I don’t expect to be drawing as much and certainly not many serious works.

Overall, 2017 was a success. Even if I hadn’t achieved my goals, I worked towards them. I had never even set goals before then, so any attempt at achieving them even halfway I would’ve considered a victory. I definitely didn’t expect to finish two books I had been slaving at for years in the first month. The deadline of a year and the energy of starting a new one inspired me. Before, I would excuse how long it took me to write because of my time at school. After, I recognize that it’s all up to myself to make time to do the things I love, so long as I’m staying healthy while doing so.

Look out next week for my post on my goals for 2018! I had trouble trying to find out how to challenge myself after last year (I never had imagined I could finish even three books in one year) but I think I’ve found a good set of goals.

Fear as a Choice

We all have something we’re afraid of. Whether it’s something abstract like loneliness or more concrete like clusters or patterns of holes, there’s going to be something. When I was little, I was afraid of most things. Darkness, bees, scary movies, and aliens. Especially the latter two. I broke those fears on my own through a series of exposures. Sure, I’m still a little spooked by darkness, bees, scary movies, and aliens, but I no longer scream and cry in pure terror. Now the only things that scare me are when I’m sleeping.

In my child mind, I had classified Jurassic Park as a horror movie. I was scared of the dinosaurs hurting people and didn’t want to see them die. When I watched the movie, it was like taking a first dose of a life-altering drug. I was thirteen and I was hooked on horror movies. I started with the classics and branched out through other genres. In about a year’s span of time I remember watching Scream, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, The Ring, Poltergeist, even Night of the Living Dead in its black and white glory. I speedily destroyed that fear and it became an addiction.

The intense fear of any and all aliens was one of my irrational fears I held the longest. It probably stemmed from the scene in E.T. when he was sick and even more gross looking than he usually was. In the end I thought he tried to steal the dog with him on the ship and that also had upset me. Some time after that, my parents and I went to Planet Hollywood in Disney and we were seated underneath the most horrific alien-like statue that lurched over the table. It was much taller than I was and ever will be, and we had to move our table because I couldn’t stop crying.

I’m certain it was this one. What idiot puts a little girl underneath this thing, anyways?

I still had that fear at age 16, apparently. By then, I was a seasoned horror movie connoisseur and could take just about any type of horror movie. My dad, stepmom, couple-months-old baby sister and I were watching Dark Skies. My dad had been under the impression that it was more of a paranormal movie instead of an alien one like I had said. I was right. The one scene that caused me to scream to the top of my lungs and spontaneously start crying was one in the third act of the movie where the camera casually panned across the living room where four tall grey aliens stood. They weren’t even doing anything threatening; they were just standing there. Lurking.

In that moment I decided enough was enough; I needed to combat the irrational fear. So you know what I did? I rewatched the movie. Again and again. And when it began to feel too familiar I switched to The Fourth Kind. And then I repeatedly watched that movie too until the ideas stopped scaring me. Those two movies are the only ones that have ever affected my sleeping habits.

I realize that December, the month of happily enjoying major holidays, is usually not the one to be posting about fears. I’m about two months late on that train. However, for the first time in about four years, I had a nightmare the other night. One that sat with me wrong, that made me launch myself awake and gave me trouble falling back asleep. It’s when I remembered that oh: lots of my dreams would probably constitute as nightmares for most people. As a writer, I use my dreams as fuel for stories I work on. I use the vivid images in my dreams to inspire the heartwarming or heart-wrenching imagery in my books.

Most people would call a dream at a mansion party where your guests are getting murdered one by one so you and the others try to escape only to get shot in front of a GameStop to drop to the ground and sing a creepy song while you lay dying to be a nightmare. Most people would probably call a dream where you stand alone on the bleachers of a field and watch a plane release a yellow substance over everyone on the field to cause their skin to become pustules and pop as they disintegrate into nothing a nightmare. To me, those are a typical Tuesday night. And story ideas.

A Love Letter to the Ghosts of Chester Avenue

I decided that in the holiday spirit, I would write about the ones that haunted my old house. Old in age, and old because we moved out earlier this year. I saw a prompt somewhere to write a love letter, and I thought it’d be funny to explore that with my relationship with the ghosts in the house. Continue reading

Changing My Major

This shouldn’t be surprising. I’ve jokingly said “I don’t know why I’m in Animation, haha” for so long that the stark realization of the fact didn’t set in until one night after going to some legendary animator’s live animation and q&a talk. I can’t even remember his name. It was about a year ago, in my sophomore year. He spoke endearingly about 12 hour work days —which made me cringe in my accidentally acquired front row seat— and how “if you’re passionate about animation, you’ll love every minute of it.” Walking back to the bus stop alone I was worried about the fact that I could never devote 12 hours of my day to animation, and my safety became an afterthought.

I looked into switching my major that night and looked into my current major. I hadn’t really heard of it before, and I hadn’t taken any classes for it previously. I didn’t want to gamble on something I hadn’t seen or done, and I also didn’t want to go to another optional major that was everything I didn’t want to do with my life but at least wasn’t animation. After that night, I promptly entered the 5 stages of grief that I have finally come to the end of.

Stage 1: Denial

I’ve quit so many things in life that I didn’t want to quit another thing. When I was little, I was in numerous sports and physical activities, eventually all that I quit. I went through 6. I have a habit of cutting things off when they no longer serve me, so I stubbornly refused to add another thing to the list of quits. I thought that maybe if I got to other classes that weren’t from an unqualified animator teaching us (note: not a teacher in any aspect) I could regain my love for animating. After all; I loved my Action Analysis class. I met some great friends there. And I was partially right; I loved 3D Modeling and 3D Animation. And I wound up loving Rigging, which was a surprise. But not every animator SCAD hires can teach adequately (at the bare minimum), and that was something I had to learn the hard way.

Stage 2: Anger

I never knew that I could get so angry I could feel my soul leaving my body, but I learned a lot of things in the past year. My friends felt my fury from my stance alone and they couldn’t even see my face. It was the second revision of my project, and I was proud of it. That was my mistake; I actually enjoyed how it came out. In animation classes, it doesn’t matter if you like what you did or if it came out right. What mattered was that our teacher liked it and it was what they wanted to see. Which usually I have no problem with, except when he said, “You could continue to revise this forever; I’ll never be satisfied.” As an anxiety-ridden perfectionist, I was on the border of crying and of tearing his glasses off and shoving the shards into his eye sockets.

I came out of the class more confused than I was going in. I would arrive after a lively, uplifting 8AM class to find myself falling asleep from him talking in circles for two hours in mediocre English before letting us work for the last half hour. He implied some controversial choice beliefs, one of them low-key encouraging racist depictions. One day he opened class by showing a short film of people having sex for the longest seven minutes in my life. Just walked up, turned the lights off, put on the film, and then turned to us going on with business like watching soft porn at 11am on a Tuesday was an average thing. I’d come home from class ranting and raving every day I went. I used all four absences to skip his class to save my sanity. That’s a full two weeks of class.

Stage 3: Bargaining

I decided that animation as a job wasn’t for me during that class in Spring 2017. I found myself preparing for a different career path, along with graduate school in order to allow myself to have the opportunity. I was thrilled; I made my first excel sheet in years and began comparing different colleges and their programs. I even visited one of the schools this summer. At that point, I knew I wasn’t going to be in the animation field, or at least, not in the art department. I still was in the delusion that I would get my degree for animation and somehow apply the second degree to it.

Stage 4: Depression

I’ve been saying “animation sucks and so does SCAD” for so long, but it truly hit when hurricane Irma did. When I fled my Mom’s house to my school to then get ordered to evacuate again, I escaped up north back to the Poconos where I spent my entire summer. Driving up to the mountains I almost cried; I didn’t want to return. What was the point of going down to the devil’s armpit where I got swindled of money I hadn’t even made yet on awful classes I had no passion towards? The hardest thing was the drive back to the airport. I knew I couldn’t avoid it; I already had moved my things in. I already paid for the semester. There was no back-up plan to transfer or switch schools; the whole summer I thought I could continue with animation. You know how much animation I did this summer? I started one animation and never finished it. I drew one digital art piece. You know how much writing I did? Over 400 pages.

Stage 5: Acceptance

If Screen Design got me to the edge, then 3D Production was the final shove. The professor was awful. He went too fast in explanations and nobody could keep up. When we didn’t know something because our past teachers had (also) been low quality, he’d tell us, “well, you should already know this. How do you guys not know this?” and when we told him our teachers hadn’t taught us, he asked, “you put it on your review of the class, right?” (I did. I nearly filled 2,000 words of additional comments on two different teachers explaining how absolutely awful they were. Not that SCAD actually cares, of course, but that’s another post for once I graduate.)

The final drop all came down to texturing our models. Naturally, the newest version of the ever-changing program had some bugs in it, and this caused the program to crash whenever I tried to do something with the model. I’m someone who has no shame when it comes to asking any professor for help. We pay for an education, and pay to learn. I wrote a detailed paragraph explaining I tried x, y, and z, and asked if there was another way to do it. I also included the error message I continually got. He responded with three short, uncapitalized sentences that were very clearly something off the top of his head from reading maybe the first sentence of my paragraph. This continued another two times with mental auto-response e-mails, and I continually updated my answers and tried what he suggested despite having already done it all myself if he took the time to read my first e-mail. My last e-mail (to which he responded the next morning to with his final response) I essentially declared I gave up due to being on the verge of a mental breakdown and asked him to take a look at it because I put it in the dropbox.

When I returned back to my room to find his (second) e-mail sitting in my inbox, I promptly lost it. I declared to my friend in the class that I was done with the project, class, and animation itself as my major, and that I was going to switch my major or transfer out. I don’t think she actually expected me to follow up with it. I wouldn’t have either. What finally did me in was not just the simplistic, uncaring responses of my teacher, but the fact that I could spend an entire career using a program and still not know what a simple problem was because of how much is going on in the inner workings. I could have everything working as it should and there could still be a problem. That just doesn’t cut it for me.

So, what major did I wind up picking?

Dramatic Writing. I would’ve switched sooner had I been able to get into my Dramatic Writing 101 class before now. I didn’t want to take a bet on a class I didn’t even know if I’d enjoy nonetheless be any good at. I am absolutely in love with writing, and dramatic writing is another medium of writing that I am excited to get under my tool belt for creating stories. Theoretically I could transfer, but that would require me to essentially restart my college career because I doubt any of my animation credits would apply to anything. I only have to take one summer semester to catch up, and I can live with that. Because I’m still planning on going to grad school for Creative Writing, I decided to drop that minor, and instead minor in Animation. I’m now a Dramatic Writing major with an Animation minor.

I was terrified at first of the change, but the more people I spoke to the more secure I felt with the decision. Going into my animation class the next day I watched the teacher go to help someone and he chuckled, asking her if she was the one who was freaking out the day before. I was about to answer that I had been the person, but she said she was, and I was taken back. This man was quite literally laughing from our class’ collective suffering, and the final stab was that he told her that many people experienced the same problem, and to just export it without the hair and turn that in. I managed to get my update in before I presented, not that it really mattered considering I’m dropping the class, but for the principle behind it. While the Animation department might not have morals, I have a few and I stand by them. Now I actually look forward to my future and feel excitement to learn that I haven’t felt in over a year.

Superstitions I Believe In

Friday the 13th is one of those days that practically constitutes itself as a pop-up holiday. While I feel no connection to the day alone (besides the movie with my favorite Jason Voorhees), it brings up the topic of superstitions that many people believe in. To me, it’s just another day to binge-watch the titular movie, but to some it’s something to be feared. It got me thinking out the superstitions that I’ve bought into over the years, and so here they are.

Knock On Wood

This one I find kind of pointless in practice, but my paranoid mind instills in me the thought of “what if I don’t knock and something bad happens that I could’ve prevented by knocking?” It’s weird. It only takes two seconds to do and is relatively harmless, so I don’t worry about this one very much.

Salt Over Shoulder

Okay, so this one I only knew about from the Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy, which was one of my favorite shows as a kid. In the episode Dumb Luck, Billy spills the salt and Grim warns him to toss salt over his shoulder unless he wanted bad luck. Billy, being an idiot, tosses pepper, thinking it’s the same thing. Some bad luck snail crawls into his ear which then programs him to have bad luck, and hijinks ensue. While I never thought an evil snail was going to crawl over my shoulder, eventually my belief morphed to where there was some kind of demon or evil spirit that would follow me. I honestly don’t know. While I love salt, I use salt grinders now, so usually it never spills.

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Honestly, this show impacted me a lot. It inspired me in way too many ways.

Opening Umbrellas Inside is Bad Luck

This one I buy-into. Besides the act being rude—especially if the umbrella had been used and is covered in water— I don’t understand why anyone would want to open an umbrella inside. Theoretically the myth is that “bad luck could rain upon you” if you open an umbrella inside. Get it? See the joke? It’s more like a PSA not to be a weirdo. Umbrellas are for protecting you from the elements, whether it be from rain, sleet, sun, or maybe even snow. Unless your sprinklers are going off needlessly, why open it? I watch my little sister run around with her umbrella open inside and it baffles me.

Rabbit’s Foot is Good Luck

While I wouldn’t buy another rabbit’s foot, I bought one way back when I was younger from one of the Native American reserves we would visit when in Arizona. I can’t remember the real reason I bought it back then. Probably because it was pink is my guess. I was told it was good luck, and like my typically paranoid child brain decided I needed it. For years it sat in my bedroom drawer untouched until I got a lanyard for my car keys because that’s what everyone at my school did when they got their car keys. Of course, I needed to deck it out, so I went to the drawer and grabbed whatever interesting keychains I had. The rabbit’s foot makes quite the color contrast with the Elsa and Anna keychain my “sister” gave me. (She was a pretty much a baby, so it wasn’t exactly her choosing.) I don’t really believe in this one very much after I got in my car accident. However, I might’ve had my other set of keys that day. I can’t really remember.

keys

I mean, look at that color scheme though.

Other Good Luck Charms

I’m superstitious, yes, and a bit oddly spiritual. I always wear my necklace with charms on it wherever I go, unless there’s a risk of losing it or it not being allowed. I never wear it to the pool or the beach, considering if it falls off it could either get stuck in a filter or get lost in the sand. The only other times I wasn’t allowed to wear it was during gym class and during my job at the movie theater. To be fair, I could wear it underneath my shirt at my job, but I usually never wanted to risk it around the mountains of popcorn.

My necklace only has two charms on it, one from each of my parents. My mom gave me a Saint Christopher charm for travelers, and my dad gave me a celtic dagger-looking charm for protection. Both are sterling silver, which means they’re good for both long lasting purposes and even more superstitious purposes as well.

The only time bad things have happened to me has been when I don’t have my necklace on. Yes, I know, I sound like a paranoid conspiracy theorist or something, but it’s a fact. Every time I have injured my knee, I wasn’t wearing my necklace. The first field day and first injury of my knee, no necklace. The second was at a surprise birthday party for my friend I planned, no necklace because of fear it could fall in bonfire. The third knee injury walking in gym class, no necklace. Car accident going to work, no necklace.

Bad Luck Comes in 3’s

This is one I strongly believe in. Or at least, it happens enough that I don’t question it. It seems every once in awhile there’s enough bad events that happen all at once that never seem to let up. In my childhood home, we had a large glass window above our door that carried on to the second floor of the house. Because of this, birds would often fly into it and wind up dead on our doorstep. There were three large black birds that died from this within a few days. Another group of 3 on the doorstep were three snakes writhing around. I quickly left to go use the garage to get inside because I wasn’t going to get in the middle of that.

One of the strongest cases that have happened to me was when I dislocated my kneecap in 10th grade. It began with the actual dislocation of my kneecap, was followed by getting a stomach virus and then a sinus infection. I couldn’t get a break when I was trying to hobble around to toilets to throw up when I couldn’t bend my leg. It was a hard month.

This past week I had to go to urgent care for what they believe was potentially a kidney stone. They gave me medication to treat it as a really bad infection along with two shots of antibiotics and steroids. A couple days later I had the pain again, but lesser and shorter than before. That day, my mom went in for an already-planned minor surgery where after the fact she wound up passing out. While I was explaining all of this to my dad, he suddenly got sharp pain in his side while driving. Everyone is fine, thankfully, but it’s been a weird week.

I’m always going to be irrationally paranoid with these things no matter how much I logically know they probably have no affect on the future. After all, that’s what the definition of superstition means, anyways. According to Merriam-Webster, there are three very similar veins to define superstition:

1 a :     a belief or practice resulting from ignorance, fear of the unknown, trust in magic or chance, or a false conception of causation
b :     an irrational abject attitude of mind toward the supernatural, nature, or God resulting from superstition
2 :     a notion maintained despite evidence to the contrary

Now that that’s settled, I think I’m going to go look at pictures of black cats I want to adopt because they’re innocent, and leave poor kitties out of the superstitious hate.

An Ode to Aim

Two days ago, AOL announced that it will be discontinuing the use of their chat client, AIM, on December 15th, 2017. The service has been active since 1997, and allowed users to communicate across the internet allowing them to not only talk, but send pictures, videos, emoticons, and files to each other. While I didn’t use it in 1997, I began to use it in what was about fifth grade until eleventh grade, and at my peak of its usage, I was on almost every free moment for three years straight. In fact, in one of my science classes the year I began excessively using it I measured how much time I used on the computer per week, and learned I spent 36 hours a week on the computer, along with AIM. It became my life.

I remember the importance of having the right set of emoticons to express yourself with; you could choose from lists of different animals or styles. I chose a panda, so whenever I’d post a 🙂 or 😀 an encouraging albeit slightly haunting panda would appear. The worst were when you accidentally had an odd semicolon or question mark and the panda would accidentally form. In addition, every time I received a message, a butchered audio clip of the beginning piano part of What I’ve Done by LINKIN PARK played. I grew attached to these choices, and they grew on me as the chat client progressed.

(These were low-key terrifying in small form. The one with a grin we called Face because we referred to it as “what’s-it’s-face” whenever it accidentally appeared in chat format. Sometimes we would branch off and roleplay with it to the point I made it into a weird character that could never die. I don’t know why.)

My one friend encouraged me to get it because she didn’t want to get charged on her phone for all the text messages we’d use. My friendship with her ended within that year, and I went dormant for awhile. That is, until I met a friend at the beach the summer of sixth grade going into seventh grade. We got along great and exchanged usernames to speak with each other again. She introduced me to the greatness that roleplaying was, and it was like a drug. For the next year we role-played for hours on end, often staying up until the sun came up to sleep the day away. We were nerds, so we didn’t really go outside much anyways. Despite how close we are, we eventually drifted apart.

Then came the next generation of its use with more friends. We had a role-play group where we would go back and forth for hours, sometimes holding three at once. One on the group chat, and then two others with each other separately. We became skilled at typing quickly and creating detailed, spontaneous characters and plot creation. It was fast paced, creative multi-tasking at its finest. I managed to get my best friend onto the app, and we finally had a way to talk instantaneously. Her other friend joined as well, and the three of us had our own little group. I wound up talking to her friend more than her at one point, and him and I became great friends. We all gathered up one day and had an adventure at the movie theater. Despite my closeness with all of these people, we all drifted apart as time went on. (Except with my best friend; we’re still the same.)

By the end of my usage, I had accumulated a collection of groups (usually made of the same 5 friends but with different combinations) with classic names that only thirteen year-olds could’ve come up with. Kukuku, NellandmecauseEmishere, gnarshlop, hellohellobabyyouIMDme, BREWHAHA, BAHUMBUG, BTT, BCC, and last but not least, Anna’s mobile! GASP. Our usernames were even more cringe-inducing, although I will not share those for the sake of my old friends. I may not speak to any of them anymore, but I respect their privacy to their awful usernames just as I hide my own.

AIM allowed me to spend a solid chunk of my life connecting with my friends and getting to know some new ones. Without it, I would’ve never had such great times and I would be stunted as not only a writer, but as a person too. I’ve learned a lot of personal lessons about the aspect of written communication, and while some are painful, they are all valuable to me. I grew up with AIM. It was there for me to use in Elementary, Middle, and High School, which is longer than all but one of those friendships. And so, I say with a nostalgically heavy heart, goodbye, AIM. Thanks for the memories.

(It felt almost damning to not make another reference to my childhood, haha.)