A year ago today, I live tweeted my southern lit class. This doesn’t really fit in with this blog, but I want to preserve this. Follow me on Twitter @julestheonly
Okay so, it’s three in the morning and I’ve just got to get this off my chest. I might not even publish this. It’s about my college journey, and it’s not a happy story.
Basically, I transferred schools after my sophomore year of college. My original school, College of Charleston, was literally my dream school. It was the only school I ever wanted to go to, and if I hadn’t gotten in, I would have taken a gap year to try again, instead of settling for another school. I picked out my roommate (shoutout to Kelly) months ahead of time, and I had pinterest boards for how I was going to decorate my dorm room, and it was great.
Then I got there, and it was fine, but not the awesome college experience I had seen in movies that I had grown to expect. My friends were, pretty exclusively, my roommates. I’m not good at branching out and making friends, and that was no different at CofC. Second semester, Kelly left and I got another roommate. During that second semester, my new roommate decided that she wanted to leave, too. Then one of my other roommates, Kath (and my best friend ever since freshman year), decided that she was transferring, too. So I was watching all of my friends leave, and I had just signed up to live with a random set of roommates sophomore year.
Sophomore year came around after an amazing summer, and I tried so hard to fit in with my new roommates. It just didn’t work. They were friends from high school, and I was just the rando. We had nothing in common. They didn’t like me. I didn’t like them. They stole things from my room (RIP my camera and iPod) and let criminals stay with us for over a month at a time. (One of them let her step-brother stay with us before going to prison. He’s still in prison now, and will be for a very long time.) They purposefully hid things like toilet paper and toothpaste from me. And all this time, all of my friends were gone.
I went into a really, really dark place sophomore year. I was mad at my roommates, completely lonely and isolated, and confused, because I wasn’t loving my dream school anymore. There were periods where I would go days at a time without saying a single word to another person. I would stay in my room, not going to class or anything, for a week at a time on multiple occasions. Even just looking back on it two years later sends me to kind of a panicky place. I spent literally every night crying.
I wanted to drop out. Literally. Not even transfer. I didn’t want to even try anymore. In sort of a last-ditch effort, I tried to get placed into a new housing situation, away from my terrible roommates. When that fell through, I called my mom crying, saying that I needed to leave. This is a time in my life that I actually don’t really remember. You know how, when someone goes through something traumatic, their mind tends to block it out? I literally can barely remember a lot of sophomore year, I think because it got blocked out. I developed acid reflux at this point from all the stress.
A real low point was my 20th birthday, which I spent completely alone.
I decided to transfer to USC, for a few reasons. One, because it was there. Honestly, that was my reasoning. I was furious with myself for not making the dream school work. But USC was an option, and I took it. Also, Kath, my best friend and former roommate lived there, and was offering me a place to live. I was so tired from the year- it was absolutely exhausting- that I didn’t want to have to expend any brain power deciding on a new school. Around March, I got involved with Tumblr Survivor (ilu guys) and started spending a lot of time on Skype, talking to people in LA, Toronto, wherever. I started getting really into watching YouTube videos, because I couldn’t take the silence anymore. I used to put Game Grumps on in the background for hours at a time, just so I didn’t have to be alone with my thoughts. I still do that. Things get too loud in my head when it gets too quiet.
Things slowly started to seem better and I could begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel that was my sophomore year. I had some good days. And a lot of really terrible days. But eventually, I packed up my room, sold back my books, and my dad came and helped me move home. Basically, a bit of advice from this: things don’t always work out. Lean into the curve. Find your friends where you can, even if that’s online. Learn how to be alone. It’ll get better.
And that’s the story of the literal worst year of my life.
Everything I mention in this post (except for a couple of small exceptions) is linked!
This is actually something that I’ve been loving for months now, but it doesn’t get enough attention! GGF is a youtube adaptation of Anne of Green Gables. Basically, Anne is a vlogger who posts every Wednesday chronicling her life. Currently, she’s at college, but the series starts right after she is taken in by foster parents Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert. It’s sort of like Pemberly Digital’s Lizzie Bennet Diaries or Emma Approved, only with a smaller budget and without Hank Green helping steer the ship. Anne of Green Gables has always been one of my favorite stories, and this puts a really fresh, modern spin on it. They use a lot of transmedia (basically, the characters are all on social media, completely in character, so some of the story goes down over twitter instead of in video form) so it feels really real and immersive, and lends itself really well to the vlog format. And, just like I have been all my life, I’m totally in love with Gilbert Blythe. It’s funny and heartwarming, but if you know the story of Anne of Green Gables, there are some very sad parts, as well. And they don’t gloss over them at all- it’s really interesting to see how things like grief and heartbreak are adapted for a modern world.
You might already know Daveed Diggs- he plays both Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson in the musical, Hamilton. (Which I also love.) Small Things to a Giant is his album, available on bandcamp for $7. I’ve always liked rap in a I’ll-listen-to-it-if-it’s-on-as-long-as-it’s-not-offensive-but-I-probably-won’t-seek-it-out kind of way. I got into his music by youtube searching him (because I’m in love) and finding his song, Fresh from the Hood. It’s still my favorite song on the album. His lyrics are really smart and timely, and I just love it. One of my favorite lyrics: “Maybe I’m just other than famous- maybe I just have to accept that that’s where I will remain. But if that’s true, it won’t be due to lack of noise-making.”
This isn’t really a new thing, or a new love. I’ve had this game for probably over a decade now. But my roommate and I have been playing for the past week, and I just really love it. I don’t have the Wii U HD remake, so we’re still playing the GameCube version, but I have no problem with that. The graphics are beautiful and vibrant, the music is incredible, and the gameplay is fantastic. It’s still difficult enough that it stands up as well at 22 as it did when I was 10. Right now, our hero (named Snarfkin) is working on finding all of the Triforce Charts.
19 Before 20 is a podcast created by two of my good friends, Kathleen and Abby. They both turned 19 in February, and they’ve planned to do a new thing every week before they turn 20 and podcast about it. The episodes are about 20-30 minutes long, and they talk about their new thing, the things they’re liking that week, and by extension, life in general. They’re both really smart and weird kiddos, and I’ve been really enjoying listening to them. It’s a new podcast so they’re still working on getting a following, so definitely go check them out. (I’m mentioned several times- if they mention someone named Mako, they’re talking about me.)
Chescaleigh (real name: Franchesca Ramsey) is a youtuber/Daily Show writer/MTV Decoded host, who talks a lot about intersectional feminism, racial politics, et cetera. She doesn’t make youtube videos super often anymore (her most famous are probably her Shit White Girls Say to Black Girls videos) but she’s gotten really into Snapchat recently, where she just sort of talks about her day or current events, or shows off her makeup looks, or just… whatever. She’s just really smart and funny, and I’m loving her Snap stories lately. It’s like watching a mini-vlog throughout the day.
You might remember Michael Aranda from Chameleon Circuit, the Doctor Who themed band that is now defunct because several of the band members turned out to be sexual predators. (Not Michael, though.) He’s also a part of Hank Green’s youtube video empire out in Missoula, Montana, working on SciShow and CrashCourse. On top of that, Michael’s also recently launched his own production company, Synema Studios. His vlogs are probably the most chill, laid back vlogs I follow. They’ve been super far behind, but as of last night (March 18th- I’m releasing this post a few days late), he’s totally caught up. WhatI’mDoingRightNow is his vlog channel, but he also has a main channel. It doesn’t get used super frequently, but his main channel videos are really beautiful and well made. His vlogs are also really high production quality. He films mostly on an iPhone, but uses a lot of drone and time lapse footage to show off Montana’s better qualities. (I have a grudge against Montana. Ask me about it sometime.) Also, the vlog following is small, so it’s a nice little community. You see the same people in the comments every day, just chatting. It’s a super positive group of people, and just a really good like, before bedtime vlog. He’s also a super talented musician and composer.
A few blog posts ago, I wrote about how I want to get settled into a Big Girl Job this year, after graduating. Ideally, I would like to have something figured out by the time I graduate, but definitely by the end of the summer.
I started the job hunting process a few weeks ago. I completely revamped my resume, and I actually created a resume website, which goes into more detail than I could in one page, as well as showing some of my social media/website chops. Let me tell you guys: it’s fire. I’m really proud of my resume. That said- I downloaded the Indeed Jobs app and just started searching for full time jobs in the area that I want to live in.
I found a job listing that I liked pretty easily, actually, but it didn’t feel real. It was for an online dog travel agency- yeah, you read that right- based in my hometown. The job listing bragged that you can bring your dog to work (can you say, dream come true?), flexible hours, vacation time, healthcare, the whole shebang. I applied, but it basically became a running joke among my friends- the dog travel agency. I never expected to hear back.
Fast forward to a few days later, when I had a phone interview for the dog travel agency. At this point, I was still doubting that it was real, until my interviewer mentioned an employee who happens to be a good friend of mine’s mother. The benefits sounded amazing- especially the dogs in the office. The problem was the work I’d be doing. I applied to work in social media/marketing/editorial stuff, and they wanted me working in a call center for at least a few months until I paid my dues, or whatever. I mean, fine. I get it. Work your way up the ladder, and all that.
I was feeling really hesitant about the job by this point. The pay wasn’t amazing, the work would be pretty tedious until I moved into a higher position, et cetera. And then I got a call for a second, in person interview.
I walked into the office and was immediately surrounded by about ten dogs, which is basically my dream. There were big couches, decorations, and an open, airy feel. I had a very chatty, social interview, and went on a tour of the office, which was better than I could imagine. There were screens for office movie nights, pool tables, a big yard for all the dogs, games, all of that. It was great. The people there were young and fun. I left feeling like I was going to puke- I knew that it would be the right decision to go to work for them, and the interview was incredible, but something still felt wrong. I had desperately wanted the interview to go badly, to make the decision of whether or not to take it easier.
I had another job in mind. It wouldn’t be full time (summer work only), the pay was lousy, and I won’t know if I even got the job for several months. But this job, at the camp that I’ve worked at for three years now, still held my heart. And as much as I knew that the dog travel agency would probably be right for me longterm, I couldn’t see myself giving up camp that easily. Even though I know this will be my last summer, there’s a part of me (a big part) that isn’t ready to let go. And I just can’t see myself working in a call center, even if it does mean moving forward into something better. I hate phones, I want to be outside, and I want to work at helping kids.
The dog travel agency seems a l m o s t perfect. And I know that it would be the smart thing. But I’m young. And life’s too short to do a job that you aren’t passionate about. Maybe someday, I will end up at the dog travel agency. And I’ll put in my time in the call center, and I’ll bring my dog to work everyday, and it’ll be great. But I’m just not ready for that.
So, what comes next?
I’m in the middle of the interview process for camp. Assuming all goes well, I’ll be there for the summer, and in my time off, I’ll be job (and house!) hunting. My goal is that by mid-August, I want to be in a career and a place to live. I can be an adult in the fall. This last summer is my chance to do what I love.
Recently, I’ve been actively writing and plotting my novel, simultaneously.
That probably makes no sense. I’ve sort of started the writing process in media res.
See, my current novel started out as a NaNoWriMo novel. I was off to a really great start, but then I got a really bad case of bronchitis and didn’t feel like doing anything but sleeping for like, a month. So that died.
But here I am, with a good chunk of the beginning of a draft, no plotting, no prewriting, and only a vague idea of what was going to happen next. I’ve never been much for the writing process. Even as a university English major, most of my papers are written with absolutely no outlining and turned in as first drafts. (For the record, I realize that this is a terrible way to write a paper, and I realize that this is probably why my grades aren’t as good as they could be, but I do okay for myself.)
When I decided to seriously pursue this novel, I knew that I had to change something about my process, because I’ve tried to written a lot of novels, so I have a lot of computer files with 15,000 words written and nothing else. I decided to create a really detailed outline, which I’m still working on. (Currently outlining chapter 20.) But you know, I’m not that good at following one thing at a time, so when I get bored of outlining, I go back and work on actually writing the current draft.
I also decided to set myself deadlines, because I don’t want to be working on the first draft for the next ten years. I want to be done with the draft until summer, partly because it seems like a good time to take a break, but also because I have a tendency to go live at a summer camp until August, and I know that I won’t write there. So far, I should be finished with chapter 19, for example, by March 27th. I’d like to be done by May, just because I think it would be cool to say that I wrote my book over the course of my senior year in college.
Anyway. I feel like I have a way more solid grasp of where my novel is going and what I need to do to get there. Of course, this is just in reference to my first draft. I’m kind of terrified of the editing/rewriting process, because let’s be honest. I don’t ever edit my own writing. I just turn in my first draft and wipe my hands of the matter. I’m not even going to edit this here blog post.
I’ve been a Reader for my entire life. Back when I had bunk beds, I invented a pulley system to get books up to my top bunk. I was the kid in school who was always reading instead of paying attention in class. My mom had to come fight the school to get me permission in elementary school to check out upper-level books from the library. Last night, I stayed up far too late reading an entire book in one sitting. (Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon. No spoilers, but I’m still blown away by the ending.)
As long as I’ve been a reader, I’ve also been a writer. I used to write dozens of stories a week about superhero girls, kite flying, family vacations, mystery, romance, you name it. I once entered a children’s writing competition sponsored by Lavar Burton, the Reading Rainbow guy. My story was called SuperMe. It was about my superhero alter ego, who could fly, had super speed, and could talk to animals. Her main enemy was Mojo-jojo, the bad guy from the Powerpuff girls. I told my mom about the story after I sent it, and she told me point-blank that it couldn’t win because taking Mojo-jojo was a copyright violation.
Fast forward. It’s 2015 and I’ve decided to finally start the novel I’ve been sitting on for years. I didn’t have any of the plot worked out, just that there would be a royal family, feminist discourse, and lookalikes. It was like on Google Maps, when you’re trying to figure out how to get to your friend’s house. It starts out zoomed out to show all of the United States, which is wildly unhelpful. That’s where I was. I could see all of the metaphorical story United States. To see the actual street names, you have to zoom way in, which is where I am now.
I guess I’ll talk about a few goals for my novel. I want it to be somewhere in the 50-60,000 word range. I plan on writing somewhere around 80,000, though, so I have plenty to work with during edits. It’s going to be marketed toward young adult readers. I definitely want to publish with a major press (I don’t want anything to do with self-publishing), so I want to get an agent. I’m hoping that I can get the first draft done by June, preferably before that, and then spend the rest of 2016 editing. Once I finish the chapter outlines, I’m going to set myself deadlines like “chapter 12 done by this date” and “polished draft of chapter 1 revised for this date”, similar to how it would be if I were already working with an agent.
I’ve got all these dreams of book advances, signings, end caps in Barnes and Noble, people obsessively following my every move on social media and asking every day when I’m releasing another book. But for now, I’m going to finish this blog post, outline a bit, write a bit, and then maybe do some yoga.
So, I’m pretty picky about resolutions. A lot of people say things like “be nicer”, “exercise more”, or “be happier”. I feel like these are actually huge cop-outs, though. It’s so easy to say, when next December comes around, that you were nicer or happier without anything to back that up.
I like quantifiable resolutions. Things that I can clearly chart the success or failure rate for. So while someone might say “lose weight”, a better resolution is “lose fifteen pounds”. Someone might say “be nicer” but you could say “volunteer at a charity at least once a month”. These kind of concrete resolutions keep you more grounded and are better at keeping you accountable.
I do have Resolutions for 2016. I hope to accomplish them all, but I also like to keep things realistic. For instance, my resolutions for 2015 were to get a tattoo, read 100 books, and get my real estate license. I got my tattoo, I read 57 books (let’s be honest, 100 is pretty steep), but I lost interest in getting my real estate license, so I abandoned that one. Which is fine. It’s important to be forgiving to yourself when you don’t quite meet the goals you set. Maybe your resolution was to go to the gym three times a week, but you broke your leg and couldn’t go. That’s fine. Maybe you meant to travel more, but your work or school schedule got really crazy and you just weren’t able to. Things happen. We’re people.
So, without further ado, my 2016 New Years Resolutions:
- Graduate college
- Get settled into a home
- Get a Big Girl Job
- Get a dog
- Read 50 books
- Maintain this blog throughout the year (at least one post every two weeks)
- Get (and use!) a gym membership