My Favorite Pieces of Literature

It’s almost Friday–yes I know, this is being posted after Friday–and the taste of the weekend is dancing on the tip of my tongue like this bowl of spaghetti I definitely shouldn’t be consuming. Like that figurative language I used there? I mean, it’s subpar, but what can you expect when you’ve spent the last three weeks focusing solely on expressive language? 

That being said, while my Creative Writing class is concentrating intently on poetry, this post is dedicated to literature in general, and I’m going to share my all time favorites, why you should read them, links so you can read them or buy them, and my favorite quotes from each book that I know will intrigue you. Okay…maybe a couple quotes because picking a favorite one is like choosing between children, hard.

*note: as of right now, my favorites are not what you’d call “current,” as my education has dealt with less modern works*

So without further ado, here we go…

1. Sylvia Plath. Plath is my all-time favorite poet, hands down. I’ve always said that poetry should be an outlet for people, and Plath is one of the first poets to embrace the concept of confessional poetry. Sure, her work is a little dark, (more than a little I suppose) but it is brilliant nonetheless. I encourage anyone that plans on reading Plath to do a bit of research; she was woman who was seriously depressed, and her work allows readers into her mind. That being said, I think it’s also a great idea to try and shut that out of our minds to truly appreciate Plath’s literary skill; often it’s easy to focus on her biography and not her talent. It’s sad to read, but it’s also moving, impactful, and so important. Some of my favorites are “Lady Lazarus,” “Daddy,” and “Mad Girl’s Love Song.” Also, read “Edge,” for the simple fact that it could quite possibly be one of the last poems Plath wrote before she committed suicide (successfully)–not to mention, it’s as tragically beautiful as the rest of her work. When reading her work, I think it’s important we go in with an open mind; many of us can’t possibly understand her, and if you’re one who can’t, at least work to see the utter genius that is Plath. 

“I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead;
I lift my lids and all is born again.
(I think I made you up inside my head.) – Mad Girl’s Love Song

2. Percy Bysshe Shelley. Staying on the theme of poetry for a moment, we’re throwing it back to the late Romantics: cue Percy Bysshe Shelley. Writers of Romanticism were all about nature my friends, but don’t be fooled, the poetry wasn’t just about nature. I’ve developed a new love of poetry for sure, and Shelley is one I came across in one of my British Literature classes. For his time, he was wild, eccentric, and sometimes even considered inappropriate–although when you read him, it’ll seem like child’s play. My favorites: Ozymandias, a poem about how too much pride can knock even the most powerful jerk off his pedestal. Also, it was the title of an episode of Breaking Bad in season 15, so it’s cool; (yes, I provided the link to watch/listen to Bryan Cranston read it). Another favorite of mine, Love’s Philosophy . Classic romantic poem, and not just about the nature aspect of romanticism…it’s about love…good ol’ love.

In one spirit meet and mingle.
Why not I with thine? – Love’s Philosophy

3. The Picture of Dorian Gray Guys. This is one of my favorite books, (I’m audio booking it to re-read it despite owning the physical version, because my eyes can’t take much more reading at the moment). There’s so much to say about Oscar Wilde’s brilliant novel about narcissism, that I can’t even summarize it well enough. I mean, it’s got it all: struggles with morality, questions about good vs evil, desire for never ending youth, (I’m with ya Gray) vanity…it’s all there. In a nutshell: Dorian Gray is some young shmuck who’s impressionable mind is manipulated into thinking life is all about what’s on the outside. He starts as a fairly innocent character, just too naïve for his own good, and it’s one of those stories where you’re smacking the book off the wall because Dorian is so impeccably compelling yet infuriatingly arrogant at the same time. Honestly, there’s so much more to this that I’m not taking time to explain, but I encourage everyone to go read this.

“You will always be fond of me. I represent to you all the sins you never had the courage to commit.”

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 “The books that the world calls immoral are books that show the world its own shame.”

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“Experience is merely the name men gave to their mistakes.”

4. Paradise Lost. John Milton’s epic poem (very long poems with heroes, battles, etc.) begins in medias res; that’s fancy literary terminology for “in the middle.” Meaning, our tale starts after Satan has done his thang, (aka, tempted Adam and Eve to eat that pesky fruit) and now he’s in hell…but it’s not really hell…yet. It’s complicated for sure, but what Milton does in this 12-book poem—or 10 if we’re talking about the original—is pretty…interesting. Sure, let’s go with that. Again, I discovered this in a British Literature class, and wrote an entire thesis paper on the possibility that Milton sympathized with Satan. Now, I’m not claiming that Milton praised the devil—I don’t know the guy—but for those that major in literature, or at least know of the technicalities of it, there’s a lot that Milton does to hint at the idea that Satan is the protagonist, possibly even the big toe of a tragic hero. I say “big toe”, because he doesn’t fit all of the tragic hero criteria. I mean let’s face it, perfection isn’t attainable–we’re all sinners–and what Milton does here is show readers that the main difference between us and Satan is that he didn’t give no f**ks about repenting. Is that integrity or stupidity? I guess that depends on who ya ask. Anyway, there’s no Satan loving here, that guy is a real jerk, but it’s always fun to dive into these types of topics from a generally unconsidered standpoint; and prodding the complexities of morals is always cool, so points to Milton for trying something new and fresh. Just so everyone knows, this isn’t just about Satan, it touches upon all of that stuff: Adam and Eve…all that jazz, but Satan’s presence here is particularly interesting. Just read it, you’ll get what I’m saying.

*FYI, Macbeth is considered a tragic hero and he was some power hungry tool who went around murdering countless people, what’s up with that?

 “Never can true reconcilement grow where wounds of deadly hate have pierced so deep…”

5. Of Mice and Men  Another classic, courtesy of John Steinbeck. If you’re not trusting my taste in literature, bear in mind that Steinbeck won the Nobel Prize for Literature thanks in part to this beauty so, it’s good. If you’re not into super pessimistic, downright sad books…then don’t read it, although I definitely recommend it as it delivers a pretty significant message and probes history from a more personal level. Set in the Great Depression, it details all the sh**ty aspects of living at the time, simply put. Themes present in the novel: The American Dream, (or lack thereof) and prejudice, along with a lot of violence. In some ways, this book is almost nonfiction, as Steinbeck actually drew from experience, which makes it a little less fictional–thus–sometimes more heart wrenching. This book is probably not one for the faint of heart, but there’s something about darker literature that I find so important to read; happiness is easy to write about, it’s not so personal, so when an author dives into things this intense…it’s admirable. Although Steinbeck’s novel has actually been seen with vastly different opinions, in my opinion–especially when it comes to subjects like this–you can’t be too detailed; you’ve got to do the story, and the people who lived it, justice; and boy does Steinbeck do that. 

“Try to understand men, if you understand each other you will be kind to each other. Knowing a man well never leads to hate and nearly always leads to love.”

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“Maybe ever’body in the whole damn world is scared of each other.”

6. The Yellow Wallpaper. Here I am again with the pessimistic and dark stories. I can’t help it, sue me. That being said, Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s short story is really, really good. At surface value, it seems all about the psyche; a woman trapped in a room with wallpaper that talks to her. Pretty cool already, but that’s not the only meaning; if you dig deeper, there’s an important underlying message about the status of women during Gilman’s time. Written about Gilman’s own experience after being told to “rest” off her anxiety in order to stop her psychological breakdowns, (yea, that should work, *eye roll*) there’s a couple important facts that come to the forefront by the end. For one: being confined to a bed with limited intellectual freedom—aka, you can’t use your brain for more than a couple hours—to alleviate mental breakdowns, is probably not going to do diddly, and two: your husband shouldn’t be the one making life altering decisions for you, forcing you to lie in bed for months on end, and limiting contact with the outside world. You could easily read it only from the angle of mental health if you choose, but it’s cool that there’s a couple different layers here. It really is a really cool piece of literature, and there’s even a podcast about it from a supernatural standpoint, which shows how multifaceted Gilman’s story really is. I don’t want to say too much, as the story is short so too much summarizing will give it away, but it’s a doozy. 

 “I think sometimes that if I were only well enough to write a little it would relieve the press of ideas and rest me.”

7.The Tragedy of Julius Caesar. More like, “The Tragedy of Brutus,” thanks professor Robert Boon for that quote. This Shakespearean story is supposed to be about the Roman dictator Julius Caesar’s assassination, yet it seems more reflective of that tragic hero theme we brushed upon earlier. It starts in the middle of Caesars reign, when Brutus is manipulated into killing his friend. Fast fact: “Et tu, Brute?” isn’t historically accurate; some people say that Caesar didn’t say a single word upon his death. (This isn’t entirely shocking considering he was stabbed a ridiculous amount of times). That being said, I have done some research on good ol’ Marcus Brutus, and upon finding very little, it wouldn’t be surprising if Shakespeare saw a generally ambiguous figure of history, grabbed him, and developed a truly empathetic character from it. Shakespeare was a literary genius, lets face it. I read this—for the second time—in my Readings in Shakespeare class, and it is one of my favorite works of Shakespeare as it presents that oh so loved theme of morality really well. Brutus thought he was doing the best thing for the city, so we can cut him some slack, right?

 “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.”

8. Wuthering Heights. You thought I’d forget this? Yeah right. Bronte’s only published novel is—and always will be—my favorite. I have seen this book get a lot of crap recently, and it’s killing me. It’s romance yes, but it’s also…not, and there’s something undeniably moving about a classic toxic-love story. Catherine and Heathcliff are in every way not good for each other, yet they keep running back. There’s zero positives about their relationship aside from really great quotes, and an arguably unhealthy level of intensity, and although I don’t condone these types of relationships…. they are great for books. Our two central figures have a connection from the start, she winds up deciding being a gold digger is a good choice,  (I may be one of the few with that opinion) and thus Heathcliff goes coo-koo for coconuts—that’s if he wasn’t already headed there prior to her jerkish behavior thanks to his oh so wonderful “almost family”—and from there, things get real nasty. If you say “Romeo and Juliet was the most tragic romance of all time,” Wuthering Heights says: “hold my drink.” There’s no happy ending at all here. Heathcliff literally loses it, tormenting people, naming his daughter after his dead lover, and subsequently dies alone. I mean Heathcliff spent the entirety of his life making people feel as bad as he did. Nice, right? He’s still one of my favorite “leading men” though, he’s too tortured not to love. Bonus: you can actually visit the North York Moors (Yorkshire Moors) in England, aka: the setting of Bronte’s novel. It’s on my list people. 

“If he loved with all the powers of his puny being, he couldn’t love as much in eighty years as I could in a day.”

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You said I killed you–haunt me then. The murdered do haunt their murderers. I believe–I know that ghosts have wandered the earth. Be with me always–take any form–drive me mad. Only do not leave me in this abyss, where I cannot find you! Oh, God! It is unutterable! I cannot live without my life! I cannot live without my soul!”

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“He wanted all to lie in an ecstasy of peace; I wanted all to sparkle and dance in a glorious jubilee. I said his heaven would be only half alive; and he said mine would be drunk: I said I should fall asleep in his; and he said he could not breathe in mine.”

Thank for reading everybody, I think literature should be a part of everyone’s lives, and I believe that everyone would enjoy reading once they find what they like. Maybe my list isn’t something you dig, that’s cool. If anyone has any suggestions for me to try out, I’d love to hear them! 

Ending it with one more quote because I’m extra: 

It’s not all bad. Heightened self-consciousness, apartness, an inability to join in, physical shame and self-loathing–they are not all bad. Those devils have been my angels. Without them I would never have disappeared into language, literature, the mind, laughter and all the mad intensities that made and unmade me.” – Stephen Fry

My Favorite Things

Hello everyone.

It’s Monday and I’ll reluctantly admit that I’ve been slacking on the blog. Slacking with a capital “S.” Alas, the show goes on and I’m humbly and stupidly postponing my first day of classes this semester to update here.

I’m lacking inspiration, that’s the honest truth, and I have no one to blame but myself. However, despite my sad little life, (just kidding, I’m rather happy) I’ve come up with just the thing to talk about.

My favorite things at the moment. The things I’ve been using religiously recently because they rock my socks off. Without further ado….

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Classic Literature.

It’s quite obvious that one thing I do most often…more often than anything else is read. Aside from the fact that my degree ensures my free time is made up of this exact activity, I’ve always been a lover of reading. All this considered, I’ve been in love with the same book for years, and I don’t anticipate my love for it dwindling. Wuthering Heights is Emily Bronte’s only published novel…and it’s a classic love story, with some odd elements of the supernatural, so that’s cool

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Skin Oils.

I have super dry skin dry skin during the winter, so oils are something I like to keep on hand. Jeffrey James “The Glow” oil is perfect. It smells good, it feels good…the bottle is chic, what’s not to love about this stuff? If you’re looking for an entire skincare regime, which I simply can’t keep up with, Jeffrey James has everything from face washes and creams to serums >>>> take a look at all of the fabulous products here.

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Anything Harry Styles.

It’s no secret that I have a deep overwhelming passion for Harry Styles, and I’d like to say I haven’t lost control of it…but I’d be lying. The Harry Styles vinyl has been my life since–well–May of 2017. It’s almost classic rock, but without the “classic” (yet).  However, his dreamy voice contradicts the norm of that style of music, and let me tell you…heavenly.  While you’re at it, take a gander at his tour merchandise. I mean, what’s not to love about this swoon worthy ball of a man? He teaches people to be kind…because it takes a 6 foot tall Brit with the jaw line of Adonis to teach us basic human decency.

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Warm Neutral Eye Shadows.

If I’m going to make any confessions, its that even though I enjoy doing my makeup…I’m not great at it, so you’ll never see me doing step by step tutorials on how to do a cut crease…although I watch Bella Fiori’s YouTube channel religiously. Despite my underwhelming skill, I still love to make attempts, earning me an A for effort. Warm neutrals are my go-to for everyday makeup…which is generally all I ever wear, I’m no professional makeup artist. This is one of my favorite palettes, but there is no name on the packaging so I can’t tell you which brand it is. Take your pick though, I like them all. Just to provide some options other than ol’ no name here, try out the Morphe 35O Nature Glow palette if you’re up for it.

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Super Soft Makeup Brushes

Here I go again pretending to have any skill when it comes to cosmetics. These EmaxDesign makeup brushes are my current loves, mostly because I can’t bring myself to spend too much money in light of the circumstances. They also come with a nice little chart on how, and what to use them for, which I like because I’m completely dense when it comes to the technicalities of the makeup world. Affordable, soft, and instructional…count me in!

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So there you have it, my favorite things. Until next time….
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xoxo Ali.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Falling 

Falling

The feeling when your heart stops and the breath is knocked out from underneath your feet. 

Kind of like when your vision gets cloudy and your hands search blindly for something; anything to take away the helplessness your heart seems to be smothered in.

Falling

Whether it’s a short enough drop that your arms can bear to catch you, or you’re plummeting thousands of feet; nothing moves faster than your mind during those short but seemingly endless moments.

Perhaps it’s karma, maybe a cruel twist of fate; perhaps I simply asked for too much.

It feels like someone is slapping me across the face repeatedly, shouting:

There’s the inspiration you wanted so desperately! 

Be careful what you wish for…

I used to question everything and nothing all at once. However, never for a split second did I question God. Never did I debate his role in this thing we call life.

Right now, I am.

Right now, as I sit with not only shaking hands, but a troubled heart; I’m questioning everything. I’m questioning if the world is really as good, really as beautiful and divine as I’ve always claimed it to be. Right now with erratic breaths and innumerable thoughts darting around my head, I’ve–for the first time in my trivial life–questioned every wonderful thing that has graced my existence.

No need to voice your disgust or your outrage.

I can already hear the gasps; the sharp intake of breaths. I can already hear the murmurs of pity and the repugnant grumbling.

I can already hear you all–stunned to your bones–because how could anyone distrust this world that God created? He places on your shoulders nothing you can’t handle.

Well he thinks too highly of me.

But don’t worry; I hear you all. I hear your concern, whether it be sincere or not and I understand that your optimism is ever so tenacious. For that I’ll tell you; you’re lucky.

You’re lucky because you’re stronger than me. I’m not sure if you’re stronger in general, or if this feeling of hopelessness will flutter away as quickly as it came; although at this moment I can’t foresee being so blessed.

You’re lucky because either you’ve never heard words so repulsive, so terrifying and soul shattering to warrant such feelings as these; or you simply have resilience beyond my own.

Either way, you’re lucky. Right now, I’m wishing I were you.

Because right now, I’m weak. I’m lost and defeated. I’m a petrified child, clinging to her mother’s legs; a feeble attempt at shaking this empty feeling that’s lingering.

However, worse than all of those things; I’m selfish.

I am so selfish.

selfish

selfish 

selfish…

I’m selfish because my heart has made it onto my list of priorities; if it’s not at the top. I’m selfish because while I’m here eating microwavable noodles, writing down the thoughts that have filled my mind these past few minutes; silent tears softly dropping onto the pages of my notebook, there is someone else who’s feelings should be more important than anything else.

Yet I can’t seem to remove this storm cloud from over my heart. It’s as if I’m being swept up into a hurricane, totally incapable of snapping out of it; incapable of putting on a brave face, and saying words I’m sure she so desperately needs to hear.

How is it I’ve managed to trudge along through every inch of bulls**t that has previously made it’s way into my own life; but when it comes to another person who’s heart I care for more than my own, I turn into the exact thing I hate?

I wonder if underneath the person I’ve claimed to be, I’m actually an entirely different one. One who thinks about herself far more than she ever should.

A person who–instead of using gentle supportive words like–“don’t worry we’ll get through this” or “you’re so strong, you’ve got this”–shuts off her mind and hands the phone to nearest person who isn’t so invested in their own thoughts. Someone who can handle what’s to come with a grace I evidently do not posses.

Yes, that sounds like who I am lately.

Despite my angst and despite the turbulent thoughts scattered so messily around my brain; life goes on for me.

I’ll wake up tomorrow in good health; no weight on my shoulders so heavy I wrangle with the thought of whether or not waking up is even worthwhile.

So for the time being….I’m okay.

I have to be. For the simple fact that this is not about me. It’s not about my sorrow or my uneasiness. It’s not about my vigor–or lack thereof–and it’s most certainly not about my heart.

So, in a pitiful attempt to believe it myself–a laughable attempt at convincing myself it’s true–I’m okay

 

I Think I’m Right, But I May Be Wrong. 

It’s Monday, and I’m under the assumption that you all utterly hate this day of the week. Your weekend ended, you didn’t get everything accomplished that you planned on, and you’re all headed back to work.

I’m also sure that 100% of you have had it with the political posts; whether they be in support of the current events or not. I’m here to bring you some good news surrounding all of  this.

As you are most likely done with all of the rants, the person who lives next door to you probably is too, so there’s something you have in common.

Why am I sharing this with you? Because lately, I’ve felt as though I live in an alternate universe, one that is rather small and insignificant; one that everyone knows about, but wants nothing to do with.

As I’ve scanned through my social media accounts, I can’t help but feel a little queazy. I can’t help but read and read, hoping for a resolution to my endless questions and inquiries. I can’t help but feel so sorry for myself…it’s clear to me that I know nothing.

I feel dejected that I’m not lucky enough to have all the answers. I’m jealous of all of you who have the world figured out; so much so that you’ve selflessly taken it upon yourselves to enlighten those less fortunate with your unyielding wisdom through the godsend that is the comment threads. I feel insignificant because my opinions are mine alone. Worst of all…I feel so foolish as I had no idea that opinions were not allowed anymore.

So here is where I’ll say thank you. Thank you for making me feel so blessed that I have permanent residence in my near desolate universe. The universe where there is a distinction between facts and opinions, where the latter is welcomed with open arms, and an open mind. Where other people matter, and we spend more time discussing the things we have in common than the things we do not. I like my universe.

Yeah yeah I know, I “need to step into the real world”. I appreciate your concern for my well being, but I must say; I spend plenty of time in the real world…but if anger, and hatred; humiliation and degradation, disrespect and vulgarness are essential elements of this “real world” than I’d rather not be a part of that world.

There’s no doubt about it, we all have one thing in common, and that’s that we all feel some sort of way about the recent events that have taken place in our country. In the universe I live in, the fact that our feelings are different is okay. Here when someone says “we are all entitled to our own opinion” they actually mean we, not me.

There is a massive and crucial difference between those two words, and it’s even more important in that sentence. One says you accept and appreciate all points of view; the other says you say you do, but really only mean yours or those similar to yours.

One great philosopher said “if you walk the footsteps of a stranger, you’ll learn things you never knew you never knew.” Okay, so it wasn’t a great philosopher, but it was Walt Disney’s version of Pocahontas. Was it an accurate interpretation of events, no; but the quote is still quite fitting. I have no intention of judging anyone. I don’t believe that my ideas are any more right than yours, I simply feel like it’s important that I put this out there.

Most of us have no idea what the hell the word opinion means. We certainly think we do, and we most definitely preach about how we all have them. However, if we actually knew, we wouldn’t be participating in the never ending political battles that have plagued our world. The fact is, most of what is happening are people fighting over who’s opinions are right and if I may interject; that’s utterly insane to try and decide upon.

We are humans. As humans we are different. We live different lives, have different values, smell different, walk different, talk different. Really, the only things we do the same are blink and s**t; involuntarily and out our assholes.

At the end of the day, we will never agree on everything.

We also cannot expect the other side to stop preaching about something they are passionate about; whether you like ideology or not. You cannot expect them to stay silent, just as they cannot expect that from you. You both have an extreme amount of passion…and that is a wonderful quality, whether I agree with your viewpoints or not.

I’m all for pleasant discussions and kind back and forths. Personally, I think life would be fairly dull without it. What I have a hard time seeing, is when this turns into brutal battles targeting people because they believe differently. I can’t tell you the amount of times this week I’ve seen so many contradicting and dare I say it, hypocritical posts. Posts slamming others for their beliefs and how they share them, posts about why I’m right and you’re wrong, posts about how “inhumane” or “unnatural” someone is.

I’ve seen countless ones claiming: “I’m entitled to my opinions, and if you don’t like it stfu” typed in all caps as if that makes their lack of appreciation for someone else’s’ any more okay. I’ve seen these exact people preaching about their deserved opinions, spewing out insults to others like they’ve got “diarrhea of the mouth” as my old music teacher would phrase it. Isn’t your ranting about others ranting counterproductive?

One thing I feel confused about, and this is the most political I’ll get; is since when were the words “liberals” and “conservatives” used as insults? I’m unsure of when Merriam Webster defined these terms with a negative connotation. If there is no existence of this, then why are we using them as if they are perfect insults?

What the hell happened to “do unto others”?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m aware that many of you fit into one of these and some of you loathe the other sides’ beliefs; but since when did that change the way they are meant to be used? They were never meant to be insults yet somehow we’ve made them into that.

Somewhere along the way, we have lost the line between opinions and facts. We have somehow abandoned reason, and declared ourselves rulers of knowledge. We’ve decided that we know everything, and anyone else with different beliefs, anyone who has lived a different life, or made different choices is all of a sudden unimportant. They play no role in humanity, and have no say in what happens in the world. They are merely tiny, trivial parts that hinder your plan for the perfect world; one that without them, you’d certainly have.

We’ve lost our humanity, and our respect for our fellow humans.

So, I will remain in my unrealistic, dreamist universe where I have the freedom to preach about my passions and talk about what I believe in without fear of being shunned. I’ll stay in my universe where you and I could possibly have coffee and talk about the new movie that just came out, or the book you think I’d like to read. I for one, would rather live here than in this other universe.

I hope you choose to cross over into my universe; I will certainly welcome you here.

 

 

 

 

For My Family

Dear family,

I was going to write a post about my grandfather. Pepa as you all knew him. It’s been sitting in my drafts since the funeral. However, while typing away I realized that one thing:

Everyone understands loss.

We’ve all experienced it, and even if someone reading this has not; surely he has some empathy towards those that have.

That being said, I can’t bring myself to write a post about my own personal loss. It’s pain. It’s utter heartbreak, it’s falling asleep at night wishing you could just thank them one more time. It’s wondering how the hell this could have happened. It’s knowing that no matter what negatives happened along the way, you’d take those over what is happening now. You’d take it back and maybe try and change it.

But you all know that.

What has me all flustered as I sit here pondering the last week; is not my aching heart. It’s something that I’m inclined to keep to myself–but something that needs to be said.

I was happy this past week.

I’m sure you’re all reading this thinking “how the hell could this freak be happy?” And to be completely honest, I understand that concern. How could I, after losing someone so important to who I am, be so happy–so content.

The answer is so simple, yet so complex. I urge you all (not just my family) to consider this when reading these next few words. I think you’ll all be able to relate this to your own life, and in that I find comfort.

I lost someone. So did the rest of family. In one way or another, we all lost someone who played a role in our lives at a point in time. Whether ongoing or for just an instant.

I had one thing in common with so many people, some I don’t even know. And as we all mourned the death, or celebrated the life of him..we gathered in one room, embraced each other and cried as a group. Until that day we never knew the their person existed.

But beyond that, I had so many family members in one room, at the same time. It’s moments like that that we take for granted. So rarely do I get all those people that I love in the same room. Some of the most beautiful people I’ve had the privilege of knowing.

My Mema–who has kicked this cancers butt and is now showing us just how strong she really is. My mother Carrie–who certainly wins the ‘being totally and utterly selfless’ award. My aunt Debby who never fails to show her unwavering support. My Aunt Becky who hugs me so tight when I need it, and makes me feel like I help when I hug back. Aunt Ann, and uncle Phil who would drop everything to just lend a helping hand. My cousin Jason who brings an enormous grin to my face without even trying. My big brother Trey who will forever and always be my other half, who I look to for guidance in my life. My best family friends Kassi and Ryan…who willingly chose to be here through the chaos of our lives’ and support us. My amazing husband Jordan, who stands by me no matter what–with a strong hand, and a warm heart.

They were all in the same room at one time. In that instant though, there was anther person there.

Anthony Scrimo.

He was there. Slowly applauding himself for getting us all there together. While under the worst of circumstances, he ensured that we’d all get to spend time together. Laughing loving, and enjoying each other. I find happiness in the thought that while I’ve never considered myself to be a “religious” woman; I knew Pepa was up in heaven making sure I was okay, as he always did.

That’s why I was happy.

It’s a strange feeling. Being so happy and destroyed at the same time. An oxymoron so infuriatingly minding jumbling, that you don’t know whether you should smile or cry. It’s something I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemy.

But the question I feel I should ask..is why does it take something like this for all of us to be together? Yes, there’s the military which plays an important role..or school. Work or kids. Why can’t we all take a minute out of our day to plan ahead for times like that. Take a weekend to just be together.

I know it sounds so idealistic and not realistic. That’s okay, I’ve always believed that I’m a perfect balance of both. But if wishing these beautiful days could happen because we made them happen–and not because of something sorrowful or unfortunate makes me niave;  then I’ll take that title with open arms.

I guess what I’ve been pondering is not my lack of luck this past week; but how incredibly blessed I am to have a family like them. As I sit here and type away in the dark truck, I’ve made one promise to myself.

I will see them more often. There will be more time like that. Because I want it to happen. Because when I get them all together–whether it’s to go out and order an unreasonable amount of chili dogs; or see pictures of the nieces and nephews I’ve yet to really know–it’s perfect. Whether it’s to laugh over drinks with my brother and our best friends, or sip att coffee with my mother and mema. Or maybe it’s simply listening to the sound of my husbands light hearted breathing, hearing his heartbeat through a tacky t shirt.

Whether it’s wishing I could hear Pepa tell the stories of our Christmases one more time…

If I could take all of these things and have them all happen in the same room, sharing each experience with everyone I love-I’d say I’ll never need another thing.

So I guess I’m making that promise here, for everyone to see, and I suppose I’m asking, or hoping that you all will try to do the same.

“In conclusion” as Pepa would say:

I love you family & see you soon.


Where Is The Love?

In my previous post I had written, I talked about just how wonderful social media and technology is, and how they are the center of how I communicate and share things with my far away family.

I truly do believe that these things can be wonderful resources for everyone, whether it’s for current events, entertainment, or keeping up with friends and family. I whole heartedly endorse it. Maybe it’s my inner young adult speaking, but I honestly believe we have a great tool in our hands.

That being said, as an avid social media nut (I’m not even ashamed), I can’t help but curl away at some of the horrific things I’ve seen while doing my morning browse.

Sure, there’s plenty of horrible stories I read on the news pages and sites I follow, but of course, I’m not naive, so I expect these everyday tragedies as part of this cruel world we live in. Despite being utterly the happiest human around, I’m no stranger to how the world works.

However, it’s not these stories about robberies, or murders, or cancer ridden children that startle me, believe it or not. It’s the people who are using this wonderful technology to verbally abuse anyone they can get their hands on. Be it strangers, or neighbors, their sword of anger is unyielding. I can’t help but wonder…how awful a life it would be to be so bitter.

Now, don’t get me wrong, we’re all entitled to our opinions. What kind of person would I be if I believed otherwise? Although we are allowed to, and are capable of forming opinions and ideas I’m not sure that necessarily means we have to shove it down the throats of the nearest set of ears. I’m going to be honest, and quite frankly rash–sometimes, people just don’t care. They do not care what you think, they do not care how you live…because just like you, they stand by their own beliefs.

Here’s the thing about opinions. They don’t matter. I’ve lost count on how many times I’ve seen violent crap written to people with a follow up comment of “I’m entitled to my opinion.” In no way should verbally abusing another person through the comforts of your keyboard fall under the “rightful opinion” category. It’s just ridiculous.

I’m a firm believer in the old saying “if you don’t have anything nice to say…” and I do my best to live by that. That being said, I’ve also had opinions too harsh to voice. The only difference between me and the keyboard nutcases is that I don’t say (or type) them. I, as a functioning adult, choose to mind my own business and keep my harsh ideas to myself. Because if there’s one thing I refuse to do…it’s hurt someone else just because I can.

Aside from all of the harsh comments I see being spewed around like really bad diarrhea, I do see the occasional support and well wishes. That’s how we should do opinions. Spreading happiness in a world otherwise full of–dare i say it–bullshit. There are already so many negative things encompassing our world, why would anyone want to be part of the problem.

I live differently than others, and I’m not unaware of this. I do things that others may or may not agree with, as you do things I wouldn’t. Does that give me the right to insult you, or vise versa? If so, when does it end? When the teeth and claws come out and someone is actually hurt? We see that far too often, and I refuse to contribute to that.

I’m okay with the casual back and forth discussion, even if there are opposing views. But too often I see it go from a friendly debate straight into a court session from hell. We go from A to Z much too quickly, and all of a sudden its like we’re all being shot at and our defenses go up. We lose track of what we were there to do–state our opinion respectfully. We all become crazy freaks who honestly believe that bickering like a toddler is going to do anything other than drive the human race to extinction.

Differences in opinion are what make this world what is is. I’m not sure about you, but I’d rather live in a world with substance than live in one where everybody is a mirror image of one another, floating around on cloud holier than thou, playing Jenga until the sun goes down because there’s only one way to play it.

Here’s a question. Who decided that a Facebook or Twitter thread was the place for debates anyway? Want an argument? Go to a political debate. If I’m sure of anything, it’s that those things are full of people more than willing to listen to your hostile banter.

I guess, all in all I’m just growing tired of the hostility and the unnecessary negativity that seems to make up most of this world. No one is perfect. Everyone lives their own way, whether you agree or not. Preaching to a choir of deaf ears is not going to sway anyone to agree with you. At the end of the day, we all have one thing in common–we are all individuals. We are different. Always have been, and always will be. The Black Eyed Peas said it best when they said “Where is the Love?”

But again, I practice what I preach, so if there’s something I’m 100% sure of, It’s that this whole post may not matter to anyone at all.

Much Love, xoxo.

Thank You To My Best Friend

I have never realized, or paid close enough attention to the fact that I have so many wonderful people in my life. My family, they are kind, selfless, giving, and they’d drop everything to be by my side when I need them.

But then again…don’t they have to? They are stuck with me, and don’t get me wrong–I thank my lucky stars they are. I truly feel bad for those suckers that share my DNA, and even worse for the people who had to decide that being with the person they love, was worth having to deal with me.

But there is one person who didn’t have to stick around. One person who chose to be in my life. One person who deals with me everyday because she wants to.

That’s why she’s my best friend.

Throughout the first three years of my high school career, I most certainly didn’t fit in. Don’t get me wrong, I did everything I could to make up for that, and at times it wore me down. It also became so embarrassingly obvious that of course it wouldn’t produce the desired result. I spent so much time apologizing for being so–so wonderfully weird, and it was impossibly tiresome. Finally, I decided that I wasn’t going to do it.

I decided that I was always going to rather hang out with my mom than go out and party. I decided that putting on makeup and a bra was just too tiring and time consuming, and that I could be up to my nose in a bubble bath and the newest issue of Cosmo. I was always going to be a dork.

But, if there’s one thing I’m sure of, it’s that there was one person who stuck around, in spite of all that, and I’ll forever be grateful for her.

I’d like to believe that I’ve had a profound effect on peoples’ lives, but something tells me that aside from the occasional “nice shirt” compliment, I haven’t really done all that much to deserve admiration. I am sure however, that I’ve had an effect on her.

I could sit here and lie about what it’s like to be friends with me. That she’s my “ride or die” and my “partner in crime.” I mean sure, we’ve made our occasional late night McDonalds trips, and they were pretty dangerous, but for the most part, our relationship is not like that. She’s more my “eat a whole bag of chips while I shave my legs in the tub” kind of friend.

We don’t go out and get into trouble. We don’t go to parties until three am and get so drunk that we make out and can’t remember where we are. I’m sure she has those friends, the ones that she trusts so much that she’s willing to do that with, the fun friends–and I thank them too, because I can’t fill those shoes, no matter what. Although I’ll never enjoy that, I know that she deserves to be young, and to have excitement, and if I can’t provide that, I’m certainly thankful for those that can and are.

Being friends with me is not exciting. When she’s around me, she’s not “living in the moment” or YOLO-ing, even though that’s what she should be doing at 21. However, despite the fact that she knows this, she has consistently been my best friend, no matter how boring I get. She’s never walked away, nor has she ever told me she would. We’ve never bet against each other and we will always be the other’s support system.

She knows me. She knows that I bake cupcakes for fun, and that I am one of the biggest over thinkers to ever set foot on the planet. She knows that no matter how hard I try, more often than not I will not finish my lone beer that I’ve been working on for 3 hours. She knows that when she calls me from school and she’s drunk and laughing hysterically with her friends, that I’m most likely cleaning out the fridge and sipping on Pinot Grigio because I’m 168 years old on the inside.

She’s not a “for now” friend. She’s the friend that I’ll be calling when I have my first child. She’ll be there when I have family dinners because lets face it, she’ll provide the fun. She’s the friend that even if things don’t go the way I planned, will be there to help me set all of that s**t on fire. She’s the friend that, when I got married at 19–looked at me and said “yeah you’re a nutcase, but go for it.” and never once has told me I was wrong.

The best part? She loves me. When I come home, she’s there…waiting for me. Waiting to have sleepovers and eat gross gas station food in bed, while trying and failing to take decent photos, only to decide snap chats are better since no one in their right minds would ever screenshot them.

I mean who cares what my dog is doing at 1am?

Aside from the fact that I am undeniably the most stubborn person alive, despite the fact that I was born middle aged and get a little older day by day, she’s been there. She’s been there, through my mistakes that we both know I’ve made, even if we don’t have to talk about it. She’s been there through some of the hardest times in my life, and she’s been there through the best.

I’m not sure if saying thank you until I’m grey and withering would even do her justice.

So here’s to you best friend. Thanks for dealing with me!

xoxo Ali

 

Tech Crazed Crazies

A few months ago I went to Starbucks.

Now you’re probably wondering why the heck that matters…and on the surface, it doesn’t. However, something happened during that coffee break that I thought of last night.

There I was, standing in line. It was a brisk, snowy day, and I was bundled up to my ears in anything with down or fur. While standing and waiting patiently, I heard a ding ring out from my coat. I was expecting an email with my work schedule for the following week.

Eager to look, I hastily pulled my phone from my deep pockets. The line was long and moving slow, so I opened gmail and scrolled through.

Before I could even react, I heard a man yell belligerantly next to me.

“Holy shit, you kids with your damn cell phones! I can tell exactly what kind of girl you are just by looking at you, god damn it.” As soon as he was finished, he stalked away.

Now mind you–this is a middle aged man, drunk out of his mind on a Tuesday afternoon.

He’s going to judge me?

Now, his opinions of me could have been 100% correct; and you know what? They probably were, to an extent. I was at Starbucks, buying a Pumpkin Spiced Latte with my I Phone firmly grasped in my hands–but this stranger’s opinion of me is not the problem I’m referring to.

So often lately, I’ve heard countless complaints, and never-ending babbling on the topic of technology–social media to be exact. Why is it technology use is turning into a plague in the eyes of anyone who’s been on the earth longer than us millennials?

Maybe it’s my inner twenty something year old brain talking, (yes I fall into the millennial category) but I decided this topic was one that needed to be addressed. Not just for myself, but for most young adults.

Now don’t get me wrong. There comes a time when it’s not needed, say at the dinner table or church or whatever else. Maybe I’m giving people too much credit, but I think the majority of us know our limits, and know that there is a time and place for it. I just can’t bring myself to crawl into the new trend of hating social media and criticizing us young people that use it.

This man took one look at a twenty year old with her phone, and assumed he had her all figured out, and I know very well that he is not the first person or the last that will jump to the same narrow minded conclusion. I’m okay with that. What I find strange is this new developing idea that all of us millennials are naive, air headed, good for nothing but selfies kids who will never contribute anything to society.

Just remember–it wasn’t us who invented the selfie stick.

If there’s one thing I firmly believe in is that times will forever be changing, and that there are two types of people in this world. The people who can change, and adapt to their new world, or the stubborn ones, who choose to push away the change, and live a life apart from reality. The fact of the matter is, we were born in a day and age where technology has been in our grasp. That is not our fault.

Plenty of people participated in the trends of the 70’s and 80’s and you don’t see those floor length floral skirts or neon tube socks still around do we?

That’s because things have changed–and I haven’t come across any of  those wanna-be go-go dancers getting heat for retiring their gear.

One thing I’m sure of is that social media has saved my life. Living far away from home, it has been so amazing to see my mother via FaceTime and these social media sites have been a great way to stay updated with friends and family back home. For that I’m so thankful. I find it impossible to say that there’s too much technology, because I utilize it so much in my everyday life. I use it to keep in contact with my family, and even to get my education. *Cue the voicing of opinions towards online learning.*

I understand the desire for communication, believe me I’m a big supporter of having a real conversation, but who’s to say that we as young people can’t do that? And if there’s a child who can’t verbally communicate then what or who is really to blame? We live in a society that is so quick to place blame on anyone or anything, in order to avoid being under the microscope, when in reality, there’s a reason these kids have a lack of communication skills.

Consider this; Go Fund Me. How often has this website helped in providing a sick child the care he/she needs? How often have we read a beautiful article shared over and over again on Facebook? Don’t you think it’s great that “so and so” could give the old man some money for food? We spend everyday of our lives focusing solely on the negative things social media brings, and we ignore so many positives that it provides. I’d hate to live a life of which I can only pay attention to the bad things that occur around me.

I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve seen something on the news about the woes of cell phone use, whether its the bent pinky bonanza or the “I set my pillow on fire by sticking the phone under it while I slept phenomenon”. Yes, that’s horrible, and also something most of us don’t do.

Of course these things are all “tragedies”– and I can’t say I didn’t check my pinky when I read that article, but should a few unusual circumstances affect the way the world views us youth? Those of us with aspirations and goals to change the world, possibly through the use of technology? When is it going to be time for society to step back and realize we are not all that bad? When is the day going to come where we focus on the good things us millennials do, instead of acting as if we are all brainwashed by our phones, our tablets, or our computers?

Heck, I’m twenty years old, and here I am communicating my thoughts coherently to my readers–some of you who are adults. What about my friends or acquaintances reading this? Is it possible they are actually normal, functioning human beings who are capable of forming their own thoughts without help from the media?

I’m sure all of you will have your own opinions, and while you form them, keep this in mind. You are reading this on your phone, or your tablet, or your computer.

My Truth About The F Word

I’m a feminist. I’ve been a woman for a long time now. It’d be stupid not to be on my own side.

– Maya Angelou

 

SPOILER: Not the F word people came here to see.

Before we all cover our eyes and run in the opposite direction like we’re being attacked by a rabid animal, let me just say that I’m not here to discuss the topic of equality. That’s a slippery slope and I’m too opinionated and frankly uncoordinated to hop on that train quite yet. I’m actually writing this post to talk about another important part of feminism that needs some tweaking–women empowerment.

The concept of feminism is quite simple. It consists of equal parts equality and equal parts empowerment. The second part seems to be lacking any sort of development within the gender that are fighting for it. This part of the equation is so significant, yet we as women are the very first to bring each other down. Before we can start trying to change the way this posse of men think, we have to start changing the way we think.

Congrats, ignorance is here and it’s here to stay (been around longer than most of my relationships). We can’t and shouldn’t ask men to think a certain way, or behave a certain way, if we aren’t willing to behave that way ourselves. It’s very easy to post photos, or quotes, or videos about the topic of women empowerment, but are you actually out there trying to make a difference? How long are we going to fight a battle that we ourselves have yet to conquer? I’ve lost count of the times I’ve witnessed women bringing each other down, and that to me is the root of the problem. How can we ask men to believe in us when I’ve seen more than enough discouragement and dehumanizing comments to prove that we don’t believe in each other. No one is going to take us seriously if that’s how we choose to behave–and I don’t blame them.

When I started high school, I spent most of my time viewing everyone around me as if that was something I needed to strive for in order to be “worth” something. Putting each other down seemed to be part of our everyday lives, and if you’re doing life the right way, that should change you as a person–hopefully in a positive way. Time and time again I came home hurting–as I’m sure many of you girls had as well. I couldn’t understand why we all (including myself, no I’m not perfect) seemed to think that insults and mockery was the way to survive those four horrendous years. Hopefully as we all grew older and experienced life outside of that, we’ve realized that insulting someone’s clothes does not make yours better quality. Laughing at a person’s hair doesn’t make yours shinier, and telling someone they smell doesn’t make any of us believe you aren’t the one full of bulls**t. We should have started treating each other kindly a long time ago.

Nevertheless, one thing I know for sure, is if we all as women want to feel empowered within ourselves and move forward, we must first put forth the effort to empower others.

The question isn’t whether or not we can do that, I’m confident we can. The questions is are we willing to do that? Are we willing to hop off our high horse and see the world for what it is…imperfect? When we say that we are willing, are we going to actually put forth an effort and challenge ourselves, or are we going to create a board on Pinterest full of wonderful intentions, yet not act on them? I believe most of us women can do anything, but I think it’s important that we prove it to each other. Prove that we are powerful. Prove that we can do it. Prove that we have changed in regards to believing in each other in order to force change within everybody else. If we spend all our time belittling each other, we are only adding fuel to the fire of the concept that women are just “full of drama”. Prove that we are as mighty as we say by showing the world that we are strong enough to let go of our judgements and harshness and accept each other.

I’m not saying you aren’t allowed to have your opinions, I’m not here to rewrite the first amendment. Freedom of speech is freedom of speech and who am I to say any different. What I am saying however is to listen to the old saying “if you don’t have anything nice to say”. I believe that it takes an exceptionally strong individual to grasp that concept, and do their best to live by it. If we can do that, and show the world we can, then we are already one step closer to the finish line.

The fact of life is that everything has to be earned, in one way or another. When the Women’s Suffrage Movement began, we rallied, protested, and worked our butts off together in order to be recognized. We supported each other, and helped each other grow, because we knew that if we didn’t take that initial step, we’d get nowhere. Actions speak louder than words, and our actions together are important. I believe if we work together and challenge ourselves as a unit we’ll move a lot faster.

I’m not here saying no one knows this information. I’m sure plenty of women do. However, I do think there’s a huge chunk of us who think if we complain enough, things will go our way. In a perfect world, would everyone wake up one morning and have an epiphany, sure. In the real world, the one where no one is perfect and ignorance seems to be rapidly growing like a 15 year old boy who hit puberty, that’s not going to happen. So we need to step up, quit putting each other down, and decide that we have to do it as a team.

Then after you’ve done this, if it tickles your fancy–you can pick at the brains of the men around you.

Go big or go home.