Yes, you know you were waiting for it. :P Due to the overwhelming (positive and negative) response to my article this week on “The Myth Of The Geek Girl”, and the many threads of discussion that spun off from it, I was asked to write a companion piece. Obviously, I am a glutton for punishment. *laughs*

I do not anticipate I will be writing for the publication in the future. I am a professional who brings them a huge spike in numbers whenever I publish. Yet, I’m expected to do more work than I do for any paying job. I’m expected to do things in exactly the way they want, although my way is something that, I’ve discovered over time, is more successful as a marketing tactic. I write about controversial things where I am attacked by strangers for their hits, and everyone who defends me does so privately…and I’m asked to write a second article defending and explaining myself. Frankly, me writing to this crowd about why they’ve always made me feel ostracised is equivalent to asking Abraham Lincoln to win over plantation owners.

All this animosity came to a head today because the girl who runs the blog I wanted to “help out” didn’t like that I wasn’t linking to my posts the right way. There’s no compensation for any of this, and I didn’t work today so I could finish the article and find images and she could edit it. Then, once I’d promoted to half of FB, she asked me to delete them all and link directly to the group’s page and tiny thumbnail, so it would redirect to their group’s FB page and everything would be in one place. I told her she’d get less traffic that way..and by that time, the comments had already started rolling in. She still wanted me to undo and redo all my work. Meanwhile, I bring in a larger audience than any other person on that site, and you think they’d want me around. But they don’t, really, and the “geek following” just wants to tear me down, no matter what I say. I can’t do anything right, no matter how hard I try. But I’m always there to take the hits. It’s not fair to me.

I know what they get from me. What am I getting from them? I thought support and encouragement, because they were my friends. Yesterday, their only other professional writer quit. I tried and tried to get her not to. I understand why I could not change her mind. I was absolutely livid at what they asked me to do for them, after all I’d done. I don’t work well being micro-managed, and I’ve left other gigs because of it.

So, since this will be my last article, and I will likely be torn limb from limb by their audience, who does not find me charming in the slightest…please stop by and say hello and goodbye, leave an encouraging comment, and whatever else. I will, once October comes around, be focusing on my blog and my audience…since you’re the ones who are always there for me, and if you don’t like what I have to say…I’ve disabled comments. ;P

Sometimes, what starts out as a piece on your personal blog can evolve into an essay that strangely finds the right home. :) I posted a personal piece on this topic about a year ago, after feeling rather alienated, isolated, and generally unappreciated at a Meetup hosted by The Guy I Am Currently Dating. With a little revamping, it became a female-positive essay about how it’s always better to be your authentic self, published on a site for members of the community which had a few representatives initially made me feel a bit judged and insecure.

If you’re bored in the middle of your Monday afternoon, stop by Nerdy Minds and check out my first contribution. This one is an essay on “The Myth Of The Fake Geek Girl”. Whether you are a geek, a girl, both, or neither, you’ll likely relate.
Check it out and show some love! :)

This weekend was an exceptionally fun one, followed immediate by a huge sense of sadness and my body deciding to be ill because of all the emotional stress and anxiety. I promise, I shall return soon, but visit my guest post and tell me what you think!:)

Being the kind of person who rather believes in the energy of the physical and metaphysical world, and is intrigued by chakras, crystals, phases of the moon, Tarot cards, the Oracle, and the power of the intuition, I tend to pay attention to “signs”. The Guy I Am Currently Dating laughs sometimes, and says “Everything can’t be a sign”–but, really, maybe a lot of things that typically go unnoticed by most people are signs. For instance, my personal symbol is the butterfly, and there are many occasions when I’ve found myself in either an extremely negative or extremely disorienting situation and asked “How in the world did I end up here?”. During those times, I would spot a picture of a butterfly, sometimes at the weirdest of places. I always see it as a sign that my life path has dictated I was supposed to end up there, even if the experience was an unpleasant one. It is part of the journey, marked with a butterfly.

Today is the day of the Harvest Moon, which means that Autumn is on its way. This morning, when I walked my dog, I saw a black cat with amber eyes scurry past my feet. I immediately thought, “I don’t know what that means, but it’s a sign.” I hope it is some sort of good omen, rather than a sign of trouble or chaos. I don’t really need more of the latter!

This summer has gone by in kind of a whirlwind, and it has been one of those rollercoasters that leaves you feeling a bit emotionally drained when all is said and done. I haven’t been the best about remembering to take time out to share all the stories and feelings that have passed through my world with you. Honestly, I haven’t been the best about writing or being creative. Perhaps we all go through those phases, where we feel irrelevant, and as if there’s nothing to say or do or create that hasn’t already been done before–and by someone with a much greater level of talent. While those phases are common among creative souls, I know, they’re also paralyzing. You remain kind of stuck in an unproductive slump, convinced that no matter what you do, it matters very little because you suck.

I am looking forward to the arrival of Autumn, honestly. It’s here early in Atlanta, and I am looking forward to being able to turn off the AC and open the screen door. I’m looking forward to burning apple, cinnamon, and pumpkin candles. I’m looking forward to multi-coloured leaves and changing up my wardrobe (I’m tired of seeing my same summer staples), and having time to myself. This summer flew by because there was always so much going on, and then it always happens that from the beginning of September through mid-October, the number of projects and special occasions and social events is through the roof.

During the summer, I get bored and restless easily. My travel schedule exhausted people, just reading about it. The sheer number of experiences, and emotional highs and lows, which I’m able to pack into a three-month period is nothing short of impressive. However, fall is calming. Perhaps it’s because I moved to Atlanta in September, and I have so many wonderful memories of those first few months I was here. Perhaps it’s because I don’t really like cold weather, but I don’t like being constantly overheated either, and Atlanta has a very small window each Spring and Fall. Each year, from mid-October to December, I don’t feel bored with not going out all the time, and I don’t feel badly about taking time out for myself. I just like the very temporary sense of peace and appreciating life’s smaller moments. I like having the time to write on my blog, read books, watch my favourite shows, wear fuzzy slippers, and not have this overwhelming feeling that life is this mad dash you need to rush to keep up with.

Of course, it’s also a time to focus on earning money for the holidays, so it’s not all stress-free. :( But, all in all, Autumn is quite welcome by the time it comes around. It doesn’t hurt that Halloween is my favourite holiday. :)

It’s not coincidental, I think, that November is National Novel Writing Month. While I’ve never participated, I think I’m not the only one for whom Autumn is a welcome respite, a time to slow down, a time to access all that pent-up, overlooked creativity, a time to reflect on everything that happened during your crazy summer. It always feels like the right time for self-expression and doing what you love, before the holidays come around and everything gets a little hectic again. :)

I haven’t, honestly, worked on many new projects this summer. However, I know you guys have been wondering what I’ve been up to, since I haven’t promoted any projects in a while! I’m pleased to announce that I’ll be contributing to Nerdy Minds, a magazine for the geek-oriented! Even if that doesn’t include you, I’ll be writing about things like dating, relationships, social interaction, and societal issues, so you’ll still want to follow me. My article isn’t up yet, but you can check out my introductory interview at NerdyMinds. Also, please show your love by “Liking” the project on FB, “Liking” the article, leaving a comment for me, and sharing the site with others. Start-up endeavours are always tough to get off the ground, as many of you know all too well! :)

I will be bringing back “Literary Libations”, interviewing up-and-coming indie authors each Sunday, in mid-October. I also have a book in the works, a compilation of short stories on the theme of connection in an increasingly disconnected world.

I’ve missed you all, and hope to spend more time with you as the leaves change….

Every girl has a weakness, and if you either know me in person or read my blog frequently enough, you likely know that I have quite a few. One of the healthiest and least destructive is my addiction to reality TV. Indeed, I’ve always had a great love for TV, in general, ever since childhood. While I’ve never seen many classic movies everyone else has seen, I remember that show that was on the air for less than a season. While some people say “I don’t watch TV; it’s a waste of time.”, television has always been more like a consistent friend in my life. When I am sad, it can lift my mood. When I am worried, it is a story that distracts me from my problems. Characters on television or contestants in reality shows I will likely never meet become real enough for them to feel like part of my day. I invest in them. I care about what happens to them. When a show comes to an end, it’s a little bit like losing a friend. The same way some people are passionate about movies or books or music, I’ve always felt that about television. It’s ironic that I spent more than half my life as a stage actress (my obsession with musicals is pretty close to my obsession with TV, but there simply aren’t as many of them readily available.), but my earliest childhood memories involve being fascinated by stories I saw on television.

In any case, I’ve blogged about my love for and experiences with CBS’ Big Brother in the past, so it shouldn’t be surprising that I’m one of the devoted followers willing to watch the TV Guide channel for two hours a day just to see what’s happening in the house. Since my favourites have all been voted out and the season is almost over, I thought this meant the end of my relationship with the TV Guide channel. (I mean, it’s an annoying channel. Half the screen shows a scrolling guide to which you eventually become oblivious, and at night, they show advertisements for cat toys and ways to make perfect pastry pockets. During the day, you see these horribly tragic commercials about abused pets, thanks to the ASPCA.) However, since Survivor premiers the day Big Brother ends, they’ve been showing seasons from Survivor past.

Again, as many of you know, I have a friend who appeared on Survivor–and through her, have made a network of acquaintances who are part of the CBS Survivor family. (I do give them credit; they are an interesting and resilient group of people.) However, it occurs to me that while I may have never watched Survivor before going through the Big Brother audition process (I was not a fan of Real World or any other reality shows before CBS came on the scene with their shows.), I associate the first season of Survivor with a number of important memories in my life.

They happened to air the first part of the first season of Survivor today, and I was reminded that I liked it because it seemed so different from the way reality shows are today. The show premiered when I was 20; I’d just gotten my college degree and had hoped to be spending my summer in the CBS Big Brother “house”. When that didn’t happen, I was disappointed, but interested in watching the girl for whom I was an alternate, and quickly found the show compelling. At the same time, Survivor: Borneo premiered, and I remember being skeptical about whether or not I’d like it. By the end, when someone had their torch snuffed out and had to leave, I found myself crying. I’ve been a fan of both shows ever since.

Both Big Brother and Survivor changed formats incredibly since the 2000 seasons. Contestants are now largely edited, everything is overly produced and edited, and fans of the show know what challenges are likely to show up. Re-watching the first season of Survivor, I’m reminded why it was the only one that was emotionally charged enough to make me cry when someone was thrown out of the game. Neither the production team nor the cast seemed to know how to act or what to expect. Instead of the highly-produced, well-edited shows we’ve gotten used to in the intervening 12 years, the original Survivor seems a bit like a documentary of people who signed up to play “Lord Of The Flies” or “The Hunger Games”. The people were not overly fit, glamourous, or Hollywood in any way. They were truly diverse. They were not made into characters, but shown as real people with both positive and negative attributes. They were not given make-up touch-ups and didn’t walk around in cute bikinis all season. Sometimes, they *looked* like people having a rough time on a desert island. Looking back, I realise that honest way of creating reality TV allowed you to empathise with the people on the show in a way that isn’t as easy anymore. These days, any illusion of reality is gone. You don’t suspend disbelief; you remember it’s a game staged by a network. But, at the beginning, there was so much more reality to TV. (it took most of the participants a majority of the game to figure out that by voting together, you could form “alliances” to get rid of one person. On one episode I saw today, nearly every person had their name put down, and when one woman realised that a group of people had voted against her, she remarked in a heartbreakingly honest, shocked tone of voice, “Oh, my God. It’s me.” For a moment, you had the sense that something more dramatic was going to happen to her than simply walking off a CBS set.

In the summer of 2000, since I was not locked in a set on the CBS lot, I was off on auditions looking for a job. My first was for Disney World. I’d auditioned twice in NYC, and was finally flown down to Orlando for a final callback. I didn’t get the job (which is a different story for a different time, and most of you have heard it.), but I spent a bit over a week in a hotel in Orlando. (Sadly, it took that long for me to get out of a rather depressed and directionless funk, and finally phone a friend in Miami…and thus started a whole new set of adventures for me.)

I’m not sure why I decided to do that, except I didn’t know where to go or what to do, and I’d never been to Florida when I was younger. To save money, I was in a cheap hotel on the outskirts of town, the kind of place where the only things in walking distance were a Wendy’s, a Piggly Wiggly, a gas station, and a Goodwill.

I thought I’d feel free and adventurous when I finally got there, even when I didn’t get the job. I was still determined to look for adventure and experience, but instead, I surprisingly felt dreadfully alone and lost. It was the first time I realised the world was this big place, and I was just this average girl right out of university who’d been turned down for every major audition she’d landed, and didn’t want to go to NYC to wait tables like everyone else. I had a small suitcase, a laptop, a cell phone, and a CD player (yes, there was a day where there were no iPods. :P ). The hotel room I was staying in was sad. In general, my life felt sad.

(Strangely, this phenomenon has never left me. I love traveling, and unless I’m with one of a handful of people in my life, I prefer to travel alone. However, when I get there, I will feel immensely sad for the first day or two at being alone, and not being near anything precious to me.)

There were a few things that weren’t sad about that trip. One was the fact that it rained every day at 3 PM. I loved watching the downpour. Another was the fact that I was talking online to two different people I didn’t even know, but were highly important fixtures in my life (and remained that way for a very long time.), and things like my blog and internet chats with strangers who didn’t feel anything like strangers helped me through feeling quite isolated. The last thing I remember was Survivor. As soon as the show came on, it lifted my spirits, and for just a little while, I was transported into someone else’s adventure and felt stronger just by vicariously watching.

To this day, I hate Orlando, and it’s amusing that I ended up making my home in the South, when I’ve never been particularly fond of much, outside of New Orleans and perhaps Savannah. But, on rainy days when Survivor is on, I am 20 years old and utterly lost in the world again. Yet, I am happy with the memory, because I can recall what it’s like to feel that young and have that belief in adventure and know that anything in the world is possible. It isn’t a feeling that I have these days, and haven’t for many years—but years of method acting have left me with the ability to recall it, and small things are enough to evoke that memory.

Although I’ve traveled such a great deal since then, lost and rebuilt so much of my life, and in many ways, had the lifetime of adventures that 20-year-old me so desperately saw herself destined to have, that particular week of my life is terribly easy to recall. And, while I’ve also lost and replaced suitcases and their contents, the contents of apartments and storage units, and many of my possessions throughout life, it seems fitting to me that I still have all of the items I purchased at the Orlando Goodwill. (regretfully, I am not the size I was at 20, so the day I’m able to wear them to something will be a proud one. *laughs*)

That one week of my life was not in any way a happy one, but it was one that really affected me on some strangely deep level, and the original Survivor will always be a huge piece of that memory. :)

As you may have noticed, I haven’t been around much for the past 6 weeks or so. Perhaps you didn’t notice, and I give myself more credit for having consistently interested readers than I deserve. *laughs* In any case, I haven’t been around the blogosphere too much. I’m not sure why, other than I have been feeling overwhelmed with actual day-to-day life. While my usual compulsion is to share all these things, it just hasn’t been that way. Frankly, I haven’t felt much like writing at all. My bank account looks sad and desolate, my paper journals haven’t been touched by ink in weeks, and while I did manage to start a short story for my upcoming collection (short story currently 20 pages and counting), it’s looking like my goal of having another published work out by December isn’t a realistic one.

I wonder if we all go through these crises of being, where we wonder if we have anything worth saying or creating, or if we are in fact people that anyone else cares about at all. I’ve been struggling with feeling irrelevant. Perhaps I haven’t been inspired to write because I’ve given up the idea that there’s an audience that cares, or that I have anything to say that hasn’t already been said before, and in much more compelling and eloquent ways. I’ve been struggling with feelings that in my everyday life, I am not only irrelevant but inadequate, and it’s turned me from a vivacious extrovert to someone who has become resigned to being a wallflower. I have not been as social as usual, preferring the company of my closest friends to parties, and feeling as if organizing things to do has become an obligation rather than things I can look forward to each week. I feel I am not interesting enough, not intelligent enough, not beautiful enough, not thin enough, not likeable enough, and not skilled enough in social situations to keep being the me I have always been. I do not know where this self-doubt comes from, but I have been paralyzed by it in many ways. I have this feeling that those in the world I love do not love me in return, and if they do, they should not, because I am too damaged and inadequate that anyone should spend time, emotion, or anything else on me.

Thus, I have been largely quiet on the blog, because people read blogs for interesting and inspiring stories—or at the very least, to be amused. I’m terribly un-amusing lately.

I will catch everyone up in longer posts on individual subjects, but here are some of the things that have happened to me during the past two months.:

* I’m sure I haven’t been gone thatlong, but I spent half of July reviving Alayna’s East Coast Tour. I was able to spend a week at the beach, visit my family, and see some of my favourite people who don’t live near me in Philadelphia, NYC, D.C., and Raleigh-Durham.

* Shortly after returning to Atlanta from visiting my family, I got news my mother was in hospital. She had yet another stroke and possible cardiac event, and for almost two weeks, did not know simple things like what year it was, who anyone was, and was unable to speak coherently without effort or get around without a wheelchair. Fortunately, she recovered, and was moved to a rehab facility. After she completes rehab, my mother will be moved to a permanent nursing facility. I cried after I left my family home, not only because of how they were living, but because I felt I’d never be back. I am an intuitive person, and it was a loss that hit hard, even before my mother ended up in hospital.

* All sorts of family drama ensued regarding power of attorney over my mother’s medical and financial decisions, her personal wishes, who pays the bills for her treatment, my 92-year-old grandfather’s will, etc. It is sad that when something happens to someone, the response from others seems to be “How does this affect me? How do I benefit?” I do not want to be involved in any of the family drama, and for all intents and purposes, I am happy that I was “written out of everyone’s will” many years ago. In my mind, it was the price of freedom and being able to live life on my own terms without being accountable to the idea of how others would have liked me to live. (yeah, how’s that working out for me? :P ) Yet, it makes me sad to hear how selfish and petty people are, people who are my blood relatives.

* Once all the family drama settled down, it was time to concentrate on costumes, house cleaning, event planning, etc. for DragonCon. I am very thankful that a good friend of mine was able to stay at my place and look after Trixie (my 13-year-old Lab/Beagle mix.), and that The Guy I Am Currently Dating took care of a lot of the trip planning. It was fun, but exhausting. It did push me past my physical limits right now, and was a reminder to be more careful about doing what’s best for my health and well-being, rather than being concerned about being a disappointment or liability to others.

* September is the month of events, as I have something going on every weekend until mid-October. Then, a short break, and it’s time for Halloween!

* As always, I’ve been addicted to my summer TV shows, and have watched a lot of Big Brother. It is the 15th season (the 13th year), which makes me feel quite old, because it was Season 1 when I was an alternate for the show. It’s funny to remember how young I was then, and what I would have been like to watch on reality TV at the age of 20. I thought I was the most interesting person in the world back then, and for many years following. Now, I feel inadequate in almost every way possible. It’s interesting how things change.

Sadly, my favourite contestant will likely be given the boot from the show tonight (marking the first time that my favourite hasn’t ended up winning in a few years.), and my original favourite contestant will likely be following her shortly. Just like in life, the smartest or most determined people don’t always win.

* Other shows I’ve been into include Lifetime’s “Project Runway” and “Dance Moms”, MTV’s “Catfish” (I still have a huge crush on Nev Schulman, and find it amusing that his older brother went to school with me, something I didn’t know until sending out a friend request on FB! What a small world it is!) and “The Challenge”, and a few others I watch sporadically. I’ve been reading, although not as much as I usually do. I finished Phillipa Gregory’s “The White Princess”, and am currently working my way through the letters of Simone de Beauvoir, after reading a biography of Sartre and de Beauvoir given to me by a friend. (although polyamory and open relationships have been around as long as time itself, it seems these two were the first to really define it as a lifestyle that worked—well, most of the time– they needed some work in the honesty department, it seems. *laughs*)

The Guy I Am Currently Dating got me into two shows we watch together: “Wilfred” on FX, which ranges from crude to absurd to philosophical, and “Ray Donovan”, which is the kind of drama I like quite a bit. If you get Showtime, I highly recommend it.

I haven’t yet seen “The Great Gatsby”, but I’d like to, as soon as I have some free time. I know it isn’t fabulous, but I do love the 20′s and Leonardo DiCaprio. *laughs*

* Oh, and yes, I finally did get money refunded from the hotel fiasco in Manhattan. It only took a month, and you can count on the fact that there will be a blog about that coming up shortly. ;)

For those who also follow me on Facebook, I’ve definitely been around, even while kind of ignoring my blog. I’ll have to try to be a little more inspired in the future. ;)