Yes, it’s me! I am still alive and well, although I’ve been remarkably absent. For many reasons, I’ve been feeling less than positively about life, and some of the people in it who are very important to me have been quite absent. They always say that the holidays are a difficult time for most people; more people struggle with depression or attempt to commit suicide during the holiday season than any other.

I never really understood that, because I love the holidays! I was born between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, and I love the lights and the carols and putting up all the decorations, and sharing Thanksgiving with friends, and while I wish I were in NYC and Philly over the holidays, there is plenty going on here to make it feel like “home for the holidays”.

However, it’s kind of hit me that this year I will not be seeing family during the holiday season. This is not the first time; last year, I was relieved to avoid the travel stress and the even colder temperatures. What has affected me is knowing that there really isn’t a family that can get together and celebrate anymore. Even though this may not affect them too much, as I got older, I always made sure we had the biggest tree and the coolest decorations and spent Xmas eve singing and baking cookies and playing board games. I always felt sad that I was the only one who found this time special, and decided that when I was older, I wanted to make sure I was surrounded by people who loved that, too.

That, of course, never happened. You can’t replace your lack of family when you don’t have the desire to start your own, and now that my friends are getting older, it’s a case of “We have our own families and aren’t going to be around.” I never did acquire that sense of home and stability I always wanted, and it is something I miss a lot at the holidays.

It doesn’t help that even amongst my friends, I’ve gotten the impression I’m not so important or beloved by people I’ve let into my life over the years. I get that we’re a generation that routinely doesn’t return phone calls on time, who will answer your texts later, who will have falling-outs over Facebook or Twitter, who doesn’t fall over themselves to make time to see others when they pass through town, for whom “Can we postpone this?” has become a mantra. I sometimes think it is hard to be part of my generation, not be married or have children, and live in a very transient city if what you value are the people who are “like family” and the experiences you share with them. We all grow apart, and it’s very easy to miss the people who have distanced themselves, not out of dislike for you but because their life is just always busy.

This sense of isolation, of the world moving on without me, it makes me sad. Because when I was a little girl, I remember wanting a small house with a big tree and music and a lot of people who loved me all gathered together. Nobody explained to me that such things are only for movies.

In other news, I have a new article up at Nerdy Minds entitled So, You Want To Date A Geek?. It is far less serious or controversial than my other pieces, and hopefully shows a more light-hearted, endearing side of my personality. However, since it was published on Friday evening (the worst time to publish anything you want anyone to see), it’s gotten far less readers than my pieces normally do. Please stop by and visit, and give some feedback!

Happy November, readers! I’ll be back with some other updates and stories soon, as the holiday madness approaches. :)

Today, the United States government has entered a state of partial shut-down, and I anticipate that things will be at a standstill for some time before they begin to look up. I’m not intending to write about this very current issue, even though it is relevant to all of us. However, I did post a statement on my Facebook page explaining why I’d be keeping oddly silent through a period of controversy, something that is not like me at all. It reads as follows:

“I don’t comment on political things much. It isn’t because I don’t have opinions; on the contrary, I have very strong opinions. But I also have the irritating ability to see both sides of a situation and discuss a problem from that perspective, which seems to annoy both “sides” of any issue. I look for ways for people to compromise and work together whenever possible, and those who see things in black and white tend to get angry with me, because I rarely do. So, I will spend tomorrow avoiding all commentary on the current political issues or partisan “blaming” conversations. I will say, though, if there were more people like me on our Congress, we wouldn’t have an “us vs. them” mentality that eliminates the idea of compromise for the greater good, in favour of behaving like children playing a game where winning is the only thing that matters. That is all I have to say about that.”

So, yes. Although I do not work for the government, it feels a bit like it should be a holiday today. I mean, why I am I meant to sit around being productive today? Instead, I thought I’d head over here and say hello to you guys. I haven’t done as well with keeping up on my blogging projects as I should, and I’m appreciative of the regular readers who drop by to look for new stories, even when there are not any.

For those who missed it, my latest project has been an involvement with Nerdy Minds, an online magazine for all things geek-culture related. They were initially delighted to have me as a contributor, because they really didn’t have someone on staff who wasn’t your “typical geek” writing about the culture from somewhat of an outside perspective. My very first post,
The Myth Of The Geek Girl
, stirred up a good deal of controversy and debate on Facebook and amongst the geek community at large. In fact, the response (both of a positive and negative nature) was so immediate and inspired so many strong opinions, I was asked to write a follow-up piece.

I’m not going to sugar-coat it: writing for an audience that is not yours and expressing opinions on the internet is a bit like wandering into a minefield. When you write on your own blog, you have a bit of a security net. When you write a book, you have a finished work or a character or something to hide behind. When you write an opinion piece based upon your own life and share it with the world, there is no hiding. People judge. The commentary can get personal. You need to be a thick-skinned person to put yourself and your opinions out there in an authentic, vulnerable fashion and not be affected by the backlash. I, admittedly, am sensitive to the point of being overly sensitive. I take things personally when they are not meant that way. You might imagine how I react to the things that are most certainly meant that way.

Yet, throughout my life and my writing career, I’ve had the following pointed out: “You know how to make friends. You know how to get people to like you. If you just employ those strategies and hold back on sharing so much of yourself, you’ll find it easier to ingratiate yourself with any group of people. You’re a charming person; does it matter so much to be authentic and to have your voice heard?”

The answer is yes, of course it does. I addressed this issue in a snarky piece about
Surviving The Social Scene In 2013
at the beginning of the year. If you are an artist in any way shape and form, you understand that none of the aforementioned suggestions apply to you. They simply cannot co-exist with your identity as an artist without one suffering greatly. As an artist, it isn’t your job to make people like you. It isn’t even your job to pay attention to what your readers say, what your critics say, what your friends and family say. It isn’t your job to explain yourself and become a more beloved person. The job of an artist is to get people to examine how they think, how they feel, and how that is reflective (or not) of society. The job of an artist is to evoke a response and initiate dialogue. If acceptance is always the ultimate goal, one must embrace conformity much more than I am willing to do. I like acceptance. I like to be liked. However, the comments that meant the most to me were hearing from women who’d encountered all sorts of experiences that made them uncomfortable, and thanked me for sharing mine. The comments that meant the most to me were from people who wanted to reference my pieces in their own work and discussions on the topic, the people who validated me as an artist with something to say, not as a likeable girl.

Perhaps I don’t need to be liked enough that I believe the only important thing I have to say is on the topic of “Why Yellow Is Out In 2014″. Yet, the truth is, I do care, and when people make personal comments or actively dislike me, I cry. It doesn’t matter if I do not know or will never meet that person. Judgement hurts. However, it doesn’t hurt enough to make me believe toning down my personality, expressing myself a little less strongly, or working to keep the peace and making certain everyone will like me is worth it. I dislike conflict, but I cannot mold myself to the expectations of others to avoid conflict and live a life where I am more “accepted” by all. I cannot refuse to stand out because it makes others uncomfortable.

A good friend told me yesterday that he was quite concerned about me, because he always sees me as a bright shining light in the middle of a world that isn’t equipped for such a thing. He is afraid that the people around me who are not as open and adventurous as I can be, the people both in my personal and professional life who’d like to see me knocked down a peg or two, the pressure to live in a society whose mantra seems to be “conformity and pleasing others is the ticket to success”, and the difficult situations in my life one might characterise as “The Challenging Process Of Growing Up” are all things that will ultimately dim that light. It was the right thing to say, because my reply was along the lines of, “Don’t underestimate me. I may not be too strong or too special, but I’m a fighter. You never have to worry. I will cry and feel bruised and battered, but I’ll always get back up. I have to. ”

I do not consider myself “provocative” or “ballsy” or even “confident”, but I thank those who give me credit for being such a strong type of person. I don’t think there is anything particularly special about me. I write about things that are relevant to me, and things I believe others might read and think, “I can relate to that.” I say the things I think people should be saying, even if not everyone wishes to hear them. And, however much it hurts, I can’t change that desire for authentic self-expression simply because someone doesn’t like me or judges me. After living my life online for 13 years, I’m quite familiar with what it’s like to be a polarising personality. I’m also quite familiar with how important it becomes when someone tells you that you’ve left a positive influence in that person’s life, simply by being yourself. If you have that gift, and most of us do, why should fear keep you from sharing it?

In fact, the experience has rekindled my passion for blogging, and reminded me to pay more attention to my own. In October, I will be bringing back the ever-popular “Literary Libations” segment, and will be creating a group on Goodreads to bring together authors, bloggers, and others who realise that building a brand, marketing a book, or getting traffic to a blog isn’t something that can be accomplished in a bubble.

I’ll also be attending the annual SIEGE Conference this Thursday through Sunday, where I’ll be helping to handle registration and bringing my own unique version of sunshine and rainbows (i.e., snark, vodka, and glitter) to a really diverse and fun crowd of people.

And did I mention it’s October? That, of course, means Halloween—more events, more costumes, and more zany adventures when possible. If you’re not yet my Facebook friend, I urge you to come on over and join me and my unique crew of peeps, and share in the adventures.

See you all soon!:)

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….