My People! An Announcement!

Long time no speak!

It’s time for our monthly update, I think, and that means I need to bring some good news to the table!

Mark your calendars now, because a fresh new take from me is coming to an online retailer near you! I get to announce that my book, A Book About Life, will be published later this winter!

I’ve been away from the blogaverse because I’ve been deep in an editing phase, and that’s been delight (what with finals and internship and classes and work) but that means I’m doing everything I can to make my work as good as it can be.

So what even is A Book About Life?

Well, think about Pride and Prejudice. Think about survivor tales. Think about New Girl. Think about social work.

And there you have it! But in case you want more, here’s my blurb about what you can expect.

Alicia Whittemore graduated college with three things: a master’s in clinical social work, a quarter of a million dollars in student loans and the hope of saving the world. All her studying seemed to pay off when she landed a job at St. Vincent Memorial, but her troubles were only beginning. When a tempestuous board member and a heart-breaking patient emergency prove to be too much for Alicia, she must come to the realization that there’s so much more to life-and love-than settling for stability.

A Book About Life centers around a millennial trying to find her way though the world after college. She’s a hospital social worker who chooses routine over anything adventurous.

Millennial main character? Check (she’s in her upper 20s)

LGBTQ main character? Check (She’s ACE!)

Ride or die best friend? Check (they met doing a play)

Mr. Darcy character? Check (he means well, but yeesh)

Honest portrayals of mental health? Check (it gets heavy sometimes)

A Book About Life is a tale inspired by my love of Jane Austen, and my work as an MSW student. Each character is based on someone I know, someone I care about. Each situation is discussed with honesty and with respect, but with the depth that I kept completely real. This book contains empowerment after sexual assault, after domestic violence and after self-harm.

I took what I know-working with survivors of intimate partner violence-and I showed how those things play into the life of a very new, very conflicted working millennial. Based on truth, wrapped in emotion, it’s a book that shows the caffeine addicted, trauma informed career that I’ve inserted myself into.

A Book About Life, the New Adult Fiction book about, well, life, comes out this winter!

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Communication

Past me had a very smart idea, that I think I need to keep coming back to.

I know a bunch of people believe that Mercury Retrograde is a bunch of hooey, and that’s fine. This post is for me. I don’t think of it as a cosmic scapegoat that you can blame when you’re being less than optimal. I view it as light shining through the cracks in your life, in the various aspects that need work.

For me, this has been communication (as is rightly so) but communication with not only other people, but myself as well.

Lately my life has played out like the theme song from FRIENDS:

So no one told you life was gonna be this way.
Your job’s a joke, you’re broke,
Your love life’s DOA.
It’s like you’re always stuck in second gear.
When it hasn’t been your day, your week, your month
Or even your year…

I keep circling back tot he negative. The things that don’t work, won’t work, can’t seem to go right. And I think that’s super human to be that way sometimes. You can only see so far into the tunnel and you have to keep trying to move forward even when that’s the last thing you want to do.

I made a decision that has long term consequences this week. I was miserable-the kind that comes from pushing way beyond what you can handle. Every little stressor was getting to me, every moment too much to handle. By the time I’d had my third panic attack of the week, I knew I was in over my head. So I looked at my arm, where my tattoo waits faithfully and I made a choice.

I wish for this.

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It wasn’t something I could say honestly at the time and I promised myself that I would make changes when I couldn’t say it and mean it. So I did. I got out of the crappy situation. I chose my health and happiness over everything else.

Because sometimes self-care feels like the most selfish thing you can do-but you need to do it anyway.

So I’m back to the beginning. I’m ready to try a new path. I know I will be facing a lot of uphill battles, but that’s okay.

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“It is possible to commit no mistakes and still lose. That is not weakness. That is life.” -Captain Picard, Star Trek The Next Generation

This quote came back into my life recently and I’ve relied on it as much as I have my tattoo. Because this life, it’s not fair. It’s not something that you reach a level of “better” and everything works out, smooth and good. It’s messy. It’s painful. It’s confusing and frustrating and beautiful and glorious. But you only get this one life.

Image result for you only get one life and it's your duty to live

So my challenge to the world, to myself, this week (and beyond) is to find the thing that makes you unhappy: your job, your major, your self-care habits, your wardrobe, whatever it is. And make a change. Yes, it’s scary. It’s hard. It’s brutal sometimes. But this is life. And if you only get one, would you rather spend it miserable or would you rather take chances that makes you happier?

In Five Years

Five years ago, I opened this blog. I took a chance on letting the world see my inner thoughts. From there, it became a place to rant, to escape, to process. I changed majors, graduated college, moved across the country, began and ended law school, started a masters degree and have made some beautiful memories.

I wanted to do a little “back in the day”, just to see how different things really are.

Big Things in 2014:
Top Movies: American Sniper, Maleficent, Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Top Songs: Happy, Dark Horse, All About that Bass, Blank Space
Culture Phenomenon: The Ice Bucket Challenge
Oldest Human: 111 year old Alexander Imich (who survived the Holocaust and Soviet gulags)
Internet: Bots outnumbered humans for the first time (this would be relevant in 2016)
Time’s Person of the Year: Ebola Fighters

I feel like the fact that this was only 5 years ago blows my mind. So much has changed since then-far beyond the top entertainment. Who knew that in just a handful of years, I’d be politically savvy, I’d be trauma-informed and interning as a master’s student?

The journey has been wild, folks. But that’s how you know it’s gonna be a good story.

This One Has an Update In It

I figured it had been a while, and I wanted to make sure I wasn’t leaving anyone high and dry.

I’m now successfully beyond the caffeine-and-preservative withdrawals. I’ve been off soda (pop) for 2 months now and it’s going well. The longest I’ve been without it is 6 months, so still a while to go before I beat my record, but darn it, it’s a start. Next steps: remove the sugary drinks from my life: like pre-made tea. This one is going to take a WHILE. Especially because I actually enjoy them for taste not energy.

I had a super successful KissPitch-with 5 likes on a single pitch! I’m approaching 4 weeks on a few queries and I’m (im)patiently waiting. But I’m also writing a new book, just in case I get lucky!

What else? Apart from the snow days, my MSW placement is going super well! I’m learning a ton and I really feel like I’m reaching new levels of awareness. I told everyone in my private life and now I can talk about all the reasons I left law school with all the people who want to know.

And speaking of school, I’m closing in on the halfway point of my program! It feels like I’m ready to get out there and make changes. B got into his PhD program! So this summer we’ll be moving once again (for the last time for a while). We’re both super excited, and I look forward to getting back to culture!

I’ve been focusing on self-care lately, and it’s been paying off. I’m mostly just ready to be moving along in the process.

Anyway, I just wanted to pop in and say I’m still floating!

I’ll have more fun articles soon!

Stop What You’re Doing!

And go drink some water-you look a little dehydrated.

And since you’re here, I hope you’re having a rewarding Monday. I wanted to focus today on a little pesky subject that gets the best of us: burnout.

The newest title that millennials get to add to our giant repertoire is the “burnout generation”. I have to say, as someone who has experienced both being a millennial and burnout, this rings especially true.

So what is burnout?

Well, it’s the way you can go to a job for months or years just fine and then wake up with extreme dread about going in. It’s the way little things didn’t bother you and now they’re all you can think about. It’s wanting to pack up and run away rather than face one more day of your life. It’s that cynical depression that makes you furious that it’s even happening in the first place.

Burnout.

According to psychology, burnout can be traced to helplessness and the feeling of being unable to control your environment. A person experiencing burnout may have problems figuring out what to do with their life, may switch jobs more frequently than is industry standard and may have some major health concerns related to burnout (not just psychological ones). Psychology Today mentions that therapy and meds may just erase the symptoms, instead of dealing with the burnout itself.

Ways to fight it are the same things that have been harped on since the beginning of time: sleep more, workout, eat right, self-care. But what if that only post-pones the feelings of existential dread?

Then you wouldn’t be alone.

There’s a Buzzfeed article that talks about what burnout looks like for millennials in more than just a job capacity. It talks about errand paralysis-putting the same to-do list on your calendar (or bullet journal) week after week because you can’t seem to complete it or the inability to return clothes, to mail packages, to complete basic adulting tasks. In fact, the following quote came from the same article (and consequently hit me like a ton of bricks:

” But these students were convinced that their first job out of college would not only determine their career trajectory, but also their intrinsic value for the rest of their lives. I told one student, whose dozens of internship and fellowship applications yielded no results, that she should move somewhere fun, get any job, and figure out what interests her and what kind of work she doesn’t want to do — a suggestion that prompted wailing. “But what’ll I tell my parents?” she said. “I want a cool job I’m passionate about!” ” –https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/annehelenpetersen/millennials-burnout-generation-debt-work

I’m not going to lie to you, it’s a long article. But it’s also 100% worth the read. Because sometimes it’s nice to know you’re not alone. I’m not saying it’ll get better. I’m saying you don’t have to face it alone.

Experiencing burnout? Drop a comment!

Back to the Grindstone

The last of my #PitMad queries came back this week. It wasn’t quite the yes I’d been hoping for. And in fact, wasn’t a yes at all. But to have multiple agencies request fulls was a beautiful thing. It means that people believe in my story, my ability. And in the end, it was a “fit” issue that led me to the beginning of the process once more.

But here’s what I gained: a successful query letter. A successful manuscript that people can believe in. Confidence.

I mean, I’ve been through this process a fair amount. I had a 90k manuscript that got rejected a LOT. And I put it away, to give myself a break. I started new projects, started new processes. Outlined. Drafted. Edited. You know, the writing stuff. And I ended up with this 60k piece of work that I enjoy reading, and that I actually LIKE editing. And that’s new. I believe in my work.

So as much as it hurts to have come so close (I’m talking that last gasp before a contract close) and leave empty-handed, I know that it’s a project that someone will take.

And in accordance with that, I sent out 2 dozen query letters this weekend. And I have another set that will go out in a month or so, pending any responses. It’s gone through an additional edit since this last round, and I feel even more confident about it.

I mean, how great is it to know-to just know-that you have something worth putting energy into, and participating in the process to do just that?!

Guess we’ll see where this leads!

Wish me luck!

And for those interested, #PitMad is a Twitter based manuscript pitch that happens 4 times a year. More information (including what hashtags to use, who/what/when) can be found at: https://pitchwars.org/pitmad/

Happy writing!

One More Rebellion

To understand where this post is coming from, it is important to know that I’ve been in a very pensive, reminiscing attitude lately. I’ve been working on a new book in which much of the young adult culture of the early 2000s plays a part. But also, I’m about to start the semester and that’s the point where I start thinking about how I got to where I am.

Part of the business of growing up is a little thing I’ll call “going corporate”. Masses of people leaving behind the neon hair, the black and red eyeliner, the studded belts and chucks for business suits, natural hair colors and 9-5s.

And I’m not having it.

So many people my age (and older) make comments like:

“I don’t know what I was thinking about that hair.”
“I can’t believe I wore that/dressed like that/went out like that.”
“I’m so glad I grew out of that.”
“I’m so glad that phase ended.”

And that’s fine… for them.

But I look back at the pictures, the memories, the status updates and I don’t feel ashamed or embarrassed. And the thing is, I can’t remember ever thinking I’d made a mistake. In my closet you’ll find business clothes-interview attire, internship outfits. But you’ll also find band tees, studded belts, two pairs of chucks, and skinny jeans (yep, even my size). My makeup is all deep and vampy.

So imagine my surprise when the suggestion came across my screen that instead of just 2019, we should be celebrating 20NineScene (Scene being the neon cousin of the emo culture that I reference above.). And I could not be more excited.

Because you see, we are the cycles we have lived through. Yes, I believe in moving past periods of time that are too negative for you, that are toxic. After all, what kind of (future) social worker would I be if I supported toxic environments? But why should I (and may others) feel that there is something to be ashamed of by exploring who we are?

So this 2019, instead of walking longingly past Hot Topic and pining for the days when I didn’t feel like a kid in their parent’s business suit, I’m going to allow myself one final rebellion. I want to slide into 2020 (and the return of the Roaring 20s) in the throes of the crimson and black smudged eyes, the black-like-my-soul outfits, the spiky hair, the splashes of neon breaking up the monotony. I never stopped listening to the music I did in high school, and in fact I prefer it to the stuff now (I’m exactly that old). Grunge music like Nirvana and Three Days Grace. Emo punk like All American Rejects. Emo pop like Panic! at the Disco and Fall Out Boy. Dashboard Confessional. My personal favorite, Boys Like Girls. My Chemical Romance. And so many of the glorious others.

In high school, I had so many dreams about who I would be when I approached my current age. And I’m honestly nowhere close. I thought I’d be done with school, traveling, maybe even semi-famous. And if I’m honest with myself, I still hold out for that. It’s why I took a chance on a manuscript that I sent out before winter break to agents. I believe in that manuscript like people praying in church. It’s raw and honest and hopeful-everything I am at my core. I believe that someone will look at it and see the potential, will give me a chance to prove that it’s worth it. I believe in myself.

And none of that would be the case without the high schooler who felt the world a bit too much. Who needed validation more than air. Who wasn’t afraid to rock the red eyeliner, the spiked hair, the black wardrobe. I believe in her as much as she believed in the future. And that’s why I’m completely in support of 20ninescene. Because why on earth would I ever choose to lose who I am just to “go corporate”?