{ESC} BOOK SEVENTEEN: I WROTE THIS FOR YOU AND ONLY YOU

Dear Reader,

Merry Christmas Eve! I’m currently partaking in a Mario Kart tournament so I’ll make this book review quick.

I got the book “I Wrote This For You and Only You” as an early Christmas present (thanks Zach!) and I read it in one night. It’s this book of short poems that are each paired with really cool photography and I couldn’t put it down. I was marking the pages with different bookmarks and writing some of my favorites in my journal and all of a sudden it was 2AM.

I mean, it happens.

I’ll probably make another post with a few of my favorite ones, but for now all I want to say is this book is great. A lot of the poems are so deep and thoughtful and choose all the perfect words to say things I’ve felt but could never articulate. There are also other books in this collection and I’m looking forward to reading more.

Alright, I’m going back to my family now, so I’ll just leave with you with this:

“If all you do is making something beautiful for someone else, even if it’s only for a moment, with a single word or small action, you have done a great service.

Because life can be ugly and frustrating and for so many, it is.”

Sincerely,

Sammy

SOMETIMES I WRITE CRAPPY POEMS IN MY NOTES AND FIND THEM LATER

I often find myself reflecting at night,

Thinking about this diagnosis I try to pay no attention to while the sun is up. 

And sometimes I’ll slip and think, 

“Well, of course. Anyone with my life would be depressed.”

But I know that’s wrong. 

I have so much. 

I’ve been given so much. 

I’m so fortunate for it all. 

The unfulfillment and self-loathing and all these thoughts are separate,

For I recognize my life as good. 

So then I rephrase. 

“Well, of course,” I’ll think. 

“Anyone who thinks the way I do–anyone with a brain that works like mine would be depressed.”

And then I start to get it. 

  

CHRISTMAS IS WEIRD

Dear Reader

The other night I went to a “Friends Christmas.” I was invited last minute because it’s a group of people I’ve been recently growing closer to, but I was so touched to have even been thought of. I watched them open the meaningful, hilarious, and overall very thoughtful gifts they got for one another and absolutely loved it. And the friend who invited me even bought me a gift of my own, just so I didn’t have to sit there with nothing to open (even though I insisted that I didn’t mind).

And this holiday season, I’ve thought a lot about how weird Christmas is. How weird it is that my house has three fake trees in various rooms, covered in lights and tinsel and ornaments that were poorly made by us kids years ago. how weird it is that we have music playing 24/7 these days and, even weirder, it’s songs that are almost inappropriate to play during the other eleven months of the year. And how weird it is that everyone celebrates this holiday.

I mean, look at me. I’m from a family that very rarely discusses religion and hasn’t gone to church in years, yet every year, I celebrate this holiday three times. Once on December 25th with my immediate family. Once with my dad and his siblings and their kids (and now their kids) a few days laters. And once sometime after that with our big extended family.

And I completely understand why religious people can get a little irritated around this time of the year when the true meaning behind this holiday is so often forgotten. And I also understand that it has simply evolved from the time when nations, like the US, were founded on one religion to a time like today where families that practice Hinduism and Judaism and even atheists still celebrate this holiday. Because that’s just what you do. On December 25th you celebrate Christmas, even if you don’t accept Jesus Christ as your savior.

So, yeah, Christmas is a little weird (and I know religion can be a touchy subject), but I kind of love it.

Because every year, I get a family reunion. Every year we get a reason to come home. We get a reason to travel and be with loved ones and all meet in one place and, as I grow up, I realize how hard this may become in the future.

But every year we get an excuse. An excuse to splurge on gifts for your friends and family. An excuse to take a day off of work and school and go home. And you don’t even have to be religious.

Screen Shot 2015-12-20 at 5.59.16 PM.png

Because of Christmas, I have memories with my family that I’ll never forget. I have stories of my cousins and I wreaking havoc at every hotel we went to because we kept getting kicked out of the one that hosted us the year before. Because of Christmas, I got that night with friends that meant so much to me.

Every year I have butterflies on December 24th because I can’t sleep. And sure, it used to be because I was thinking about Santa and what presents I might open the next morning, but it’s changed as I’ve grown. And now I feel like I have butterflies during the entire holiday season. Because even though life isn’t perfect right now–even though I’m still dealing with things and stressing out a lot–even though my family’s not perfect and can be difficult to handle sometimes, everything’s okay. It’s not, but it is.

It’s like Christmas. Christmas is so weird. And it’s not–it’s all normalized now–but it is.

Have I lost you? I feel like this post was making sense up until this point, but that’s alright. I just wanted to talk about how much I love Christmas and I wanted to express how grateful I am for it this year, because it’s coming at a time when I need it the most. Everything seems to just be better, when not that much is changing at all.

And I think that’s part of the magic of Christmas.

Sincerely,

Sammy

[VIDEO] MY YEAR IN BOOKS

Dear Reader,

Last week I spent way too much time editing and uploading this video of me discussing the 20 books I’ve read so far in 2015 (I’m having a hard time mastering YouTube lol I h8 technology).

Because it’s fifteen minutes long, I don’t expect many people to take the time to watch it, which is why I linked all of my reviews in the description of the video. But, just in case, I thought I would link the video on my blog as well.

Enjoy!

Sincerely,

Sammy

PS. Let me know your favorite books from the year/of all time because all I’m asking for for Christmas this year are books and I’m running out of names to give my family members.

PPS. Is it bad that the majority of my family (myself included) hasn’t started our Christmas shopping yet?

{ESC} BOOK SIXTEEN: BEAUTIFUL MUSIC FOR UGLY CHILDREN

Dear Reader,

This is the story of Gabe, a boy who is about to graduate high school and just got his very own weekly show that he calls “Beautiful Music for Ugly Children.” But the thing that drives the plot of this book is one little detail: Gabe was born a girl.

For as long as he can remember, Gabe has felt like a boy. But because he is in this girl’s body, he is treated differently. He is defined by the people who perceive him as Elizabeth, despite the feelings he has inside.

And isn’t that crazy? That people can be so offended by the way others choose to act? It’s okay to be confused and it’s okay to ask questions and it’s even okay to be ignorant. We all are ignorant at one point or another. There are certain things that you simply may not know until they come up. Until you become educated. But we cannot promote that ignorance. We must always strive to learn–and if we cannot understand, we must at the very least strive to accept.

This is why I love this book. You start the story with a character that you are just now learning about. Someone who has never existed in your mind before. And you see him develop in front of your eyes.

He’s on the air. He’s playing Green Day and Mika.

Now he’s talking to John, his neighbor and idol.

Now he’s talking to a viewer, and we learn his name is Gabe.

We learn more and more about him, this picture of him in our mind is forming, and then, seven pages later, we learn that he was born a girl: Elizabeth.

That’s the wonderful thing about books: we learn the characters from the inside out. And sure, we can learn of their appearance as well, but those are often the details that can be overlooked. Plots are driven by the actions of characters and these actions are driven by who they are and how they think.

And in the case of this book, a lot of the actions are driven by how others feeling about the appearance of Gabe, but that reveals much more about those characters than it reveals about him.

I think that’s a very important lesson that needs to be taught, and I think this book does a very good job teaching it. The characters are vibrant and lovable and the story is heartbreaking but hopeful.

This was a book that I finished in one night, but will stay with me for a very long time.

Sincerely,

Sammy

{VIDEO} MY PILL JOURNEY: KELSEY DARRAGH

Dear Reader,

I went to the doctor’s today and I had an entire blog post written about it, all ready to post, but I decided to save it. At least for now. I’m just trying to figure out my feelings at this point and I normally don’t push “publish” unless I’m certain of my thoughts.

But not much is certain for me at this point. Except this video.

Buzzfeed had this “Mental Health Week” (which I loved) and this video is one of my favorites. I watched it within the first hour or so it was posted and about halfway through I realized that it was Kelsey Darragh telling her story.

I love Kelsey. If she’s in a Buzzfeed video, I automatically love it so much more. She’s absolutely hilarious, which is why she’s often featured in the “People Try” and “Debatable” videos. But she’s also so real and insightful, which is why she’s featured in videos like, “I’m Bipolar But I’m Not…” and this one: “My Pill Journey.”

I so relate to this story. Going into my sophomore year of high school, I was diagnosed with ADD. I think I tried four or five different medications because of things like my insurance or certain side effects like increased heart palpitations.

(In fact, it was that medication that led me to be diagnosed with POTS.)

And today I was given another prescription for antidepressants.

Because apparently depression and ADD have a venn-diagram-like-relationship in which not all depressed people have ADD and not all people with ADD are depressed, but when there is that overlap, medication tends to not have the desired effect. So you kind of have to take both to get what you want.

And that’s still what I’m trying to figure out: what do I want? What do I want to sacrifice in order to be happy? What do I accept as personality traits and what do I turn to medication to change?

That’s what my original blog post talked about, but it was kind of a mess because I simply don’t have the answers.

This video gives me hope, though. It comforts me and makes me feel not so alone. I’ve watched it over a dozen times and shared it with a lot of people–and today I’m sharing it with you.

I hope you enjoy.

Sincerely,

Sammy

 

{ESC} BOOK FIFTEEN: BINGE

Dear Reader,

I absolutely love reading biographical books written by my idols. I love their ability to capture and showcase their voice when telling their own stories. It feels so authentic and personal. I’ve read the autobiographies of Mindy Kaling, Tina Fey, Jenny Lawson–hilarious individuals whose stories have me giggling at the pages even in public. But there’s always more, too. They share their experiences with failure and tell stories that have overarching morals that are applicable to real life. I love it.

And then I read the memoirs of Connor Franta, as you know.

This was the first book I bought that was written by a YouTuber and I was, to say the least, extraordinarily disappointed. I won’t get into it too much (because you can read my other review if you really want a recap of all the corny ways he ended his chapters), but let’s just say I was disappointed.

Then a few months later, after it was heavily recommended by a friend, I decided to pick up yet another book written by a YouTuber: Binge by Tyler Oakley.

Amazing. Hilarious. Inspirational without trying too hard. Real without the forced happy endings. He shared stories that definitely didn’t portray him in the best light, but this only made me adore him even more.

His writing was so authentic and him that it was hard for me to put his book down. The only cons? One, I found two typos which always confuse me because don’t these things get proofread meticulously before getting sent to print? And two, I felt like throwing up the entire time I read the chapter on foot fetishes–but that’s probably just because I hate feet.

But you know what? In Connor’s book I learned lessons like “hop on that high-speed train.” I learned how he was homecoming king and his accomplishments as a competitive swimmer. And I still love Connor, but I felt like he was just shouting inspirational quotes at me and trying to make everything in his 22 years of Earth into a lesson that should be learned.

9781471145131.jpgI learned real things from Tyler.

I learned to “check thyself before you wreck thyself.”

I learned that when life throws a wrench into your plans, you make an IKEA bookshelf–something he demonstrated when interviewing Michelle Obama.

And I learned that you should always try something twice. Sure, he used a story about a guy’s foot fetish to convey that particular message and I felt a bit queasy after that chapter, but I learned something.

He wrote about the times he’s flipped out on restaurant employees, T-Mobile workers, and even fans. He discussed his eating disorder and the desire he had to kill himself and that time when the entire One Direction fandom had #WeWantTylerOakleyDead and #RIPTylerOakleysCareer trending worldwide. He talked about the hardships of his fame and the secret wishes he had (just last year) of his plane rides taking a turn for the worse.

He wrote about life so authentically. He captured both the beauty and the pain and intertwined the two into this beautiful piece of writing.

I feel so much more connected to Tyler as a person and a human being. I love him and appreciate him more than I did just a few days ago, and it’s all because of this book. Sure, he shares his life online with millions of people, but we didn’t really get the full story.

This book gave us that–or at least more of that. I’m sure there are many more stories that could be told to invite us into the real life of Matthew Tyler Oakley.

And maybe one day he’ll bless us all with a sequel.

Sincerely,

Sammy

HOW ARE YOU DOING?

Dear Reader,

I feel like I just came out to my parents. I think everyone does in different ways throughout their lives. The first time you get caught in a big lie. The first time they find out you’ve actually been drunk before–or the first time they piece together that you’ve had sex. You change in their eyes. You grow up.

So now I’m this grown up, living in the same house as my parents for the next six weeks, knowing fully well that they don’t see me the same way they used to. I’m not really sure how they see me now, but it’s different.

tumblr_l7s8b4IsGJ1qblfeqo1_500

For one, every day they ask me “how are you doing?”

And not in the way that’s like, “hey! how’s it going?”

But in the way where they pick up the phone and call, which is very different than how it used to be. Or, because I’m home now, they’ll knock delicately and come in and kiss me on the head or something and ask me how I’ve been.

But they can’t really expect me to be honest.

I think that’s still the hardest part–I can’t be fully honest with them. You can’t tell the people who made you and raised you into who you are today that you hate yourself. You can’t tell them something like that and ask them not to take it personally.

You can’t tell your parents that you’ve looked at a razor longingly before and still insist that you’ve never hurt yourself. Or that you’ve never thought about killing yourself. Because once it comes out that you’ve kept a secret for so long, they realize you can do it again. And no matter how much I insist that my thoughts have never been that dark, I can’t prove it.

But how am I? Well, I’m fighting with everyone about everything. I’m still sleeping to put off responsibilities. I haven’t been able to write a blog post in days because they all eventually take a nasty and dramatic turn and I end up saving them for my journal. Oh and the dog’s been following me around all day. You know how animals always know when something’s up and are drawn to sick people or people who need to be comforted? Well I just walked from the basement to my room, back to the kitchen because I forgot something, then to Sarah’s room, and then my own (stopping at each place to do something) and Izzy hasn’t left my side.

So you tell me how you think I’m doing.

I know I shouldn’t complain, but it’s hard. I’ve felt so pathetic and weak since I’ve come home, and I can’t remember why I was so excited to be here in the first place.

Sincerely,

Sammy

{TOP FIVE} I LOVE THE INTERNET

Dear Reader,

It’s finals week here at Miami and all of my friends are finding new and creative ways to be unproductive. (I walked in on five of my friends playing on Webkinz at midnight yesterday.) But I normally stick to the basics: BuzzFeed, Facebook, YouTube.

large.jpgAll of these are plenty distracting for me, but they also bring me a few of my favorite things–things that I want to share with all of you. So the following are a few links that either made me laugh or smile or do some deep thinking or whatever. I hope you enjoy.

FOR EVERYONE WHO THINKS HERMOINE SHOULD HAVE ENDED UP WITH HARRY.

This is obviously first because IT IS SO IMPORTANT. I sincerely hope that this article doesn’t personally speak to anyone reading my blog (I’d like to think that we all happily ship Ron and Hermoine), but just in case, I need you to take a hard look at #28 (if nothing else):

“The idea of Hermione ending up with Harry is so terrible that it is literally the result of the most evil magic ever. Literally. Do you REALLY want to support the same ‘ship as LORD VOLDEMORT?”

So I’ll just leave this here.

BILL NYE TO PLANNED PARENTHOOD DEFUNDERS: ‘YOU LITERALLY DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT’

How can you not click on a title like that?

But seriously, I love how Bill Nye was this huge character in our lives (and science classes) growing up, and now he’s just this chill af guy dropping truth bombs backed with scientific facts wherever he goes.

HOW SHIA REACTED TO EVERY ONE OF HIS MOVIES

So I love Shia LaBeouf. I think he is a fascinating and complicated little weirdo and I love everything from Rob Cantor’s “Shia LaBeouf” to Sia’s “Elastic Heart” music video. And I guess some people didn’t know this, but he recently watched all of his movies in a marathon that began with his most recent. I checked in on this a few times (had it in a separate tab during most of my studies) over the three days, but now that it’s over, there are various recaps circulating the internet. I highly recommend checking them out:

http://www.ew.com/article/2015/11/12/shia-labeouf-all-my-movies-gifs

http://www.vulture.com/2015/11/how-shia-reacted-to-every-one-of-his-movies.html#

HE TOOK A POLAROID EVERY DAY, UNTIL THE DAY HE DIED

I read this article at least a year ago, but I still find myself thinking about it every once in a while. It still kind of hurts to go through the pictures, even though I didn’t know this man. But it’s an interesting thing–this project he did. It’s definitely worth checking out.

PEE WEE FOOTBALL TEAM LOSES FOCUS WHEN WHIP NAE NAE PLAYS

I STILL DON’T UNDERSTAND HOW SOME PEOPLE HAVE NOT SEEN THIS VIDEO. I’ve referred to this video, on multiple occasions, as my favorite video on the internet. I stand by that statement.

So those are the random links that I’ve thought about making blog posts about before but I never have. Though I guess this counts.

I hope you enjoy, and I hope you have places of the internet where you can turn when you need to smile or think or reflect. And I hope some of those places lead you down dark, dusty tunnels of the internet that lead you to gifs of Shia LaBeouf laughing at himself.

Sincerely,

Sammy

HE GAVE ME A GIFT

He tried so hard when he finally had a daughter, just in case the gene that carried his intelligence didn’t transfer. He taught her algebra when she was still able to use her fingers to give her age. He only allowed her to play educational games on the computer. He quizzed her endlessly in the car on things like energy and the four forms they come in.

And she was picking it up.

She excelled at the tests he gave her, even though they were meant for kids older than herself. She understood the metaphors he used. She was even creative enough to make her own sometimes.

He had tried so hard, and he succeeded. Because in fourth grade, she tested at an advanced level and had finally owned up to the term that had been used to describe her for five years: gifted.

And it makes sense, because a gift is something that is given to you. A gift is not something you ask for. She didn’t ask for the lectures after soccer practice or the tab on the computer that marked the educational, “Dad-approved” websites. She didn’t ask to be put in a primarily fifth grade classroom when she had just turned nine.

In fact, she was almost kicked out of that class because she never did her homework. We’re not sure why, but she just never did. So she fell behind in math–she didn’t know anything about fractions. And one day, the principal was called in and she sat down the girl and her teacher and talked about how fortunate she is to be in this class and how there are other bright children who would gladly take her place and work hard to keep it. She warned her that if she didn’t get her act together, she could get kicked out.

But the girl was never kicked out.

She went onto sixth grade excels and didn’t read any of “Treasure Planet,” but still managed to pass the class. And in eighth grade, she would copy her friend’s science homework every morning in homeroom. She’d do just fine on the tests and would end up passing that class too.

In fact, she’s never failed a class. She skated by time after time despite her poor time management skills and awful problems with procrastination and lack of motivation. How she did it? We’re not quite sure. Maybe it’s because she’s gifted. Maybe it’s because her father tried so hard. The day she learned to speak was the day he taught her to read. Just like the day she touched a soccer ball was the day she joined travel soccer.

But she ended up quitting soccer after ten years.

And now she wants to quit school, too.

Because you can mold a young mind into memorizing multiplication tables and understanding the metaphor of a firecracker when it comes to the four different types of energy, sure. But you can’t stop there. You can’t work hard(ish) with her for the first nine years of her life and then assume that she’ll be okay.

Because she won’t be.

Sure, you can tell her time and time again that she needs to “get her act together” and “own up to her potential.” After all, she is gifted.

You have the tests to prove it.

You even have her high school diploma, with the golden sticker that tells you she graduated with honors, probably hanging in your office somewhere.

But she never read The Scarlet Letter. She never really tried to learn trigonometry. She probably never even opened her ginormous textbook for AP Biology.

And she knows this is all her fault. She’ll always place all the blame on herself, and just chalk it up to another personality trait of hers that she absolutely despises. Another piece of the puzzle that is her self-loathing.

But don’t think she won’t remember. Don’t think she won’t wonder. What if there had been more structure when she got her first C in history? 

6e346b3e542ae665449ee4e5af3420b8.jpgWhat if she had more help with her homework when she got home from school–help that didn’t end in a yelling match and tears.

What if her parents were at that meeting when she was nine?

What if she never aced that test–the one that marked her as “accelerated.”

What if my father didn’t try so hard to make sure I was gifted.