Writing

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Clueless About Dating

Published January 10, 2023 by Malia

“What kind of dates do you guys go on?”

All eyes were on me. My social anxiety had kicked into overdrive. I was sitting in a restaurant I couldn’t afford, with a group of women I had little in common with. As the only non-mother at the table, I’d had nothing to add to the conversation for the first part of the meal. Then the topic of dates came up. We were all married, and as the conversation had gone around the table, I’d realized just how out of place I was. These women talked about going to nice restaurants, weekend trips to beautiful places, and other activities along those lines.

I stared at my incredibly bland lemon pasta (years later, I’m still baffled at how they managed to make what should’ve been a delicious dish have absolutely zero flavor). Even before we were married, Tom and I hadn’t gone on many dates. The majority of our time together was spent watching tv and talking. A little over a year into marriage, not much had changed. At the time, he was working a job with insane hours. Most days I only saw him when he’d come home late at night, collapse into bed for a few hours, and then get up and immediately go back to work. I was just glad for any time I got with him where he was awake. Going on dates wasn’t even a realistic option. Finally, I answered, “Sometimes we go to Sonic together, but with Tom’s work schedule we really don’t get to see each other that much.”

Have you ever felt an entire group completely deflate? Because that’s exactly what happened. There seemed to be this thought that I, as the most recently married, would have stories of incredibly romantic nights out. I had told them the truth, and in doing so, completely killed the conversation. Quickly, the talk shifted back to motherhood and the antics of their kids.

I’ve been thinking about that night quite a bit lately. Previously, I mentioned that I’m working on drafts for a novella. The first draft is fine, but as I’ve been reworking the story, I’ve come to realize that it has a very big flaw. This is a romance story, and I have written the most boring dates in the world. They don’t seem boring to me because they’re the kind of dates I’m comfortable with. However, I realize that not everyone else is a socially anxious homebody.

This means I’m now racking my brain, trying to figure out actual dates to send these characters on. I’m not even sure I know how to date. Back when everyone else was learning how to do those things, I was sucked into the world of purity culture. It didn’t exactly give me a solid understanding of how dating actually works.

And now I’ll go back to working on my draft and hopefully I can come up with a date for my characters that won’t put readers to sleep.

A romance novel sort of saved my life.

Published January 3, 2023 by Malia

This is a story that begins with TikTok. Specifically, BookTok.

I’m not sure how important this is to the story, but I feel like I need to explain what TikTok is like for me. At this point, I’m fairly certain that the TikTok algorithm is confused by me. I don’t really fit into any specific community. So, my For You Page is a bit of a mess. My little ADHD-fueled brain gets so much joy from the chaos. I’ll scroll through and go from a video about cleaning dryer vents to a guy in Florida watching sharks swim down the street. This will then be followed by people rating the bat-shit crazy level of items they’ve found at Goodwill. Sprinkle in loads of theater, archaeology, autistic/ADHD adult experiences, healthcare workers, Bluey, and evangelical deconstruction. And trust me, that list is barely scraping the surface of what I typically watch on there.

Now, sometimes the algorithm will think it’s started figuring me out and I’ll start having more of a specific type of video fed to me. In fall of 2021, I was getting a fair amount of BookTok videos where people were gushing over a certain romance novel.

Yup, that one. The one that we’ve all learned got its start as Reylo fanfic. Nothing wrong with that, as far as I’m concerned. I’ve been very pro-fanfic since I first discovered it was a thing back in the early 2000s.

Anyway, I kept seeing these videos about this book, and I wasn’t very interested. I’ve been burned by book recommendations so many times, I’m very hesitant to base a reading decision on a stranger’s word. And yet, middle of November ’21, I found myself deciding to give the book a try.

When I say I went in with low expectations, that’s not an exaggeration. I fully anticipated that I would hate it, but I wanted to read a bit of fluff and knew that if it really was as awful as I was prepared for, I could toss it onto the DNF pile.

I didn’t hate it.

I REALLY didn’t hate it.

Was it the most well-written book I’d ever encountered? Nope. Did it give me all the feels and a happily ever after? Yes. Yes, it did.

My depression really got bad by early December ’21, and that was when I took to my bed (how’s that for a dramatic turn of phrase?). One of the only reasons I’d leave the blankets was to take the dogs out and feed all the pets. We headed into January 2022, and I’m not sure if I showered more than once that month. It’s entirely possible I didn’t shower at all. Things didn’t improve much when February hit, though I did start showering at least weekly, so that was a positive.

Everything changed Febraury 24th, 2022.

Throughout my entire stuck-in-bed depressive episode, The Love Hypothesis (which will be referred to as TLH from this point forward) had been the one thing that stopped me from completely giving up. During those few months, I read and re-read TLH more times than anyone probably should. Was it the most healthy coping mechanism? Some will probably say no. Whether healthy or not, I don’t really care at this point, because it helped me not completely give up on life and didn’t let the darkness win.

The book is told from Olive’s, the main female character, point of view (pov). While some romance novels will hop back and forth between the two main character’s pov, TLH only gave us Olive’s side. Adam, the other main character, we can only speculate about. Towards the end of January ’22, not having Adam’s pov really began to bug me. There was a story there that I needed to read.

So, I went to the internet and searched for fanfics that would fill this need. At the time, there were very few TLH fanfics, and the ones that did tell things from Adam’s pov were only short little glimpses into pieces of the story. That was not what I wanted. I wanted to read the entirety of TLH from his side.

The morning of February 24th, 2022, I awoke with my brain screaming that enough was enough. If no one else was going to give me Adam’s version, I’d write the damn thing myself. What happened next was the most insane ADHD hyperfocus experience of my entire life. I started the fic that morning and finished March 4th, 2022. If you’re counting that’s nine days. In nine days, I typed 63, 445 words. Just to be upfront, I wanted to stay as close to canon as possible, so I did use quite a bit of dialogue from TLH. However, I also wrote decent amount that wasn’t in the book. And it was all from Adam’s pov.

On a whim, I decided that maybe someone else would be interested in reading the fic, so as I finished each chapter I posted it to Archive of our Own (AO3). I did not think that it would be read by more than maybe two or three people. This really was something I was doing for myself.

I was dumbfounded when people started to read and leave kudos and comments. It wasn’t just one or two people, either. In fact, as I’m typing this, that particular fic has had almost 20,000 hits. It was overwhelming, but it was a good overwhelming. The internet is such a cesspool of hate, I was terrified when I saw the first alert that I’d received a comment. My fears were unfounded because people were so incredibly kind.

What all those wonderfully kind people didn’t realize is that those sweet words did a tremendous job of yanking me away from the dark abyss. Every day, I was less inclined to crawl under the covers and hope that I’d never wake up again.

Over the next few months, I wrote piles of fics. The quality varies from story to story. (Trust me, I’m under no illusion as to the level of skill I have when it comes to writing.) The majority of them are finished. I currently have a handful that are waiting for me to finish.

It’s still a little crazy to me that novel had such a huge impact on my life. Thanks to it, I’ve made great progress in figuring out what I’m doing with my life, and I’ve made friends with people I’d likely never have met if it had not been for that book.

Two final notes regarding this whole experience:

  1. If you want to read the fic that started it all, here you go: Fluke or Miracle? And from there, if you’re really wanting to read your fill of romantic cheese you can access my other fics. Fair warning, many of them have sexual content. It’s always consensual between adults, but it is still there and some of it is pretty explicit.
  2. While I do have a very soft spot in my heart for TLH, I have been fairly disappointed by the other stories Ali Hazelwood has published since TLH came out. Her novellas are okay. I have many feelings about Love on the Brain, which came out this past fall. The majority of which are not good. One of these days my anger toward the book will ease enough that I’ll be able to express my thoughts regarding it.

Finally, if you want to see my TikToks, you can find me here: Memary84.

Is that enough shameless self-promotion for one day? Probably.

Happy 2023!

Published January 1, 2023 by Malia

Shortly before I drifted off last night, I checked my phone and it said it was 23:23. For those of you who don’t read military time, that’s 11:23 p.m. (Years of working in healthcare converted my brain to operate on military time, and I tend to forget not everyone knows how to read it.) It’s not the first time I’ve fallen asleep before midnight on New Year’s Eve, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. I’m sure that child Malia would be horrified that I don’t sit up, waiting excitedly for the clock to turn over to the new year. Staying up until midnight loses some of its magic once you are out of your teens.

And now, it’s 2023. This May will mark twenty years since I graduated high school. And before you ask, no, I don’t plan to attend my class reunion. I didn’t attend my 10 years, and now I avoid Facebook as much as humanly possible, so I won’t know if there are plans for a 20-year.

18-year-old Malia had very little direction in her life. Oh, I thought I knew what I should do with my life, but I was really quite clueless. I had a talent for music and the next logical step was to go to college to become a music teacher. Did I want to be a music teacher? I told myself I did. It made sense. People in my life were very encouraging that this was what I should do, and that once I finished my bachelor’s I should become a music therapist. The idea absolutely terrified me, but people in my life were gung-ho about the idea, and ever the people-pleaser, I tried to reconcile myself to the idea of this future. A future I swore I wanted to pursue.

Kids, if you’re reading this and find yourself in a similar position, learn this lesson from me. Never make decisions about your future based on what other people (even the most well-meaning, loving people) encourage you to do. You will regret it (and possibly end up in a mountain of debt).

I’m sure it will come as a shock to no one that I didn’t become a music teacher, let alone a music therapist. My epic failures at attaining any kind of college degree deserve their own blog posts (stay tuned for those).

I’ve spent the last two decades trying to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up. Trying to find a place I belonged. While I did eventually get my associate’s degree to be a vet tech, working in vet clinics is not the right place for me. I eventually landed in lab medicine. There are aspects of working in lab med that I adore. That said, there’s a level of stress in that environment that I just can’t cope with. The nightmare that was 2020 (a.k.a. Covid: Year One), cemented in me that lab medicine wasn’t where I belonged either.

2022 is the year when I finally figured out the puzzle of where I belong and what I should do.

The first piece started falling in place at the tail end of February. I began writing, and for months the words flowed out of me. Life got a little intense this past fall, and I wasn’t able to devote any time to writing, but now that things have quieted down again I’m ready to get back to it. My next post will tell the story of what actually happened on February 24, 2022.

The second piece fell into place in December. I auditioned to become a volunteer reader for Radio Talking Book Service (rtbs.org). I passed the audition, and when I went into record for the first time, I fell in love. I feel like I finally found a place where I actually belong. And the joy I feel doing this has made me decide to revisit something I started trying to do back in 2020.

Back when the pandemic got going, I briefly did something I called Bad Accent Storytime. I was making live videos reading public domain books. Why the bad accents? I wasn’t intentionally doing bad accents, but I knew I have no skill when it comes to doing accents and just decided to own it. The effort was short-lived, mainly due to the fact that my job took over my entire life.

I want to go back to reading books on stream. No attempts at accents this time.

Now, I know in my last post I made a big deal out of how I hate that question, “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?”. I still hate that question, and while I have absolutely no idea where I see myself in 5 years, I do have plans for this year. What better day than today, January 1st, to share those plans?

#1. Finish and self-publish three novellas. I currently have 3 planned. One I’ve almost finished the second draft, one is still in its first draft, and one currently only exists as an outline.

#2. Revive my Twitch channel and stream live readings.

#3. Post new blog posts a minimum of once a week. While I’d like to be ambitious and say I’ll post new content every day, that’s just not realistic. However, once a week is.

Here’s to 2023. Let’s make some content and do some good!

So, where do you see yourself in five years?

Published December 31, 2022 by Malia

I hate that question. I despise that question. And the next time I get asked that in a job interview, I’m tempted to go full Phoebe Buffay.

If you had asked me that question on 12/31/2012, I’d have stared at you like a deer in the headlights. Possibly, I’d have mumbled something about having a job. And if you’d asked me that on 12/31/2017, I’d have gone full panic mode while I scrambled to come up with something to convince you that I wasn’t just drifting aimlessly through life.

Ten years ago, nothing could’ve prepared me for what the following decade would bring. If you’d told me even a fraction of those things were going to happen, I wouldn’t have believed you. I might have even laughed at you.

And now? It’s the end of 2022.

It has been quite the year. I’m ending it in a much better headspace than I started it.

I spent the first two months in such a deep depression I could barely able to get out of bed. If I hadn’t had the dogs to take outside, I wouldn’t have left bed at all.

I began writing. Really writing. There are a few novels worth of words that have managed to leave my brain and take physical form.

I had to put Groot down in September. I don’t know that I’m ever going to truly heal from this loss. She was my closest companion for five years. Saw me through some of the darkest times of my life. I miss her more than I ever thought possible.

I end this year knowing what I want to be when I grow up. I’m not sure how to accomplish it, but I’m going to manage it somehow.

I have plans for 2023. I’m back. The blog is back.

That said, there are a few things I should mention before I proceed into this next year.

I’m not the same person I was 12/31/2012. I’m not the same person I was 12/31/2017. I’ve changed quite a bit. Mostly for the better, I think. I know that there are those who will strongly disagree with me about this. I spent decades being a person that pleased everyone else, and I can’t be that person anymore.

I have opinions now. Actual opinions. I’m no longer thinking the thoughts I’ve been told I have to think because they’re the only thoughts God wants me to think. God gave me a brain and I’ve started learning how to actually use it.

You must tell the truth if your dialogue is to have the resonance and realism that Hart’s War, good story though it is, so
sadly lacks—and that holds true all the way down to what folks say when they hit their thumb with the hammer. If you
substitute “Oh sugar!” for “Oh shit!” because you’re thinking about the Legion of Decency, you are breaking the
unspoken contract that exists between writer and reader—your promise to express the truth of how people act and talk through the medium of a made-up story.
-Stephen King On Writing

This is one of the most important lessons I learned from On Writing. Why do I bring this up here? It’s because this entire blog has not been truly honest. Oh, the posts are all true. I’ve never lied in what I’ve shared here. The posts have all been honest, but what you’ve read up until now has been the extremely sanitized version. I never wanted to post anything that might make people uncomfortable or that could be considered even the tiniest bit offensive.

The truth is, I cuss…a lot. I’ve been going through intense religious deconstruction, and I’m filled with thoughts and questions. My mental health is a constant battle. I read and write romance. Sometimes what I write is explicit, but it’s always respectful between consenting adults. I have handled many things in my life poorly. I’m neurodivergent. I screw up more than I succeed. I’ve hurt people and been hurt by people. I’m a flawed human being.

Think of my writing and me like pineapple pizza. Some people are going to love it, and some people aren’t. I’m slowly starting to be okay with that.

The days of people-pleasing, bland, non-offensive writing are done. If that’s the kind of writing you’re hoping to continue seeing here, you’ll be very disappointed. I completely understand if you’re not interested in sticking around because of this. Thank you for the support you’ve given me over the years. I have read every comment and felt a rush of happiness every time I’ve been sent a notification that a post has received a ‘like’.

So, 2023. Let’s do this thing.

The blog isn’t dead, but it may be moving.

Published September 21, 2018 by Malia

I realize that over the last couple years I’ve written less and less. By some miracle y’all have stuck around and read my long rambling musings. Thank you for that.

I’ve actually been writing more, but I’ve been experimenting with a new platform. One where I make a few pennies whenever people like the things I write. There’s a Katamari game coming out for the Switch and Fallout 76 in my near future, and I’d like to be able to buy them when they’re new. I’d also like to contribute in a small way to the general income of our home. I realize that’s more important than video games, but currently I’m more excited about the games than I am the water bill.

So, if you want to read my most current writing head over to Medium, and check out my latest.

Bonus, here’s some adorable, sleepy animals:

And now, a random update post that really goes nowhere. Fun times.

Published February 28, 2018 by Malia

“Eagles may soar, but weasles don’t get sucked into jet engines.” Hands down, my all time favorite joke.

I completely lost the month of February. The flu was brutal; and then when I thought it was finally all over, I came down with post-infection bronchitis. I didn’t have the energy to do anything. I just stayed in bed, and slept through things on Netflix and Hulu.

I’m a week out now from the bronchitis diagnosis. I’m still not at 100%, but I’m starting to feel like maybe, just maybe, the worst is over.

March begins in a few hours, and I’m tentatively looking forward to it. There are changes headed towards me. I hope the changes are going to improve the boy and I’s life. Guess we won’t know until we’re actually into it. But at least I should have plenty to write about.

And now, I’m going to try to sleep, because tomorrow is my early shift, and I’ve found I’m more successful at my job when I’m not completely sleep deprived.

My cat is extremely jealous of Grumpy Cat, which has absolutely nothing to do with the content of this post.

Published November 21, 2014 by Malia

According to the countdown app on my phone, I’m only 3 days away from turning 30…and I’m only 113 days away from my wedding. 

No, that’s not a typo. 

The boy and I are gettin’ hitched!

Feel free to take a moment and join me in the “EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!” Squeal-A-Thon that I’ve been having for the last two weeks. 

That’s a large part of why I’ve not  written much lately.  It wasn’t really public knowledge until last Sunday.  Now, though, pretty much everyone I know knows, so I figured I was fine saying something here.

The other reason I haven’t written much is because I’ve not wanted to sound like a broken record.  My life is pretty routine.  I work hard at my awesome/crazy stressful job.  Sleep.  Go to the boy’s house to hang out every few days, and usually use that time to catch up on all the shows that air while I’m at work (Flash and Scorpion are excellent, by the way).  The super cool thing about being engaged (y’know, apart from getting to marry the love of my life and start a whole new life adventure) is that I actually have new things to write about. 
So stay tuned as I start a new decade of life.  Wow, that sounds cheesy.  And now I want pizza.   Which isn’t a good thing if I really want to be able to wear the gorgeous dress in 113 days.

113 days.  I’m getting married in 113 days.  I cannot hardly wait, I’m so excited!!!!!!

18th Time’s the Charm, Right?

Published May 8, 2014 by Malia

I’ve spent the better part of the last decade trying to lose weight, and miserably failing at it.   But, for better or for worse, I’m giving it another go.  Yes, I do believe there’s a skinny girl inside me.  However, it really doesn’t help that said skinny girl simply adores cheesecake.  (And brownies, and nachos, and burgers, and, well you get the idea…)

There really isn’t much to this post, other than a general announcement that I’m giving weight loss another attempt.  I know Yoda said, “Do or do not, there is no try,” but I don’t think Yoda spent years fighting with a ton of extra weight.  However, if he did, that would be a movie I would totally watch.  I do know that the last time I saw any smidge of success with weight loss, it was when I was writing about it on here, so I’m going to give that another go as well.

Well, Today Happened…

Published April 1, 2014 by Malia

Sometimes, the best that can be said about a day, is that I got through it in one piece.  If today had walls, I’m pretty sure there would be fingernail claw marks on those walls.  And why is this?

Well, today was one week since I had the big root canal.  Woot woot.  I had a pretty bad reaction to the meds I got sent home on, so I’ve been treating the pain with copious amounts of  ibuprofen.  Now, if you know anything about ibuprofen, taking copious amounts of it for long periods of time is not exactly recommended.  So, over the last three days I’ve been working to wean myself off the ibuprofen, and today I decided to try to go cold turkey.  It actually went better than expected.  The pain is pretty much down to a dull ache, which is totally tolerable.  The only really rough moment came when I decided to try to chew gum.  Yeah, that was quite painful.  On the plus side, Dr. Pepper bubblegum actually does taste like Dr. Pepper.  Pain wise the day was okay.  Emotionally, the day stunk.

This always happens the first day I go cold turkey after being on meds.  I so rarely have to take meds, I really don’t handle them well.  Basically, the first day off, my emotions go completely bonkers.  Everything feels very extreme.  I always feel completely worthless (which I’m not).  I always feel like everyone one hates me (which they don’t).  I get really shaky and feel like I’m going to burst into tears any moment.  It’s a nasty cycle.  Fortunately, the first day is always the worst.  Tomorrow will be better.

In other news, today was the first of April, which means the first Camp NaNoWriMo of the year has officially started.  And I have officially written ZERO words.  Go me.  I have absolutely no idea what I’m going to write about, but I’m sure something will come to me eventually.  It’s more about the exercise of writing than anything.   Although, I’m currently feeling like this when I face the blank paper I’m attempting to fill with words…

I Should Be Writing

Published March 11, 2014 by Malia

Really.  I should.  I’m sitting here with a whole story idea in my head, and I’m too scared to sit and put it down on paper.

I’m a chicken.  I’m not proud of this, but at least I’ll own up to it.

The thing is, I’ve discovered that when I start to write stories, they tend to be a little dark.  Scratch that.  They tend to be really messed up and super dark.  Which, if you’re Stephen King definitely works in your favor.  However, if you’re me, it just tends to be scary.  I don’t like to think that there’s that much darkness in me.  Or, maybe I just don’t like acknowledging that my brain is able to come up with stories that are really messed up.

Of course, maybe if I actually completed my stories, instead of freaking myself out with them and quitting half-way through, I’d have something awesome.

And maybe, it’s 2 a.m., and I should be sleeping, and instead am in the process of realizing that Stephen King and George R.R. Martin have written pretty messed up stuff, and they don’t seem to regret it or be freaked out by it.  It’s 2 a.m. and I just realized that this post lacks any grammar correctness.

I shall be banned from the Grammar Rodeo.