Camp NaNoWriMo Redux

I’ve been going back and forth on whether I should blog about this or not and came to the conclusion that…it really doesn’t matter, so I may as well. I’ll be taking part in Camp NaNoWriMo again in July (aka to-freaking-morrow). I tried camp out in April and failed miserably, so miserably that I didn’t even follow up my original posts about it, but I was winging it in April and juggling a lot of balls (ha). Now, I’ve put Vacancy on hold, I have a good grasp on what it takes to produce an episode of my podcast, and I’m set on working on a completely new project that is almost entirely fleshed out which means I should be able to create some real momentum word-wise in the beginning.

I wasn’t sure I wanted to take part in camp, something about filling in that word count is equally exhilarating and depressing, but the timing worked out perfectly. I’ve had the general idea for this story for a while, but it was literally just an overarching concept. I’d played with the characters in my head, but only wrote down a couple words about it in my note app on my old phone. I started seriously plotting it on May 31st (I know because that’s when Google Docs says I created the document), and I knew I wanted to limit myself here: if I plotted for too long I knew I’d just kind of work the idea to death, and similarly I knew I wanted to plot the majority of it before I started writing so I didn’t write myself into a huge “and then what happens?” hole. I also didn’t want to write the story over a large span of time because I knew my voice would change too drastically (you can see this pretty plainly in the first four episodes of Vacancy compared to everything else), so I planned to write the whole first draft in a condensed amount of time. Season one of Vacancy just ended at the perfect time for all this to come to fruition.

I’ve also been researching writing methods recently, and I wanted to put some of the theories to the test, but with a totally new project and my most recent voice. I tend to pick up old projects because I truly love those old ideas, but I don’t want to abandon what I’ve already written, and I get stuck trying to mimic my old self. Per Stephen King:

The first draft of a book–even a long one–should take no more than three months, the length of a season.

Even without even accomplishing this, I know it’s true. Humans change a lot in a short amount of time, and even if your interests don’t wane, your environment sure does. I find it a lot easier to write happy stories in the sunshine and gloomy creepy stuff in the dark, and that’s probably pretty universal, and while you can fake your environment and you can argue that if you’re a good writer you can put yourself in whatever headspace you need to be in at the drop of a hat, that’s fine, but why force it?

But speaking of headspace…more so that cranking out words, I want to train my brain to get into the flow needed to write quality words. There’s a truth to my writing (and I bet a lot of other writers too): my fastest words are my best. That isn’t to say when I’m writing stream of consciousness, just word vomiting, race-against-the-clock type bullshit that that is my best work. No, no, that’s the warm up, the get-into-the-groove stuff. My actual best work is the work that comes quickly and needs to get out of my brain. Those are the words that feel truly inspired. And that headspace? It’s not divine, but it’s one you can train yourself to be in. At least, so they say. Those hours where you drop a couple words, google something, meticulously craft a sentence, edit it, delete it, rewrite it, then finish up a paragraph? That writing usually sucks. You might get a couple good phrases here and there or you might have a break though plot-wise, but you’re not producing much that’s worth the time put into it. So I’m going to try and train my brain into the “flow state.” And I guess we’ll see how it goes!

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Where To Listen To Vacancy

I’ve been using Anchor.fm to distribute Vacancy as a serialized audio drama, and that platform has been amazing. It makes publishing incredibly easy, keeps stats for me, and distributes my cast out to seven other platforms!

Anchor
Apple Podcasts
Google Podcasts
Breaker
Castbox
Overcast
Pocket Casts
RadioPublic

 

anchor

Just to be blear, this isn’t sponsored by Anchor or anything, it’s just that the process of creating the podcast, all by myself without spending any money and trying my best to stick to a schedule, can be a little overwhelming at times, but Anchor makes publishing it so flipping easy, so I just needed to put this out there. If you’re thinking of starting a podcast, either talk radio or an audio drama, using Anchor to publish it is an amazing way to go.

Podcast: Vacancy 1.09 – Please Don’t Worry

Episode 1.09 – Please Don’t Worry

Vacancy is an ongoing web serial. Find out more about it and start reading or listening here.

Vacancy’s Theme is “Planet Bullspit” by Corey Major

This week’s episode is quite short, but episode 1.09 was very short anyway. I intended to release two episodes this week, but my complex is remodeling the apartment above me so there is SO MUCH NOISE going on up there I can’t record! Hopefully I’ll get enough quiet time to record episode 10 for next week. Wish me luck!

Vacancy Episode 1.09 uses these sounds from freesound, all of which have been remixed. The inclusion of any sound does not indicate endorsement of this completed work or its author:

Defining Albums

I’ve got this top five albums that I carry around in my heart. They aren’t necessarily my top five desert island albums or the top five albums I think are the pinnacle of what music should be. These are if, say, I needed to explain to someone how the fuck I got this way without my own words, I would just hand them these CDs. That’s a situation I’ll never be in, but guess what, Dear Reader? You’re on my blog, so technically you’re in that situation right now.

These are meaningful to me because of the times in my life when I fell in love with them, and the fact that they can so easily transport me back to how I exactly felt during a listening session. To be fair, Mandy Moore’s “Candy” can do that too, but I’m pretty sure that’s universal.

wallflowersbringingdownthehorseThe Wallflowers, Bringing Down The Horse, 1996

If there’s a theme going forward, it might be “depression.” I don’t know that I was ever clinically depressed, but sadness plays a big role in these picks, and pretty much every song on Bringing Down The Horse is, in a word, bleak. I was eight when it came out, and I think I got the CD when I was nine or ten. That may sound weird, but I grew up watching adult sitcoms and listening to both alternative/pop radio and classic 70s/80s rock, so The Wallflowers, The Verve Pipe, Matchbox Twenty, these were all sort of the backdrop to my childhood alongside Aerosmith, Bruce Springsteen, and Queen. I used to make up supernatural stories to the songs on Bringing Down The Horse, pretty easy when Jakob Dylan’s lyrics are already so prose-y and fantastical, and it sort of paved the way for me to really get into writing more dark and somber stuff. I mean, a pre-teen is probably already on the verge of that anyway, and the images of a boy living in a tower, a girl dying of a broken heart, and a man who can survive disconnecting the wires in his own heart just push you over the edge. Every song is magic, and if you didn’t before, you will absolutely appreciate the existence of the slide guitar after one listen, but of the non-singles, I’d suggest “Josephine” to get a feel for the album as a whole. (Please keep in mind that to a nine year old, the schoolgirl imagery was not weird. As an adult, I find this song…odd, but I don’t think that escaped the band.)

 

green_day_-_american_idiot_coverGreen Day, American Idiot, 2004

The first time I was old enough to cast a ballot for the President of the United States, I had the privilege and the honor to vote for Barack Obama. Everything I felt about this country could be summed up with the title track on this album when I was a teenager, and consequently, it’s probably more accurate now than it was 14 years ago. Beyond a punky middle finger to George W (remember the good ole days when Bush was the bad guy? Now the dude who infamously said well, I can’t pick just one, is the voice of reason!), there’s this sad, angry, trippy story about finding yourself and your place in a fucked up world on this album, and that’s what a lot of teenagers deal with. Sadly, the story itself ends with the protagonist giving up, so I was never keen on the last couple parts, but I like to think that just because he gives up on Whatshername doesn’t mean that Whatshername ever gave up fighting the good fight. The album is also incredibly theatrical (they did adapt it for the stage, after all) and loud and in your face. Basically a lot of things I wasn’t but desperately wanted to be. “St Jimmy” is one of the most fun, scream at the top of your lungs with your tongue sticking out songs:

 

the_killers_-_sam27s_townThe Killers, Sam’s Town, 2006

I used to say The Killers was my favorite band, but I realized that it’s actually just that they made one of my favorite records because they change pretty drastically from album to album. There are a lot of songs on their B-sides release, Sawdust, that I really like, but you can tell those songs were the ones that didn’t make it onto Hot Fuss because they belonged on Sam’s Town but ended up on Sam’s Town‘s cutting room floor. (A little detour here, but “All These Things That I’ve Done” is probably The Killers’ best song, but it’s weirdly on Hot Fuss despite the very clear Sam’s Town vibes it gives off, though it might be too hopeful and cymbal-crash-y for the latter. Okay, I’m done!) Again, there are a lot of story-telling songs, but the focus here is faith and in the mid 2000s that’s what I was struggling with too. Who am I, what’s my role in the world, what does God (yeah, big G) want me to do? All that bullshit. I also got interested in my mom’s life when she was growing up as I got closer to the age she was when she had me, thinking “I could never have a baby right now,” and curious about my biological father, and Brandon Flowers explores similar ideas in a lot of these tracks. “For Reasons Unknown” spoke to me on a primal level, and “Read My Mind” was basically the soundtrack to my struggle with sexuality. I don’t know if everyone has experienced this, but you know that thought when you’re driving over the speed limit toward a sharp curve on a country road and you’re like, “You know what, self? You don’t have to turn, you could just, like…keep going straight.” Well, “Why Do I Keep Counting” basically kept me wondering enough about mortality and God and the future to stay out of the ditch and keep my feet on the ground throughout 2008:

 

bat_out_of_hellMeat Loaf, Bat Out Of Hell, 1977

If there’s one album that doesn’t fit in…except it totally does! It’s a rock opera, it tells a story, it’s about finding yourself (though admittedly finding yourself half naked in the backseat, dry-humping a cheerleader), and it’s epic. I think my mom got this on CD when I was around eight, and I’ve been listening to it since. It was always fun, even when it was about heartbreak and death, and it might be what introduced me to the idea of the devil being a pretty cool guy. Like with Bringing Down The Horse, I wrote supernatural stories in my head to this one too, only these were cheesier and self-aware. There were vampires and werewolves and demons and blood pacts and necromancy and, of course, motorcycles, but with bat wings. And all before Twilight! I’m not going to offer you a non-single suggestion because “Paradise By The Dashboard Light” is literal perfection and Ellen Foley is a goddess (that’s not her in the video though):

 

blackparadecoverMy Chemical Romance, The Black Parade, 2006

The Black Parade is a desert island album for me. In fact, if I could only listen to one album for the rest of my life, just one set of songs, it would be this. Why? I wish I fucking knew, honestly. It’s super dramatic, it’s sad and self-loathing, it romanticizes war and cancer and abuse all of which are absolutely not romantic, but it’s also loud, clever, thoughtful, uses “fuck” unabashedly, it is just so much fun. Of course, My Chemical Romance’s popularity wasn’t born out of fun, they rode a wave of emo tears to the top of their genre. I wasn’t a huge fan of their first two albums (but “I’m Not Okay” always does it for me), and I never had scene hair or a lip piercing, but I felt a lot of the things expressed in these songs. Yes, they’re self indulgent, but I don’t think you can really feel an emotion without wallowing in it for at least a little bit. On top of all that, The Black Parade presents music in some of my favorite ways: broadway-esque with vocals that are full of emotion (and also ENUNCIATION), borrowing from other cultures and sounds but making those things sound borderline poppy, orchestral sounds, and lyrics that are angry but also humorous and kinda grotesque and demonic. Or maybe I’m over-analyzing it and it’s all shit, but it doesn’t matter because I love it. So on that note I’ll leave you with one of, if not the, most fucked up songs on the album.

A Vacancy Update – Season One End And Where It’s Going

After posting the season one finale of Vacancy at 11:30pm on a Monday, my scheduled release day, for the 15th time in a row, I’m sitting here feeling very fucking pleased with myself. After 6 months, 25 parts, and about 40,000 words, I actually, like, finished something. Well, sorta.

But first of all, for those of you who have read, toiling away on your screens, straining your eyes, trying to make sense of the typos I often find way after the fact and the plot holes that I really didn’t patch and the dropped story lines that you hope I’ll pick back up (and maybe I will! MAYBE) I just want to say, Dear Reader, thank you, and I love you. I usually cringe when I hear any creator telling their followers they love them, but I think I am kind of starting to get it.

If you’ve stuck through this with me or you’re just reading for the first time, I feel like you should know these things: Vacancy started out in my mind as a serialized story, specifically a television show I never thought I’d actually pitch. I thought about trying my hand at a script, but it never felt right. Then I tried the serialized novel thing way back in July of 2016. I posted the beginning of the story in four parts, but I’d been trying to write the story out as just a traditional novel way before then (like 2014). I had a vague idea of the over arching story, but I started republishing this past year without a super solid plan, I just wanted to get myself writing again. I used NaNo 2017 to roughly draft out what I wanted to accomplish this year, and lo and behold, it exists!

My plan for Vacancy is to have it run for three “seasons” and about 25 installments each season. I’m hoping I can post from August through December/January to complete season two, then February through July 2019 to finish the last season. It seems absolutely crazy to be planning this far ahead, and who knows what life will throw at me in the meantime, but having some kind of plan is the only way I’ll be able to move forward.

Although this is far from the end, the fact that I’ve been working with these characters in my head for well over four years and finally completed something with them feels pretty monumental. There are a lot of things I would change, but I love where they’ve taken themselves and where I see their potential going.

I also love what this project has done for me as a writer in general. I’m less afraid of sucking now because basically I barely edit before throwing these things out into the ether. My suckiness is on display every week, and I’m cool with that. Not that I think that’s how writing should be done, but it sure is a great way to get over yourself. It’s also great to have a deadline so you actually do something, and that has really shown me the value in a plan for your writing. Muses are fickle and cannot be relied upon to show up on Sunday evening to bestow me with the next installment. I gotta plot that shit out.

Oh, and there’s that whole podcast thing I’m doing. That’s pretty wild.

So here we are, Dear Reader, you and me and Lorelei on the brink of something cool. We should wish ourselves luck, we’re probably going to need it.

Vacancy – 1.25 – Promise

Vacancy is an ongoing web serial. Find out more about it and start reading here.

v 1.25

“They’re dead, idiot.”

Conrad winced, and thunder cracked across the sky as the third floor landing lit up. “I know. But have you been to their graves?” He was still staring out the window though it was pitch dark beyond the torrents of rain.

Byron was silent, and Lorelei studied his face in the darkness that her eyes had become used to. His lips moved, but he said nothing, as if the words were trying to come but he wouldn’t let them. His eyes softened, and for a moment she saw a striking resemblance to Conrad and almost felt sorry for him until she remembered the wooden spike hovering inches from her throat.

“You think it’s there?” Byron finally broke the steady sound of the rain on the roof.

Conrad glanced at him, his eyes flicking over Lorelei and back, then nodded.

“Would make sense,” his brother snorted, “taking it with them.” Byron snapped his head to Lorelei, and she instantly straightened, “Ladies first.”

Following his gesture, she took to the stairs, the splintered wood toying with her as she had to move toward it with each step, but it managed to leave the smallest of gaps so as to not turn her into a vampire’s fantasy. She was annoyed, but equally impressed, especially as she listened to the nonchalance in Byron’s voice, “Maybe it’s better you never joined the Omphalos; they wouldn’t appreciate how easy you made this.”

“Omphalos,” Conrad’s voice repeated behind her, “You mean the order?”

“What else would I mean?”

Lorelei saw in her mind the hilt of the sword Conrad had shown her in his office and its engraving of “OoO.” Order of Omphalos? she questioned silently, though it meant nothing to her. She ran a hand over her pocket to feel that the brooch was still there. Ms. Pennycress had signed her name with the same acronym.

Off the kitchen there was a back door that emptied them out onto a porch. The air was heavy and cold and smelled of the ocean, and when Byron’s elbow nudged her off the edge, Lorelei’s breath caught in her throat at the freezing rain. They marched across the field, the storm raging over them, until they reached the tall hedge that encircled the garden.

Conrad entered first, and Lorelei followed, keeping her eyes on his back, the shadows of the foliage and statues eerie in the distorted darkness. Deep in the garden, a set of headstones stood at the base of a thick tree trunk. Overhanging branches staved off a bit of rain, and Lorelei pushed her hair away from her face before quickly recrossing her arms to hold her own body still. She could see both brothers were staring uneasily at the stones.

“What are you even going to do with the deed?” Conrad had to shout over the rain, “Arista’s not going to just hand anything over.”

Byron’s face changed, and he eyed his brother, “It won’t be up to her.”

Conrad sneered at him then pointed to one of the stones, “There, on the back, there’s a compartment.”

Byron took wide steps around the graves, not treading directly in front of them, and leaned down behind one of the stones.

“Wait!” the urgency in Conrad’s voice made Lorelei jump. He was staring intently at his brother, and thunder cracked across the sky. They locked eyes for a long moment until Conrad sputtered, “Can you just…just tell me what happened?”

Byron put a hand on the stone and bit his lip, then let out a long sigh, “Maybe when you’re older.” Then he dipped back behind the headstone, and Conrad made a quick move to Lorelei’s side, grabbing her arm. There was a spark and Byron yelped, then a squish as he fell back against the wet earth. The spike dropped from the air at Lorelei’s feet and she instinctively threw a hand up around her throat, taking a deep breath, but was immediately back on edge when Byron shot up to his feet.

But his eyes were different, wild, and his hands were out in front of him as if he were searching in the dark for a light switch, “What the hell was that?” he cried, spinning around and looking up into the branches of the trees, “Who’s there?”

Conrad took a long step back, pulling Lorelei with him, “It’s not safe,” he shouted over the sound of the rain.

Byron swore, looking left then right and left again, crouching low and gasping for air. He backed into the tree, then cried out, jumping forward. Lorelei covered her mouth to keep from laughing.

“We gotta get outta here,” Conrad insisted, but didn’t move, his eyes locked on his brother, “They’re coming!”

Cursing, Byron eyed him, grimaced, then turned and fled into the darkness. When his figure disappeared, Conrad did the same, pulling Lorelei back out in the full brunt of the storm and through the garden in the opposite direction.

“What just happened?” she shouted after him after they’d cleared the hedge, trying to keep up with his long strides in the mud.

“Paranoia.” Lorelei could see the house through the torrents of rain and her own hair. “Arista set it years ago. I’m just thankful it still worked.”

Conrad bypassed the manor entirely on his bike, riding up to the cottage and coming to a sharp stop across three rows of what were once dahlias. He dismounted, instructing Lorelei to follow him in a voice she dared not question, and before she knew it, they were inside the cottage’s front office entryway, and he was banging on the door the lead to the rest of the house, shouting for Arista.

Lorelei had not been inside the cottage since Arista had okayed her to work at Moonlit Shores, and on a temporary basis at that so she could get rid of her easily, as Ziah had said. She glanced down at the floor and what appeared to be a very expensive carpet she was dripping mud and rainwater onto just as the door opened.

“Conrad, what on earth?” Arista’s voice was nothing like she expected, concerned and even shaking, and when she caught sight of the woman hurrying in, bleary-eyed and pulling a robe tightly around her as she reached out for Conrad’s arm, she thought she even looked motherly.

Seamus was on her heels in bright green boxer shorts and nothing else, scratching his belly and blinking out at them. He ran a hand through his fiery beard and beamed at Lorelei, “Good evening, lass!”

It was then Arista noticed Lorelei was even there, and her mouth creased into a tight frown. She stood straight and lifted her chin, “Explain. Now.”

“Is there a deed?” Conrad never blinked as he tried to catch her eye.

“A…a what?” she faltered, her eyes pingponging from Conrad to Lorelei.

“A deed. Byron said he wants the deed, but I’ve never even seen the damn thing. Is there a deed to Moonlit Shores Manor, and do you have it somewhere safe?” He somehow looked taller than normal, his green eyes intense, his jaw tight. Lorelei had never seen him like this, and she suddenly felt like she needed to sit down.

“Byron?” Arista appeared to crumple, “You spoke to Byron?”

He sighed, blinking slowly, then finally nodded.

“He’s…he’s alive?” She began to stagger backward and Seamus pushed the desk chair under her just before she fell blindly backward. “Byron’s alive.”

“And trying to take the manor from you,” Conrad lowered his voice, “So where’s the deed?”

Arista’s lip quivered then just as quickly she sat up, “We cannot discuss this in front of strangers.”

Conrad grunted, “Considering Byron just tried to kill her, I think she’s earned hearing whatever you have to say.”

“Tried to kill her? Bryon?” her mouth fell open, and then she frowned, “Well, what in the world did she do to make him try something like that?”

Lorelei sucked in a sharp breath, and Conrad stared at his aunt blankly, “I’m not my father, you know.”

Arista rolled her eyes, “Nothing like that exists.”

“He seemed pretty convinced. He tore up dad’s office looking for it.”

“He got into the house?” she squinted up to the ceiling, “The spells must have worn off. Or he’s not one of them–”

“That doesn’t matter,” Conrad slapped his hand on the desk, and they all jumped, “Is this place safe or not?”

“Yes!” she shouted, coming to her feet, “There is no paper deed, Conrad. Nothing he can get his hands on. You, on the other hand,” she crossed her arms, but softened slightly, “You know this place is yours. You just have to–”

“I know,” he relented then, turning away from her, “Listen, he’s out there, somewhere. I had him trigger the psychosis trap at the headstones so we could get away, but who knows how far he’ll run.”

“We’ll take care of it,” Seamus put a hand on Arista’s shoulder before she could say anything more. She looked like she wanted to reach out to him, but instead touched her hand to her own face.

Conrad’s eyes flickered over to Lorelei then. She had been trying to be as inconspicuous as possible, but under his gaze she felt completely exposed. He strode up to her and opened the door, nodding for her to walk out with him.

Outside, the rain was still coming down hard, but their walk to the manor was not hurried. They entered through the back, and Lorelei remembered the first time she walked into the manor, soaked to the core and afraid, but for wholly different reasons. She followed Conrad into the kitchen, the swinging door plunging them into an even deeper silence when it finally stopped. An orange light from the hood vent was all that illuminated the space, but it was enough.

Conrad’s voice cracked when he finally spoke, “I am so, so sorry, Lorelei, I–”

“It’s fine,” she stopped him with a raised hand then wiped at her face and flicked the water in the sink, “It’s not your fault. But are you okay?”

“Oh, uh, yeah,” he studied the floor.

“I’m serious,” she dipped her head to try and see his face better, “That was…a lot.”

He looked up at her then took an awkward step, closing the space between them. She stiffened as he put his arms around her, but when her chest filled up with warmth and the realization that any immediate danger was gone kicked in, she felt herself melt against him. It was nice, she thought. Very, very nice.

When he pulled back, she sighed, then caught herself. She’d stopped shivering, and lifted up her arms, completely dry, “Magic?”

He half smiled.

“How expensive was that?” she chuckled, “I could have just grabbed a towel, you didn’t really need to do that.”

“No, I definitely did.” She couldn’t be sure under the warm orange glow, but she thought she saw the color of his face change. “Anyway, I’m okay. You’re the one who almost got, well,” he ran a finger across his neck.

“I’m used to it,” she waved him away, “You can pay me back in answers.”

“Maybe tomorrow?”

“Or next week, next month,” she grinned, “We’re here, we’re safe, we have plenty of time.”

“Right,” he nodded as if he were assuring himself, “Right. Thank you.”

“Thank you.”

Lorelei watched him as he hesitated at the door then gave her a little nod before heading off for the basement. She felt dreamy as she headed for her own room, as if her feet took her there, but her mind was somewhere else. She’d almost died tonight, she thought, but that seemed like a distant memory in the wake of the brief moment in the kitchen, and her core was still warm.

The sound of the rain reached even her bedroom, in the heart of the manor, as Ziah had called it, and though she knew the man who had threatened her life was somewhere out there with plans to get into and take over Moonlit Shores Manor, she felt as safe as she did her first night there when she’d been lulled to sleep by low rolling thunder. But this time, she thought, slipping the brooch from her pocket and pressing it against her chest, this time she wanted to return the favor, and as both good sense and dumb luck would have it, she spoke this thought out loud, “I promise I’ll protect you too.”

 

Table of Contents | Season Two – Monday 7/30/18

Thank you so much for reading the first season of Vacancy! After a short month, the second season will be posted again on Mondays right here on my blog. For updates, you can follow the blog or my Twitter or Instagram for reminders of new posts.

If you enjoyed the first season, and if you want other people to know about it, consider reviewing it over at the Web Fiction Guide or at Muse’s Success, and while you’re there, look around for other serials you might like!

A Hairstory

This is roughly what I used to look like at the end of 2014:

2014.01
That bathroom’s theme was Ravenclaw except I was firmly in the “Ravenclaw is blue and silver” camp. I knew not what I did.

I had cut my own hair for the first time with Christmas-themed craft scissors that were a gift from my friend Maggie (you can see the handle under my armpit). I gave myself swoopy bangs and layers, and I was feeling VERY proud. Dangerously proud. Poseidon-threatening-you-with-10-years-at-sea proud. I wanted my hair a certain way, and I never really got what I wanted at the hairdresser, so I figured I should just do it myself.

It was at this point, on an emotional high from achieving something I thought I needed at least a year’s worth of training, a certificate, and two children out of wedlock for, that something in my mind clicked, and I realized: I could do what I wanted with my hair. And what I wanted had never been to be brunette.

I have, however, very desperately and for a very long time, wanted to be pretty. I know what you’re thinking: the girl in that picture is not necessarily ugly, and I don’t disagree. I have learned over the years and in the age of the selfie how to fake a good picture, but there is nothing about me that’s classically or even interestingly beautiful. My face is alarmingly asymmetrical (hence the desire for swoopy bangs), eyes sunken and tired with one lazy wanderer, nose broken and too big, eyebrows a fucking mess, a history of hair that would make year one Hermione thankful for what she had, hair in places that would make a lycan jealous, moles, and for about a decade I had the kind of acne that prompts older women and mall kiosk hawkers to grab you roughly about the arm and try to apply makeup to your cheeks without your consent. My eyelashes, I think, save my look, but to really see them you have to look past a whole lot of bullshit.

And I know this, it’s no secret: while most little girls get told at some point growing up that they’re some version of the word “cute” (for better or worse) I have literally never experienced that, not even from family members. I was a disfigured infant, and no amount of growing into my skull could convince anyone I could grow up to rely on my looks.

Of course, you don’t know you’re ugly just because of the absence of praise–you really find out when people tell you, mostly in the form of little boys who call you everything from Lurch to Pizza to Sloth (I’ve still never seen The Goonies and I never will, fuck you very much, but pizza is one of my favorite foods and the Adams Family is one of my favorite families, so who knows where my head is at.) I was an ugly baby, a weird looking little kid, a disgusting teenage, and I’m an occasionally okay-looking adult, but my body and my memories are the same.

This is all to say that when I realized I could do whatever I wanted with my hair I opted for distraction. The general consensus seems to be that people who dye their hair wacky colors are looking for attention because, I guess, doing something fun for yourself never crosses those uncreative minds. But the truth is, humans are all actually different people who do arbitrary things for different reasons and my reason was this: I think color is pretty and I want to be pretty and if my hair is colorful it will be pretty and also if THAT is what people look at when they look at me instead of my lazy eye or that chin hair I missed, then by the will of the gods my hair will be fucking purple. Also I wanted to take back my hair from the kids in high school who shot spitballs into it. (Yeah, I fucking remember, ex-boyfriend. Still wondering why I didn’t end up marrying you? That’s certainly part of it!)

So in the early months of 2015, I watched a fuck load of YouTube, bought some bleach and developer, and dyed the tips of my hair purple. It was nice, I liked it, but it was NOT ENOUGH. Because like tattoos and (I imagine) piercings, once you pop, you absolutely cannot stop.

So I bleached everything and dyed it pink into purple into blue. It was glorious and I…didn’t take a picture. BUT a month later when it faded, I did:

2015.03
March 2015. Husband and I had been married exactly two years and he was probably getting scared.

So just to be clear, this isn’t a searching for sympathy post. This is a celebration post. A post about making a choice and being much happier for it. You’re going to see a number of pictures of me that don’t prove the “I’m ugly” theory above, but trust me, they’re hand picked, and I’m not here to have you tell me otherwise. I’m here to tell you to do whatever the fuck you want with your body because you’ll never please all the people, but you certainly can kinda please yourself. At least a little.

By August of 2015 I had redyed the hairs a couple times and come out with a “bangs one color and rest of it a different color” theme:

2015.08
This would have been a great MySpace profile photo, and it was my Facebook profile photo for a loooong time.

I still had some bounce and life to my hair, but then I wanted to change, and I mean like BIG change, so I had to bleach it again because I decided I wanted to embrace my goth side and become a vampire:

2015.09
Honestly I miss this, but I will never go back.

In September I went red, and it was probably the biggest mistake I could have made. unless you want to be red forever and ever, DON’T DO IT. It’s impossible to wash or even bleach out. This was the turning point where I really started to damage the hairs. But on the other hand I had this rockin’ Ronald McDonald ‘do for like a whole month!

Then by October I couldn’t stand the way it constantly faded to orange like immediately after a single wash, so I went darker:

2015.10
Bonus pop art zombie.

I don’t actually remember making this choice, I think I actually tried to go purple and this happened. I really wanted to be purple though and I knew I had to lift to get there. So lift I did:

2015.12
I actually liked this orange it was hella unique.

You can see I have less hair here because…damage lol, but I was still having so much fun! And then I bleached it again:

2016.01
How do those layers happen? I don’t know, I’M NOT A PROFESSIONAL. Also if it looks like I have a bunch more hair here, you’re right, it sure LOOKS that way, but it’s actually just very dry and brittle here and taking up more space.

So that was January of 2016 and I don’t really have any photos of myself again til December 2016. I don’t remember what I did that year except probably played around with pink because that was my only option. Here’s the one time I dressed up in 2016:

2016.12
See I can take a good picture! Husband can too, but this was the best one of ME, so sorry, Husband.

In February of 2017 I redid my roots and fully embraced pink. The color I bought was called violet, and the color on the bottle matched the color you imagine when you buy something called violet. The company has since changed the bottle’s color (but not name) to match the actual shade:

2017.02
That’s REAL happy there, I actually loved this shade.

Then I went blue because blue is different and why the fuck not:

2017.06
Admittedly this is a bad photo for showing off hair, but look at that bird!

Then I went two-toned again:

2017.07
And I wore makeup. Why? I don’t know what this was for!

And finally transitioned all the way back to purple:

2017.08
Vacation mode activated, bring out the teeth!

So now I am letting my natural hair grow out again. I haven’t bleached it in I don’t know how long and I have a bunch of regrowth at the roots. I miss having insanely bright hair (it’s having the roots that bight color that really makes the whole thing pop), but for my hair health I need it to grow out. I still have my ends to dye when they fade, so I’m still colorful.

I was other colors over the last three years, turquoise, green, faded periwinkle, almost lavender, but I do always come back to purple because that’s where my heart is. As my brunette comes back, I actually feel unhappy. I don’t like the color of my natural hair. Where others have these warm, chestnutty, honey, oaky tones to their hair, mind is best described as “mousy” and while mice are absolutely adorable, the matte, almost grey tinge my hair has is unappealing. But I know I can change it, and I will eventually because I can and that’s a pretty great feeling.

Do the assholes who called me names still have power over me? Yep, they certainly do. Their words and actions were impactful enough to make me feel bad then and feel bad now and even take action to change myself. No, I never learned to love who I am completely. I never overcame those bad feelings and I don’t think I even will. But I did learn to love something I wanted, something that was a little out of the box and controversial, and I’m happier for that. Will I always hate my lazy eye? Yes. Will I always be happy I can cover it up with PURPLE hair?? YAAAAAAS, BITCH, YAAAAAAAAAAAAS!

2018.04
And thanks to the one dude who loves this ugly ole broad.