Tag Archives: moving around a lot

#SATurday: The Lion Sleeps in a Casino

21 Feb

#SATurday: The Lion Sleeps in a Casino

When I was younger, my family moved around a lot – more times than what I can list here without risking your gaze blurring over – but we always visited Kansas every year. My mother’s parents lived in Kansas, and it was the go-to family house we found ourselves at for the holidays or even just for the summer. During these visits, my mom and dad liked to get together with old friends and family that were still in the area, and they would all go off to the casino. Since the casino provided an area for children, my brother and I went with.

Originally, the casino was called Station Casino, due to an old train that sat out front, but now it’s called Ameristar, even though the giant train is still sitting in the same spot. Oddly enough, I went back there recently, and the children’s area is still there, too – all gated off like a pink and purple jail cell. Of course I wonder if the inside play area is still the same, but there’s no way to find that out at my current age. The children’s zone – known as Kids Quest – has a cutoff age for 12. Older than that and you are in the arcade all night.

Despite the fact that my brother and I probably stepped foot in this place only one dozen times, it sticks out in my memory. My guess relies on the fact that it might have been one of the only places that was stable in my life. We returned every year, and every year, it stayed the same. There was even a kid named Jimmy that was there every year. He was the owner’s son or some other worker’s son. I can’t really remember why he was there every day, and to be honest, I don’t even know if his name really was Jimmy. I might have simply given him a name for my own comfort. It’s strange to have memories with someone who is a fleeting image of a person that once was, so I’ve been known to attribute things like names that might not be real, and eventually, I lose count.

That being said, Jimmy introduced me to the Pocahontas game, and I remember that game more than his name. (Again, perhaps this is why I’ve given him a name. I try to make up for the fact that I remember video game otters more than a fellow kid’s existence.) But I remember the otters most of all. And the fruit roll-ups. And how Jimmy always helped me find my brother since my older brother was at that age that he constantly ran away from me, and I was at that age that I constantly tried to follow him. Younger siblings, eh?

This will soon come into play. I promise.

This is how Jimmy and I looked during adventures.

The play area was three stories tall at the time, and with my little feet, it took a long while to get the top of it all. This was where my brother and some other kids hung out – mainly because you couldn’t get to them unless you passed a fortress of punching bags. It was one of these punching bags that nearly knocked me out when an older kid hit me in the face with it. I think that’s when my brother decided to hang out with me instead of his new friends.

It doesn’t seem like much, but we did eventually leave the three-story-tower-of-punching-bag-doom, and we went to the karaoke stand. This was something I ALWAYS wanted to do but also something every kid in the play area refused to use. It was just what it sounded like – a karaoke stand with three mirrors around it and a microphone at the front. You picked a song on the clunky computer, and then, the song played in the entire area, and you could sing with it.

My brother picked “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”, and to this day, that’s the only time I’ve ever done karaoke.

I don’t think I’ve purposely avoided karaoke. Even though I am a horrible singer, I think I’ve simply never come across another opportunity to do it or to feel like singing out in public, but I always remember that time, and in a way, I feel like that one time was happy enough for a lifetime of karaoke.

Even in a pink and purple jail cell, we learned to sing. It probably helped that most of it didn’t include lyrics at all. Instead, “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” provided marvelous sounds we could belt in a song – a song that I knew because of The Lion King, a song my brother later cranked when picking me up ten years later from Driver’s Ed, a song I heard recently in a grocery store that brought it all back. Funny how even the littlest moments can stay with us forever. In a sense, memories are like lions in that song – sleeping tonight – but always near the village, always on your mind.

Ee-e-e-oh-mum-oh-weh

Ee-e-e-oh-mum-oh-weh

Wimoweh

~SAT on #SATurday

#SATurday: I Am Not Special

7 Feb

#SATurday: I Am Not Special

Some nights, I do not feel like writing – but, in all honesty, I understand that I do feel like writing. After all, I always do. Even when I “hate” it, I redefine my hate as fighting through a passionate struggle – or I label it with some other momentary expression to explain my lack of love. It is a temporary disconnect, one that always – and undoubtedly – heals. That being said, a contradiction timelessly arises.

What happened to all my passions I disconnected with forever?

Allow me to clarify…I truly believe writing is my all-time passion, my purpose in life, per se, but there have been other activities I have loved and admired and explored and lost. While I’ve always wanted to be a writer, my preschool self wanted to try cheerleading, and my later school years brought basketball, yearbook, photography, track, tennis, gymnastics, a part-time job, and a little club called Goal 0 into my life – all while moving around and writing novels in my free time.

I guess I could call myself an overachiever – at least, at that age – but I never considered myself one. There was always a boy who went to school more than I did or a girl who ran faster or a new kid who had lived in more places than I have.

I’ve never seen myself as special.

Although those six words may sound dreary or in desperate need of some self-confidence training, I don’t read them that way. I look at them backward.

“Special as myself seen never I’ve.” may not make sense, so please allow me to reword it slightly to explain further:

Special as myself, seen never have I.

To me, focusing on oneself too much does not allow us to truly see the world around us. In contrast – because I always love a good contradiction – I believe we must know ourselves before we can help others or the world, but stretching self-knowledge into too much self-importance is where we destroy ourselves and each other.

four2

The ways that make us special are not meant to outshine another person’s unique traits. When I was younger, I did not understand that, so I overcompensated to try to seal a hole in my heart I held toward myself, and some days, I still succumb to this pain. I am human, after all.

During times I consider myself to be overcompensating, I have fleeting but terrifying emotions that consume me. Instead of realizing that I am already helping people, I irrationally desire to become special because I believe that “special” label will finally allow me to help others. In fact, I believe it will be the only way for me to achieve my goals. This is where my soul’s focus is confused. No matter what happens, I now feel as if I am failing, even when I am not, so I continue to push, push, and push forward – often, in the wrong direction – as if it will help, and the longer it continues, the harder I push. This is a breeding ground for overcompensation.

During overcompensation I fail to recognize the destructive nature of this thought-process – how it can deter your focus, warp your goals, and desensitize your true wish that you want to fulfill. In the example above, this happened when I thought being “special” would allow me to help people rather than simply trying to help people.

In writing, we often see this happen in the writer who always talks about writing but never actually writes – and oddly enough, that is how I began this piece, and in reality, that is also how I’m ending it. I am not an exception, I am not perfect, and I am not special. And I am accepting how perfectly okay I am with that.

Being special isn’t about sticking out or labeling someone as unique or even changing the world. It is about fighting every day to be honest about who you truly are while finding the energy to fulfill your life role in whatever way you decide it should be. Whether or not you change the world does not matter in the end.

In the end, the important lesson is not to see yourself as special, but to see the world for what it is and everything we can be every day.

I don’t see myself as special.

I am too focused on seeing the life all around me. Perhaps, it’ll even inspire me to write again.

~SAT on #SATurday

The Struggling (Sometimes Starving) Writer

24 Dec

The Struggling (Sometimes Starving) Writer

As many of you know, I love listening. Hearing the stories of strangers is often the most inspiring moments of my own life. It’s also how I fell in love with listening, and this is why I enjoy hearing your opinions and suggestions so much. Recently, Bob Clary – the Marketing Manager for Webucator – asked me to write a blog post that answered a few questions about novel writing, but his focus went a little further than that. The main idea fixated on writing despite lack of financial gain – a very common occurrence among authors – and I’m not an exception. Since graduating from the University of Kansas, I’ve been searching for work, but I haven’t had much luck, and recently, I lost my car. Now, finding work has been even more grueling, and there are days where I’m often at a loss for hope. It is in those moments that I write more, and it is then how much I realize writing has helped me.

When I first started writing, it was out of pure love for the craft. How could it not be? I was a child. I had very few things to worry about – other than moving around. Before I was 14, I had moved six times. The road was very much my home, but the road can be lonely. It was difficult to make friends, and when I did, moving again didn’t permit me to keep friends for long. Writing allowed me to entertain myself, but it went much further than that. Writing also allowed me to explore friendship in fantasies I created, and since I created them, they didn’t have to go away, and for that reason, I was perfectly content living in a fantasy world for a very long time. It wasn’t until my mother passed away when I was eleven years old that I realized my writing was my first love but also my first coping mechanism. Writing was my way of living, and I wanted to spend my life writing. By choosing this path, I hoped to help and inspire others – especially young people. Through writing, I wanted to show it was possible to follow the dream despite difficulties. In fact, I wanted to prove it.

My peaceful moments.

My peaceful moments.

Those are still my goals today, but – of course – life is very different now that I’m 23. I struggle to pay the bills. I cannot afford to buy a new car. And I’ve spent a good amount of time walking around in twenty-degree weather looking for another job to take on top of my author gig as well as working for my publisher. I used to be ashamed of my situation, but then, I began journaling again, and I found comfort in exploring my frustrations in words that no one but me had to see. Now, it is not as hard to be open with others about my life. Writing allows me to be honest. It brings me the strength to continue forward, and it both comforts the bad days and energizes the good ones. Writing becomes my motivation, and that motivation has brought me to marvelous places with magnificent people.

I’ve been able to meet dozens of authors, hundreds of readers, and even more people I would’ve never been able to connect with before pursuing publication. I have spoken with you, laughed with you, and created with you. Sharing my own creations has stretched my happiness beyond what I could’ve done by myself because it was in that sharing where I found confidence – a content place in my heart where I continue to explore the possibilities of writing. To all aspiring writers, this is where I feel most loved – in creating words and sharing words – and as long as you keep the love for writing close to your heart, your fingertips will never stop yearning to write more.

I don’t live a lavish lifestyle or even anything close, but I live my life to the best of my ability, and I continue to love writing no matter the hardships I face because my readers, fellow writers, and love for words motivates me. No matter how much I struggle, there is always peace in pursing a passion.

~SAT

P.S. Merry Christmas to those that celebrate!

P.S.S. Check out this awesome fan art Books Everywhere created for our interview. If you’ve read Take Me Tomorrow, you might recognize this image as a depiction of “cat-eyes” – an effect caused by consuming the clairvoyant drug, tomo.

Thank you, Book Everywhere!

Thank you, Book Everywhere!

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