4 Things I Learned From College

So with high school graduations in the air, I thought I would best celebrate by sharing some of the key lessons I learned in my first year of college to save you guys some embarrassment and frustration, with a little help from some of my terrible photography.

One: Being Alone Isn’t That Bad

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Technically I wasn’t alone in this picture, I joined my friend as she took pictures for her photography project and then nagged her until she took pictures of me. Eventually though, whether you want it or not, you will be doing something alone in college. Normally the first thing you experience that makes you realize life is different is eating alone in a dining hall. And at first it’s terrifying. High school movies told us that having no one at a table with you is a sign that you’re socially inept. In real life though, nobody cares. I have eaten alone way more than I have eaten with people in my college career so far and honestly, it’s great. It gives you a nice alone time, a moment to recharge, to plan the day, or just to think. Then next thing you know, eating alone will turn into something else, shopping by yourself, going to events without anyone, even taking the bus downtown with a stranger next to you in the seat. And while it feels uncomfortable at first, the more you do it, the more you forget how weird it feels, it becomes second nature to you. You gain this sense of independence that only comes from doing something without anyone’s help.

Two: Change Up Your Style

Ever wanted to rock high wasted shorts? How bout dying your hair purple? Nose piercing? Now’s the time to do it. Now I’m not saying get a completely different wardrobe. That would be both exhausting and bank account draining. What I am saying is that college is the perfect time to try an outfit, a hairstyle, a trend, that you never had before. Because college is honestly just a whole group of people trying to discover themselves (as well as silently hoping they’ll get a job after it’s through). It may sound materialistic, but I gained a lot of confidence about myself from just experimenting with style. It can be as simple as wearing my clothes a different way or trying that hair braiding tutorial. But trying anything new helps in the long run. Here’s what I did:

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Let’s get one thing straight. That selfie up there? Super embarrassing. But, it was something I did almost every day. I’d try  on an outfit I wasn’t sure of,  take a picture to see how it looked, cringe, and then walk out the door anyways.

Usually the start of my day would involve panicked questions in my head.”What if this looks stupid?” “Is this the right way to lace up boots?” “Is the lipstick too much?”. Like being alone it can be a bit nerve wracking at first. But it also becomes easier and easier. After my first class I would stop overthinking my outfit and just start thinking about my day. The more and more you do something that scares you, the less scarier it becomes. Eventually you stop caring about what other people think about your outfit and more about how you feel wearing it.

Three: Not Everything’s Going to Stick.

 In college I tried a lot of clubs and wet to a lot of events (and yet couldn’t find a good picture from any of them). Some of them were great! And some of them I kind of hated. Of course that’s life, your going like some experiences better than others and sometimes it will surprise you which one is which. I signed up to write for a comedy show at a local TV. I thought “Hey! I wanted to be a screenwriter and I love comedies, this will be great!”. Eh, not so much. The type of humor the show had was not the type that I liked. I realized that it was a lot harder for me to write jokes and feel comfortable sharing because the medium just didn’t click with me. Working for the show wasn’t a waste though, I learned that I  prefer writing darker pieces of writing than witty or farcical sketches. And that’s the great thing about joining a club you end up not liking, it’s not a waste because you learn something about yourself.

Four:  It’s Okay to Not be Okay

This is probably the most important lesson I learned Freshman year. In August I joined the school gymnastics team. In November, I tore my meniscus doing a tumble.

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Right there is the beautiful picture of my knee after I got surgery.

Just like that I was out for the rest of the season and on crutches for a month. To add salt to the wound, I was still crutching around when finals week was going on. Even though I was stressed, I said I was “Okay” over and over and over because I didn’t want to bother people with my problems. And that method  works great for a few days. And then you start to crumble as stress after stress just tacks on.

One day I was just so tired that as I crutched into the dining hall I slipped. Everyone watched, gasped, and held their breath as my friend caught me. “I’m okay, I’m okay” I kept trying to say, but then my eyes started watering and my lips started quivering and then next thing I knew I’m letting out every problem big or small to my friend. In a dining hall. Where everyone was eating. Was it embarrassing? Hell yes. Did I need it? Hell. Yes. As soon as I started crying my friend took me to side and listened, waited for me to finish, and started telling me it was alright, that she was there for me. And while it didn’t make my problems go away, it made me feel that I wasn’t alone. That I wasn’t hiding. It may feel like your complaining about a homework that’s due or a final a week away.But letting out your stress early saves you a hell of a lot of emotional turmoil down the line. And remember, venting is not the same as being conceited.

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How it Feels to Meet a Celebrity

Wow! It has been a while since I last posted. A very busy weekend lead me to a very packed Philadelphia Comic Con where to my happiness, a whole slew of celebrities came to meet fans. Chris Evans, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, freaking Back to the Future, they were all there and I was super pumped and scared to death at the same time. And then came the photo.

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Yep! This lucky gal (on the left) got a photo with Chris Hemsworth. Thor! Heart of the Sea! Rush! etc. etc. bottom line is  I touched the once sexiest man alive. As great it was, there was a nagging in my stomach, telling me something was wrong. Here’s why:

My time with him didn’t last too long, we were ushered into a line, waiting for about half an hour before we even saw the actor’s face. Then we were lead into a closed off booth, being yelled to “Stay on the line!” and “Put you’re bags on the table, one person on each side!”.

Meeting him itself lasted three seconds, we smiled, the camera flashed, and we were forced out. Chris managed to still be courteous as ever, asking how we were and thanking us for coming. Despite my nerves, I still managed to let out a meager “good” to his question and a “thanks!” before leaving. The whole rushed process made me feel kind of like cattle being pushed to the slaughter house (a very gruesome analogy, yes). But, then I realized we weren’t really the ones being treated like animals.

Even though we were pushed through fast, we were the ones paying close to two hundred dollars for a brief few seconds with Chris “the six pack” Hemsworth. We would have to pay even more to actually be able to talk to him. And while Chris and most other celebrities are probably used to being ogled at by now and even appreciate the excitement people get meeting them, it still doesn’t feel right.

Going to Comic Con and taking this picture made me realize that we tend to treat celebrities like a zoo attraction. We pay money just to see them and listen to them talk for a few minutes. Even worse than that though, we feel like we have a right to their life. Tabloids disclose who they’re dating, what they’re doing, even what they’re eating and because they’re famous we feel like were allowed to consume this information.

I could go to Wikipedia right now and look up Hemsworth’s life story; things that are so personal to him are so accessible to the world and we tend to gush and “fan-girl” over  it. “His kids are so cute!” “His wife! #relationship goals”. I’ve been so used to “fan-girling” over my favorite celebs that I forget how uncomfortable I’d be if I was in their situation.

The idea of the “movie star” was intentionally created by movie studios to sell more films. They knew we would get attached to certain actors and would want to see more of them. But, then we start seeing these actors as “movie stars” or “celebrities” more than we see them as human beings and I think that can be damaging.We forget that they can make mistakes or be mean or get tired or annoyed or uncomfortable just like everyone else. We forget celebrities aren’t perfect.

Yes, there is a good chance Chris (Hemsworth, Evans, Pratt, which ever one you’d prefer) knew what would be coming to him when he signed a contract with Marvel. However, that doesn’t excuse our own behavior towards celebrities. So although it will be hard for me, I’m going to do my best to refrain from crushing, gushing, and idolizing celebrities (dang, so close to all three rhyming). Because, although their richer, more famous, and a lot better looking, they’re still human and deserve to be treated that way. What do you think?

How to Get Inspiration

Usually, when I think of finding inspiration, I think of taking a long walk by myself, contemplating life until a full blown idea pops into my head. I don’t know why I think this since it has never helped me ever. But, it’s a misconception of the idea of getting inspired that I’ve always had. I’ve always thought it had to be magical and beautiful and complete all at once. Until last night.

Well, technically this morning. You see a few days ago I finally started watching Breaking Bad. Yeah I know, I jumped on the band wagon so late I’m practically being dragged by it. But, despite that I am loving it. And of course as one does when they love a show, I binged watch it. Till 1 in the morning.

So as I lay there, eyes half way closed thinking, “might as well do another one, I’ve gotten this far” I  noticed something about the show. It wasn’t the characters or the plot or the dialogue, It was the tone. It was… uncomfortable. Every single episode. No one feels good at the end, there’s no satisfaction and there’s always a feeling of pity in the bottom of you’re stomach. And for some strange reason, that drew me in. Something in my mind went “Wait”.

And just like that I grabbed my notebook and quickly scribbled down notes. I had a rough formation of a plot, something that I’ve been struggling with for weeks. When I was done, I stopped and thought “Wow, all this from a lazy binge watch”. All this from a feeling of pity.

Yeah, an unhealthy amount of TV is what got me my inspiration. And I think that’s okay. I still don’t have a complete idea of a script, no details no specifics. But I have an outline, enough to get me going and an idea of how I want it to end.

What did I learn from this? Inspiration is not a universal experience. Some person might get it from walking in the woods or singing Kumbaya. For some reason I get it from seeing TV characters at their absolute low.

Funny thing is, I wasn’t even planning on watching Breaking Bad at all. I just saw it on Netflix and thought “fine, why not?” and now I have something. So if you keep following the usual “go for a walk” advice with nothing coming up, don’t go for a walk. Instead, take a breath, relax, and do that thing that you’ve been meaning to do but haven’t yet. Whether that’s cleaning a room, reading a book, or watching a critically claimed TV show, inspiration strikes in the weirdest of places. And hey, even if you didn’t get something yet,  at least you did something productive (or as productive as binge watching can get you).

Are Romance Novels Anti-Feminist?

So today at the book store I picked up an interesting duo of books…

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One book is arguably the pioneer of second wave feminism, impacting both women’s and men’s lives in the future. The other is a teen romance novel (what can I say? They’re my guilty pleasure). But the stark contrast between the two got me thinking… are romance novels anti feminist?

The fact that there is a romance in the novel is not what makes me wonder. It’s the importance put on that romance that gets me. Most novel’s end with the protagonist’s goal being reached or them growing as a person. In romance novels this usually ends with the protagonists falling in love at the end. The problem with this is that a woman falling in love with a man is the most important goal in the book, put above anything else.

In addition, romance novels tend to be about a certain type of people: white heterosexuals. There is not nearly as many novels about love featuring two people of color or any one LGBT. The novels that do exist are usually overlooked. Romance novels tend to focus only covers the stories of white, straight women, which leaves out a very large group of women yet to be represented.

However, there also is some merits to romance novels. Romance novels allow women to pursue not only romantic fantasies (in the case of my teen novels) but sexual fantasies as well. How? Well, with him.

 

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Ohhhh Fabio, ain’t he dreamy girls? Romance novels are one of the only outlets women are able to safely express their sexual desires. Men are able to pursue their sexual fantasies a lot more freely than woman. Sex isn’t as taboo for them while porn specifically caters to the male gaze. Women however, often have to hide both their sexuality and their emotions.

Sarah Marshall of Elle magazine explained “We worry that admitting to our fantasies, especially the fantasies romance novels cater to, will make people think we’re too emotional, too irrational, too soft to maintain the power we’ve so painstakingly acquired”. If woman embrace our sexuality we’re whores. If we embrace our emotions, we’re too unstable to take on responsibility. Meanwhile men are able to showcase both without being scolded by society. Romance novels allow us to embrace emotions we usually have to repress.

So are they not anti feminist then? Right now I’m not sure. After all I haven’t even gotten started on either book, nor have done enough research to truly pick a side. But that is a project I am ready to take on in my free time. For now, I would love to here comments on what you think as well as any points that I’ve missed.

PS- romancenovelsincolor.com does a great job of giving much needed exposure to romance novels with people of color at the main focus. Goodreads also has a list of popular gay romance novels right here: https://www.goodreads.com/shelf/show/gay-romance.

Marvel’s Not so Marvelous: The Problem with Captain America

I’m breaking from my usual self reflection today to talk about comic books. We’ve probably all already heard about the “big reveal” that Steve Rogers is really a Hydra agent (cue gasps). In the latest issue of Captain America: Steve Rogers #1 the last page showed Steve pushing someone to their death while saying “Hail Hydra”. Cool twist? I didn’t think so either. Fans are livid about this ending and so am I. Here’s why:

For this post I am overlooking the fact that making a beloved character evil for the sole purpose of shock value is terrible writing. This is because the problems with this twist goes much further than just lazy plot devices. It’s out right antisemitic. Understanding why starts at Steve Roger’s origin.

The first Captain America comic was published on March 1st 1941. Do you wanna see what the cover looked like?

 

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This. Captain America literally punched Hitler in the face. Of course I have to admit the sheer ridiculousness of the cover is pretty funny. Making one of the most terrifying figures in history a punching bag isn’t exactly subtle. But it was necessary at the time.

The first issue was created in 1941, when Germany had already taken over much of Europe and was in the midst of executing countless Jewish citizens. In America, we were just starting to become involved. It was a terrifying time and while creating a superhero that wore the US flag didn’t do much to end the war, it certainly made it more bearable.

The creators themselves, Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, were both Jewish Americans, repulsed by Nazi Germany’s actions at the time. The superhero was not only meant to represent America. It was also a hope for the end of the war and The Holocaust.

 

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And then Marvel made him a member of Hydra, a terrorist, Nazi organization. This isn’t an alternate universe or an evil clone. Tom Brevoort, The executive editor stated that reader’s would be able to look back at previous issues for clues to this plot twist. But frankly, we shouldn’t, nor should we accept this. By making Captain America affiliated with a Nazi organization, Marvel is deliberately disrespecting not only the creators of the comic but also the reason he was created in the first place.

Captain America was a symbol of hope in a dark time and a comfort when people weren’t sure if America was on the winning side of the war. Him punching Hitler in the face maybe very literal, but it also provided some satisfaction. Seeing the man who responsible for the Holocaust be taken down so easily. It helped people feel that there was end to everything. Saying that he was secretly the bad guy all along? It’s forgetting the reason why we needed him in the first place. It’s forgetting he was a symbol of hope.  It’s also a very lazy plot device.

Of Binge Reading and Revelations

I think everyone’s had a book that for whatever reason, got them hooked. Whether it was a character or the plot or just the writing, we’ve all had our moments when we said we’d read a few chapters before bed and then the next thing we knew we reached the last page at 1 in the morning.

It’s been a few years since I had a book like that. One that would make me count down the minutes till I could read again. I finally experienced it again with this one.

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Now granted, the book is not the greatest piece of literature that ever existed. It’s a young adult novel with a plot that I have seen before. You see, Sarah Dessen’s books always has the same feel to them. A girl with a troubled past or a problem has parents who won’t acknowledge what their going through. Then they meet a group of friends who does. From there, her life changes. The reason I know this so well is because this is the fifth book I’ve read of hers, the fifth. And while I’m slowly growing away from the appropriate age to read young adult novels, I know I will happily pick up the next novel she writes.

Reading this book and forgetting the world has been a big contrast to how I’ve been living my life lately. So far I’ve been preoccupied with getting more followers on Instagram, and Tumblr, and here. Everything I post or write, I’ve been thinking about how people will respond, or if people will respond, or if this will be the post that will up my following? It’s quite exhausting.

But reading and getting lost in this book has made me realize just how fun it is to do something I love and not think about how the world will respond. This book is not a “Scarlet Letter” or “A Farewell to Arms” or any classic that I can think of at the top of my head. And while Sarah Dessen is a fantastic writer, she will probably never be compared to Shakespeare. And that’s okay. As much as I want to like them, I can never get hooked to classics nor resonate with the Bard. But Sarah Dessen and her at times, incredibly cheesy novels really speak to me for reasons I don’t feel like analyzing right now.

So with Dessen in mind, I’ve decided to stop worrying about how many followers this blog has (thank you to the six who follow me right now). I’m going to stop equating my fulfillment in life with how many people follow me or acknowledge me. Because Sarah Dessen will not be the most remembered author in history but she will be remembered by me. And I think that’s pretty important.

So, I will probably never have thousands or even hundreds of followers on here. But I am doing my best to try to stop caring. Instead, I’m going to branch out. I’ve been writing a lot about my experience writing. Now though, I want to write a lot about everything. My interests, my concerns, my favorite movies, my favorite people, what I think should be better in life. And if even one person can resonate with it, that’s enough for me. If I can just be one person’s Sarah Dessen, then my goal is fulfilled.

How to Read a How to Book

Today’s reason as to why I am back in a writer’s rut comes from this:

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Syd Field’s Screenplay is pretty awesome. I’m only about three chapters in but I’ve already read some great insight on the science and art behind what makes a great screenplay. But,  so far it hasn’t helped me get any closer to writing mine.

For example, the book laid out pretty much the most straight forward screenplay outline any girl could wish for. This is what it looks like

  1. Set Up
  2. Plot Point
  3. Obstacles for the main character to overcome
  4. Plot Point 2: The Plotting
  5. Resolution.  

And voila! You have a finished a screenplay. Or in my case, you have the outline formula scrawled down on note book paper followed by incomprehensible scribbles about I don’t know, his friend could be murdered maybe?

In all honesty, I’m a lot more stressed out about this then I should be. After all I’m a nineteen year old beginner with no deadline. And writer’s block is going to happen. It’s literally the reason why I made this blog. So why am I so upset that this book isn’t helping me the way I wanted it to.

Looking back at the chapters I already read, I can see the book has been marked up like crazy. I’ve underlined so many things it’s a miracle that I can still read the page. I thought and honestly, still feel like I need to know every single bit of information Field throws at me. But reading about plots hasn’t  helped me find one yet, despite my attempts of following the formula.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how much information I take in or how many sentences I circle, this book isn’t going to magically write for me. And I don’t know if it’s from just laziness or lack of confidence in my own writing abilities that made me think this book would be knight in shining armor: screenwriter’s edition. All I do know is that I have stressed way too much about following this book and writing a plot for a movie I’m not even sure of the message yet.

So maybe I shouldn’t try to think of a plot or a movie or a this or a that. Maybe I should just explore my writing. Write a few scenes here, jot down a few ideas there, because at the moment I’ve been stressing out way too much about writing something that I forgot how to enjoy it. So with Mrs. Hamilton in mind, it’s time for me to “Take a Break”. Maybe while I’m doing that I’ll figure out how to finally read a how to book. Any tips?

 

 

Follow Through

“The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing” – Walt Disney

Maybe it was the fact that I’ve finally started pursuing something I’ve wanted for so long. Maybe it was the fact that I become surrounded by people chasing the same dream as me. Or maybe it was the fact that I was no longer under the same roof as my parents. Whatever it was, college has made me a “talk less, do more” type of woman, which I never have been before.

I invested way too much money in online shopping, I  dyed my hair purple for a bit, I even got myself a tattoo. And while some of these I may definitely regret in the future, they were all things I’ve always said I would do but never did. Now I’m finally doing it, because hey why not? I am most definitely following the motto of “regret what you do, not what you haven’t”.

Living a less thought out life has caused me to appreciate less thought out writing more. I finally decided to take my own advice and stopped thinking about my writing and instead, just wrote whatever came to my mind at the time. What came to mind was a completed first scene, a sense of accomplishment, and a re-found confidence in my writing. What it didn’t get me was a plan of action for the rest of the screenplay.

I realized free writing is a smaller, less consequential form of impulsive decision making. We just write what we feel like without thinking and in the end we have a final result purely created from the emotions we were feeling at the time. And that can be great. Last minute decisions can bring spontaneity and joy and fun and help us see something in a new way. It can really open our minds. But it also has its own problems.

My spontaneity in life and writing brought out a lot of catharsis as well as excitement, but it also made things a lot messier. My bank account decreased from my spending, my hair definitely isn’t as healthy as it was before, and who knows what future regrets my tattoo will bring. Impulsiveness can only get us so far in life, before it makes a mess. It’s when we follow through with our last minute decisions, we can start to clean a bit of it up.

Impulsive decisions can become blessings or mistakes depending on what we do after we make it. For example not only this post but this blog itself was made completely on impulse. I just wanted to try blogging so I did. Likewise, I started this post with only a muddled idea and my fingers crossed. This whole post could be a big revelation for me or it could be an incoherent mess. Just like this blog could last for years or die out next week. In my opinion, it’s okay either way. I may regret my bank account and my hair and my tattoo, but if learned something from my mistakes or even learned something about myself, that’s another way of following through. At least to me it is.

So I am ending my incredibly cheesy, incredibly cliche post at the beginning. Mr. Disney and billion dollar athletic corporation, Nike is right, Just Do It. It’ll get you much further than just talking. But what we continue doing after is what makes the big impact.

 

First Post!

 

“Don’t let fear or insecurity stop you from trying new things. Believe in yourself. Do what you love. And most importantly, be kind to others, even if you don’t like them”- Stacy London

Wow! This is exciting, and also a little terrifying. To be honest, I’m not even sure what I’m doing. But if the quote from a What Not to Wear host found in a lazy google search taught me anything  it is that I can’t let that stop me from new things. So here we go:

My name’s Amy Thomas. I’m nineteen years old, recently done with my freshman year of college, and at the moment pretty lost. Not physically of course, I didn’t get stuck in a corn maze then think “Hey! Let’s blog!”. No it’s more of a stuck in a writer’s rut kind of situation.

You see, I want more than anything to be a screenwriter in Hollywood. So much so that I have already picked out my dream house (tucked away behind large bushes on the Hollywood Hills), my dream family (three beautiful kids with actor John Boyega), and my dream Oscar acceptance speech (You like me! You really like me!). The one thing I haven’t dreamed up is an actual screenplay.

I think it’s because every time I think of a premise or a character or a scene, as soon as I try to structure a film around it, it goes to well…shit. This could be because I’m still fairly new in the writing game and still need practice. But, I have a feeling it’s something else…

The ideas in my head always feel great and new and cool. But, as soon as I try to write them down its like a giant NO flashes in my brain. I think it’s because the ideas in my head haven’t had a chance to be ruined yet. And no, I’m not saying this through low self-esteem or insecurities, I’m saying this through the small experience I’ve had as a writer. Ideas will be ruined, not only in writing but in life. We get these grandiose thoughts and expectations and as soon as we carry it through we realize it wasn’t as great as we thought it would be. And honestly that’s okay, having a real imperfect experience is much better than having a perfect fake one. Now, I just need to convince myself that.

It is so much easier to fantasize about my idea becoming an amazing screenplay than it is to pursue the idea and watch it become mediocre. Honestly, the latter option is heartbreaking. Putting all this work into your writing only to have it be received with an “eh” and a noncommittal hand gesture? That’s my nightmare. But at this point it’s a nightmare I’m going to have to face.

I am probably not going to get that private home in LA nor win an Oscar. Don’t even get me started on the logistics that  would have to be taken to even meet John Boyega. No one’s probably even going to read this blog. But most importantly, my first feature length script is gonna suck. It just is. I’m a young writer with no sense of what makes a good plot and a tendency to create over the top premises. The sooner I accept this, the better.

So here’s a challenge to myself and to anyone that has actually read this post: write something. Anything. Technically I wrote this blog post but that doesn’t really count. Write something you love. If the plot is too long or too short or too ridiculous. If the characters are too unbelievable if the dialogue is too fake. Write it anyways and love that terrible thing not only because it is yours but because it is real. And these real, imperfect things are so much more beautiful than any imaginary children with John Boyega (and those guys are gorgeous).