Blogging, Book Reviews, Short Stories, Written Essays

Book Review: Jenny of Lebanon

Warning: Some Spoilers ahead

Jenny of Lebanon is an easy, single day read. I got the book in the mail today and then, proceeded to read the book in less than an hour. It’s roughly 50 pages in length, to put it in perspective (that’s not counting any acknowledgement pages or about author page). However, aside from the book being short in length, it just grabs you rather quickly and holds onto you, where you can’t help but finish it in one sitting. At first, the descriptive introduction of the characters made me worry that it was going to be too descriptive (the first chapter is complete setup), but even that was too lively to bore me. I’m a sucker for cats, so an opening with a cat trying to catch a robin is a great way to keep my attention, be it a tad biased (love you, Marvin, you adorably bratty cat). Still, the minute we see Jenny and Billy interact, it’s fast-paced throughout the rest of the story.

So…the story.

What can be said about Jenny of Lebanon other than the fact that it is painfully relatable even if you aren’t dealing specifically with the same themes and problems as Billy and Jenny. As a person who fell in love and married my high school sweetheart, I’m a sucker for first love romance, but this book doesn’t sugarcoat the other side of that dynamic. First love is full of first mistakes, first fights, and first shortfalls, and while we don’t get to see that firsthand in this story, we see the aftermath of it for Jenny and Billy. They’ve dealt with the realities of life, and author, Gabrielle Olexa, is smart in giving just enough subtle, implicit glimpses at that to make you not only want to know more but also, grasp some of the lives these two has faced.

I don’t per se relate to either of them specifically in their choices to play this cat-and-mouse game of kiss-and-fake-the-make-up, but I’ve also never encountered the painful pasts that are peppered throughout their dialogue and carefully described settings/memorabilia. So, I feel an empathetic heart for them as they both struggle to decide if they should actually remain together or finally end it, and the book leaves that open to the reader to decide as it ends with her leaving, but Billy clearly leaving his door open for her return.

There are a few themes that are personally hard for me, as a Christian: some vulgar language, an implied sex scene that luckily peeks away into the next chapter for the aftermath, discussion of one completed abortion, and the implication of a second one likely to follow, but in the context of the story, they all makes sense. This story isn’t some fluff piece with cutesy childhood friends who married and lived happily ever after. It’s painfully real story of heartbreak, attempts to mend a broken marriage, and a past littered with regret and consequences, and in that, it is beautifully written.

As the book blurb puts it, “Jenny… hits a lot harder than a Honda”, and I think that’s a fair representation of Jenny of Lebanon.

5/5 Stars

Where to Buy it: Amazon

Where to See Gabrielle Olexa and her story: Twitter

Her Website

Blogging, Written Essays

The Versatile Blogger Award

“The Versatile Blogger Award is an award by bloggers to fellow bloggers for their unique content.”

Thank you, Chocoviv ( for your nomination in this award. I feel honored that you’d include me.

She is a #beautyblogger #foodie #fashion #lifestyleblogger #mommyblogger #travel #freelancewriter who writes everything from lifestyle blogs to reviews. Check her out at both her Twitter and blog and give her all your love and support.

Rules of the Versatile Award

1. Write a post about your nomination and display the logo on your site. Thank the person who nominated you on your post and provide a link to their blog.

2. Write seven facts about yourself.

3. Nominate 15 other bloggers for the award.

So, let’s get into it!

 7 Facts about Dogwood Dreamer/Sarah N. Ham

Fact 1: I’ve Written 20 Novels, 6 which are now published

I’ve wanted to be an author since the age of 10 when we had an author presenter at our school. After hearing this man talk about all the struggle and hard work he had to go through to become a published author, somehow that translated into my 10-year-old brain, I wanna do that, too. Go figure… but I wouldn’t change it for the world, because writing has given me an escape and comfort in both good times and bad. I think it’s one of the strengths God has given me, and I’ll always enjoy it, regardless if I’m ever a best-seller or not.

Fact 2: I am a Christian

This is something I will never hide. I am a Christian and will always love and be thankful of my God and Savior because I never deserved such grace, but He still gave it to me. I thank Him for every day of breath and all the blessings He has given me.

Fact 3: I live with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID)

This is just a fancy way of saying I have split personalities. Currently, I’ve only dealt with the last one in recent years, Nikki, but at one time I had two others, Xena and Rin. I don’t have to rely on them as much as before, but when I first learned about them in middle school, they were coming out anywhere from daily to hourly. I used to be scared of them, thinking I was a freak, but now, I am strong in it and know that everything is going to be okay.

Fact 4: I’m a Thrifty Money-Conscious Gal

I don’t like to spend more than I have to on anything. My prom dress was $1.00 from a thrift store, my wedding dress was $150 from eBay. I made my own veils, my bridesmaids’ jewelry and hair accessories, the wedding decor, and more. My whole wedding I planned in California for less than $10,000 including the honeymoon will 100 guests. I just want to be a good steward with the money God has blessed me with.

Fact 5: I am Married to the Love of My Life

I met my husband back in 2007 on Halloween night, the same day my braces were put in. What an evil orthodontist! Yet somehow, he found Ms. Sore Mouth over there sucking on Hershey’s bars (out of revenge to said orthodontist) cute. We started dating in 2011, made it through three-and-a-half years of a long distance relationship, and finally married in December of 2016. He is so patient and supportive of all that I do, and I love how godly of a man he has always been.

Fact 6: I Love Cats

Pictured above is my old cat, Cypress, that I had for twelve years. I love cats and have been around them since I was a child. They are so stubborn at times but so cute. Right now I have two dogs with my husband and family, but someday I want to have a cat again, preferably a black cat or tabby from a rescue since they are the least likely to be adopted.

Fact 7: The Inspiration for My Very First Stories as a Catapiller Stuffed Animal by Aurora/Sharon Lea Larsen

Like I said, I started writing stories at the age of 10, starting with a collection of short stories (45 in total) from 2005-2007 that were thanks to a stuffed animal butterfly cat that I named Elizabeth Helen (after Emily Elizabeth from Clifford the Big Red Dog). I went on to entitle them The Adventures of Elizabeth Helen, and someday, I hope to rewrite them and publish them in a children’s short story collection book. I still have the stuffed animal to this day, by the way.

So, there you have it Seven Facts about Me.

Nomination Time!

Show them all some love and support, and thank you again!

Short Stories, Written Essays

Infant Escape Artist

            When we are children, we don’t see things the way adults do. We may think we know everything, but we don’t. Seeing as we don’t always see eye-to-eye with our parents during these years, it’s not uncommon for us to do some pretty stupid things. Most of these things result in a lifetime of teasing and a good embarrassing story to tell that super cute boy or girl you wanted to date. Unsurprisingly, I was not spared from the stupid gene, and now, my tales for verbal torture are the subjects of every Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Easter family potluck.

            One specific blackmail tale comes to mind without much effort of remembering. Years and years ago, I once was a baby. I know, that’s not that surprising or blackmail worthy, but it gets worse. I’m not sure how old I was, but I was somewhere between the screaming for all my basic needs stage and speaking stage. That being said, I still slept in a crib, but I had been known for getting closer and closer to climbing that sucker in attempts to escape my cage of a bed.

            One fateful night, really late between the hours recognized by most as night and early morning, I woke up in the middle of the night. I’m not sure why, considering regardless of some people’s opinion, I have no recollection of the night. Anyways, I woke up, and I guess I was at it again, but this time I became fixated with the changing table next to my bed. I watched it for a while, and then began planning my escape with as much thought and cunning ideas of that of the average infant.

            I decided to go with the obvious strategy… climb. I was too large to fit between the bars of the crib, and I didn’t exactly have a shovel to dig my way out or something, so I ascended the bars. I stood up on my stubby little feet and legs, grabbed the bars and started trying to pull my weight up as high as I could. It took a few tries consistent with falling on my baby behind, but I managed to get over the railing. Then without further ado, I stepped forward toward that changing table…

Now, here’s when the smart gene that children do not seem to have in these moments would have been nice. As a child, I did not understand depth perception, measurements, and overall… gravity. I did not comprehend that there was a space about half a foot wide between the table and the crib. So I stepped forward into mid-air and dive-bombed face first… into a trashcan.

I screamed my little face off, crying and shouting for help. I wasn’t hurt or anything: I was just stunned and confused. In scampered Mom, Dad, and Eva to my rescue. I’ve been told that they tried not to laugh, but once they knew I was okay, they couldn’t help it; my feet had been dangling out of that plastic can kick and flopping all over the place. They picked me up and calmed me down, and I went back to sleep in no time.

Still, I definitely learned my lesson; I never once tried to get out of my crib like that again. To this day, Dad and Eva tell the tale to anyone who will listen. I would say in my defense that they couldn’t hold me accountable over that considering I have no memory of it, but I will admit my childhood mishap was pretty funny. And, I’ll let them tease me if they want because unbeknownst them… (Hehe) I have the dirt on them, too! 

Short Stories, Written Essays

The Origin of Elizabeth Helen
Elizabeth Helen now


Being in my twenties, I have had many items throughout my lifetime that have come and gone, been the next big thing and then, obsolete the next. After all, I was born and raised as a realist and a Christian, so I learned that material things were of little to no value over time because they would fade away with time, just like me. However, since my childhood, there has been one object that throughout the past 18 years has brought me enjoyment and pleasure in owning it.

            Ten years ago, on July 7th, 2001, my family and I were on vacation, navigating the Californian coastline. Along the way, we saw many beautiful things from the Redwood Trees to the Trees of Mystery. We went to many beaches along the coastline, and we drove through a hole in the trunk of a huge Redwood. To sum it up, the vacation had been amazing. On this particular day, we decided to stop in a tourist attraction, a small Danish-themed village by the name of “Solvang.” At the time, I was seven years old and didn’t understand the sophistication, refinement, and flat out awesome nature of “recreational shopping” as I like to put it. So that being said, I saw this town as nothing more but another boring yet colorful town with boring stores filled with boring, adult souvenirs that no child of seven would ever desire to obtain.

            We traveled throughout the streets of this little place, looking at store front after store front. Occasionally to my delight, Dad would get Daniel and me a snack from a local vender. We didn’t care if it was chocolate, caramel, raspberry, or any other flavor. Food was food, and eating was a chance to do something, anything. We nibbled on our delicacies as our parents continued the “Oh, look at the craftsmanship of that” or “Wow, don’t you think that Louise would like that china set?” discussions.

            The day continued on like this, and though there were many interesting street people about in fancy Danish costumes or interesting tourists to stare at, I was beginning to think the day was a lost cause. As we were headed toward the exit at the other end of the town, my eyes like magnets saw a sign in the distance. My eyes grew wide in shock and delight to see the words “Toy Store” written on it. I begged and pleaded, and my parents finally agreed to take us to this one last store. I rushed to it, my energy and hope returning.

            We entered and the place was huge, being about the size of two of the regular stores on the other streets towards the beginning of the town. Daniel and I were like kids in a candy store. We quickly looked from section to section, searching for something to keep us entertained for the remainder of this trip. I saw many interesting things, including a display boasting that you could simply grab a small, blue velvet bag and pick your choice of shiny rocks in the container to fill in the bag all for around four bucks. I had enough money for that if I wanted it, but I decided to look some more as I pondered on whether to get it.

What Elizabeth Helen looked like originally

            As I continued to walk around, I walked into the other side of the story which was darker in lighting but filled with stuffed animals. It had a lace canopy draped over a main display with many different plush dolls. Then, my eyes fell upon one specific stuffed creature, and I was in love at first sight. It was a fluffy white and pink stuffed cat with a beaded crown, bracelet, and a gold trimmed rhinestone encrusted set of butterfly wings attached to its back. I quickly picked the fluffy feline up, inspecting it closely. I then turned to the attached tag, and opened it to reveal a price sticker. I nearly dropped the thing in shock when I discovered this little 8” stuffed cat was a whopping fifteen dollars. Now if I looked at this price today, I’d probably shrug it off and cough up the cash no problem, but when I was a seven year old girl, making only one dollar a week allowance, fifteen dollars meant so much more to me.

            Within my Barbie© wallet was a whole eighteen dollars that I had been saving for months before the vacation. Even at a young age, I valued the dollar much differently than most children my age. My parents didn’t just hand me toys and gifts on a silver platter like it was their obligation in life. When my parents chose to spoil me with a surprise toy or treat, I was grateful and thanked them continuously. So, it was not surprising that I found it hard trying decided to part with almost all my vacation savings on one simple toy. I considered going back to the shiny rocks and paying for those instead. Finally, fed up, I went to my father, the one who made me the realist I am today, and asked for his advice on which item I should spend my hard earned cash on. He said it was my choice since it was my money but pointed out a very profound thing to the seven old me. He reminded me with a smile that I couldn’t snuggle and sleep with a bag of shiny rocks.

            I realized he was absolutely right, so I took my stuffed kitty to the register and forked up the Washington’s for it. The cat had came with a name, but at my age, I found it far too hard to pronounce, so partially inspired from my love for “Emily Elizabeth” from the child television and book series Clifford the Big Red Dog, I named my new friend “Elizabeth Helen.”

            Nearly 20 years later, I still have this plush cat. Though, she shows obvious signs of extensive love-treatment with missing or mismatched rhinestones, tears in the wings, and faded pigment in the fur. She has been with me through the death of my grandfather, every flu and cold, every indoor movie night with Mom, every broken heart, and most importantly every happy memory in my life. I’ve had her so long that I’ve come to think of her as a guardian angel in plush form. I even went on to write forty-five fantasy short stories in a children series about The Adventures of Elizabeth Helen. I know she is just a stuffed animal and with time, will eventually fade away like every other worldly object on this earth, but I will love and cherish my guardian angel till the day God decides to take her back from me.

Written Essays

“You Should Smile More”

Now, I’m sure a lot of us, especially in the US, have heard people put their two cents in on this topic, one way or the other, and I’m going to put mine in now, too. And, if you don’t know what I’m talking about, it’s the idea that a person sees another person not smiling (for any number of reasons) and feels the need (again for multiple reasons) to say, “Smile”.

So, let’s look at a few scenarios, to examine why this might urk someone.

First of all, I think it’s a hugely contextual issue. No, I don’t think every person encouraging a person to cheer up is wrong, but I think a lot of it has to do with how it’s worded, who says it, and the body language involved. Additionally, having spoken with my husband on the topic, it became much more apparent to me that this isn’t a female-only issue. My husband has also had women say this same thing to him, to very similar effect.

Scenario A – Done as a Come-on or a Cat-call

I’m sure a lot of you have seen plenty of videos and parodies discussing the scenarios where, generally, a guy sees an attractive lady minding her own business and tells her to smile, because she’d look prettier if she smiled or something along similar lines.

Again, this does happen to both sexes and with different initiator situations involved. I’d like to debunk the stigma that only a woman can face behavior like this. Whether it is more commonly occurring to women or not is another issue, but a lack of respect and personal boundaries towards another person, sadly, is a trait that all sexes can share.

Anyway, when this happens to me, it makes me obviously uncomfortable, because I’ve been sexually harassed by men and women of all ages since I started puberty at nine. There is nothing creepier than a 40-50 year-old man (who I thought wanted to hire me) texting and IMing me randomly over the span of months with just “Hi” or “How are you” or the female co-worker who felt the need to constantly comment about the size of my breasts. No one should have to deal with having a former boss (and married, I’d add) ask you out on a date and make multiple comments about your appearance. No mother should have to glare at a truck driver who was literally honking, ogling, and making lustful eyes at her 13 year-old daughter on the freeway the way my mother has had to do. I can still recall how my high school had the unofficial “Slap A*s Friday” where girls and guys (but in my case, mainly girls) would attempt to touch me inappropriately, and so on and so on.

It’d be easy to go into a whole essay on sexual harassment, but the point remains, when a person (man or woman) looks at me with lustful eyes and says, “Smile more, you’d look pretty”. My first instinct isn’t to smile… It’s to cover my body in close and hide what makes me beautiful. It makes me feel like nothing more than an object of pleasure to this random stranger. So, please, don’t tell me “I’d be pretty if I smiled” like a compliment. Even if it is meant as one, it’s hard to see it that way after dealing with trauma after trauma due to someone else selfish sexual desires.

Scenario B – Done as an Attempt to Cheer Someone Up

Okay, let’s get the lustful pervs out of the way and address the other side I’ve encountered. I’ve had well-meaning people, who are obviously not attracted to me or trying to flirt, say something very similar (both men and women), and again, it doesn’t warrant the effect they want. Here’s, for me anyways, why.

I know you mean well. You see a person who either has a blank expression or looks sad, and you want to cheer them up in the most simplistic way you can think of, but may I suggest some other options: “Hey, how are you doing today?” or even just smile at me, yourself. I’m generally a very happy, optimistic person, so more likely than not, if you smile at me, I’ll smile back. However, more importantly, contrary to the whole “it takes more muscles to frown, than smile”, sometimes a resting face doesn’t naturally turn upwards. It’s just still and straight. Some people say this, assuming I’m sad or mad, and actuality, I’m just walking from point A to point B. I could be thinking about something and not even paying attention to you at the moment. I could be tired from work or a long day. Or, I could just be walking.

So, guess what is going to happen if someone out of nowhere says, “Smile!” to me? I will instantly feel an awkward, forced smile appear on my face for the second they are in vision, and then, once they are gone, I’ll resume with resting me face… The effect is not likely to make me ponder, ‘Do I look that sad? Do I look mad? Maybe, they are right. Maybe, I should look on the bright side, and smile more.’ No, my thought process is, ‘Oh, joy, I was doing just fine, and now, I’m annoyed that some random stranger thinks I’m a performing monkey… Anyway, back to what I was doing.’

Scenario C – A Person Saying this to A Christian

Okay, this probably sounds very specific and random, but I make no attempts to hide my faith from people whether they co-workers, classmates, etc. So, I’ve encountered this moment where, again, a well-meaning person (either a Christian or just a random acquaintance) says, “Hey, come on. You’re a Christian. Smile! God tells us to feel joy in His blessings!”

Again, I know where they are coming from. As a Christian, I do have a hope for tomorrow that can never be taken from me. No matter what I face, I have faith that God is always going to have me in the palm of His hand. Still, I cry and feel pain as much as any other person. I feel exhaustion and burn-out. God even acknowledges this in His Word. In one of my favorite verses, John 16:33 (NIV), it says, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Now, you may be saying, but that says to take heart! In other words, perk up! Yes, it can be a very inspirational verse, because it shows that God already won the battle long before I was even a speck in His plan, but remember the part, “In this world you will have trouble”. Other translations use “suffering”, “tribulation” “distress”, and so on, but the point remains. Yes, we are not to lose hope in the suffering of this world, but that doesn’t mean that we won’t feel it. God guaranteed it in that verse, but we can hope in His future. So, to recap, yes, we can feel joy in what God has planned for us, but at the same time, Christians are going to hurt, too. We aren’t always going to have the energy to scream “Hallelujah”. Sometimes, it may be more of a “broken Hallelujah”, and I believe that’s okay. God loves me so much, and He feels my pain and struggles. So, I don’t picture Him up in Heaven feeling disappointed that little Sarah Macatrao (Ham) isn’t smiling every moment of the day.

So, I’d lovingly say to Christians and mentors the same. Maybe, reword it as, “I noticed that you seem down. Can I pray for you, or is there something I can do?” I can’t guarantee I’ll always open up, but I’m far more likely to be receptive to that than, “Smile, goshdarnit, you’re a Christian, so act like one!” (Exaggerating, of course, but we get the point.)

Scenario D – My Husband or a Close Loved One says, “There’s that smile… I prefer that.”

We see this trope in romantic novels and tv shows of the love interest, trying to cheer their loved one up with this at the end. Some might roll their eyes and boo it along with the other scenarios, but I disagree.

See, the difference is the person telling me this, I trust. I love this person, so when they say something like this. I know it’s in love, not in making me an object or shoving random advice down my throat. Can it come across as condescending? I’m sure there’s some situations where it could. If I’m trying to vent, and this was the response without any other context or addition, then, yes, I might take it differently.

However, a person I love telling me that they prefer to see me smile than cry, to me, shows that they care about me. They want to see me happy. It’s not about the actual smile; it’s about knowing I’m okay. Again, this is generally in response to me letting out all my tears and frustrations, them consoling me, and then, pointing out that I seem happier now. So, I take it differently than any of the other scenarios.

To Summarize

Body language, wording, and personal context can completely change a situation from making a person actually smile versus look at you with repulsion. I know not every person that has said this is thinking, ‘Oh, that girl’s hot! I want to tap that!’ But, if you present yourself in a way that suggests that’s what is on your mind, my reactions will likely match that assumption.

If you want to cheer me up or see if I’m doing alright, ask yourself if someone else doing the exact same thing to you would make you want to genuinely smile, too. If you question it at all, then maybe re-approach it. Communication can be a tricky part of life, especially between different sexes, cultures, environments, and so on, so try not to make assumptions on what another person is or isn’t comfortable with. I still grow in this day after day and have constantly had to catch myself saying something that was well-intent but didn’t translate that way to the other person. Grow, learn, and love one another. After all, I think that’s what a person with genuine pure intentions is trying to accomplish with this statement… They want to see an actual smile, for you to be happy and encouraged.

Written Essays

Normal is Still Weird

(Response Essay to my Normal is Weird post)

I’ve already introduced all of you to the concept that normal is weird, because to be weird in this daily world has become the equivalent to being normal. Now I wish to expand on that. Sometimes being normal by the more dictionary definition of it is now the oddity. I wouldn’t say I’m normal by older standards. I still share traits that match up to today’s norm of weird from having a stuffed animal collection and binge watching anime series on Netflix or Crunchyroll rather than Stranger Things or Game of Thrones, but it’s also very clear that just because you are today’s definition of unique doesn’t mean you’ll fit in with other “unique” individuals. In fact, I’d argue that because we’ve become so obsessed with being this weird standard of different as normal, it makes it harder and harder to latch on to any form of connection or normalcy. See people often associated conformity with a negative connotation. Being conformed to a societal view of normal is today’s version of selling out on yourself or being a follower, but at the same time, I’d argue that why is that so wrong?

Today more and more people are identifying themselves as introverts and borderline agoraphobic, and yet, people can connect on that basis. It doesn’t make it easy, but don’t mistake any form of conformity as a weakness, an oppressive concept on your right to be different. Because in doing so, it’s now become up to these so-called non-conformists to connect without connecting. See, sometimes conform is simply that, adaptation, and that’s not an unhealthy thing. You don’t want to lose yourself in conforming, but don’t be so afraid of conforming that you hide what makes you beautiful. It’s like a twisted cycle. Susie likes to bake, but she doesn’t want to be identified as a baker lest she be put in a set bubble. Yet, in doing so, she misses out on the advantages of at least interacting with that bubble. People tell us not to be ashamed of who we truly are but then, say don’t follow the crowd as though these two things are automatically connected. You can follow a crowd and still be proud of yourself.

I don’t identify well with people my age, because I feel constantly rejected when I do, but that doesn’t mean I don’t try to connect to them at all. Yes, it’s often disappointing when they follow the pattern I expect, but I’ve also found that talking to some of the people I’d expect to reject my mindset has led to friendships I’d never trade and wouldn’t have gained without the courage to risk “conforming”. Conforming can be negative. It can be giving up yourself to place on a mask to fit in, but conforming can also mean opening your mind to a world you’d otherwise be too scared to touch in your current “weird as normal” lifestyle. The only way we can grow is to listen, absorb, change, and learn. There are things I felt back as a child that I’ve since learned aren’t cookie-cutter set in stone. There’s things I’ve learned in the last year that aren’t what my mindset thought was accurate a year ago, but the only way I came to that conclusion was to open my mind to these truths that if I stayed stuck in my current state would’ve been placed aside for my own stubborn “truths”.

So, don’t be so afraid of the word “conform”. Don’t be so afraid to fit a societal definition of normal that isn’t equating normal to self-identifying ourselves as unique. Yes, we are unique. Yes, we have self-assigned identities as well as societal assigned identities, but guess what? Who ever said you needed to be only one? No one can fit in just one identity. That’s not how our biology works. We are built to adapt into our current situation, and you can do that without losing yourself in trying so desperately to conform. Rather than thinking of it as a constantly switching mask, try to think of it as a constantly switching wardrobe. Try to think of it as becoming you at your most confident in each role because guess what? You can be your most confident form in each identity without selling yourself out in the process. The facet of a mother differs than that of a wife or a daughter but that doesn’t mean she has to lose the traits that make up her in those role shifts. Be you as the most confident in each part of you. Stop being so afraid to conform that you isolate yourself in your uniqueness because while there will never be another one quite like you, no one expects you to thrive in that alone. If you’re a mathlete, find the other mathletes. If you’re a music junkie, find those who also get that spiritual high off an indie album or an oldie-but-a-goodie. Be you, be unique and amazing, but continue that trend in growing it in number. If you think you’re alone in it, try putting it out there. Not every time will you find a winner in the circle you are surrounded by, but more likely than not, you will eventually. So yes, normal is still weird, but at the same time, it’s okay to be the societal definition of normal, too.  

Written Essays

Normal is Weird

(Originally Written in 2015 for context)

In this day and age, normal is weird. What defines weirdness, really? Thirty years ago it may have been to be a person who wore hipster glasses that had tape in the center or suspenders, a nerd. Maybe, it was that one kid in the background that gave people odd looks but never said anything to anyone. Maybe, it was the woman that had fifteen cats and never married.

But what about now… with the 90s came the unorthodoxy era; grunge-style dominated, and conforming to the art of not conforming became the goal. If you were different, you were now celebrated. This practice has only increased in the millennium years and now the 2010s.

If you are a crazy cat woman, that’s okay because the internet loves cats. If you are nerdy, you can rest easy, because there are hipsters, bronies, otakus, mathletes, Goths, and more you can fit yourself into. If you are a guy who likes Barbies or a girl who likes GI Joe, that’s okay too, because who cares what others think.

I am weird; I know it. I was born with an old-soul and have always related better to adults than kids my age. I love Jesus, cats, anime, the 1920s, cameo, antiques, dresses, lace, the Saints, the Big Bang Theory, thrift stores, and I make cookies and muffins for a living, but to many people, that’s not weird. That’s just who I am.

I am weird; by the year 2006, I became aware that my personality wasn’t my only one. When my friends began bringing up the names “Xena,” “Rin,” and “Nicki” again and again and blacking out occurred more than once a day, I knew I was weird. But to some, that’s not weird. It’s DID, dissociative identity disorder.

I am weird; my father has so many ethnicities in his blood—mainly European—that they categorize me as Caucasian, but my mom is a native-born Mexican. So with my blond hair and blue-green eyes, I am the “whitest” half-Mexican my friends have ever seen and many acquaintances have questioned my ethnicity when it is mentioned. Still, even this to many isn’t weird. More and more people are coming to be identified as half this and half that, or a quarter this, an eighth that…

I am weird, but to many, I am not weird. In fact, to many, I’m rather normal. But then what is normal, really? We are a generation so defined in not being defined that the term normal is no longer a term used to generalize an accepted group of individuals anymore. White isn’t white, and black isn’t black. The line between normal and weird is now grey.

Some may say that normal is to have common courtesy, common sense, or even a common calling. But common courtesy isn’t so common anymore, not in a society where men, opening doors for women, is now sexist and not when a “God Bless You” in response to a sneeze is considered religious intolerance. Common sense is almost non-existent, when warning labels telling people not to siphon gas with their mouths or not to sleep with a hair dryer left on are needed. Even a common calling isn’t present; we are about as unified as a nation as there are different people in it. Each person supports one interest or another, but if we are unified at all, it is in the fact that we are all equally so different.

So what is normal? Really, what is normal; because it isn’t like the dictionary may have defined as usual, natural, or ordinary. Nowadays, there is nothing ordinary about being “normal” because being normal now is to be weird, to be diverse, to be yourself. So really, normal… is weird.