Rainy Day's Books, Video Games and Other Writings


mental health

Can I Call Myself An Author Now?

For the second time in the past couple years now, I can say I have had a poem of mine published once again! My first poem published was in an anthology called We Will Not Be Silenced which shares countless stories through poetry, prose and art of survivors of sexual harassment and assault.

Me holding my copy of We Will Not Be Silenced, which contains what will be the first of many poems I’ll have published in the future.

What made me decide to contribute to this anthology about sexual harassment and assault is my own personal experiences. The long story short end of the matter was as I was growing up having to deal with being bullied in school by boys in my elementary and middle school years. The bullying I experienced in elementary school from boys my own age was physical, such as tugging at my hair during class to one of the boys sitting behind me on the school bus and punching the back of my seat.

Once I entered middle school, the bullying became more harassment in nature. In my 6th grade English class, I found myself hiding my face during class because one of the boys was always puckering his lips and making kissing noises at me. I tried getting him to stop to no avail. I also had to deal with another boy that same year telling me that he wanted to kiss me and telling me that he knew I wanted to kiss him too even though I never expressed any interest in him. At that point of my life, I’d never kissed anyone so I was worried that he might try to force a kiss on me one day.

These experiences and many others I experienced growing up inspired me to write my poem because the phrase I use to title my poem is a phrase many of us heard growing up when dealing with harassment from boys. But in my opinion, I see the phrase as a crutch to excuse boys from their wrongful behavior, which just continues to perpetuate and allow them to act that way as they grow up.

My most recent poetry publication is in an anthology called Through the Looking Glass: Reflection on Madness and Chaos Within. This anthology’s main focus is on mental illness and the experiences each of us have with dealing with our battle against our mental illness. Since mental illness is such a taboo subject, this anthology is an important step in the right direction to beginning the process of people actually talking about their mental health problems instead of feeling like their having to cope with them alone.

My big struggle that I talk about in Through the Looking Glass is with depression. I make a comparison between depression being an everyday fight against a demon that I have to slay and conquer every day because that’s how my experience with depression has been since I discovered I was depressed. I discovered I had depression when I was in college when I started having dreams and waking up with tears streaming down my face during the night and not understanding why. But it was not until years later in 2019 when my best friend lost her fight against cystic fibrosis that I discovered my depression getting worse. The depression I experienced during my college years was nothing like the demon I found myself fighting against once I lost my dear friend, one of the few people who I felt like knew me and understood me as a person. But I’ve been conjuring it one day at a time and I feel like I’m doing so much better now than I’ve been for a while.

 I also have another poem of mine that’s going to be published in another anthology that’ll be coming out in the near future that I’m excited about.

But one of the many reasons I wrote this post is now that I have some of my writing being published, should I consider myself an author? I mean most of the writing of mine that is getting published is poetry and each anthology is only going to have one of my poems, each one different from the other. But I do not know if I should consider myself an author because of these poems being put out there because I do not know if I feel like I deserve that title.

At the same time though, I love the written word so much and being published in any capacity has always been a dream of mine. I know technically I have been published since college along with since I started this blog back in 2015 after I graduated from college. But there is something different about seeing your name in a physical book you can hold in your hands. And to me (along with this blog of course), that feels like a huge accomplishment. Nonetheless, I still struggle with assigning myself the title of author because I still cannot believe I have accomplished this much in what feels like such a short amount of time. And I really cannot wait to see where my writing will go from here, what other publications I will find myself contributing to in the near future.

Book Review: Wintergirls

Rating: 2 stars

“Dead girl walking”, the boys say in the halls.

“Tell us your secret”, the girls whisper, one toilet to another.

I am that girl.

I am the space between my thighs, daylight shining through.

I am the bones they want, wired on a porcelain frame.

Lia and Cassie are best friends, wintergirls frozen in matchstick bodies, competitors in a deadly contest to see who can be the skinniest. But what comes after size zero and size double-zero? When Cassie succumbs to the demons within, Lia feels she is being haunted by her friend’s restless spirit.

Laurie Halse Anderson explores Lia’s descent into the powerful vortex of anorexia, and her painful path toward recovery.

I didn’t like this story as much as I’d hoped. Lia’s story of battling anorexia is intense. But the writing and characters made it difficult to enjoy, and I’ll tell you why shortly.

First, I’ll tell you what I do like about Wintergirls. It’s an interesting story about a girl named Lia. Dealing with issues of her own, Lia looses her best friend Cassie who she hasn’t talked to in a long time. As she’s dealing with this loss, Lia continues pushing herself to be skinner until she realizes she needs help. While this is going on, Lia gets regular visits from Cassie’s ghost who wants Lia to join her in the in-between. What I like about the story is seeing all of these different elements emerge together. While at times it doesn’t make sense, the way Laurie Halse Anderson brings it all together makes for an interesting read.

I also like that Anderson doesn’t shy away from serious topics. In her novel Speak, which I absolutely love, she talks about rape but does it in a way where you feel like she’s really bringing awareness to the subject. So while this book is definitely not one of my favorites, I appreciate reading a story about a young girl and her struggle with anorexia. I think it’s a good way for people to become really aware of what it’s like to have an eating disorder. I especially like it because you can see it in Lia’s behavior. She’s always aware of the food she eats before she puts it in her mouth. You also see it in the way Lia’s family deals with her eating disorder. They are worried about her well-being throughout that they are keeping track of her weight, hoping to get her back to health again.

What I also like about Wintergirls is the message Anderson is sending her readers. The whole time Lia is struggling with eating, there’s a message she is trying to tell us. The whole story is basically about how you can’t help someone unless they want help, which is a very powerful message. This is apparent with Lia because when her family weighs her, she deceives them by having the scale fixed to be a higher weight than what she truly is. She does this every time without any sign of remorse. Even when the one person she truly cares about finds her in terrible conditions, she doesn’t want help. It isn’t until the end of the book when she almost dies that Lia realizes she wants to live and gets the help she really needs.

I also really like the cover. It looks intriguing, makes me want to read the book and find out what’s going to happen. But it’s also really pretty because it reminds me of the cold, which I don’t mind quite as much as heat.

But there are so many things about this book I didn’t like. For one, the characters are pretty horrible. I feel like there’s no character development with any of them and I had a difficult time sympathizing with them. All of the characters were really flat to me because I couldn’t get any sense of personality from them. For example, Lia is supposedly shy, but Anderson never gives us an example of how she’s shy or anything. I also had a hard time sympathizing with Lia or her parents because of the way they treated each other. Lia’s biological parents are hardly around and when they are, there so focused on work or obsessed with getting Lia to eat. But Lia doesn’t treat them any better either, especially her mother, who seems like she wants to help. The only parental figure in the story I felt any sympathy for was Jennifer because she acted more responsible than even Lia’s father. She’s the one parent in the story I felt any sympathy for because you can tell she cares about Lia and wants to get her back to health. I also hated Lia because she just wasn’t at all likeable to me. I get she has an eating disorder so she’s going to act extremely selfish, but damn. She’s probably one of the most coldest and unfeeling characters I’ve read in a young adult book. I just felt nothing for her but pity and sad because if her character was more developed, I could’ve liked her.

I also had a hard time enjoying Wintergirls because the writing is terrible. There was nothing that kept me reading this book other than hope it would get better. It was a read I made the decision to keep exploring, but there were many times I wanted to stop and not finish, it was that awful of a read for me. The most interesting thing about it to me was reading all of the crossed out words and seeing how Lia kept count of the amount of calories in the food she ate.  I also didn’t like the writing because it didn’t feel clear to me with certain moments what was going on. For example, I didn’t realize Cassie’s spirit was visiting Lia until she mentioned wanting to make sure Cassie’s body was being put into the ground. This story is so poorly written that I’m still surprised I finished reading this book.

The plot of the book is just as bad to me too. One example is Elijah’s character being in the story. I felt like he didn’t add anything important to the plot or played any sort of purpose that made sense to me. He just happened to have a room in the same motel Cassie stayed in when she died and that’s it. He also calls Lia after Cassie’s death, but you never find out why. There also wasn’t any explanation for anything, like how Lia developed her eating disorder. You know she and Cassie made an oath to each other during the New Year, but there’s no explanation of how this started for either of them. My guess is that their friendship sparked these problems, which would make sense to me. There’s so much in the story that isn’t explained it made the story difficult to read.

I know I’m in the minority when I say I dislike this book. I know a lot of people enjoyed reading this from what I saw on GoodReads, but I’m definitely not one of them. I appreciate it talks about anorexia because eating disorders are a topic that needs to be discussed. But there were so many things with the way it was written and the plot that I had a hard time enjoying it. To me, its just not a good read, as unpopular of an opinion that may be.

TV Review: Thirteen Reasons Why

After reading Thirteen Reasons Why, I found out it was becoming a Netflix show and decided to watch it once it was released. While I normally don’t do television reviews of any kind, I figured I could make an exception for this, considering I enjoyed the book so much that I was interested to see how it would look on TV. 

I wasn’t at all disappointed. It was everything I expected and more. The story transformed on television much better than I anticipated, bringing to life serious topics young adults need to discuss, such as bullying, rape and suicide. This is one of the things I enjoy about the book, but enjoyed more when I saw my imaginings come to life.  The directors made sure not to shy away from any of the issues Hannah brought to light in her tapes, even if it meant that the show was graphic with its content. These are all issues that need to be openly talked about so I was very pleased to see the directors highlight them. It showed that they really cared about bringing awareness to really heavy subject matter and making the show represent the books as close as they could. 

Hearing Hannah’s voice narrating her story really sucked me into wanting to see how these events unfolded. When reading Thirteen Reasons Why, it’s much harder to imagine what Hannah’s voice sounds like. But now, I find I’m not disappointed by what I hear not only because the audio is authentic, but because the actress who played as Hannah did a really good job at portraying her character. She made her much more sympathetic as a character because you could clearly see she was struggling and needed help. You can see as she continues telling her story how disappointed she becomes when the people she trusts continue letting her down. You can see Hannah falling apart leading up to the point where she can’t take it anymore and ends her life. All of these things make Hannah such a sympathetic character that you can’t help but follow along to hear what she has to say. 

Since we are already on the topic of character, I’d like to add I actually like the way all of the characters and the story is portrayed on the Netflix series much better than the book. When reading the book, I felt like all of the characters were flat since the whole story centered on Clay spending all night listening to Hannah’s tapes. You didn’t meet most of them besides being introduced to them with regards to how Hannah talked about them. In the TV original, however, you get to see and meet the characters Hannah’s story focuses on. You get to see how they all interact with each other and how Hannah’s tapes effected their lives. You also actually get introduced to both Hannah and Clay’s parents, both of which play a crucial role in the overall story arch in the show. In the book, these characters didn’t have much of an appearance other than Hannah’s parents no longer being at their house since her death. In the show, they are investigating the school with regards to Hannah’s death, trying to find out why their daughter committed suicide. The same can be said with the characters mentioned on Hannah’s tapes. In the show, they are all in a panic when Clay is listening to the tapes because he’s reacting to what he hears Hannah say about them. They’re worried he’s not going to pass the tapes on or turn them in to the school. 

I love that the show went off script from the books for a couple reasons. For one, it makes the story more interesting and continues to show how one person’s actions results in many different consequences. It also makes you as the viewer more interested in seeing what’s going to happen next as Clay continues listening to the tapes and reacting to them. Seeing Hannah’s parents invested interest in getting justice for their daughter plays a role in this too because they along with the tapes become Hannah’s voice since she can no longer speak. This all shows how suicide impacts everyone’s life, which is a very strong message that I appreciate the directors taking the time to portray in the script for the show. 

For all of these reasons, I find myself enjoying Thirteen Reasons Why as a television show more than a book. I find the show does a good job of bringing the words from the text to life in a way that every viewer can relate to. It also has more of an emotional impact on me because of my own personal traumas, some of which can be seen in my “Truer Than Fiction” blog post  I also highly recommend those going through personal problems of their own to watch it so that you can know you are not alone and that you can always get help.

Truer Than Fiction Guest Writer Blog Post 

So on Sunday, I announced on my coffee post that I’d be a guest writer on a friend of mines blog. Well, that post has officially been published as of yesterday. You can check it out following this link:

My friend Lesley was a psychology major at Columbia College, the college I attended. We had Creative Nonfiction together, where we shared some of our most personal stories through the written word. On her blog Genius and Insanity: I Am That Line, she writes about many different mental health issues. 

With this guest writing post, she asked me to write about how reading or writing affected my mental health. So I focused on escapism, the idea where someone does something they love as a way to escape their real world problems. For me, this was something I knew I did when my passion of reading and writing grew, due to the difficult circumstances that came into my life. During this course of my life, there were a total of three books that helped me cope through the problems I was dealing with. These books each taught me something different about life and myself. 

I’m excited that my writing was published on Lesley’s blog. I’ve never been a guest writer before so it was nice to try something new. Please check out this post and Lesley’s blog. She’s a great writer and has a lot of interesting information about mental health that I think people will enjoy.

Thank you Lesley for posting my writing on your blog!

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