A scary topic: suicide

Netflix just released a series, “Thirteen Reasons Why” based on a book of the same name by Jay Asher. The book was published in 2007 but is still extremely relevant ten years later. It deals with the aftermath of a scary subject: suicide. I read the book, then binge-watched the series over the weekend. I think it should be required reading/viewing for high school students. I am still recovering emotionally after experiencing the raw emotions contained in the novel and internet series.

The message: You never know what someone else is going through, even if they try to tell you. You can never truly be in someone else’s shoes. You never know what words or actions can mean to another person. What seems insignificant to one person might be earth-shattering, world-ending, or soul-crushing to another. This is never truer than when that someone is a teenager. Teenage brains are not fully formed. Their hormones play into that as well. They can’t always see past the “right now” and think about things getting better in the future. Right now, suicide is still the second-leading cause of death for teenagers.

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Music and what my favorite songs mean to me

I am currently rewriting a novel called Jordan’s Sister, which is about a singer/songwriter named Taylor who is trying to break free from her past and step out of the shadow of her sister’s fame while getting to know a former child singer, Layne (male). I have been thinking a lot about music and songs in general while I have been writing my draft for this story. Layne’s song was fun to write. If only I could sing, I could let you all know what it sounds like in my head.

I think of my character Taylor as a singer who sounds like strong female singers like Avril Lavigne and Christina Perri. I think of Layne as a singer who sounds like Edwin McCain and Jason Wade of Lifehouse. While I am thinking about my characters, I am also thinking about what their favorite songs might be and why. According to US Copyright law, song titles are not protected by copyright, so I can reference songs in my writing as long as I don’t mention the specific lyrics. This is so valuable because songs can convey so much by making you think and feel and be transported back to another time in your life. Taylor’s favorite song is “Jar of Hearts” and Layne’s is “I’ll Be” which are listed below in my top 10.

I have thought about writing this post for the past few weeks, narrowing down a list of my top 10 favorite songs and why. For someone who loves music as much as I do, it was extremely difficult to keep the list at 10, which is why I also have 15 honorable mentions. My top 10 favorites are in order, and had to meet my requirements of being recorded by the artist or artists who wrote the song. All of these songs are on my Spotify playlist of what I consider great songs, which currently contains 138 songs (9 hours, 42 minutes worth of music) that I consider amazing performances and excellent songwriting. I have a separate list for Guilty Pleasures that contains songs that I like, but don’t necessarily consider amazing songwriting, an example would be “Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen. I really like the song because it’s fun and catchy, but it isn’t what I consider great like another of her songs “Tug of War” which didn’t quite make the cut on the top 25 included in my favorites and honorable mentions.

I made another list for songs that were popular during 1996 when the main storyline is taking place in Caroline’s Lighthouse. Listening to that playlist while I wrote helped me time-travel back to feeling 15 again when all of my emotions matched those of Caroline. I appreciate how music can do that. You want to know how one character feels about Caroline? Listen to “Hold On” by Jamie Walters and you’ll know. How does Caroline feel about her life in general? Listen to “I Shall Believe” by Sheryl Crow.

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I grew up feeling ugly, did you?

Toddler Brandi
Meredith-Age 3

I went through some old photos recently in preparation for my post about my daddy’s guitar. As I was looking at my baby pictures, I thought I was pretty cute. I see how much my daughter resembles me and I think she is beautiful.  When I was about 3, the age Meredith is in the photo, I had to start wearing glasses. Glasses for kids back in the early 80s were not near as attractive as they are now. They pretty much looked like old lady glasses. Like Sophia on “The Golden Girls.”

Brandi-Age 4
Brandi-Age 4

I hated my glasses until I got the pair that had little strawberry shaped enamel decorations on the sides, so my mom told me they were Strawberry Shortcake glasses. For a brief time, I loved them.  I think it was after then, when I started school and the first boy called me ugly that I started to believe I was ugly and my glasses were too. I still remember his name. He was mean and hateful. Now I can see, based on his Facebook profile picture, that the past thirty years have not been kind to him because he looks so much older than 35. But that is another story.

Me in first grade
Me in first grade

So was it the glasses or a self-esteem problem that made me feel ugly? Self-esteem. I never liked any of my school photos. It didn’t help matters that the photos were about as flattering as mug shots for everyone. Plus everyone except for the elite few goes through that awkward period from about 8-14 or so. Almost everyone has something during that time that isn’t flattering. Too skinny. Too chunky. Too tall. Too short. Teeth too big for your mouth. Too flat-chested if you’re female, not flat-chested enough if you’re male. Out of control hair. Acne. You get the idea. Don’t we all feel that way sometimes? I bet even some of the most physically beautiful people have flaws and self doubt. Continue reading “I grew up feeling ugly, did you?”