Goals for 2018

Last year I made some goals for 2017, and I thought I would do it again this year! I have gone back to that post many times though out this year, and it has motivated me to continue to keep on track with my goals. Here are five goals I have for 2018:

  1. Keep My Grades Up

This past semester was my first semester in college, and I’ve been working incredibly hard. Luckily, that hard work has payed off and I finished the semester strong. My goal for the spring semester is to maintain my GPA. Being able to do well in school, after having so much trouble with school due to my health for the past five-ish years feels amazing. I’m definitely an overachiever and so getting good grades feels incredibly rewarding!

2. Transfer Colleges

I’m currently living at home and going to community college, but I’m hoping to transfer to a University in the Fall 2018 semester. This goal kinda ties in with goal #1. I need to get good grades and work on my application in order to get into my dream school. I have good back-up options, since the University I want to go to is pretty hard to get into (my older sister was rejected), but I’m hoping my grades will be good enough for me to get accepted!

3. Get my Pharmacy Tech License

Currently I’m planning on going into the medical field, and I want to obtain a Pharmacy Tech license in order to get some experience in the field. I also think this will look good on my college applications. I’ve never had a job (due to my age and health), so I think it’d be super rewarding if I was able to get my license while working. I’m hoping to do on the job training at a local pharmacy that lets you work while you train.

4. Be more involved in my community

I think activism and volunteering are so so important, especially right now. I’m applying to volunteer for a political  campaign, and to volunteer at my local hospital. Between both of these things, and opportunities at church, I’m hoping to be more involved in my community.

5. Continue Blogging!

I’ve been blogging for a year now, and I can’t wait to blog more. It’s been difficult to keep up the blogging with school, but I’ve still been able to post some. I’m going to try and make time to read more of the blogs I follow on a regular basis, and post more.

 

What are your goals for 2018? What do you hope happens for you in 2018? I hope everyone is enjoying celebrating the Holidays, and reflecting on the past year!

Lots of Love,

Alyssa

 

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Books I Read in 2017

Reading was always one of my favorite things to do as a child. My mom is an avid reader, and when I was little I always wanted to be able to read as much and as fast as she did. When I started getting migraines, I stopped reading for fun because it was no longer fun. I’ve been very fortunate to have a relatively small number of migraines this year, and I was able to get back to reading. In 2017, I read 17 books, which was a humorous coincidence. I know many people read 17 books in one month, but I feel like for someone getting back into reading after taking a few years off, it’s pretty good. Here’s what I read in 2017 in the order I read them:

  1. Scrappy Little Nobody By: Anna Kendrick
  2. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings By: Maya Angelou
  3. The Difference Between You and Me By: Madeleine George
  4. A Tree Grows in Brooklynn By: Betty Smith
  5. Been Here All Along By: Sandy Hall
  6. More Happy Than Not By: Adam Silvera
  7. Lies My Girlfriend Told Me By: Julie Anne Peters
  8. The Summer I Wasn’t Me By: Jessica Verdi
  9. Vanished By: E.E. Cooper
  10. Pretend You Love Me By: Julie Anne Peters
  11. Our Own Private Universe By: Robin Talley
  12. Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit By: Jaye Robbin Brown
  13. History is All You Left Me By: Adam Silvera
  14. Take This Man By: Brando Skyhorse
  15. Bad Feminist By: Roxane Gay
  16. They Both Die At The End By: Adam Silvera
  17. Dress Codes For Small Towns By: Courtney Stevens

 

I feel in love with queer YA fiction, and have made it my mission to read as many as I possibly can in 2018. The discovery of Adam Silvera, has also been amazing. Both History is All You Left Me and They Both Die at the End quickly became some of my favorite books of all time. The Difference Between You and Me, will always have a special place in my heart, as it is the first queer book I had ever read. My personal goal for this year was to read 12 books, one a month, but I never wanted it to feel like a chore. Luckily, it didn’t, and I was even able to surpass that goal. In 2018, my goal is to read AT LEAST 24 books, or two a month.

What was your favorite book you read this year / What is your favorite book in general?

I’d love to hear any recommendations!

Merry Christmas 2017!

Merry Christmas!

I hope you all are enjoying the holiday festivities, and spending time with those you love. So far, I’ve had a great Christmas Eve. We spent the morning volunteering at a local soup kitchen, and then attend the candlelit service at our Church. The whole church filled with candlelight, while everyone sings Silent Night, is my favorite part of Christmas. In that moment, everything feels peaceful and all feels right in the world.

This time last year feels like a life time ago, yet I can’t believe 2017 is already coming to an end. I’m excited to enjoy the rest of my time off from school, continue my holiday celebrations, and see where 2018 takes me.

Lots of love to you and your family,

Alyssa

Should Non-Queer People Play Queer Characters?

There’s nothing more disappointing to me than enjoying a queer character in a show, looking up the actor, and finding out they aren’t a part of the LGBTQIA+ community at all. It’s not like there’s a shortage of talented queer actors; Hollywood just doesn’t cast them. With over 10% of the population being LGBTQIA+ in some capacity, there’s definitely a plethora of talented queer actors, probably even some that identify the same way as their character does.

Representation is incredibly important for every minority group. While there’s been more LGBTQIA+ representation in the media in 2017 than ever before, we still have a lot of progress that needs to be made. It would be ridiculous and wrong for someone to play a black character if they weren’t black, so why do we treat sexuality and gender that way? Sure, some non-queer actors do a pretty damn good job playing queer characters, but they just don’t have the experience. They don’t know the struggle, and it really shows when they do interviews about their show/movie. As much as I think we really need to support queer media as a whole, I would rather support queer artists making LGBTQIA+ content.

As a young queer person, I often find myself finding other LGBTQIA+ identifying people, mainly queer women, to look up to. I really needed solid representation when I was figuring everything out, and straight women playing lesbians on TV just wasn’t what I wanted or needed. I also have a problem with the specific type of cis-straight-heteroromantic people that are casted. They are almost always white, able-bodied, and financially privileged. The real LGBTQIA+ community is diverse in every sense of the word. Hot white gays are not the majority, and their stories are not the most important ones to be told. Queer people of color, and disabled queer people’s stories and accomplishments are constantly being erased.

The history behind the character is important. People who are figuring out their gender and/or sexuality need to see queer people living “normal” lives. Straight-Cis-Heteroromantic actors just can’t possibly convey that, or be that representation off the show. Recently, Stephanie Beatriz’s Character Rosa, on the TV show Brooklyn Nine-Nine, came out as bisexual. The only thing that’s cooler than Hollywood actually letting someone say the word “bisexual” on TV, is that Stephanie is bisexual. She is a perfect example of good queer representation. I wish we saw this more often.

Do you think non-queer people should play queer characters? Who are some of your favorite LGBTQIA+ actors?

Advice for College Freshman

Since my first semester of college just ended, I thought I would share some of the things I learned. For reference I go to a local community college, I’m a biology major, and I got a 4.0 my first semester:

  1. It’s literally just lecturing most of the time

Maybe this is because I only look core classes my first semester (history 1301, biology 1406, english 1301, and math 1314), but all we ever did was lecture and test. In high school you do a lot of busy work and activities, but there is no free time or “fun” days in college. The only class that broke this rule was my English class, where we did a lot of group discussion.

2. Give yourself time in-between some of your classes

Monday, Wednesday, Friday I had History from 10:00-10:50, and then my next class, Algebra, wasn’t until 12:00-12:50. I used the hour in between them to study and do homework, and it was so helpful! It was a designated hour to just work, and it really helped me stay on top of everything. It can be difficult to work at home, and it’s easy to talk yourself out of staying after class to work, so making your schedule with breaks in between is ideal.

3. Take good notes

This sounds like a no-brainer, but honestly it’s so important. I basically spent the entire semester trying to figure out what note-taking strategy worked best for me. I would recommend doing hand written notes if you’re able to, because I definitely retain more info when I write something verses when I type it. I also really like the strategy of condensing your notes down to key information that you’re still working on learning before a test or major quiz. It’s much more effective to study the most important/most difficult information alone, than it is to study everything your Professor lectured over.

4. Take advantage of your resources

This is something I wish I would have done more of. At my college, we have a writing center, and free math tutors which I never used, but should have. Having free resources is something you will probably never get again after college, so take advantage of them! Also, if you have a disability like me, sign up for disability services. They may not be able to completely accommodate you, depending on your needs, but in my case they were super accommodating and happy to help.

5. Do Practice Quizzes/Tests

Taking practice quizzes and tests online is the main thing I used to study. Just reading and highlighting your notes if often not enough. My biology textbook came with a code for online study materials, which is what I used to practice. I like practice tests because you not only need to know the information for your exams, but you also have to know how to apply it.

 

These were the most important things I took away from my first semester in college, academically speaking. Are you in college? What are your tips for college freshman / college students in general?

Independence and Chronic Illness

Disability often requires some of our independence to be given up. Personally, my independence has waxed and waned over the years continuously. While it’s nice to have periods of time where I’m capable of being very independent, it can be incredibly hard to have to relinquish some of that independence when my condition worsens. I was watching Jessica Kellgren-Fozard’s video about her personal relationship with independence and being chronically ill, and it made me think about my relationship with independence. I highly suggest watching the video, and subscribing to her. She is a disabled lesbian, from England where she resides with her wife and adorable dog.

At times, independence for me can mean being able to do my laundry or cook a meal. It may sound so simple, but these are the things so many people take for granted. Currently, independence for me means driving myself to school, and going to my classes. I still live with my parents, so some of my independence is relinquished to them; They cook most of the time, and they pay the bills (thank god). There’s meaningful independence is everyday activities, like doing the dishes or folding the laundry, that many able-bodied people fail to recognize.

My independence can fluctuate day to day, and even hour to hour. One day I can drive myself everywhere I need to go, and the next day I can barely take out the trash. This concept of ability changing on an hourly basis is something able-bodied people tend to struggle with. In their world, you’re either completely incapacitated or completely fine. I live the vast majority of my life in the in-between stages, which can make things complicated. It can also be difficult for my parents. They believe they know how I’m feeling by looking at me, but they’re often wrong. I get a certain look in my face when I feel like I’m going to pass out or vomit, but I can feel awful without the specific look. Sometimes I’ll say I’m feeling terrible, but because I “look fine” they ask me to do something immediately like feed the dogs or unload the dishwasher. It becomes frustrating when you want to help, but also just explicitly stated you aren’t doing well in the moment. Being the obedient child I am, I force myself to do what is asked of me even when it makes me feel worse.

I want to be able to help my parents whenever they ask, but it just isn’t a realistic “want”  sometimes. Learning to relinquish some of your independence to other people can be difficult. I’m someone who likes to be in control, and likes to be as independent as possible. Being chronically ill has taught me, that there’s strength in vulnerability. Knowing when to ask for assistance is a necessary part of being disabled, but it can feel demoralizing. It is however, a choice to relinquish that independence, which makes asking for help less patronizing to me. There’s so much strength in admitting you need assistance.

We live in a society that worships independence to an unhealthy level. No person, disabled or not, can do everything by themselves 100% of the time. You’re life’s worth shouldn’t rely on whether or not you can drive a car, or wash your own hair. All levels of independence are beautiful and should be celebrated. Relinquishing some of your independence does not make you weak, but instead shows an incredible strength.

Looking for Similarities

I wrote a poem about my experience with dissociation and depersonalization the other day, and I thought I would share it. When it was particularly bad for me, I wish I would have known what was happening and known other people were going through it too.

 

I feel disconnected from my own being

I look into the mirror and I do not know who I am

And not in a philosophical way

 

I am surprised by my own reflection

I do not know what I look like

Pictures from six years ago show who I think I am

But the mirror is telling me a different story

 

When people tell me I’m pretty, it does not feel like a compliment

I could not tell you if my body is objectively beautiful or not

 

I remember who I was before

What I wore

How I did my makeup

What I looked like

Now I am not sure

It’s one hell of a coping mechanism

 

I spend half an hour staring at myself in the mirror

Not because I’m vain, but because I’m curious

Have I always had this freckle next to my bottom lip?

When did my eyes get these gold specks in them?

I feel as if I am examining myself under a microscope

Looking for familiarity

 

My most recognizable feature is a line of three freckles on my right leg

It’s so minuscule and yet it reminds me, in times of desperation, that I still have the same body

 

My phone recognizes my face as three different people, as if it knows my inner thoughts

I constantly compare photographs from Christmas of 2015 to recent pictures, to find similarities

I’m playing Where’s Waldo with my own body, but I don’t win anything in the end

Not even satisfaction

 

My soul walks around this world and my body is just along for the ride

Showing up in my reflection to remind me how separated I’ve become

Maybe this is why I don’t go shopping

I’m too old to be dressing up a doll

 

 

 

P.S. If you haven’t seen yet, I’m doing a Q&A in honor of Queerly Texan turning one! Leave your questions in the comments below on this post or the Birthday post!