change.

I’m not the same person that I was four years ago.

& trust me — that’s a good thing.  I just never imagined that I’d make it this far, since I was suicidal as a teenager. Being 22 is weird, but that’s not exactly what this blog is about (or is it??)

& here’s the thing. I’m not sure what this blog is about. I suppose I’m writing in an attempt to figure out how I feel about my life right now.

I guess one thing that can be said is that I miss Ball State a lot. The other thing that can be said is: I don’t miss undergrad that much.

It’s astonishing how a place can heal you and hurt you at the same time. College was one of the most beautiful, yet lonely times of my life.

I know we all love to give advice to our younger selves or other people who were where we were, but I honestly don’t know what I’d tell my 18 year old self. I doubt she’d even listen to me.

Truth be told, I’m not sure who I would be right now if all of those horrible, painful experiences didn’t happen to me. Maybe I’d be happier, but I sure wouldn’t be the same. I don’t know how to feel about that.

///

& right now I guess I’m just going to continue to do the best I can with what I’ve got. There’s this quote I really love from Cheryl Strayed: “You don’t have a right to the cards you believe you should have been dealt with. You have an obligation to play the hell out of the ones you’re holding and my dear one, you and I have been granted a mighty generous one.” 

Maybe that’s what I’d tell my 18 year old self. Play the hell out of the cards you’ve been dealt.

To which my sassy, stubborn, and finally grown up 18 year old self would reply: I know.

And I’d smile and say: of course you do.

 

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See Ya Later Muncie

Today is my last day in Muncie.

I’ve spent at least 75% of the last four years here.

Thanks to Muncie & Ball State, I realized so much about myself that I wouldn’t have been able to if I stayed home.

While I’m excited to move to Indy and begin taking classes for my MFA, I’ll miss Muncie a lot.

Here are some places/things/people that I’ll miss:

The Caffeinery. The Cup. Two Cats Cafe. Botsford / Swinford residence hall. The Starbucks two minutes away from my apartment. The Target on Barr Street. Everyone at #bsuenglish. Walking in between AJ and RB. Sitting at a silly roundtable and talking to everyone (including strangers) like I knew them for years. The little cafe in Bracken even though I didn’t really like the coffee that much. The library during the summer when everyone else had gone home. The MITS busses. The Boys & Girls club. Muncie Southside Middle School. Dumpling House on Tillotson. Insomnia Cookies. Dominos Pizza. Frog Baby & Benny. The Cow Path. Complaining about having “too much” homework when I just needed to learn how to manage my time better and quit some things. The Books-a-million even though I was never really that impressed by it. The freedom of getting Taco Bell in the middle of the night after a 15 hour day. My MCS students who probably thought I was/am crazy. That first week of school –everything felt so new & terrifying.

And that’s the thing. It’s always new & terrifying. I don’t know what the next chapter is going to bring, but it’s okay. I’m okay, even in the midst of dazzling uncertainty.

Anyways, I’m not sure of what kind of goodbye I should give Muncie. I’m sure I’ll come back at some point. Maybe I’ll even live here someday. I don’t really know. All I know is that instead of saying goodbye or farewell, I’ll say see ya later.

It hurts less.

 

 

 

2018 in a list.

I’m not sure of how to make sense of this year; it’s probably damn near impossible. Yet I will try to make sense of it all anyways:

  • This was the year I grieved.
  • This was the year I didn’t really believe in that God-religion stuff, at least not in the way that they wanted me to.
  • This was the year I went back to counseling.
  • This was the year I changed my major.
  • This was the year I enjoyed a margarita or two.
  • This was the year I allowed myself to love women instead of men.
  • This was the year I almost applied to MFA programs, but didn’t follow through.
  • This was the year I almost applied for a Fulbright award and didn’t follow through with that either.
  • This was the year I didn’t think I’d live through, but managed to.
  • This was the year I founded a literary magazine.
  • This was the year my writing was published in a book.
  • This was the year I decided school wasn’t the only thing that mattered.
  • This was the year I cut my toxic family out of my life.
  • This was the year I bought a car all by myself.
  • This was the year I made every mistake possible.
  • This was the year I learned thatf*cking up is kind of okay.
  • This was the year I succeeded.
  • This was the year I learned that I am more afraid of success than I ever have been of failure.
  • This was the year I realized that I am who I say I am: writer. teacher. editor. human. all of the above. none of the above. you get the point.
  • This was the year everything changed.
  • This was the year I resisted said change.
  • This was the year that I was brave without even realizing it.
  • You were too.

The Sixteenth Year

Today was the beginning of my 16th year of school (also known as my senior year of college). This wasn’t my last first day though. I will probably go back to school again, either as a graduate student or a teacher of some sort. How do I know that? Because I’m one of those weird people who like school.

Anyways, this day was pretty good, although I’m pretty heckin’ tired.

WPP 394 – Writing Proficiency Seminar

It started with a lovely 8 am class. The Writing Proficiency Seminar. I’d complain about taking the class, but it’s my fault. I purposely slept through the test because I forgot about it and didn’t prepare. It started off with some talking and then introductions. “Hi, I’m Audrey Bowers, senior creative writing major. Is that all I need to say?” I said, probably too energetically. Fake it til you make it ya’ll.

“If you have something else, go for it” my instructor said.

“I’m really pumped about writing!”

The other 9 classmates didn’t share my enthusiasm; I don’t think the instructor did either. But of course, I was the only English major in the room.

The rest of the class period sucked all of the joy from my body, but I’m not dropping the class. I need to graduate.

SP 201 – Intermediate Spanish

It started with me complaining in the hallway about forgetting every single thing I learned over summer.

“I can’t even remember how to say I’m tired” I complained.

“Really? It’s estoy consada.” A blonde haired freshman said.

I laughed and explained how I took the last two classes online and thought, of course this freshman knows more Spanish than I do, she’s been taking it for the last four years. She seems like the type of person who wouldn’t be my friend for whatever reason and I’m surprised when she asked to sit by me.  I asked her what she’s studying and she told me English Ed. I told her that I was too, but switched to creative writing last semester. She told me that me writing is her passion, but that it’s not as “practical” as education.

In the two minutes before the professor came in, I told her that she could do so much with the writing degree, that so many companies need writers. I offered some ways for her to write on campus, told her about English Ed, told her about Stars to Steer By,  urged her to talk to her professors and build connections, and told her that I’d be willing to answer any of her questions. As we left, she got my contact info and I gave her directions to Pruis Hall. At first glance, I assumed we had nothing in common, but we were/are awfully similar (or it seems so thus far). I hope something I said was helpful. I think Freshman Audrey could’ve benefitted from a similar talk.

ENG 489 – Practicum in Literary Editing and Publishing

I’m so excited about this class! I’ll be working with 14 other students to produce an issue of The Broken Plate, Ball State’s literary journal.

The only awkward moment was almost calling myself a sophomore instead of a senior during introductions. The rest of it seemed pretty self explanatory and really cool. It wasn’t much more than going through the syllabus.

After that class, I wondered through the hallway that stretches from Robert Bell to AJ and back. I needed a good spot to sit and work. The whole day had been overwhelming, so the steps didn’t hurt. Halfway through my Venti iced coffee, I knew I was drinking too much, but I couldn’t waste it! Eventually I sat down at that one table on the second floor of Robert Bell and felt less anxious. I finished my homework for Wednesday and felt less unprepared, even though I had/have a bunch of non-school things to work on.

ENG 308 – Poetry

At this point I was super tired from waking up at 6am, but I kept myself awake and mentally engaged at the very least. It was the same as the other class, syllabus stuff and getting to know your classmates. I used my I studied abroad in Ireland icebreaker for the second time that day. At the end of class, we looked at a painting and two pictures. By Wednesday, I’ll have to read 16 more poems and I’m actually a bit hyped. I don’t read enough poetry, but I think that’s about to change. I haven’t liked homework this well for awhile to be honest.

The rest of the day was pretty boring, so I’ll spare the details.

New Year. New-ish Major. Improved Audrey?

I just can’t believe how much I’ve changed in the last year. A year ago I was excited, but so nervous about everything. I was uneasy most days and other people noticed. This year, I feel like a beam of light. I’m so happy. I almost cried 5 times today because being a senior creative writing major feels unreal. Working on The Broken Plate and sitting in my poetry class felt unreal. It still does. I’m so lucky to get to learn and write so much and feel an authentic sense of “hey this is just what I do. I belong here. I’m a writer.”

If I were still an education major right now, I would maybe get to take one creative writing class this semester and the Broken Plate wouldn’t be an option due to student teaching. For about two days after back to school stuff started, I thought about double majoring, but realized that student teaching and taking the hardest Spanish class wasn’t a great idea and besides, I deserved to focus on improving my craft. I think this idea might’ve been self sabotage, fear, envy of my peers doing teacher stuff, guilt, or even pride. Those reasons simply aren’t good enough.

It’s difficult at times, but I’m still following my gut even when my head and heart are begging me to reconsider. This year is going to be rad.

 

Summer 2018: What was I even doing?

This year has been a whirlwind, this summer especially.

At the beginning of the summer, I had this vision. I would intern at the Indiana Writers Center, take online Spanish classes, write for the newspaper (that didn’t last long because I had too much going on), and get my MFA applications rolling. Getting a “real” job wasn’t going to happen until I was so broke that even ramen was too expensive.

Well guess what? Your girl got really broke really fast. Key word: really.

It happened when I decided that I would spontaneously burst out of Indiana to visit some grad schools. I sent out some emails to some MFA program directors and waited. It didn’t take long for them to get back to me. Then I was marking dates on calendars, as well as booking flights and cheap hotel rooms on Booking.com. I was set! (or so I thought)

I would visit Butler University next week, Purdue at some point, and Ohio State in the fall. In two weeks, I’d visit USF down in Tampa, Florida and the week after that I’d head to the big apple to visit NYU and the New School. I was so excited until I realized that I wouldn’t be able to afford rent if I went on these trips. So I cancelled the hotel rooms and attempted to cancel the flights (I ended up being out $500, but didn’t get too mad. I was young and stupid and this was a life lesson. Always spring for the refundable tickets).

I was lucky though. I got to visit Butler, a campus I had been to about a month prior and I kind of loved it. I don’t know if I’ll be attending, but I do know that I’d be applying. After that I felt super motivated to write. Spoiler Alert: I did write, but not nearly as much as what I planned to. Bummer. But I still have time! The earliest dates are around October/November, so “I have so much beautiful time” as Olivia Gatwood would say. Not really, but that makes getting started a little bit easier.

After my other visit plans fell apart (my car broke down and I junked it, shortly after, I’d get a bike), I job searched relentlessly. I filled out at least 30 applications. I ended up accepting a paid, remote internship and I started working at Pizza King. Pizza King didn’t last long because three jobs and summer classes proved too much to handle and it wasn’t a business I planned on working at forever. I quit the internship early because I just couldn’t keep motivated. I wanted to write, pass my Spanish class, go back to school and move onto other opportunities and projects. Some things are only temporary and that’s okay.

Towards the end of July, I decided to take a leap and apply for the Fulbright grant to go teach English in Kenya for 9 months in a secondary/higher ed institution. Everyone except my mom seemed excited for me and the process of applying wasn’t nearly as bad as I expected. I might have a chance of getting to do the thing. *Fingers crossed*

The journey of managing Brave Voices Magazine began on July 22nd. A few weeks before that, I finalized my schedule for Fall Semester. After Brave Voices, I finally started devoting time to my art: writing poems, writing bits and pieces of essays, drawing, painting, and taking photos for the hell of it, and writing more frequently in my journal.

In this last week or so, emails asking for interviews for fall internships and jobs have rolled in. My time writing my column “Adult-ish” has not come to an end as I’ve been bouncing ideas for articles around with my editor. I updated my resume and website, so I feel pretty professional these days. *Cough* Hire me. *Cough*

Somehow, I’ve even managed to make time for myself to do what I really feel like doing. I sit in coffee shops a lot, order food sometimes when I don’t feel like cooking, binge-watch Netflix when I have nothing left to give to anyone, and hang out with friends (yes, I have friends).

I think I’m finally starting to get to a good place (well the best place I can be at the moment), even though life has been throwing everything except the kitchen sink at me lately. I think I’m going to be okay, or at least okay enough. 

 

Blogging Tips and Tricks

Once again, my Twitter followers showed interested in a poll and I am here to deliver (hopefully). Even though I said in the tweet that I’d write about website building too, I’ll leave that for another post. The two topics are related, but are worthy of their own blog post. If you are looking to make money from your blog, I suggest clicking that nice little x on that tab of yours.

I just blog for the thrill of sharing my thoughts with the masses (okay only 100 people follow me, but my writing could reach a ton of people some day). Anyways, if you want to be inspired to blog or need a little boost of motivation to post consistently, this might be the post for you! Here are some tips and tricks that I’ve learned over the years. It’s been about 7 years in fact. *gasp* That’s like a third of my life and almost a decade.

  1. Don’t worry about what to post.

Think about what interests you or what you would like to learn more about and run with it. The best thing about a blog is that it doesn’t have to be perfect by any means. You can delete posts (I’ve probably deleted 100) that don’t do well or make you cringe and over time your content will improve.

2. It doesn’t have to be pretty.

Sure the pretty blogs get the most attention, but if your blog has interesting stuff, it will eventually find the right audience. Make it reflect who you are as a person rather than who you want to be. Why? Cause you’re awesome. 

3. Don’t worry too much about analytics / engagement.

Numbers aren’t everything. If you enjoy what you are sharing, it is worth it, even if you don’t get much traffic right away. For most of my time blogging, not many people have commented on or shared my content and that’s okay. Many people have later expressed that they love my writing and are inspired to write too.

4. Don’t pressure yourself.

If you don’t feel like writing, don’t write. It’s as simple as that.

5. Don’t be afraid to post.

If you feel an urge to write/create and post something, do it. It may make you feel better and someone out there on the internet needs the words you pen. Don’t let the fear of the content not being good enough scare you.

6. If you want to be a blogger, go be a blogger.

That’s all, folks.

Disclaimer: I wrote a post similar to this for StudyBreaks, but I wanted to have a piece like this on my personal blog/site.

 

 

July Wrap Up

July wasn’t a terrible reading month by any means! I managed to finish 13 books and most of them I enjoyed greatly. Here are a list of those books and my 1-5 star rating:

1.) Notes of A Native Son by James Baldwin

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Rating: 4/5 Stars

2.) An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

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Rating: 5/5 Stars

3.) Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

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Rating: 5/5 Stars

4.) The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager

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Rating: 5/5 Stars

5.) Finding Yvonne by Brandy Colbert

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Rating: 5/5 Stars

6.) The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han

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Rating: 4/5 Stars

7.) Caraval by Stephanie Gerber

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Rating: 5/5 Stars

8.) For Every One by Jason Reynolds

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Rating 5/5 Stars

9.) Legendary by Stephanie Garber

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Rating: 5/5 Stars

10.) Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman

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Rating: 5/5 Stars

11.) Love, Hate, and Other Filters by Samira Ahmed

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Rating: 5/5 Stars

12.) The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X. R. Pan

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Rating: 5/5 Stars

13.) The Skin I’m In by Sharon G. Flake.

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Rating: 5/5 Stars

If you want me to review a specific book in more depth, let me know in the comments or by emailing me at audreylbowers3@bsu.edu

Otherwise, happy reading!