Shoutout Saturday (What I’ve been listening to)

How I'm Feeling - Wikipedia

~how i’m feeling~ by lauv

I discovered this album a little while ago, and I kid you not, I’ve been listening to it on loop pretty much every day since then. Inevitably, I will get sick of it at some point or other, but right now I will happily be jamming out to “Modern Loneliness” in the middle of a high school computer lab, giving approximately zero shits. (That’s actually been a cool development by the way! It’s been three weeks since school went back, and I haven’t actually had any panic attacks. I’ve gotten a anxious about certain things, but I’ve actually been able to deal with it really well so far. I’m really proud of myself!)

Anyway, ~how i’m feeling~ is this wonderful mishmash of sweet love songs, and more serious ones, exploring anxiety and depression in the modern age. Lauv has this really gorgeous, unique sound I don’t think you quite find anywhere else. Despite him being a larger musician, this album really has the same vibes, lyric-wise of something an indie band might put out, just with a more pop-ish sound. (Is that a word? I know what I’m doing, I swear. Dear lord.)

I don’t know, it just hits you in the feels, and I don’t think there’s anyone who could honestly dislike this album, although inevitably there’s someone out there who disagrees. I don’t know, whenever I feel depressed or anxious, I like to put this album on Spotify, and it always makes me feel better–or at least, less alone. It’s just makes me just want to get up, and start dancing around my room like a girl in a movie.

mxmtoon - dawn Lyrics and Tracklist | Genius

dawn by mxmtoon

If you’re familiar with mxmtoon, you might know her for the songs that she posted to YouTube as a teenager, and eventually got a lot of attention for. Generally, her songs are a little sad and downcast, like in her previous album, the masquerade. But recently, she’s tried her hand at writing more hopeful songs, and I feel like she pulls it off really well. I remember deciding to check in on her Spotify bio one night I was feeling kinda blah, and deciding to put it on while I wrote–and it just made me feel like I could take on the whole world.

The instrumental backing her singing is always so heartwarming and simple. I think that’s a lot of her songs’ appeal. They never put on airs and graces; they never seek to impress, or express some deep artistic truth. In her Spotify bio, mxmtoon describes her songs as “rhyming diary entries” and I think that’s really true. I don’ t know, I just love her music a lot. (Also, as a ukulele player, I’m probably biased, but Maia is such a ukulele icon.)

Melodrama (Lorde album) - Wikipedia

Melodrama by Lorde

I remember, when Lorde’s song “Royals” got really popular. I was in fifth grade, I think, and I remember the student teacher we had helping us play it while we were working on some craft project I was definitely too cool for, and my friend informing me that this song was Very Fancy and I should be impressed. (I was ten, and honestly couldn’t care less.)

I didn’t even listen to any of her music until a year ago, but it seriously took me until last week to get to streaming this album, I kid you not. What can I say? Pasta fazool, I am a fool, it’s actually really good.

Lorde has this really unique musical style I don’t think I’ve seen any other artist use before. All of her songs have this gorgeous reverb/echo/chorus effect on them, and, as the album title suggests, have a very melodramatic quality to them–in the best way possible.

Her lyrics are also so gorgeous. Not going to lie, I am that nerd who, whenever I find a song I like, will look it up on genius.com, and read through all of the lyrics, and go through every single analysis of them, and read all the artist interviews I can get my hands on. Lorde is absolutely one of the artists I do that for.

This album is magical, and I love it so much, so give it a try if you’re looking for something to listen to.

Puberty 2 - Wikipedia

Puberty 2 by Mitski

This is a new find for me! My friend sent me “Your Best American Girl” a few weeks back, because it reminded her of one of my characters, and I listened to it, and it reminded me of that character, and then I checked out her whole album, and it’s… really beautiful. Her songs are so many things, all at once–overwhelming in the best way possible. They always start out so soft, heartfelt, and innocent, and just erupt suddenly into this chaotic, often unconventional chorus. I love how she brings in these sounds that would typically be considered ugly, and manages to make them sound so evocative and beautiful. Her lyrics feel so honest, and real–with that same diary-entry vibe I talked about before, but with a bit more metaphor and poetry to them.

And that about sums it up! I know, my tastes in music are very basic, but I had fun trying out this whole new format, so hopefully you liked it, and, I don’t know, check out these albums if you want.

How are you doing? Let me know in the comments, I’d love to chat. 🙂

Lots of love,

dragonwritesthings

Shoutout Saturday (What I’ve been reading!)

Havenfall by Sara Holland

To be honest, I went into this book not expecting any more than your standard YA fantasy will deliver–your bookish, shy protagonist, love triangle, and, I don’t know, some sexy elves or something. But boy, did this book take me by surprise–in the best way possible.

It follows Madeline Morrow, whose family runs an inn in a small, remote town called Havenfall. Although this inn looks ordinary from the outside, it serves as a meeting ground between three magical realms every summer, for a peace summit. Maddie loves this inn, and fantasizes about growing old there, in this town she feels so safe in. Until everything goes wrong–and that dream comes true, in the worst way possible.

What’s so fascinating about this book is how well it twists the normal fantasy adventure format completely on its head. Maddie never actually enters any of the fantasy worlds she knows so well, and has no real desire to. Despite that, though, the lands of Fiordenkill, Byrn, and Solaria are still fully developed, and feel very rich and real.

It’s one of those worlds you just want to get lost in forever.

The Dragonet Prophecy By Tui T. Sutherland

If you’ve taken even the tiniest peek at my Wattpad page you know that I am a pretty big Wings of Fire fan. The series meant a lot to me growing up, and honestly got me through some really dark times.

So what is Wings of Fire, you ask? Well, it’s a middle grade series, set in the world of Pyrhhia–and what’s so interesting about it is that rather than being these cool side characters or plot devices, the dragons are the protagonists, with their own thoughts and hopes and dreams. The first arc centres around five young dragons who have spent their whole lives underneath a mountain, who have been supposedly prophesied to save the world, and somehow stop a war that’s been raging for almost twenty years, and is tearing apart the continent. The only issue is, they don’t really know how to do that.

The series follows them along their adventures, as they come to terms with their past, and find the courage to make their own futures.

Each book is told from a different dragon’s perspective so even if you don’t like one of the protagonists, there’s something for everyone.

This series has meant so much to me throughout the years. And I know it might seem a bit childish, but it makes me happy, and that’s all that matters.

There are a lot of books–which I’ve been currently doing a massive reread of. The Dragonet Prophecy is the first one, so make sure to start with it if you want to check it out.

Artemis By Andy Weir

In seventh grade, I read The Martian–aloud to my whole family. It was kind of our thing back then, back when I had enough time and energy to read aloud to my parents for hours on end. Anyhow, it was pretty much my favourite thing in the world at that age. I always meant to check this book out, but I just never got around to it until now, I guess.

Artemis is set in the city of–you guessed it, Artemis, a moon colony, described as being the home to wealthy tourists, eccentric billionaires, and the impoverished working class. Our protagonist, Jazz Bashara, falls into the latter category. She emigrated when she was six from Saudi Arabia to Artemis. After leaving home at around sixteen, she had to resort to smuggling, in addition to her day job to make ends meet. Through this, she ends up getting tangled up in this whole web of crime, and I won’t say any more than that because I don’t want to spoil you and also I suck at summaries, but basically, this book is my favourite genre: fuck capitalism in space.

I don’t know if this was intentional or not–but this book defines the Gen-Z/Millennial experience of growing up in a world set against you, and it’s not afraid to discuss the “us against them” mentality that experience tends to induce, and the moral grey areas financial desperation can push you to.

This book is heartfelt and smart and funny and true, and I would 100% recommend checking it out. 🙂

Wilder Girls By Rory Power

I picked up this book a little while ago at my local bookshop, and since than it’s become one of my favourite books of all time. I got home, and read the whole thing in one fell swoop–which I don’t do often, but it was so good I just couldn’t bear to stop reading.

Despite being set in the modern age, this book kinda has the same vibes as those “Victorian child school drama” books, as my friend likes to call them–you know the ones I’m talking about! Like, historical fiction books in which the main characters felt absolutely nothing beyond mild satisfaction or discomfort, and wore knee-length plaid skirts and Mary Janes. Except Wilder Girls is a lot more badass and feminist. (And psychological-thriller-y.)

Wilder Girls is the story of Raxter School for Girls, a boarding school located on a remote island. This school used to be your nothing more than your idyllic, mildly creepy boarding school, until the Tox hit;a disease turning the bodies of these girls into something strange, mutated, and not quite their own. (Some of them have lost eyes, some of them have grown tails, or gills, and many have died in the process.) They have been quarantined on Raxter Island, their only contact to the outside world the shipments of food that are dropped on the shore. (I know, it sounds a lot like the current COVID situation–and there are definitely similarities, but it’s not as on-the-nose as it sounds, and the Tox is definitely its own independently horrifying disease.)

Right away, what stood out to me was the beautiful writing style. It’s hard to describe–lavish, and yet sparse, emotional and distant. It’s one of my favourite books of 2020, and no matter who you are, or what your normal taste in books is, you need to check this out.


Okay! I think that about wraps it up. I really loved just geeking out about all these books, to be honest Shoutout Saturday posts are so fun to write and always cheer me up. I really hope you’ll check all of these books out, they just make me so happy.

Lots of love,

dragonwritesthings

what do you want? (an essay i wrote a while ago)

My name is Lorna. 

Next year, I’m going to be starting my sophomore year of high school. 

And I had my last day in therapy yesterday.

I write stories. I have a podcast. This November, I spoke at WE Day Vancouver about mental health, in front of tens of thousands of people. It was one of the most terrifying, exciting, and freeing experiences of my life.

I really love animation. I’ve been an avid reader since I can remember. I used to be a huge Potterhead. I write fanfiction. 

I’ve been diagnosed with anxiety and dysthymia–a form of depression. It’s been almost two years now, since I first sought out help. But it feels like it was only yesterday I texted a crisis line, hiding in my room after school, trying to cry silently. It wasn’t long after that I ended up in therapy.

It feels like my whole life is blurring around me as I speed through the years. How did I end up here? Why does everything have to be this scary?

Sometimes, I think I’m not a good person.

Sometimes, I think I don’t deserve to have anything.

Sometimes, I think I’m perfect. Think the entire world is rolled out before my feet, ready to be conquered–but I never really believe that.

I feel like I’ve spent my whole life, wishing to be someone else–someone perfect. Whatever that word even means. 

When I was five, I wanted to be a princess–not really because I wanted to, but because the other girls thought it was the cool thing to do, and because I wanted to fit in with them more than anything. I bought pink dresses from the thrift store, and tossed rose petals down the aisle at my aunt’s wedding.

When I was six, I wanted to be a grown-up. I wanted to be smart and successful and cold. I wanted to be angry and bitter and callous. I wanted to be a coroner or an actuary or some other similarly well-paying job, and marry a rich man, even if I didn’t love him. Because then, no one could push me around–right?

When I was seven, I wanted to disappear. Wanted them to stop looking at me for just one second, giggling as my breath grew faster and faster, and the blood dripped down my chin.

When I was eight, I wanted to normal. I wanted to be just like the other girls, with their makeup and trendy Justin Beiber backpacks. I wanted to have crushes, and giggle behind stairways, and be loved. So loved.

When I was ten, I wanted to be funny, and frivolous, and just a little bit mean. And maybe I was just a little bit miserable, but only in the way I ever showed to a few select people at the climax of the story.

When I was eleven, I wanted to be a fangirl. I wanted to write fanfiction and fanart and have braces, and big, frizzy hair, and stay up until 4am. Because wouldn’t that make me happy?

When I was twelve, I wanted to be beautiful. At least, in the typical sense of the word. Did yoga workouts, and counted calories and cut carbs out of my diet for… two months, or so. I think before I cracked. I couldn’t do it anymore. 

When I was thirteen, I wanted to be a writer. I wanted to say profound things about capitalism and the state of our society, and write pretentious short stories and win awards and be interviewed on the radio.

And now, at fourteen years old… I want to be professional. I want to be a businesswoman, constantly “on the go” with Starbucks in her hand, walking around in stilettos all day and somehow not falling over. I want to stand my ground at meetings; I want to change the world. I want to see my face in billboards. And know that I built this empire up from the bleeding ground.

But don’t you see? None of those things are real. None of those things would really make me happy, in the end.

I’m so focused on the future I barely notice the present, passing right by me.  So focused on building up images of myself I’ll never be able to attain that I never bothered to figure out who I actually am.

Yesterday, my therapist asked me if I even wanted to get better.

And I don’t even know the answer to that question.

I mean, in theory, if course I do. Of course I’d like to not feel so terrible all the time; or be able to walk through a school hallway without having a panic attack. But when it actually comes down to it, I’ve never not been like this. I’ve grown up so entangled with the the monsters in my head that I don’t know how to live without them.

So what do I want?

Do I want to be a writer; throwing myself into a career that might not even work out? Do I want to post my stuff online, and get myself into a career in social media, knowing there’s a chance it might not be sustainable–even though some days, it feels like being online this much is slowly destroying me.

I feel like I’ve slept through most of my life. Because if I live with my head in the clouds, I’ll never have to think about what’s going on around me–never have to actually take the steps necessary to get to those places I want to be so desperately.

Like I’m waking up, three seconds before a full-on collision, paralyzed at the wheel.

And I don’t know what to do.

I always slip into talking about my mental health in the past tense. Like it’s something I’ve conquered, and you can do it too, if you just believe in yourself and find a support network and go therapy! And stuff…

But I tried those things. And they didn’t work–not in the way I thought they would. I mean, yes, I’m better. But that doesn’t mean I in any way consider myself “recovered.” 

I am confused and scared and lonely. And life just keeps throwing punches, every time I think it’s done with me.

But… I want to live. Despite all of the times I’ve questioned it. I want to advocate for better mental health support, especially with young, elementary-school aged kids. I want to write stories and poems. I want to make public speaking a part of my career. I want to make spoken word tracks. I want… so many things.

I want to live in an apartment with the people who make me happy. Really, really happy. I want to go travelling. I want to meet people and learn their stories. I want to know what it’s like to be happy. 

And right now, I have all of those things, still ahead of me. All the possibilities in the world. Which is you know, terrifying. But… it’s also freeing, in a strange way.

I’m alone in this, now. I don’t have a therapist to hold my hand. That’s my job. 

This is up to me.

And I can choose to be like those before me. Who sat around feeling hopeless, trapped in their own indecision. Or I can stand up. And step outside. And try.

I can try.

Maybe I’ll fail. But… I mean, at least I’ll have given it everything I’ve got, right?

Shoutout Saturday! (Podcasts you need to check out now)

Hey guys! Welcome to a little series I’m calling Shoutout Saturday. As a creator, I understand how frustrating it can be to put a lot of work into something only for it to go unnoticed. So I hope in this series to highlight some books, songs, podcasts, blogs, musicals, custom sticker-maker companies, whatever I’m into that week, that you need to check out now–with a focus on smaller creators. I hope you’ll give all of these amazing podcasts some love, because oh my gosh, do they deserve it.

I have a job gardening, and it’s a very mindless process for the most part honestly–I don’t need to be thinking too much while pulling dandelions or whatever. So, to make the time pass, I like to binge-listen to podcasts, as one does. I’ve always been a huge auditory learner, and loved the format so much–so podcasts are just something I’ve become incredibly passionate about. Here are some of the shows I’ve been loving this week.

Write Now with Sarah Werner

I listened to Girl in Space (Sarah Werner’s other podcast, an absolutely breathtaking audio drama you should also check out) a while ago, and loved it. I had always meant to check out her other show, never really got around to it. Until a few weeks ago, when on a whim I looked this gem of a show on Spotify on a night when I was struggling, and oh my god, I am so glad I did.

It does to me what I hope my work can do for you. It is empowering, honest, and kind, and if you’re a writer you need to listen to it. It centres around helping writers reach a work-life-passion project balance without sacrificing their mental health, and is never afraid to acknowledge the truths of that struggle.

The host is always so open, and humble. And whenever I get lost in the pressure, and lose sight of why I want to do this, Write Now is there to pull me down and remind me of who I am.

(Also, the theme song is an absolute jam, and not gonna lie, I have shamelessly danced to it in public with several people watching before.)

The Penumbra Podcast

I’ve been shamelessly binge-listening to this one, not gonna lie.

It’s a mash of a lot of different genres, and within the larger Penumbra universe there are also short stories set in this medieval universe, that are usually a lot more light and funny. So basically, this show is absolutely for you if you’re picky about your podcasts–they have something for everyone. But for the sake of my sanity, we’re going to try and keep this relatively short, and discuss the main story–which follows private eye Juno Steel, as he solves mysteries and whispers melodramatic monologues into your eardrums that occasionally make me either want to smush him in a hug or laugh out loud in very public areas. The mysteries in this show are so amazing, and never cease to surprise me. It’s funny, heartfelt, suspenseful, you name it–this show can pull it off beautifully. The universe feels so sprawling and rich; it’s one of those stories you could get lost in forever.

They also have really amazing LGBT+ representation, which makes me very happy. (Oh, and also, their intro SLAPS.)

The Magnus Archives

Before I started listening to The Magnus Archives, I didn’t think I was a horror person. But boy, did this show prove me wrong!

The Magnus Archives is a horror audio drama following Jon Sims, as he explores the Magnus Institute—an organization dedicated to documenting and investigating paranormal activity.

It is a very slow setup, which was hard to get into for me. But once you get to the action, it’s such an addictive show. The way it approaches horror is so interesting—it makes sunny days and department stores and trains feel terrifying in this deep, existential way–as a pose to your typical stormy night or whatever. It is so undeniably modern, which is also I think part of why it always hits so close to home. It has this way of tapping in to primal human fears, in a way that will resonate with almost anybody. I guarantee that if you listen to this show for long enough, you will find at least one episode that hits just a bit too close to home.

It’s not all horror, though–there’s romance, there’s workplace comedy, there’s a cat called The Admiral, and so on.

If you have mental health issues, I would highly recommend listening. I know it sounds counterintuitive, but as someone with anxiety, it’s served as a wonderful way to explore my fears in a safe way. It also has the guts to actually discuss mental health. The latest episode, “Wonderland” took place in a mental hospital, and going into it I was a bit worried it would be problematic. But holy crap, was I wrong, because this episode just blew it out of the park; it might be one of my favourite ones ever.

The horror element of this mental hospital was not people getting treatment–it was people getting treated by people who did not have the qualifications to treat them, or their best interests at mind. Being taken off their meds, and gaslighted into believing they did not have a mental health issue, and the problem was in fact that they were just a terrible, selfish person. This element really hit home for me, as someone who has had similar experiences in real life. (All episodes include content warnings in the show notes, so you’re covered for any potentially triggering content.)

I don’t want to tell you any more so as not to give you spoilers, because this show is just so well done, and you need to listen to it now—especially if you don’t normally like horror.

Tides

Tides is a small audio drama I listened to a while back, that just finished its first season. It is the story of Dr. Winifred Eurus, a xenobiologist trapped on a foreign planet. I’m trash for a good “fuck capitalism in space” podcast, especially with a cool mystery. (And aliens. Love me some good aliens.)

The sound design in this show took my breath away. It’s so gorgeous, even if you don’t care about the plot, which you should because it’s executed so wonderfully, please listen to it just for the beautiful audio. It is such a soothing show to listen to.

I also listened to this while I was quarantined, and the character’s isolation and frustration with how long it was taking to be rescued was very relatable for me.

The Strange Case of the Starship Iris

I listened to this show a while back, but since then it’s remained one of my favourite audio dramas. It’s also a relatively small show that needs more attention, it actually just finished its first season!

As the title implies, it’s a science fiction show, about how capitalism is terrible. (Just kidding, it’s about more than that. But also how capitalism is terrible.)

It centres around Violet Liu, who I would probably take a bullet for. The show begins with a devastating crash hitting her spaceship, and her realizing, essentially, that’s she’s going to die. Until she is contacted and rescued by Kay Grisham, pilot of the Rumor… and shit goes down from there. It takes place in 2182, after humans have narrowly won a war against aliens, and explores this fascinating post-war world. It has found family, it has a catchy song, it has spaceships, what more could you ask for.

The sound design is breathtaking, and the characters are so wonderfully developed. All the voice actors are so amazing, there’s some cute wholesome couples, and I love it so much.

Anyhow! I truly hope you’ll check these shows out, because they’re all so good.

If you liked this post, and want more of my content, be sure to check out my podcast, Sonnets of a Teenage Wannabe, on your favourite podcast streaming platform, and give this blog a follow. All of these shows are available wherever you get your podcasts, so make sure to check them out!

Lots of love,

dragonwritesthings

A quick announcement!

Hey guys! Just dropping in to let you know that as of now, the Monday posts will not be happening. This is because of a lot of reasons, but can essentially be boiled down to these main points.

  1. Constantly producing content isn’t good for my mental health, and it feels very hypocritical to write a blog about mental health and then have to sacrifice my mental health to constantly give you content. When I first got into this, the advice I was hearing online was always “stick to a posting schedule” and “quality over quantity”…. but also that you should be putting out at least five posts every single week, in addition to managing your other social media platforms. Although it is possible, it’s, quite honestly, exhausting, and I want to be able to focus on myself and not have to constantly be worried about these things.
  2. Constantly producing content isn’t making it any better for you, either. I try to work as hard as I can on every single post, but realistically, I only have so much time, and a lot of the stages of production have to be cut short on account of that. And I don’t want to impose that kind of deadline on myself anymore.

As time has gone on, I have grown to appreciate how important it is to take as much time as you need with a piece of art to make it as good as possible for your audience. Although in the short run, you might get better engagement from something made super fast, in the long run, it doesn’t really matter. And I guess I just want to make stuff that really means something to both you and me. That being said, Friday posting will continue, so stay tuned for that tomorrow 🙂

Lots of love,

dragonwritesthings