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Cool Things About the Internet #1: The Alexa Toolbar and Why It's Inspirational

Holy hell, I have a massive migraine. I also woke up this morning with a mind deadset on relapsing back into depression. This isn't new, though. What *is* new is that I've gotten much better at pep talks. All I had to do was get indignant with the doubts and the bullshit and tell myself, "I don't want to be a better someone else. I want to be a better me, and I can be a better me without being blind to the good things about me now."

It worked. These days, that always works. Now, apart from the migraine and what I think may be a sore throat in the works, I feel just fine. Fine enough to do a more upbeat post about the cool things on the internet. I'm sure this will be a series of posts. There are LOTS of cool things on the internet I'd love to talk about, like Cracked and TV Tropes and Memes and Creepypastas and Let's Plays....

Alexa Toolbar

Yes, I kinda suck.
Yesterday I went into extreme marketing mode and got fixated on finding stats for Reader's Den. Of course, just as I expected, stats for Reader's Den are pretty damn low. Sure I get 50-99 views a day and, on a day where I post new content, I get 100-200 views. But, in the grand scheme of the internet as a whole, I'm like a baby mouse in space.

In spite of the fact that my Alexa rank is so low (for now) that I perhaps shouldn't have it on my front page like I'm proud of it, I went and downloaded the Alexa Toolbar.

That was an awesome choice. Even if you're not a website owner obsessed with you and your competitions' website stats, downloading the Alexa Toolbar would still be an awesome choice.

I spent a lot of time yesterday going to all my favorite sites, looking at their ranking, and clicking the wayback button to see what the very first post of the site looked like. I learned that the top four websites are as follows:

1.) Google
2.) Facebook
3.) Youtube
4.) Yahoo!

I really wish I could guess what number five is. I mean, I knew those four sites would be the top four even before Alexa told me. The ranking was fun, but not half as fun as the wayback button. Ohhh boy. Wanna know what Myspace looked like in the 1990s? It looked hilarious, that's what. Wow has Myspace changed over the years.

I giggle every time. -_- But hey, it *was* the 90s. Limited internet abilities and all.

Same thing for Youtube.

Youtube has changed so much that it's hard for the robots to even capture it. 

I really wanted to see Google and Facebook, but those sites make going wayback impossible.

Beside the fact that the wayback feature often makes me giggle about website design in the 90s, I kept going wayback because I love progression. There's something wonderful about comparing the beginning product to the current or end product, about jumping between the past and the present and being able to easily say, "Wow, things have really changed."

For me, that's motivation. It's a way of saying that just because your Alexa ranking is embarrasingly low today, and you have limited website capabalities now, doesn't mean that it will always be that way. If I work hard enough, I can press wayback for my site and giggle at the past as well.

Plus, I also find something eerie about the old versions of this site still being there and archived. It's like they're perpetually trapped in the past but...also not.

Anyway, next time I'm gonna talk about Googling yourself because that's also a cool (yet sorta scary) thing about the internet. Now I leave you with a funny vid and whichever song is currently playing on my playlist. The first vid is much funnier if you're into Skyrim or know about the FUS RO DAH meme. On another note, the migraine calmed down by a lot. ^_^

How I Got to Where I Am Now

In my most recent post, I talked about the Special Syndrome I suffered through throughout highschool. It was a hard post for me to write because for the longest time I hated the idea that I always wanted to feel like a special snowflake. I hate stories with 'special snowflakes.' Those types of characters irritate the hell out of me. Yet I spent so much of my life hypocritically wanting to be that way. Putting the post up, though, was a way for me to let those feelings go and get them out in the open.

I got three comments on the blog and one on Facebook, which is much more than I'm accustomed to. The comments were a great help, so thank you Aaron, Michelle, Jawan, and Cindy! Because Cindy asked me to post how I got to where I am now, this is the follow-up post where I will do just that.

How I go to where I am now? Well, I don't particularly feel like I'm anywhere right now, to be honest. I feel like I'm in a limbo of trying to get somewhere, like I'm on this loooooong highway trying to get to some semblance of independence (a car and a steady income) and some semblance of my idea of success (a published novel and a consistent stream of clients for Honest Crits). But because I'm a progressive person who is always trying to reach that next big goal, I mostly always feel like I'm in a limbo. Of course I do stop to admire what I've done along the way and what I'm doing now, but I'm not the type of person to just stop and remain in one spot. Love is the only thing where I prefer sticking along for however long me and the guy can make the love last, and even then I like progression. I want us to grow with each other, to talk, to figure out what we want and what we don't want and respect each other as a result of knowing that.

But I digress. I'm sure that when Cindy asked that question, she meant how did I (for the most part) get past all those terrible emotions I faced in high school and find enough confidence to post it all on my blog and put it behind me.

Well, it was rocky. I got to this point after a couple of panic attacks from being overwhelmed and realizing that I was living the life others wanted me to live and not the life I wanted to live. See, that's what happens when you're a people pleaser. When I was in college, miserable as all hell, depression almost ate me whole. Of course, having Matthew by my side did help by a lot. He makes me feel beautiful and most of all he makes me feel loved and cherished. I know my own value now. So I thank him for that.

But what really got me here now was being able to analyze my emotions and understand the main reason I've been depressed.

The voices. For me, it's the voices. When I'm depressed, the thoughts in my head always put me down. You're ugly. You'll never make it. That was a dumb choice. He'll leave you. Why do you talk? Blah blah blah. I think...A LOT. I'm constantly analyzing, theorizing, creating, arguing, but all in my mind.

Those voices are bad when you've mistakenly trained them to attack yourself. However, those voices are wonderful as hell when you apply them to something in life that DOES need analyzing, theorizing, creating, and arguing.

Ever wonder why I'm a reviewer, editor, and writer? Well, my thoughts work perfectly for all those tasks. Because I'm focusing all those voices on a business, on something not me, on something I could make money from, the voices are too occupied there to turn on me. Sure, I wear a lot of hats, but that's because I have enough thoughts in my mind for two people anyway.

I know that sounds crazy, but these are how I got where I am now and how I hope to get somewhere even better as life goes on:

  • I fell in love and allowed myself to trust my heart with another who respects me.
  • I analyzed where my problem lies - in the voices within my head that put me down - and applied that problem to the things I'm good at. By doing that, I was able to make something positive out of the negative.
  • I've practiced retraining my thoughts to not attack me because, I don't know, that's rather silly.
And, because I always do this, here are two videos for your enjoyment. The first one is just ridiculous and funny. The second one is a song I currently like:

The Special Syndrome

For the last couple of days, I've been arguing with myself about this blog post. Should I put it up? How will people think of me? Can I really write about something that, for the longest time, made me despise myself?

And you know what? I can put this up and get these thoughts out. It's time I fully accept myself, enough so to talk about things that bother me on this here personal blog. So here it is...

Maybe it started with all those romance books, where the heroine would always be so 'special' that this guy would fall head over heels for her no matter what she said or did. Maybe it was all the video games, where the main character was special enough to be chosen to rescue everyone. Either way, by the time I got to high school, I was a terrible mixture of the following:

1.) Stepford Smiler
2.) I just want to be special
3.) Romantic Runner Up
4.) The Perfectionist
5.) Always Someone Better

I've finally stopped being a 'Romantic Runner Up'. Matthew and me are still together, going strong. There finally isn't another girl in the shadows that he'd prefer to be with. I finally don't feel like a guy is only with me because he couldn't get his number one choice. And boy that feels good. The stepford smiler syndrome has also lightened up by a lot ever since I hooked up with Matthew. He was the one that pointed it out to me that I was a stepford smiler. It was a realization that bothered me as much as it bothered him. For me, being a stepford smiler goes hand-in-hand with being a people pleaser. People pleasing is one hell of a dangerous disease.

However, I still struggle every day with perfectionism, wanting to be special, and feeling like there is always someone better. I want my life to be worthy of my parents, my family, and my boyfriend being proud. Some part of me feels like I have to, yknow, make up for leaving college and my job back at the school and the only way to do that, the only way to truly be redeemed, is to be a success story, is to work my ass off every day until I'm a success story.

People say I work too hard. I'm actually better now than I used to be, like much better. I take breaks to watch anime or Let's Plays and talk to people and eat candy while I blankly stare out the window. I hang with my boyfriend. But I won't deny that I probably do work too much. In my mind, it's not enough work.

And I think the deep void in my soul or heart or whateverthehell always gets darker when I start thinking of shit like, "It's not enough." Then I start thinking of how witty this guy is or beautiful this girl is or blah blah blah.

Sometimes I'm sure I'm getting a lot better and that I'm confidently becoming that girl I've always dreamed of being, but other times it's like I'm terrified. Like I almost want to delete this post and forego publishing it altogether. I'm araid that everyone will see...everyone will think that I'm frail. I don't want to be underestimated. I don't want to be told to change. I don't want to be pitied. I've survived a lot of stuff I probably shouldn't have. I *know* I'm not defunct and weak.

So I'm gonna publish this rambly post that has all my top fears and problems and let you all see what I've been silently holding inside. Here are two videos that make me happy:

Monster To-Do List

Hey, this is my ACTUAL to-do list.
Putting my camera to use. ^_^
This morning I woke up at 8:30 am instead of 9:30 or 10 am. I had tea, oatmeal, and sausages instead of soda, an omelet, and waffles. This is me, trying to wake up earlier and eat healthier, and I'm happy I'm finally trying. What pushed me? Here and there, I've been reading posts about the daily lives of professional writers and entrepreneurs who work out of their home. The majority of those posts drilled into my head that if I'm aiming to be more productive, I need to take better care of my health and start my days earlier. I knew that before I read those articles, yeah, but they were the push I needed. I now want to eat more fruits and veggies and drink more juice and tea. I feel proud to admit that.

Anyway, my to-do list is HUGE today (hence why I call it the monster list). I know, I know, it's Valentine's day. Shouldn't I be spending today with a friend or with my boyfriend or TV? Well, as it turns out, the boyfriend goes to work today and I have a lot of work to do as well. We anticipated this already and decided to do our Vday stuff together yesterday. It was wonderful. I gave him things, he gave me things, we cuddled and talked and laughed a lot. Mostly the day was just like any other day we've spent together, in that he played video games and I worked on my business, but we didn't need the excuse of Valentine's day to feel extremely thankful to have each other.

Now that I'm done being a lovestruck goober, here is what I'm up to:

Yep, this is the card and candy.
1.) Start editing novella: If you don't already know, I'm a freelance editor who owns an editing business called Honest Crits. Because I had to edit the stories of those who won my Big Giveaway Contest over at Reader's Den, I had to wait to start editing the most recent novella that's been submitted to me. It's 74 pages long. If I give myself until March 5th to complete it, I can do 3-4 pages a day. Now all I have to do is make sure the writer is okay with that date.

2.) Promote my review of 'Spur of the Moment' by Candace Bowen Early: I'm very satisfied with this review. I wrote it without an outline and the words still easily came to me. The review also turned out to be longer than I thought it would be, which always makes me happy. Feels like the review has more depth. Today I'm gonna go into hardcore promotion mode and promote the review on more than 25 sites and pages, but already 3 people have particpated in the giveaway. That makes me incredibly happy! Since my promotion plan is 15 bucks, I always feel so terrible when an author doesn't get at least 3 participants and/or a discussion in the comments. Already, I won't have that problem with this review.

3.) Mark David down for second week of March: This means that, the second weekend of March, I'll be reviewing the second book in The Black Earth Series. I already reviewed book 1 here. Soon, David will be joining my Reader's Den team of writers. I'm thrilled to have him as a writing companion.

4.) Finish 'Common Errors' article: Actually, I need to start it too. -_- In March, I'll be doing a blog tour for Honest Crits, but first I need to write all 8 articles I'd like to promote throughout the web and then contact the blog owners whose blogs I'd like to appear on. The 'Common Errors' article will be a two-part article exploring the errors I see time and time again when I'm editing.

5.) Do at least 500 words of Dream Catcher, damn it!: If you read the last part of my previous post, you'll know that I'm very upset with myself for not working more on my fiction. I've been so into this business life that it feels like the creative part of my mind that allows me to write about creatures and alternate dimensions has been closed off. I can write articles and reviews with no problem, but work on my story? Fiction is where I started. I need to return to my roots, and making myself do at least 500 words today is supposed to help with that.

6.) Make sure dad gets boxes and 40 bucks: How handy is it that my dad works at the post office? Anyway, this is in regards to the fact that I need to send the books of those who won my giveaway contest out. It slipped my mind yesterday, but to make up for it slipping my mind, I finished editing the winning stories.

7.) Start polls for Reader's Den posts: There are two questions and two polls I'd like to have a lot of readers' inputs on. First question: Do readers really care about where and how a book was published? Second question: What do readers do with free Amazon books? Then, when these polls have been circulating for a while and I feel like enough readers have participated, I'll write two posts at Reader's Den about the answers to those questions. It should be fun.

8.) Submit at least 1 job application: My sources of income are rather shaky right now. Twice a month, I get 50 dollars from my dad, but my phone bill is 40 bucks and I have a tight budget. When all is said and done, only $7.50 of that 50 goes to me for general spending. Percentages of the rest go to self-publishing, savings, and my business. The business money I make is, of course, sporadic because Honest Crits is still in the process of being launched. Hency why I'll be doing a blog tour in March and advertising in April. So far, all the money I've made for the business has gone back to the business. As thus, I need a part-time job.

9.) Clear at least 25 e-mails: Even after going on my large unsubscribing spree, my e-mails still multiply very fast. And it doesn't help that I have about 6 e-mail addresses. I could very easily spend a whole day clearing e-mails, but I don't have the time for that. Clearing at least 25 e-mails today seems good enough for me.

Will I complete all of this? I don't know. Chances are, I won't. But it's not a big deal if I don't complete them all, as long as I complete 3-5 of them. As always, I leave you with the two most recent songs I love most:

Scared? Yeah, just a little...

I'm practically a Determinator (though I'm not into the whole 'no price is too great to pay for success' crap), so being scared doesn't mean giving up. For me, it may mean wasting an hour of my night curling into a tight ball, crying like a little kid and threatening the determinator within me that I'm gonna give up. In fact, I'm not ashamed to admit that that's exactly what I did last night.

It's always an empty threat though.

I'm not a mess anymore. When I was in college, I cried every night. But I NEED to cry every now and then.  Crying, at least for me, is a way of gathering up all the things I'm terrified of and letting them all out at once instead of letting them simmer in my mind every single day until I get depressed. Even though yesterday was one of those days where I felt extremely happy to be alive, I still ended up breaking down. So what are the things I'm so afraid of?

  • Love doesn't terrify me as much as it used to, but holy shit...me and Matthew have been together for 10 months. That's almost a year. For all you people who have been in relationships that have lasted years, this may not seem like a big deal. It's a big deal to me. First, he really actually loves me. You don't understand how much this blows my mind. I spent so much time thinking no guy could ever really actually love me, at least not for longer than a couple of weeks. Before Matthew, none of my relationships lasted longer than 3 months, if they even lasted that long. For a long time, I used to think it was because I wasn't pretty enough or smart enough or interesting enough, but I refuse to attribute every break-up to me not being 'the best.' It's not always my fault. It's silly to think so. Still, when I cried last night, I wondered if I was boring to Matthew, or if I could ever make up for how clingy I was in college. It's like...I can't get over how so very pitiful I was. God, I hate being pitiful. Which brings me to my next point...
  • I'm terrified of embarrassing myself. Now that I'm an editor and businesswoman and freelance writer, my cloudcuckoolander attributes become more and more out of place. While I want to accept that yes, I can't pronounce many words and my memory is just not up to par sometimes, I still want to shoot myself when I say something wrong and someone goes, "God, you're an editor/businesswoman/writer. I'm disappointed in you. How could you speak so incorrectly?" I mean, I grew up speaking slang. Saying things incorrectly mean very little to me. It's writing things incorrectly that bother me. Plus, I'm NOT a grammar editor. I'm a content editor, damn it.
  • I want to prove to people that me taking a break from college to write and work on my own business was NOT some big mistake. At the same time, I hate hate hate that I want to prove anything to anyone. I sincerely just want to say, "Fuck everybody else." I can't say it just yet. As far as I can tell, the only way to prove to them that I'm not messing up is by having money in general, a license and money saved away to get a car, and a steady job to assist the business. But hell, it's really going to take me lots of time and hard work to get there, and I get afraid because it feels so far away.
  • Yknow, sometimes you get afraid that the success won't come or that, if it does come, it won't complete your life the way you thought it would. Then you freeze. You get stuck in wanting, wanting, wanting and don't take action. I sincerely feel like this is happening to me. There is NO real excuse for why I haven't been writing more. There are all these contests I can enter into, all these novels I can be working on, all these articles I could be finishing. And yeah, the editing and reviewing business does take a lot of my time, but seriously wtf. I don't have an out-of-the-house job right now, I don't have classes, and I don't have a crazy social life. I can write. Back when I was doing the first couple of drafts of Savior of the Damned, I wrote whenever I could find any time to write. What ever happened to that shit? Why did I stop? I know why. Because I'm scared. I'm scared of fifty thousand little things that I always tell writers not to be afraid of when all they need to worry about is writing the damn thing.

So now that I've cried, I say it's time to put it all behind me until the next time the overwhelmed kid in me needs out. After I post this, I'm finishing the first article for my Honest Crits blog tour and writing at least 1-2 pages of Dream Catcher. Then I'm gonna do some editing. As always, here are my two most recent favorite songs:

Five Reasons Why I Suck

Disclaimer: This is not a depressing post. I am NOT depressed (surprising, right?). Actually, I'm very happy. I'm in love, I'm doing the things I've always wanted to do and am finally starting to get paid for it, and I feel like I have a reason for existing. However, being happy doesn't mean there aren't times where I think, "Damn, I really suck." So, in no particular order, here are the reasons why:

1.) I'm a cloudcuckoolander

This is moreso in reality, when I'm hanging out with people (and especially my boyfriend). I'm a lot less of a cloudcuckoolander on the interwebz. If you read the page, you'll notice that being a cloudcuckoolander isn't all too sucky. It's pretty awesome, since skill is often underneath all that weirdness, but it does make moments with me a little awkward. I say random, irrelevent things just because said random, irrelevent thing came to my mind. I ask questions just because. I blank out a lot and end up in some imaginary world within my mind. However, I'm still paying close attention to reality (except when I'm not). Worse of all, it makes me come across as an airhead. Which brings me to my next point...

2.) I'm a contradictory conundrum

See, even that title is puzzling. I'm like two different people in one. On the one hand, I'm super serious and motivated and all about success. I have an ego that doesn't take well to being told I'm stupid and I have a dangerous streak. On the other hand, I'm really a dumbass who blanks out. There is so much going on in my mind that my thoughts overload into nothingness. I'm as harmless as a teddy bear (yknow, the adorable ones and not the ones that come to life and try to kill you). The problem with having two separate personalities is that switching between the two confuses me and everyone around me.

3.) I get antsy for change and adventure

Which, as crazy as I am about research and preparation, makes me come across as reckless. I like to take risks. I don't like doing things the normal, healthy way because I'm all into defining success on my own terms. If it feels nice outside, you better believe that I'm packing a backpack with artsy stuff and heading out to...do whatever. This will often involve meeting a psycho. -_- Sure, this is all part of the entrepreneurial drive, but it makes me anxious when things are consistent and that's a feeling I need to get rid of now that things are, well, consistent and very well should be consistent.

4.) I Stretch Myself Thin

I'm not as bad as I used to be. This time around, I take breaks and talk to people and make sure to get more sleep. In all, I am no longer an insane workaholic with one too many goals. However, I do have a hell of a lot of goals, so much so that I can honestly admit to myself that if I'm not careful I'll stretch myself thin. I want to self-publish a book, traditionally publish a book, submit to a number of magazines and contests, get my license, learn how to cook, get and maintain a part-time job, run an editing sole proprietorship, and run a book blog. That's....a lot, lol.

5.) I'm Still Not There Yet

I accept myself. I love who I am and I accept that the bad stuff I went through is what made me who I am. Still, I'm not *totally* there. As in, there are still moments where I look at or someone or hear about their achievements and think, "Shit, I'm not good enough. Look at her, doing so well in college. I bet my parents would be more proud if I were there right now, doing that well. Look at him, being so clever and intelligent. Why can't I effortlessly be clever and intelligent instead of a contradictory cloudcuckoolander who both thinks too much and not enough?" The thoughts come and go. They don't put me in the dumps and make me cry, but it still sucks that I waste about 5-10 minutes of my day even thinking about that stuff.

So, it's been weeks since I've last posted. The next time I post, which will be soon and not weeks later, I'll actually talk about the things I've been doing. I just really wanted to do a "5 Reasons Why..." list, namely because I love Cracked. Also, because I'm random like that, my most recent favorite two songs: