The Paranoid Writer

When Life Gets in the Way


I hate depression. It’s debilitating. People say, “Just snap out of it” or “I don’t know what to do to help you” or “What’s wrong with you?”Depression

Well, it’s a chemical imbalance. Believe me, I don’t want to be depressed, but it just hits sometimes. It’s like someone dropped bricks on me, and I can’t get them off, and I’m stuck in a dark hole.

Usually, when I feel depression coming on, I can change the direction or stop it by exercising more, going outside more, or eating some chocolate. If none of those work, then I have to resort to drugs that I have for emergencies. The problem is that when you’re hit by depression, you simply do not want to do anything, and you certainly don’t want anyone to help you. I certainly don’t.

You have to crawl out of your hole, and that’s hard when you’re dealing with depression head-on. I usually have to dig my nails in the walls around me and climb to the top. I fall many times.

This time, depression hit me head-on, and it was a killer. I felt it coming, but I thought I could handle it. I know its triggers: major stress, frustration, and bad PMS. You combine those three factors, and I’ve got one juggernaut coming at me for a full assault. This time, I thought I could handle it on my own, but it didn’t work. I stopped running and going to yoga, putting on make-up, and fixing my hair. Yep. I knew I was depressed, and everything became too overwhelming.

Luckily, I started digging my nails into the walls around me and started climbing out. Yep. I had to get my emergency stash of drugs and use it. That’s why I have them. Depression is apart of me, and something that won’t vanish. I just have to be more mindful of the triggers the next time it comes or else I’ll be stuck again at the bottom of a large, dark hole.

I’m almost to the top because I can see the sun.

The next time you know someone that is battling depression, don’t try to fix them because depression is apart of them.  Just tell them, “Hey, you can do it. Just start climbing.”

I bet they’ll understand you.



April 29th, 2012 Posted by | Depression | no comments

Mean Girls

Mean Girl

I recently attended a lecture on “Mean Girls” at my daughter’s elementary school. My main concern was to understand the difference between teasing and just plain bullying.

I don’t think I could handle girls today if I was my daughter’s age. They are mean, but I learned that what my daughter is experiencing and what she does in return is teasing because there is not an intent to hurt.

My daughter and her friends do tease each other, and I certainly couldn’t handle it, but they do. They let it go and are friends again, literally within seconds. How is that possible? I don’t have an answer.

My job is to make sure that my daughter is not hurting others and is not being hurt, physically or mentally.

I learned that Mean Girls use words that hurt. To diffuse the situation, you have to think fast and either use humor or another tactic. The bottom line is to remove yourself from the situation as quickly as possible and not let the other girl get power. Wow. That’s a lot to handle for an elementary school child.

Still, I worry. Girls are mean, and feelings get hurt.

The hard part about being a mom is knowing when to step in and when to leave it alone. Physical and mental abuse . . . step in and get help. Teasing? I have to step out and let her handle it because I can’t fight her battles. She has to learn to fight them.

I know that I’m at the point where I can talk to my daughter and listen to her and try not to solve her problems for her. Sometimes, she just needs to vent. When things bother her, I try to direct her to her diary to write down her feelings or draw them. Where did I get these ideas? Years of therapy.

I’m trying my hardest not to project my own feelings of insecurity onto my own daughter. That wasn’t in the Mommy Info Book. I didn’t know I could project feelings. Now, I do.

It’s hard raising a girl, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. She’s going to be a strong one when she grows up.

And yes . . . that is indeed a Weeping Angel from Dr. Who in the picture. A little humor and terribly frightening.



April 20th, 2012 Posted by | Mean Girls | no comments

Easy Friday the 13th Cupcakes

Here is my creation to celebrate Friday the 13th:

Bloody Cupcakes

It really looks like blood. Oh, just agree.












It’s easy. You just take a box of red velvet cake mix and add the ingredients. I added applesauce for oil. Shh. Don’t tell. I’ve got to get the fruit into my kids’ diet. Right?

Ice with cream cheese icing and add some red icing on top. Use a toothpick to make “blood” swirls. There you go.

We’re watching the old version of House on Haunted Hill with Vincent Price. It will be my daughter’s first scary movie, but my teenager will probably think it’s hilarious.

Happy Friday the 13th.



April 13th, 2012 Posted by | Cupcakes | no comments

State of Grace

Is it possible that someone so evil and so hypocritical could have some type of saving grace inside them?

That was a question I asked my students after reading “A Good Man is Hard to Find” by Flannery O’Connor. It’s a religious story in which a mean, hypocritical grandmother reaches out to save the man who is about to kill her. In that gesture is in act of Grace. At least, that is what O’Connor said in an essay that followed the story.

I hated this story when I first taught it about five years ago because I couldn’t believe that someone so mean, like the grandmother, could have God inside her. Oh yeah, that’s a bit pessimistic and judgmental. Oops.

Now, I want to believe that everyone has God/Grace/Whatever You Want to Call It inside them. People do have the ability to change, to become better. I have to hope that people have grace or kindness in them because without hope, I don’t want to go to the side of pessimism again. I have to hope there is some type of kindness in people even when they do not see it.

In a previous life when I was a paralegal and putting myself through school, I worked for two attorneys that were awful people. This time period was before Anita Hill and the acknowledgement of sexual discrimination. One attorney didn’t scare me that much because all he was after was sex and degrading women, and I could ward off his advances. The other one terrified me.

He claimed he was some Christian and was active in his church and taught Bible classes. At the office, he was abusive. I often wondered how such a hypocritical person could practice a religion that teaches peace and yet do the opposite. I often wondered if this person would ever change. Now, I have to hope that there is some saving grace in this person, really both of them.

There’s good in people, but sometimes it just takes a life-changing incident, like the grandmother in “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” for the good to come out. Sometimes, it never comes out or just comes through in small slits until their walls come up again.

Spring is always a time of rebirth for me. The sun comes out, finally, and the flowers bloom until the first, heavy heat wave comes. Yes, I’m in Texas. I’d like to open my eyes a little more, slow down, and look for the acts of kindness around me and the goodness of people.

Who knows? Perhaps some of that kindness and goodness in people will rub off on me. I can only hope. Right?



April 11th, 2012 Posted by | State of Grace | no comments


Yep. I have a side job, besides the rich life of a writer. I’m an Associate Professor of English, and I’m grading Shakespeare papers right now.

So far, I have two plagiarized papers, and it’s just disheartening. I know students get into trouble or get backed into a corner and turn to Google to find a paper, but it’s cheating. As a writer, I would not want to have my academic articles or pieces of Brownie Fix represented as someone’s work other than my own. There’s a lot of sweat, tears, and even blood in those pieces. No joke.

Writing is hard, but you just can’t take the easy way out. At some point, you’re going to get caught. I just hate it that I have to turn in the copied papers.

In some instances, it seems that it would take longer to actually copy the piece and change around the wording so that it does not look plagiarized. Really? Just write the paper and take the grade. There are not any perfect papers. Good Lord. Brownie Fix had tons of typos in it, and that was when it was published. It’s fixed now, by the way.

Anyway, I have some more papers to grade, and I’m really hoping that I don’t run into any perfect papers because that means those papers have been through copy editors, professional copy editors. I want students to get help and have people look at their papers, but when it is written in an academic style and not their own voice and flawless, then that is an issue.

I really enjoy teaching literature, but I really dislike grading papers because I don’t want to run into students who copy papers. I know that it’s inevitable, but I get disheartened about it. When that happens, I just have to turn my attention to the students that really want to learn and be in school. That’s a good thing.




April 3rd, 2012 Posted by | Plagiarism | 4 comments