I Have a TikTok!

Tik Tok media App Illustration

I’ve had a TikTok account for a while, but never shared it because I only used the account to watch other people’s TikTok videos and hadn’t posted any of my own. However, recently I decided to start making some silly videos just for fun. I’m not the best dancer, so I’ve had to be creative to come up with other ideas for vids lol.

Anyway, my account username is @marandarussell2, so if you are on TikTok, feel free to follow me there and let me know what you think of my silly videos!

Quarantine and Writer’s Block

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I’m having one of those days where I just don’t know what to write. Nothing good comes to mind. I don’t really want to share art or poetry today, but I don’t feel like I have much else to share lol. I guess I could write about a few mundane things going on in my quarantined life right now…

  • One of my poor kitties has a huge hematoma (blood-filled cyst) on his ear. We already took him to the vet and they gave him a shot and some medicine, hoping it would shrink, but so far, nothing has effected it. If it doesn’t change by next week, they will have to do surgery to remove it and his ear will always be disfigured. I feel bad for him. His poor ear is flopped over from the weight of the hematoma and he looks like he is in discomfort from it ūüė¶
  • My husband is a teacher and he is trying to figure out how to do the whole homeschooling online with his students thing. You wouldn’t believe how many problems he and the school district have run into trying to get Google classrooms up and running! My poor husband has been frustrated, irritable, and sometimes almost enraged by the technical issues he keeps facing. I feel bad for him and wish I could help, but I can’t. It kind of makes home a less fun place to be sometimes!
  • I really miss being able to decompress by going out shopping. Even if I didn’t buy anything, it was fun and got me out of the house. I miss it. I guess I could still go to Walmart or Meijer or whatever, but I feel that would be unwise unless I really need to go there for groceries or other essentials. I don’t want to contribute to the overloading of our healthcare system if I can avoid it.
  • Watching the news is so depressing, I’ve kind of been avoiding it more lately. I’m usually one of those people who is up to speed on all things happening in the news, but right now it just makes me feel helpless and sad, especially for the poor doctors, nurses, and other emergency and healthcare employees on the front lines of Covid 19.

(Feeling anxious about being stuck inside during a pandemic? Consider reaching out to BetterHelp.com for help.)

New Family Member?

Yesterday we brought home a new kitty for a 5-day “sleepover” to see if he might be a good fit for our family. He is right around a year old, very playful and active, but also quite nervous at the moment as you might imagine. Here he is hiding under the kitchen table, where he chose to spend most of last night:

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We weren’t planning on getting another kitty so soon, but ever since our kitty Spyder died around a month ago, our cat Mao Mao has been very sad and seems depressed because he lost his play companion and buddy. We do have another cat named Ichabod, but he is off in his own world and even though he is sweet, he is not good companion material for Mao Mao.

When they were introduced last night, Mao Mao and the new kitty were tentative and nervous, but not really aggressive:

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The new kitty did hiss at the other cats some, but I think that is just because he is younger, littler, and in a strange environment so he was feeling threatened. No swatting or attacking though.

The new kitty seems a little afraid of men and his tail looks like it might have been injured in the past by someone pulling on it too hard, so I do wonder if he might have been abused in the past. The rescue place didn’t really have much history on him, so who knows?

I’m hoping it works out. The new kitty is very sweet! Keep your fingers crossed for us!

Kanye West is Bipolar?

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A couple days ago, I was watching Kanye West’s “interview” in the White House Oval Office with Donald Trump. I must admit I mostly wanted to watch it just to see what kind of crazy stuff Kanye would come up with. To be frank, he has always seemed a little like a loose cannon, even back in the days when he announced that George W. Bush didn’t care about black people, or when he interrupted Taylor Swift during her award speech to say that Beyonce should have won.

However, when I heard Kanye say during his recent interview that he had been diagnosed bipolar, suddenly, a lot of things clicked into place. I hadn’t really thought of it before, but Kanye does come across as highly manic in his speech sometimes, especially when he is all worked up about things and causes a scene. He definitely seems to have pressured speech (his words just flow out everywhere and in every direction), and I recognize flight of ideas as well (his train of thought is often hard to follow, he shares his thoughts in a way that definitely isn’t always linear or seemingly coherent). Kanye often appears paranoid during these times as well.

I heard that after the interview, Kanye was asked about the bipolar diagnosis and said something along the lines that he thought he was misdiagnosed or he had somehow been cured (contradictory thoughts together). Even this reminds me of manic episodes, after all, what is more predictable than someone with bipolar denying their disease or refusing treatment when in the throes of mania?

Anyhow, my main point is that as someone who has bipolar type 2 myself, I do have empathy for whatever Kanye is dealing with mentally, even if I don’t agree with some of his bizarre or outlandish statements.

Kavanaugh & Ford: Thoughts on Attempted Assault, Trauma, and PTSD

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The last few days, I have come across a lot of stupid, ignorant comments about attempted rape and its potential aftermath on social media. In case you have been living under a rock, people have gotten very passionate about the Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court candidate and his first accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, who both recently testified in front of the senate about sexual assault charges.

I have seen many memes and comments about both the accuser and the accused, and while some of them are respectful in expressing their personal opinion, many have taken to maligning the accuser, calling her a liar, a political schemer, and even saying the assault wasn’t a big deal and couldn’t have been that traumatizing. I want to take a minute to say that just because an assault is not completed, does not mean it isn’t extremely traumatizing! I will use a couple personal experiences to illustrate why I feel this way:

When I was in middle school, almost every day I was chased by big, mean bullies who threatened to “kick my ass” or even “kill me”…they never did actually beat me up, but they TERRIFIED me. I was truly afraid for my personal safety. They made me dread going to school and I became hypervigilant about trying to avoid them. In fact, I remember having to time my afternoon trek to the school bus just right so that hopefully I wouldn’t cross their path, while also making it to the bus on time.

When I was 17, I was robbed at gun point while working at Burger King. It was the end of the night shift and the manager and I were leaving out the front door, when two males in black outfits and masks jumped out of the shadows, one of them pointing his gun straight at me. No, I wasn’t actually shot during the ordeal, but I had terrifying dreams and flashbacks long after. I could never work night shift there again. To this day, I am still afraid of home invasions and double or triple check the locks at night.

If I had been a victim of attempted rape, I’m sure that would have been another terrifying memory to live with. I wish people understood PTSD and how even attempted assaults can cause immense levels of trauma, depending upon the person and how they process events and react to them. Some of the events that I find most traumatizing, others might not understand, while other events I went through that didn’t phase me much (like my mother’s many divorces) would have rocked the world of other kids. I wish we didn’t feel the need to judge others for what hurts or scars them.

My Drawing Won Honorable Mention!

I received notice today that my drawing “A Soft Place to Land” won honorable mention in the Disability Legal Rights Center Art Contest, run in conjunction with the Art of Autism website. Here is the drawing that placed:

Maranda Russell, A Soft Place to Land

I enjoy entering contests like these and am always honored when I actually win or place in any way. Receiving this news today was a welcome happy moment in a week that has been pretty hard overall.

Gun Arguments & Mental Illness

I try to not be overly political on my blog, because I don’t want to chase off readers who may have different views, but this whole gun regulations argument that is raging is really wearing me down. I’m not going to go into exact specifics of what I personally believe, although I will say that I both support the American right to protect yourself and your family, while also believing that some regulations and societal protections are not at odds with the spirit of the 2nd Amendment as written.

What I really want to talk about today though is how horrible some of the gun arguments being thrown around right now really are. So many of them totally lack any sense of logic or consistency. So many people are digging their heels in and refusing to give an inch or even consider an alternate point of view for even a second. On one side you have those who may honestly over-vilify all guns, but on the other side you have those who practically worship at the altar of firearms.

On the more personal side, as the wife of a teacher, the whole “arm teachers” idea is one that horrifies me. There is so very much that could go horribly, tragically wrong with that game plan. I also feel like those who suffer from any form of mental illness (like myself) are all collectively being thrown under the bus as violent, evil creatures by some of the media. There is a huge difference in my opinion between immaturity combined with selfish or narcissistic rage and true mental illness. Plus, many of these shooters just seem to buy into violent ideologies, which isn’t in itself a mental illness.

A week of good and bad…

This week has been a bit crazy.¬† On the negative side, I caught the stomach flu from hell.¬† I should have known that this virus was bad when all the people at my grandfather’s nursing home started wearing face masks to avoid catching it.¬† Unfortunately, nobody offered¬†face masks to us visitors, so both my mother and I ended up catching the crud after visiting.¬† I must say it was the sickest I have been in at least a decade.¬† However, I powered through and am now on the mend…kind of.

Now, on to the positive stuff that I would much rather dwell on.¬† First of all, I just signed a contract for a 3rd picture book!¬† It’s funny how after years of submitting manuscripts and receiving rejections, that I finally seem to have broken through.¬† Within the past year and a half, I have had three picture book manuscripts accepted by three different publishing houses.¬† I consider this a real victory, especially considering how the economy is doing right now!

Other good news:

*I will be reading my recently released picture book, “Ode to Icky”¬†to my first elementary school classroom this coming Wednesday!¬† The plans were finalized this week, so hopefully it goes well and I sell a few books there too!¬† I will be talking to a couple classes at the same school that day, so I’m excited!¬† I also have another school lined up to do an author meeting with, so I guess I need to learn to be a little more outgoing and leave the hermit side of myself at home.

*The Dayton Metro Library system is considering stocking each of their library’s childrens departments with “Ode to Icky”.¬† They also might have me come in to do some author readings/talks.¬† This is great news since the Dayton Library system is pretty big and reaches a large population here!

*Since my grandfather’s physical condition has stabilized somewhat for right now, I am slowly returning to my full workload, and just this past week decided to start doing book reviews for other children’s¬†authors again.¬† I love reading and reviewing children’s books, so I’m excited to have¬†the time to do so¬†once again.¬† I already have accepted a few author requests for reviews, but I do have a couple spots left.¬† Feel free to contact me at Shojobeatgirl@live.com¬†if you have written a children’s book and need a review (right now I am requesting physical copies rather than ebook copies whenever possible, so please keep that in mind).