Depression is a Neighbor

This is a short story I wrote for a contest. I did not get chosen this year but I was last year so it’s okay. I did want to share this story with all of you. It means A LOT to me. So here it is:

Depression is a Neighbor

©2018 Joana F. Simoes

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I don’t mean to take over people’s lives. It’s my job. I don’t have an excellent reputation, but I am also hugely ignored by many. Hence why I am still around. It’s a conundrum.

The people I affect give me a horrible name, but the ones who don’t believe just go on
pretending I am nothing but a figure of everyone’s imagination. “It’s all in your head,” they say to those who I visit.

That’s the truth. I do enter straight into their thoughts and slowly take over, but my job is very misunderstood.

Today is an especially interesting day; it’s some of my busiest days. The dark clouds are
blanketing the city like everyone in town let their toast burn this morning.
I have so many appointments today that I had to skip having breakfast, like most mornings.

I skip a lot of things throughout the day. In fact, I am not entirely sure I am wearing a clean shirt at this very moment. I always walk to my appointments. I find cars, buses, and trains too nerve-wracking for me. Who knows what can happen to those things?
I look over my shoulder and put up the hood of my black jacket. It’s not raining yet, but I like to stay within the comforts of my clothing. The world is an ugly place, and I am not here to make it any prettier.
8:00 am
I knock on the door of the first appointment. I visit Maggy every day; she lives on the next street over.
“Maggy? Are you there?” a barely audible grumble comes from within the apartment.
“Maggy you have to let me in.” I look at the time. I have another appointment in 20
minutes. I can hear footsteps from behind the door. She turns the lock, yet the door doesn’t open.

“Hello?” I ask.
“You’re not coming in! Not today Satan!” Maggy is in a mood today. She’s usually my easiest appointment. Apparently, unbeknownst to me, the door was unlocked when I arrived, but she just locked it.
“My name isn’t Satan, Maggy.”
“Close enough.”
“Maggy, you’re atheist. You don’t believe in Satan.” I remind her.
“Stop telling me what I believe in! You don’t know me at all.”
“I’ve been coming here every day for the past three years. I know you very well.” Silence
follows. “I know that you stay in bed until noon. You try to get up earlier only to head back to bed in the afternoon. You cry in the shower and cry in the corner when no one else is around. You pace your apartment when you should be sleeping at 2 am, and sometimes you forget to do normal things like eating or drinking water.”
“That’s your fault!!” she yells back at me. I shake my head. The ugly part of the job.
“You’re not wrong, but that’s the deal.”
“I never made a deal with you. I never asked for this.”
“No one does. It just is the way it is. I used to visit your mother every day.”
“Don’t. Do NOT talk about my mother.” A touchy subject with Maggy, but one that usually
gets her to open the door. I try to turn the knob. Still locked. I have 15 minutes now.
“Maggy, you need to open this door.”
“How about you just go to hell. Or do I not believe in that either?” she asks.
“ Well if we are going to be perfectly honest, you do not.”
“You’re a pain. Did you know that?” I do in fact know this. I am not like a broken bone, but I inflict some of the worst kind of pain known to humanity. I make people feel worthless, really less than worthless. Insert “it’s a dirty job, but somebody has to do it” cliché here.

I start tapping my foot on the wet stone steps to an imaginary beat. This has never
happened before. Maggy has never fought me. My quota has been going down the past
couple of months. I get yelled at constantly to pick that quota back up. Sometimes I wonder
if the world would be better off without me in it.
“Why are you still at my door? Haven’t gotten the hint yet that I am not letting you in Mister know it all?”
She will eventually break down, they all let me back in. Maybe not today but ultimately I see their names on my appointment list once again, but Maggy, she’s a regular and If I lose her, I may very well lose my job.
I keep tapping my foot and staring at my watch. Suddenly the curtains on the windows to
the right of me fly open, and Maggy is tapping at the glass. She shows me a bottle of water and sticks out her tongue. Right there, laying there is a pill.
“Don’t you dare!!!” I yell at her.
She gulps down a bunch of water, and I know the pill is surfing straight down. Maggy smirks, and suddenly slams her two middle fingers against the window and the curtains once again fly closed.
“RUDE! That was a little unnecessary and a little hurtful to be quite honest.” I say.
“Here’s a tissue.” And she slips a tissue through her mail slot.
That’s the moment I move onto my next appointment. I make a note to pass back around
before heading back home.
My next appointments all go smoothly. They let me in, and they crumble into a pile of
melted thoughts and numbness. They get up, and then head back to bed or find solace at
the bottom of a bottle. At the end of the day I feel drained, but still, decide to head towards Maggy’s again.

I tell myself it’s because it’s just on the way home, but it’s because I’ve never had anyone put up so much of a fight. Not in years. As I walk through the streets hearing
pieces of conversations. I find myself entranced by human emotions. I usually numb most of them, but listening to them and wanting to know more is against our rules.
As I turn down Maggy’s street, I hear a beautiful laugh from the opposite side of the road.

I turn to look, and it’s coming from Maggy. Something inside my soul tears to shreds. I’ve
never seen such genuine happiness on her face.
I turn and walk the opposite way to avoid her seeing me. I keep walking with my hood up, and my eyes look straight ahead. The day has been miserable, and that is the essence of my job.

I stop at my door and think once again, would the world be better without me here?

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February 2018 Reading Wrap Up

FEBWRAPUP

I told myself that after reading a crazy amount of books last month that I would slow it down in February. Well, I am here to tell you that I am a big fat liar. It wasn’t exactly intentional. I had some rough days where reading was all I could do, and some nights where insomnia decided to visit me again and so I read and read and read. I want to say March will be a little slower on the reading front because other aspects of my life are getting quite busy, but who the hell knows?

If you want to know my ratings this month please follow me on GoodReads.

FEBReads

Breakdown of what I read in February 2018:

22 books in total = 7,566 Pages read

6 – Fantasy

6 – Science Fiction

6- Contemporary

0 – Comics

2 – Non-Fiction

1 – Classic

1 – Thriller

The Books:

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Faves:

Knight’s Shadow

American Panda

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

The Extinction Trials

Sourdough

Least Faves:

The Magician’s Nephew

You Do You

The Colour of Magic

Hated:

Before I Let Go

The books that aren’t listed are ones that I enjoyed A LOT but I definitely had favorites this month, and obviously one book I absolutely HATED.

Again please check out my Goodreads for ratings and feelings. If I hadn’t read so many books I could give you a break down of each but this post would be massive if I did that for 22 books.

I will say that I have been reading some really great things with just a few sprinkles of crap thrown in between.

When you read so many books though not everything is going to be a masterpiece. Sometimes it’s not even bad writing, it’s convoluted storytelling, confusing plots, or horrible mental illness representation that will set my ratings much lower.

My favorites may be books that you dislike, and books that I dislike may be your favorites. It’s how it works. No need to get defensive if I disliked something you love.

Let’s see what March brings me. Will I finally finish War and Peace? (Spoiler alert…PROBABLY NOT)

Peace and Love!

 

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American Panda – Book Review

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American Panda by Gloria Chao

ISBN: 1481499106 

Published: February 6, 2018

Length: 311 Pages


An incisive, laugh-out-loud contemporary debut about a Taiwanese-American teen whose parents want her to be a doctor and marry a Taiwanese Ivy Leaguer despite her squeamishness with germs and crush on a Japanese classmate.

At seventeen, Mei should be in high school, but skipping fourth grade was part of her parents’ master plan. Now a freshman at MIT, she is on track to fulfill the rest of this predetermined future: become a doctor, marry a preapproved Taiwanese Ivy Leaguer, produce a litter of babies.

With everything her parents have sacrificed to make her cushy life a reality, Mei can’t bring herself to tell them the truth–that she (1) hates germs, (2) falls asleep in biology lectures, and (3) has a crush on her classmate Darren Takahashi, who is decidedly not Taiwanese.

But when Mei reconnects with her brother, Xing, who is estranged from the family for dating the wrong woman, Mei starts to wonder if all the secrets are truly worth it. Can she find a way to be herself, whoever that is, before her web of lies unravels?


My Thoughts: I Loved this book SO much! 

I always feel that I connect so much more to books where the characters are either immigrants themselves or their parents are immigrants. It’s a different life when you have to balance cultures. This book really shows those struggles.

Mei is doing what she feels she should do because of guilt. When you have parents that have been through so much and moved to the United States to give you a better chance at life, you do become overwhelmed with the feeling that you cannot fail. I connected with that.

For me the story was wonderful. Heartbreaking in some parts, and just made the characters seem real. I see many reviews from white Americans that say this is a stereotype, but it’s not. It happens with many immigrant families because typically immigrants have to work twice as hard sometimes three times as hard to get the same respect and privileges of white Americans.

People’s experiences aren’t tropes.

I think Gloria Chao wrote a real book, and finally, a YA novel that isn’t about a high school student. Mei is in University and struggling with what she should be doing with her life. I think Mei also had a great sense of humor and I just really enjoyed this contemporary read.

It reminds me of my own WIP, and it’s inspired me to finish proper edits and get my story out there as well.

I gave this book Five out Five Metal Horns!

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Also, If you really want to check this out but are currently on a budget, the Audiobook is available on Scribd. With the Link below you get Two free Months and can cancel at any time, and with your two free months, I get a free month as well! 

Click Here to Get 2 Free months of

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In Defense of Audiobooks

audiobooks

Audiobooks. 

They have become increasingly more popular in the last couple of years, and for some reason, people keep making ridiculous comments that when listening to an audiobook you’re not a real reader.

One: I am tired of the gatekeeper bullshit in the book community. Every day there seems to be a new stupid rule that means you’re somehow not a real reader.

Two: Audiobooks still mean you’re reading a book, even if it’s not what we always see as reading. It’s in the name, audioBOOKS.

Our Brains Process it the Same Way

YUP! You’re reading that correctly.

Whether you listen to an audiobook or sit down and read a physical copy, your brain is soaking it up in the same way.

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A psychologist by the name Daniel Willingham, who wrote a book about the science of reading says, “The mental processes involved–there is no real difference listening to a book and reading it.” 

There you have it. Stick it in your juice box, and suck it!

Now you can stop saying that listening to an audiobook isn’t really reading because it’s total nonsense.

Also, you’re completely stomping all over people who need audiobooks because they physically can’t hold a book or possibly even see the words. I’ve heard the argument of “Yea, but I am not talking about people that need it.”

In my very humble opinion, the option to say nothing at all is also available, and dismissing people who need audiobooks, and honestly dismissing people who like audiobooks is just idiotic. It has no impact on your life, so just let people do what they want to do.

I was never a huge audiobook listener, but lately, that’s changed.

Mainly because I joined Scribd and that’s been a wonderful experience. I gave myself the challenge of reading War and Peace this year and I have been going back and forth between the audiobook and the physical book.

Now that science has clearly debunked the bullshit that listening to an audiobook is somehow not considered reading.

Can we stop being pretentious dicks to one another?

Cool.

 

 

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Using SCRIBD

Why I Started Using SCRIBD

I read A LOT. I don’t think this comes as a surprise, but also last year I really got into listening to Audiobooks. I first did the Audible thing, and that was good, but I wanted to try something new this year.

That’s when I came across Scribd.

I signed up and received one month free, and I am loving it!

The way it works is every month you will get billed $8.99. And now you can listen to an unlimited amount of audiobooks and read an unlimited amount of ebooks!! It’s basically like Netflix for BOOKS!!! 

They used to have a credit system where you received 3 ebook credits and 1 audiobook credit. Then there were the unlimited library choices that didn’t require any credits. Usually, many new releases though required credits. NOT ANYMORE!! IT’S ALL UNLIMITED!! They got rid of the credit system and I am so excited!

I’ve found that this is really working out better for me than Audible. At least here I can also grab some ebooks.

It’s also been helping on my journey to read War and Peace. I’ve been going back and forth between my physical copy and the audiobook on Scribd. Which is great! I typically like using audiobooks for dense classics or Non-Fiction, and there are A LOT of options for both on Scribd.

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I highly recommend you check Scribd out! If you use my link you can get up to 2 months for free, and in the interest of full disclosure, if you sign up I get one free month! Right now as I am in the midst of launching my own business that would really help me, and I would be forever grateful! I also just think it’s a great service. Their library has grown quite a lot, and they get new stuff all the time! Check it out! You can cancel at any time!

Click Here to Get 2 Free months of

 

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January 2018 Reading Wrap Up

January 2018

Hello! New Year, New Blog!! Well sort of. I will be posting soon about the changes that are coming to this blog, but you’re here to learn about what I read in the month of January. I read 14 books in total in the month of January. It was a pretty good mix of genres and categories. This is not the norm for me though. I typically read half of that. This is a new way of doing my wrap-ups. I am not going to talk about each book. You will see my rating, and I hope to start writing up more reviews on here, but follow me on Goodreads to know my thoughts. I had a really good reading month both with quality and quantity.

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A Break Down of What I Read

14 books in total = 5,041 Pages read

6 – Fantasy

1 – Science Fiction

1- Contemporary

2 – Comics

3 – Non-Fiction

1 – Classic

What I Read and Their Ratings

DC Bombshells Vol.1 

25982692

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The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner

448873

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The Wizards of Once by Cressida Cowell

34455798

ratefour

Saga Vol.1 

15704307

ratefour

Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas

23848145

ratethree

Scythe by Neal Shusterman

28954189

ratefive

Feminist Fightclub by Jessica Bennett

26198213

ratefour

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

24496334

ratethree

How to be a Bawse by Lilly Singh

31202835

ratefour

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling

22842001

ratefive

Nevermoor By Jessica Townsend

34219873

ratefive

Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda

19547856

ratefour

Traitor’s Blade by Sebastian De Castell

23209670

ratefive

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

12913540

ratefour

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Batman: ​Nightwalker – Book Review

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Batman: Nightwalker by Marie Lu

ISBN: 9780399549786

Published: January 2, 2018, from Penguin Random House 

Length: 252 Pages 

Thank you to Penguin Random House International for sending me this copy in exchange for an honest review. This in no way impacts my opinion. 


Before he was Batman, he was Bruce Wayne. A reckless boy willing to break the rules for a girl who may be his worst enemy.

The Nightwalkers are terrorizing Gotham City, and Bruce Wayne is next on their list.

One by one, the city’s elites are being executed as their mansions’ security systems turn against them, trapping them like prey. Meanwhile, Bruce is turning eighteen and about to inherit his family’s fortune, not to mention the keys to Wayne Enterprises and all the tech gadgetry his heart could ever desire. But after a run-in with the police, he’s forced to do community service at Arkham Asylum, the infamous prison that holds the city’s most brutal criminals.

Madeleine Wallace is a brilliant killer . . . and Bruce’s only hope.

In Arkham, Bruce meets Madeleine, a brilliant girl with ties to the Nightwalkers. What is she hiding? And why will she speak only to Bruce? Madeleine is the mystery Bruce must unravel. But is he getting her to divulge her secrets, or is he feeding her the information she needs to bring Gotham City to its knees? Bruce will walk the dark line between trust and betrayal as the Nightwalkers circle closer.


My thoughts:  This was one of my most anticipated reads for 2018, and I jumped for joy when I was asked to join the Nightwalker Blog Tour. This book follows Bruce Wayne as a teenager, we get to see the beginnings of Batman. Bruce Wayne is just like any other teenager in the world, except for the fact that he’s filthy rich and gets away with pretty much anything if he wants to. That is until one night. One night is the catalyst for this entire story. 

Without going into too many details, Bruce gets community service, and he has to go to Arkham Asylum to complete his hours. This is where we meet Madeleine Wallace. She’s in a cell at Arkham, but why is she there? And why is it that she only seems to talk to Bruce? The plot is well thought out. This is merely my second Marie Lu book, and I do believe I am officially a fan. She gets the characters right. We get to know Dianne and Harvey his two best friends ( YES, it’s Harvey Dent). I found their friendship to be genuine and refreshing to see in a young adult novel.

Going in knowing that you’re reading a story about a beloved character like Batman can be nerve-wracking. I mean I honestly have no idea how Marie Lu didn’t dig a hole and hide in there when asked to write this novel, but I am glad she didn’t. She took this story to new heights. You get a glimpse into what could have been Batman’s teen years. Yes, I realize how many stories and shows are out there that touch this subject, but Marie Lu does it justice. You see just how vulnerable Bruce is, and just how much he can be like any other teen.

This was well written and entertaining. There is wonderfully written action, and so much raw emotion that pours from these pages. The pacing is terrific as well. I was expecting this book to be much bigger but at 252 pages, this is definitely on the smaller side, and still, the plot and characterization pack a punch. I love Batman, and I was nervous going into this, but I read it quickly and fell in love with it. Almost wish there would be another one.

This book is part of the DC Icons series. The next book will follow Catwoman. Looking forward to it!

I gave this five out of five Metalhorns! I highly recommend it!

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