Comic-Con LA – Get Your Nerd On!

This was my second year attending Comic-Con LA (thank you for the Press Passes!), so I kinda had an idea of what to expect this time around. But what I didn’t expect was for the crowds to be even bigger than last year. Again, I attended only Saturday, as it seemed like the day with the most interesting panels.

One of the things that I simply love about Comic-Con is getting to see all the amazing and creative cosplays. I may have a soft spot for those who cosplay horror characters, so you may see more horror related characters than any others. In fact, one of the first booths I stopped by was that for Crypt TV. Last year, they had the LookSee creature, but this year they had one of my favourite creatures, The Birch! Not only did they have a Photo Op with the awesome Birch Forest but it was a way to promote the new series inspired by the original short. I even had a chance to attend The Birch panel and viewing of three episodes. If you’re into creepy woods, witchcraft, and a creature who gets rid of bullies, then I suggest you hope on over to Facebook Watch and check the series out. The panel followed with a short Q&A session with the creators, producers, and actors. Since my favourite character from the series The Birch was the seemingly complex bully, Thurston, after the panel was done I had a chance to chat with the actor, Dempsey Byrk who portrays him. He was really nice and I wish I hadn’t been popping cough drops like no tomorrow to keep a cough attack coming, so I wasn’t as talkative as I probably would’ve been in better spirits.

Afterwards, I attended the panel for Zombieland: Double Tap. The fans were promised a surprise and everyone thought that that meant that Billy Murray would show up. I knew that would be too good to be true, so had joked that most likely we’d be graced by Jesse Eisenberg presence instead. And well, let’s just say that Jesse Eisenberg did show up, but so did Zoey Deutch and (probably this was the surprise) Rosario Dawson. The panel was fun and some lucky peeps got to win tickets to the premiere that was happening that same night.

Once the panels I was interested in were done, I went comic book browsing. I was looking for some vintage horror comics but like always, most of the ones that were awesome were way too expensive. But I did find some vintage Archie Comics and even Joe Hill’s Tales from the Darkside. I was a little disappointed that there weren’t many new horror comic books there this year as there were last year. But all in all it was still a very fun experience. I love getting to check out all the vendors (there are so many talented artists!) and getting the chance to try out new food items (I tried this vegan ice cream from Nice Pops that was really good, and being lactose-intolerant it was a plus to have ice cream and not deal with a stomach ache afterwards). These pops are handcrafted and made from Cashew Milk. I got the chocolate one but they had other flavours too and they cost $5 a pop.

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With tired feet and famished, I was ready to call it a night once 6pm rolled around. But as always, Comic Con LA didn’t disappoint. It was a fun way to spend a Saturday in the company of creative people and getting the chance to check out new things in the world of horror and comics. If you’ve never been to Comic Con LA, I highly suggest that you book your ticket for next year (which it’ll be in late September) because I have a feeling that with each coming year, it’s only going to get bigger and better every time.

Photos by: David Hanger

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Shriekfest 2019 – Let Me Hear You Scream!

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Red carpet at Shriekfest

Shriekfest is a bi-annual and bi-coastal horror film festival that takes place both in Los Angeles and Orlando. This was my second time going to Shriekfest and once again it didn’t disappoint! Denise Gossett is the founder of this festival and has been very influential in giving many horror shorts and movies a chance to be seen and discovered by a myriad of people. This year I got to chat a bit with Denise and she’s a very lovely woman and a very busy one since she not only runs Shriekfest but will also appear in a TV series about astronauts very soon.

 

Just like last year, I was able to attend the third day of the festival (Saturday). Luckily, I got right on time to the studios as the first short Finley aired. Anyone who knows me knows that I LOVE killer dolls in any shape or form, so a killer doll that kinda resembles R.L. Stine’s Slappy? I was ALL OVER THAT. It was by far my favourite short. This year, I noticed that some of the shorts explored some true horrors like domestic violence in short films such as She Fell and Listen. Although, I’ll admit that I preferred She Fell’s feminist message where the abuser gets what he deserves (the new program is very unconventional and effective). The Clapper was a classic horror short about an invalid girl who has to deal with an unknown presence in her house whilst in the dark.

 

The second half of the shorts started off with a bang with The Thing About Beecher’s Gate. A deputy that has recently transferred to the town of Beecher’s Gate, is ordered by the town’s sheriff to spend a night alone in a barn with only a shotgun as a rite of passage. This short was very intriguing and suspenseful. By far, this was my favourite short from the second half of the fest. We Got a Monkey’s Paw was a bit campy but fun. The two actors Jacqueline Jandrell and Zack Ogle had perfect comedic delivery and made the most amusing duo. Naughty was both a fun and twisted film about a little girl who gives a robber a run for his money. Just like last year, we also got to check out a music video. This year it was Aesthetic Perfection’s Gods & Gold, which is a very goth-inspired video with lots of old school vibes with a touch of glam.

 

What differed between last year’s event and this year is that they had a couple of hours reserved for a Meet & Greet. This gave everyone a chance to network, chat, and get some food. Which made watching the second part of the festival a little easier with the break in between. I took that time to explore Raleigh Studios, as it’s very fascinating to be on an actual movie lot studio.

 

I ended up staying for three feature films.

First was the viewing of The Field. A long-empty farmstead holds secret worlds, accidentally unlocked by an amateur photographer and his wife. This movie wasn’t that scary and had more of a sci-fi bent than horror. Initially, I was very intrigued by the premise of Norse witchcraft in the beginning, however, it was never fully explained in the movie why they were doing those rituals. That was what made the film fall short for me.

The second was the viewing of Volition. A man afflicted with clairvoyance tries to change his fate when a series of events leads to a vision of his own imminent murder. I really enjoyed this movie and again, it didn’t quite fit the horror bill for me. It had more a thriller sci-fi feel to it with time leaps and bending time. But it was a very original film that Tony Dean Smith directed, and I can give him props for having one of the most unique films at the festival.

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The third was the viewing of Max Winslow and the House of Secrets. This was one of the few films that actually had a very popular actor, with Chad Michael Murray (from One Tree Hill series and most recently playing an enigmatic cult leader in Riverdale) in the role of eccentric genius billionaire Atticus Virtue. Five teenagers compete to win a mansion owned by Atticus Virtue. To win the teens must face-off against a supercomputer named HAVEN who controls the mansion. The film had Escape Room moments and would be better suited for tweens and teens as it has scary elements but it never gets too bad. None of the main characters face any serious consequences but each character grows within the course of the movie, so at least you get good character arcs. I’d recommend watching this as a family movie more than a classic horror movie.

 

Viewing the movies from 11a.m.-11p.m. was a very intense but fun experience. I appreciate Denise for giving me the opportunity to attend Shriekfest once again! And this time around I managed to snag a tee before they ran out my size (small) since ya know, now I feel like a veteran of the event and all. Here’s looking forward to next year’s 20th anniversary, I’m sure it’s gonna be one hell of a horror ride!

DSC_0045 modified.jpgPhotos by: David Hanger

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Book Review: She’s the Worst by Lauren Spieller

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One Day. Two Sisters. All the Feelings.

Release Date: September 3, 2019

Pre-Order on Amazon

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Price: $18.99 (hardcover)

Plot Summary:

Sisters April and Jenn haven’t been close in years. Jenn’s too busy with school, the family antique shop, and her boyfriend, and April would rather play soccer and hang out with the boy next door.

But when April notices her older sister is sad about staying home for college, she decides to do something about it. The girls set off to revive a pact they made as kids: spend an epic day exploring the greatest hits of their childhood and all that Los Angeles has to offer.

Then April learns that Jenn has been keeping a secret that could rip their family—and their feuding parents—apart. With only one day to set things right, the sisters must decide if their relationship is worth saving, or if the truth will tear them apart for good.

Grade: A

Review:

After weeks of reading very dark books, I decided that I needed something a little more light-hearted (meaning no deaths, destruction, gore, or overall chaos). Being an only child, I’ve always daydreamed about having siblings, and so I was very excited to read a book that focused on the relationship of these two very different sisters, overachiever Jenn, and sporty April.

Another reason why I was drawn to this book is that it takes place in Los Angeles, and it promised a road trip through the city so these sisters could reignite their bond. Living in the Los Angeles area myself, I liked to see what memorable places these girls would go to and if I had been to them myself. First off, I wasn’t aware that there were actual canals at Venice Beach, despite having been there many times (mostly at the boardwalk and beach area), so next time I’m there I’ll have to check that out.

What I enjoyed a lot about this book is that it did provide me the levity I needed, but that’s not to say that this book is fluff, cause it isn’t. This book very realistically portrays a family dynamics and the guilt you feel to try to keep your parents from killing each other when fighting (I probably related to Jenn’s referee role between her two parents a bit too much).

It was interesting to see how two sisters that used to be very close began to drift apart as they got older to the point that they no longer feel like they can even be friends. But the book explores ways how sometimes all you need is to find reasons why you loved that sibling in the first place and how it takes that first step to want to bridge the gap to have a good relationship again.

Everything and anything you can imagine does occur during this 24-hr. Span (the whole book takes place in just one day), and although it’s not a book that deals with mysteries, there are still several surprises that spring up that you didn’t imagine would. That’s to say that, this is a page-turner despite it not being a thriller. There are secrets that are kept hidden and revealed major life-changing decisions that take place.

I recommend this book if you’re into some light reading or love romantic comedies/sister bonding books. Because this novel has it all, especially a ton of feels.

*Thank you so much to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers for the digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

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I’ve Applied to be a Mentee in Author Mentor Match!

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What is Author Mentor Match?

In short, Author Mentor Match is a mentorship program that pairs aspiring authors (or self-published authors) with seasoned published and agented authors. The awesome thing about this program is that it’s supposed to help authors who have a completed manuscript and are in the process of querying agents, improve both their manuscript and query letters. The reason why this program is so sought after because the authors you’re paired up with have already gone through the query and publishing process so whatever advice they may have for you is truly valuable and sound.

Why have I decided to Enter this program?

I came across this program by chance (through a Twitter hashtag no less!), but it reminds me a lot of Pitch Wars, which I submitted to last summer but sadly didn’t receive a mentorship through that. However, since I participated in Nanowrimo this past November, I have a new manuscript that I think is ten times better than my Pitch Wars submission, so I wish to try my luck with this.

What I hope to get out of this program is:

  • Write a powerful query letter.
  • Feedback from a professional of both my letter and manuscript.
  • Forging a friendship/professional relationship with a fellow writer, as only writers can understand certain things about what you go through!

My Project

GIRL THAT YOU FEAR, a YA Horror that’s Speak meets The Exorcist.

Spencer Torres seemingly has it all, she’s beautiful, popular, smart, and on her way to becoming the school’s valedictorian. However, after a visit on the Queen Mary ship, something goes amiss. It all begins with the ominous taps she hers on the walls and the nightmares of an enigmatic, yet creepy young man called Dever. Her therapist believes she’s simply under stress. But Spencer secretly believes another truth. One far more sinister. She thinks she may be possessed by the demon Dever, and a part of her doesn’t mind. A part of her relishes in her new power. Especially when triggered by a song she remembers a sexual assault that she had repressed in her mind. Now, with vengeance as her sole companion, she seeks out to destroy all of those that were to blame for her rape. She doesn’t care if it even means that she will lose her soul in the process.

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Who else is participating in Author Mentor Match? Let me know!

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Throwback Thursday: Angel Heart

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I’ve decided to start a new series, Throwback Thursday. So one Thursday a month I’m going to share my experience of either rewatching, rereading, or relistening something that I adored back when I was a youngster (think between the ages of 6-18) and see if it stands the test of time. So for my first Throwback, I decided to rewatch the 1987 horror film, Angel Heart.

When I told a friend of mine that I saw this movie at six he was appalled (what can I say? My parents were horror fans who knew I was one and watching movies kept hyper me occupied, so there’s that).

So the premise of Angel Heart is that a private detective called Harry Angel, has a new case at hand, to find a man called Johnny Favourite. Except things aren’t quite that simple, and Johnny doesn’t want to be found. Let’s just say that, amongst the period detail and beautiful scenery, it all gets really, really nasty fast.

All I could remember about the movie in question was that it dealt with voodoo, Robert DeNiro was in it, (I also recalled another detail but can’t reveal it as it’s *spoilers*), and that this was one of those movies where Mickey Rourke was hot.

Upon viewing the movie I was like, HOLY SHIT this movie is truly very twisted and no wonder people are shocked I saw this at the tender age of six. This movie has one hell of a twist back in the day before twist endings were a thing, so it was very innovative in that way. The mystery was captivating and the gore factor was high, so if you’re into that, you’re gonna love it (and yeah I’m a creep and love that).

The movie has Angel (Mickey Rourke) traveling from Brooklyn to New Orleans in search of the ever elusive Johnny Favourite (that Robert DeNiro’s character wants to find because he’s got a score to settle with him), only that everyone that knew Johnny begins to die in horrible ways and Angel is made to look like the culprit of those murders when he is not. So will he be able to find Johnny before he gets framed for murder? And will the voodoo queen Epiphany ( Played by a pre-Lenny Kravitz & Jason Momoa, wide-eyed Lisa Bonet) help Angel in his endeavor to find Johnny or is she simply going to bring his downfall? The stakes are high and the mystery is very much intriguing.

I really enjoyed my this movie and think that six years old me had impeccable taste for being so young (and probably was a teeny bit twisted).

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Comic-Con L.A. – Comic Book Nerds Rejoice!

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Formerly known as Comikaze Expo, Comic-Con L.A. is a three-day event that brings comic books lovers, writers, and cosplayers alike in one place to celebrate the ever-changing and expansive world that is the comic universe.

 

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I’ve always been an avid comic book reader since the age of six, in particular of horror comics and Archie comics (so yes, I DO love Riverdale, don’t judge me).

 

This event usually brings 90,000 people to share their communal love for comics. I met a lot of people that had come all the way from Italy and the U.K. to be at this event, and many east coasters found their way to Los Angeles too.

 

Of course, everyone goes to Comic-Con for the comics, but you can’t help but also go there to see all the cosplayers or to dress up yourself. This was my first time going and I decided not dress up (or at least I semi-did by wearing a Sabrina The Teenage Witch shirt and kinda selecting the rest of the outfit and makeup based on what the character of Sabrina would wear). But I had a blast getting to see everyone else dressed up (and I’ll admit that I veered on taking photos of people that were more of the goth realm than any other subculture).

 

 

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It was also very cool to see some iconic movie props and costumes being displayed at the event. From the Ghostbusters car to the suit Winona Ryder wore in Stranger Things when her character went to the Upside Down world. But one of my absolute favourites was being able to see the armor that Gary Oldman wore in Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula.

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I also had a chance to meet the co-writers Jim Krueger and Samantha Levenshus when I was given a free copy of the new comic Neon Future (co-created by Emmy-nominated producer and global DJ sensation Steve Aoki in partnership with Impact Theory Studios). Not only were the writers kind enough to sign my copy of the comic but I had a pleasant chat with Jim Krueger who loved my Sabrina The Teenage Witch tee and we discussed our communal love for The Afterlife with Archie comic series and The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina series and how much we’re looking forward to the new Archie horror series that has the Blossom twins as protagonist called 666. Taking a look at the comic Neon Future, I was delighted to see that the comic explored the idea of how it isn’t technology that brings about the evil of the world in a futuristic dystopian society, but rather it’s the human use and feelings towards that technology that brings about the downfall of man, making it thus so that the world can be taken by cyborgs. The idea is utterly compelling and I highly recommend to check it out if you have the chance!

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And lastly…I was in comic book heaven when I saw all of the retro Archie Comics that the event had to offer. Sadly, some of the very awesome retro ones from the 50’s were out of my price range (a rare Sabrina comic was up for sale for $200) but I found many from the 70’s that were in good condition and not crazily expensive. One of the most interesting crossovers was one Archie meets Batman comic that I had to get just because it was THAT out in the left field. While I was there I also picked up a horror comic too that explores the themes in the Grimms Faerytales. I would’ve loved to purchase some retro Tales from the Crypt, but alas, the price range for those were out of this world ($500!).

 

For any 80’s fans, the con also had a ton of 80’s toys (from Teddy Ruxpin to Popples) it pretty much looked like someone had cleared out their attic and brought these toys to sell, which left me wishing I could clear out my own garage of 80’s toys so that I too could slap a $100 price tag on a Cabbage Patch Kids or $50 on a Pound Puppies plush. Are there any takers?

 

Comic-Con L.A. was a truly fun experience, and if you wish to immerse yourself in comic world memorabilia and unleash your inner child, then this event is truly for you.

Photos by: David Hanger

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ScareLA – Summer Screams

pumpkinscareDo you love horror? Do you fall in that group of people that wished Halloween wasn’t just one night a year? If you answered YES to both these questions, then ScareLA is the perfect convention for you! It celebrates the horror genre, but also the spirit of Halloween with frightening haunts and mazes. I managed to snag Press Passes for this event, and took The Inkblotters to the appropriately darkened convention for some spooky fun!

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The event took place during the weekend of August 25-26. As soon as you entered you were immersed into the scary realm of darkness with a zombie pandemic haunt, which was the only interactive fright zone where we were told that if touched by the zombies, then we were considered “infected.” Luckily, I managed to survive the zombie apocalypse, but the same fate didn’t befall my boyfriend and friend who were both brought into a separate room to be “executed.”

 

 

The next haunt we checked out was an asylum dubbed Nightmare Clinic, which wasn’t too creepy unless you fear clowns and tiny spaces (I wouldn’t recommend the maze portion of the haunt for those that suffer from claustrophobia as all your red flags will be flashing wild). The last haunt we checked out was a medieval one called Descension Castle, that had a banshee on the loose. I appreciated the amount of detailed work that was put to create a castle in the middle of the convention floor.

 

 

Besides the haunts, ScareLA offered virtual reality, panels, live shows, photo ops, short film viewings, zombie ballet, and many other horrificly fun amusements. Out of the three short films I viewed, my favourite was Holy Fatman’s Please Love Me Forever, wherein a surreal Tim Burtonesque world, Lili 14-year-old albino lives with her strange scientist mother, Claudie, who is constantly replacing aging parts of her face with new younger parts. When Lili declares her love to her handsome neighbor, Lyesse, and he doesn’t reciprocate, Lili decides to take out his heart to understand why the boy doesn’t love her back. The movie was visually stunning and ended with such a bang that I totally recommend watching it!

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Dreadful Little Things

Another major component of ScareLA were all the vendors. There were shops for anything your macabre heart desired from custom-made corsets and hats, FX makeup, feral kitty adoptions, and rare international horror DVD’s and comics. My favourite shop hands down was Dreadful Little Things, where old dolls were repurposed for a new life. The dolls found in that shop were utterly creepy, making Annabelle look like Barbie in comparison.

 

 

Once you got tired of all the walking, you could relax in the lounge area where you could order drinks (I got a cocktail appropriately named Radioactive Embalming Fluid garnished with a gummy eyeball), and rent headphones for free to get in your zone.

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Here I am with George C. Romero

I had a chance to chat with George C. Romero who told me that Rise is going to be a prologue (not prequel as he corrected me) of the Night of Living Dead franchise, that he was hoping to work together with his father George A. Romero, but who sadly passed away. It should be out by November 2019. I also had a chance to interview Robert Mukes of the Rob Zombie House of 1,000 Corpses who was exceptionally nice. I asked him if filming horror movies is more difficult than normal movies, as Robert Englund has always mentioned the struggles horror movies bring to an actor in regards to the makeup and physicality of roles (running, jumping, etc.). However, Mukes stated that for him, he hasn’t noted the difference as he hasn’t had to do extensive makeup like Englund, and that usually his height (a whopping 6’10”!) has been enough to make him appear scary. He’s got a score of movies coming out soon, one of them being a zombie flick entitled Valentine DayZ. Linda Blair of The Exorcist fame was also at the con, but she didn’t seem that keen on wanting to chat, so I didn’t approach her.

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All in all, ScareLA is an immersive experience for those that live and breathe Horror, and I recommend checking it out if you have a chance, you won’t regret it!

For more info check out: SCARELA

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Photos by David Hanger

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My Bad Romance: The Southern Gentleman

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We met in July. I was there to see your bestfriend perform, but after the gig you asked me if I wanted to go out for ice cream. We soon found out that the only place that serves ice cream at midnight is a Denny’s Diner, so there we spent over two hours just talking about everything and anything. I loved listening to your voice. Your Texan accent was warm and inviting. We laughed like we had been friends forever.

It was perfect.

The first time you kissed me, you first stopped to kiss my nose. I smiled at the gesture. I thought that you were different. I thought that it felt nice to be in your presence. And my hand fit perfectly with your own, forever linked.

We were in Oklahoma hiding in the closet with a Tornado approaching our hotel room. My heart was racing, but you held me close and strummed your guitar, singing to me, “Riders on the Storm,” as the winds increased. Tears were streaming down my cheeks, I thought our building was going to lift up just like Dorothy’s home in The Wizard of Oz, and seeing my fear you held my hand and whispered, “We’re going to be okay. Even if this could be our final moment, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”

We were at a gas station in the desert when your bandmates were filling up the van’s tank and Van Morrison’s “Brown Eyed Girl,” came on the radio. You grabbed my hand, and singing the lyrics to me, pulled me out of the van. I laughed as we danced under the hot desert sun. Your crooked smile made me melt, and once again I thought that everything about that moment, about us, was perfect.

And for a while it truly was.

Until.

This is the part of the story where it takes a detour for the worst.

Until you grew weary of me wanting more. Needing more. And it crushed my heart when you handed me a ring for my birthday but punctuated, “It’s not the sort of ring you were hoping for, you know I’m not ready, yet.”

But that yet kept weighing on me. Was it really a yet, or were you just buying time? I began to believe that you didn’t care. I was certain that you were getting bored or maybe exhausted of me.

Then one February night, I saw my phone with all your texts and voicemails. You had spent most of the day trying to reach me because you were going to break up with me.

Something deep inside of me broke. And like Thom Yorke in “Karma Police,” for a minute there I did lose myself. I spent my nights driving around L.A. listening to songs on repeat as I tried to find a way to get back to you. I’d text you obsessively. Sometimes I was sweet, other times I was angry. I reached a point where I didn’t care whether the attention I was receiving from you was negative. I was starving for any tiny morsel. Your hate would’ve been better to me than your indifference. And all I could think about was how much I missed you. I started to hate you because I didn’t like this new person I had become. But at the same time, I didn’t know how to be different. I spent two years trying to forget the twenty months we spent together.

You hollowed me out. Sometimes, I feel as though if anyone peers closely into me they can see just how much I’m lacking. That they can see how all my cracks haven’t been placed correctly, that I’m not fixed. And maybe I never will be.

This is the new me. Not newly minted, but an amalgam of broken pieces haphazardly glued together, trying to pretend that I’m okay.

I’m okay.

I hope that wherever you are, you’re okay too.

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