An Exam, the Flu, and the Day that was Not Green

Hey thereÖPeople.

I apologize for the lack of a witty opening. Itís been a long couple of weeks on the home front, and Iím sad to say Iím a bit burnt out and lacking in creative energy. However, a deal is a deal, and so here I am, presenting you with your October bloggy updates.

This evening I am writing from my bedroom, specifically on my bed, which my cat has just decided to crawl under in order to chew my cords, with my laptop on my lap that holds three quarters of a battery. Itís 9:30. I have class in the morning and have to be up by 8:30. In fact, I still have a handful of assignments I should be working on. But instead, I thought Iíd take the time to talk to you all. It sounds much more relaxing, doesnít it? I thought so too.

So, what has been going on here? Letís discuss.

The Personal Stuff

Thereís been plenty of this going on. For starters, Iíve been down and out with a combination of the flu and a massive sinus infection for the last two weeks. Iíve had my fair share of sinus infections, but I dare say Iíve never had one quite this nasty. I ended up missing about a weekís worth of classes in total because of losing my dinner, a hacking cough, and draining ears and eyes. To make matters worse, I donít officially have a doctor yet. Iím in the process of switching from a pediatrician to an adult doctor. So I had to seek out antibiotics from the Urgent Care near my house. Thank God for my mother, or I probably wouldnít have seen a health professional at all. Now Iím on the rise to health (somewhat) with a new doctor on the horizon, but of course other big things are keeping me from kicking the illness completely.

Thereís a magical test I have to take called the GRE. Itís basically a giant ACT/SAT, but for people who have already gone through college. The test evaluates my analytical writing skills, my English skills, and my basic math skills. Why do I have to take this test? Because, as weíve discussed before, I want to get into the graduate program at my universityóI want my Masters of Fine Arts. The thing is, I donít have a ton of money to drop on a graduate degree right now. So whatís the plan? Take the GRE, pass it with high marks, and hope the college will offer me an assistantship where Iíll work for the school as a teacher or a tutor and pay my tuition through labor. What are the odds of this happening? I donít have a clue. I know that there are three scoring scales: the writing is scored 0-6, the English is scored 130-170, and the math is scored 130-170. The higher my scores, the better my chances. And what does this mean for me? Well, friends, it means that rather than slaving over midterm essays and reading projects, I have to bend over a prep book every night for the next month and make sure I pass this test with flying colors. Passing the test will not only take me into classes where I can write my novel and get professional feedback, but it will also provide me with a job through the university, which I will most likely retain when I graduate. SoÖ Hereís to hoping that goes swimmingly. At the moment I just sort of feel like Iím drowning in a sea of textbooks and essays that havenít been written. Not that Iím being in my classes or anything. Oh no. Iím ahead, in fact. But we all know how paralyzing stress can be and what being burnt out feels like. I think my brain has melted and gone to some sort of twisted neurological heaven. Donít come back for meóIíll be fine.

The Professional Stuff

Seriously, donít even ask. Iíve written two more chapters of the novel. Really, Iíve just redone chapters eleven through thirteen and started writing fourteen. I hit a snag in the plot, and Iíve been trying to work it out. However, between illness and GRE prep, among other school work, the novel has had to take a back seat. Iím highly disappointed. Iím working out the plot kinks now, and with any luck Iíll be set to dive head first into writing again around Thanksgiving.

The novel has been critiqued quite a bit though, in particular by two professional, published authors. Science-fiction author Joshua A. Johnston gave the first ten chapters a go, and he sees promise in itóin particular he enjoyed the characters and the theological concept, if I interpreted his awesome notes correctly. Author John Dalton at the University of Missouri-St. Louis has also taken a look at it, and he believes it to be incredibly well done for where it is in the drafting process, though he too agrees it needs to be tweeked and adjusted in several areas if it is going to take off in the future. Their accounts have been taken into consideration, and while Iím not moving forward with the plot at this point, I am spending a significant amount of time going through their reviews and notes to see what they feel works and doesnít work so that I can try to make the novel even better. Shout out to the two of them for being incredibly supportive and helpful as I drag through this process! If you havenít read a book by either of them yet, you should give them a Google. Both are just phenomenal at what they doóit doesnít get much better than them!

I would also like to send a shout out to my lovely mother, who took the time to read the first ten chapters as well and loved every second of it. Her enthusiasm about the work was quite inspiring, and while she is my mom (which causes speculation for bias), sheís also quite honest when it comes to my work. If I ever write something terrible, she tells me so. But she said what I have so far was brilliant. And if Mom says it, it must be true, right? Thanks for being my number one fan, Mom!

My short stories are coming along nicely. Daddy Still Wonders is in the process of being workshopped and revised, so check around the Short Fiction section again in a couple of weeks and read the edited version. I think itís going well. Iím also working on another story, which I titled Sex, Drugs, and Violence. Interesting as it sounds, it probably wonít be put online. Or published. This is a more in-depth, personal piece. Iím developing it for class, but also for myself. If the time ever comes when I feel like it needs to be put out there, it will be available. Maybe itíll be one of those stories you all read after Iím a hundred years old and I die of old age. But for now, I just thought Iíd share that I am, in fact, working on something. Itís just not the novel. Not right now.

Story Time!

So, remember last month when I told you all about the wonders of Green Day at the end of the post? Well, it turns out theyíre touring! How wonderful! Of course, I had to get tickets. Theyíre my favorite band. The concert in St. Louis was due to be on September 22. Mom and I spent two hours, yes, two hours, on the computer the morning of the presale. We even paid the $20 fee to get into the presale club to assure weíd get tickets. Unfortunately, the website (*cough* Ticket Master *cough*) was overwhelmed by the number of people online that morning, and the entire system crashed; too many people ended up online all at the same time, and as a result the website fell into the default of saying ďSorry! There are no tickets!Ē Not to mention there were millions of scalpers (who, by the way, didnít read that you need a credit card and photo ID to pick up your tickets the day of the show, so all of those tickets were wasted). ButÖ on the forum on Green Dayís website, there were rumors that if someone kept hitting refresh, eventually, something would come up. SoÖ After an hour of hitting refresh every sixty seconds and coming up with nothing, I gave up and went to school crying. Yes, I cried. Judge me. So imagine my surprise when I got to school and my mother texts me and says ďYouíre going to Green Day!Ē and sends me a picture of the receipt. In the thirty minutes it took me to get to class, she managed to wrestle out a pair of tickets! Again, I cried. I also ran into a glass door and ran down the main bridge of campus screaming like a little girl. It was going to be a Green Day! (Get it?)

Disaster struck shortly thereafter. Green Day, the band and most of the crew, fell ill with the puking flu two days before they were due to be in St. Louis, and our concert was postponed. The 22nd was no longer a Green Day. AgainÖ I cried. Two days after that, I came down with the flu myself. It was like fate, really. Though if they had played that night, I would have shown up with cold pills in my system and a mini trash can under my arm. Letís be honest. Who would pass up such an awesome opportunity? I say this when, the night of the then-cancelled concert, I was up until five in the morning re-familiarizing myself with dinner and running 102.5. But whoís paying attention to the little stuff? Anyway, rather than going to the concert, I stayed home sick and dying for two weeks and listened to the singles as they were released. The album is out this week (October 7, 2016), if youíre interested. Itís going to be fantastic! Iím not a huge political person, and I certainly disagree with the politics of the album, but it sounds so great. It makes my ears tingle. Shout out to Green Day for creating this wonderful piece of greatness!

Jump ahead two weeks, and Iíve just discovered that Green Day did reschedule their St. Louis date. For my freaking birthday. That is correctóthe day I turn 22 years old, Iíll be downtown standing in line for three hours to get two tickets to see my favorite band, and that night Iíll be partying with Green Day up close and personal because this venue is incredibly small. I still donít know how to comprehend how awesome this is. I do know, though, that my birthday has been completely thrown off balance. I wonítí get my cake or my presents, or my fancy dinner that night. In fact, I wonít get it at all that week. That Monday is my GRE exam. Tuesday I have to catch up on all of the schoolwork I missed on Monday. Wednesday is the concert and my birthday. Thursday is concert hangover day, and Iím at school until after three. Friday, I have class in the morning and my novel is getting workshopped again (chapters 2 and 3 this time. Cool, right?), and Saturday I have to attend a Shakespeare performance on campus for a paper thatís due the following Monday. No worries, though. I have the best family in the world. Particularly the best mother. Iím sure there will be an awesome cake and a couple of special presents. Because, Mom, you know I love cake. And pizza.

I would venture to say this is all I have for you this month. Obviously, thereís nothing new or incredibly exciting (unless you like graduate school or Green Day) going on this month, but I thought Iíd stick to the schedule. Once again, Iím a couple of days late. Again, judge me if you must. I apologize again for the lack of creative finesse. Iím off my game this month. Hopefully next month, the professional side of things will look a little brighter!

Best regards & a tub of smashed guitars,

Kat Jenning // Shade Shadows

**Song of the month: Still Breathing -- Green Day

**In honor of the album being released, you guys get another Green Day song this month. I find this one to be just...beautiful..**

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