Thursday, November 19, 2015

So You've Been Sexually Assaulted, What Now?

I've been open about the fact that I was sexually assaulted.  What I haven't been open about is the aftermath.

*Trigger Warning* This post may be upsetting for some readers. Hell, it may even be upsetting for me and I'm writing the damn thing.  If you are at all upset by sexual assault or PTSD, please take care of yourself and refrain from reading.

I was sexually assaulted at 21 years old while visiting my cousin at Samford University. My assaulter took advantage of my intoxication at a fraternity party and lead me back to his dorm room where he violated me.  While sexual assault is messed up enough, it's sick and twisted that I consider myself lucky I wasn't raped.  When I came out of it enough to realize what was happening, I got myself out of the situation and demanded he walk me back.  The rest of the night is in and out since I had consumed a lot of alcohol.  But when I woke up the next morning, I knew that I wasn't okay.

I immediately started calling people, trying to find support and make sense of what was happening to me.  I didn't go to the police, because I know rape is difficult enough to prosecute.  A lesser sexual assault would be insane.  On top of being intoxicated and evidence, this would never make it to trial.  For a while after, I pretended it didn't happen.  I didn't want to consider that a woman who had taken self defense classes and helped teach it was capable of being victimized sexually.  So at that point, it didn't happen.  It never happened.  But obviously, as anyone even the tiniest bit versed in psychology or victimology knows, this frame of mind can't last forever.

Eventually, I was prepared to start working through it.  What I wasn't prepared for was the PTSD.  One night, after having a decent amount of alcohol, I started having a flashback.  Suddenly, his face was in my head, the darkness of the room flashed before me, and it was as if I was experiencing the worst moment of my life all over again.  I couldn't stop crying. I curled into a ball and sobbed and couldn't move.  While I had not had suicidal thoughts in years, I wanted to blow my brains out just to get the images out of my head.

After time, I was able to move forward.  The flashbacks became less and less, and I especially avoided alcohol.  I knew that being tipsy would be even more of a trigger because of my intoxication that night.  Time would help heal me, and I would go years without a flashback.  Until recently.  It drives me beyond crazy that this asshole, this piece of shit, still affects me.  That he is inside my head.  I hate it.  I know I've made so many strides and so much progress, but the fact that he is inside my head kills me.  For a while after the assault, hearing his first name would make me flinch.  It took liking a celebrity with the same first name to get over that.

Apart from PTSD, there was another part of the aftermath I wasn't prepared to have.  While I was a virgin when the assault happened, I wasn't a prude.  But after the assault, I felt disgusting.  I wanted nothing to do with my sexuality.  It took me ages before I felt okay to date again and even longer before I was comfortable doing anything sexually.  It would still be years until I actually lost my virginity.  And it wasn't until I was completely comfortable and at ease.

It isn't easy.  I may have dedicated myself to making things better for survivors and trying to help people from becoming victimized.  I may have moved on and experienced healthy sexual relationships.  I may have progressed to having barely any flashbacks.  But this part of my life will always be with me.  It will never go away.  But I will do all I can to minimize the impact this has on my life.

For others, if you know someone who has been victimized, be supportive.  Don't blame them for something that wasn't their fault.  Listen, hold them, let them cry.  Let them work through what has happened.  Be helpful.  Be kind.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

March Pink Carnation Book Club

Behind again, I know. But I'm hoping now that I'm caught up with the reading aspect, the posts will be more timely. For this post, I address the third book of the series The Deception of the Emerald Ring. The hero of this story is the previously known Geoffrey Pinchingdale-Snipe, played by my choice Eddie Redmayne.

The viscount is in love with the cool, detached Mary Alsworthy. So when she agrees to run away with him and get married, he's over the moon. But after a tiny mishap, Mary's sister Letty appears in his carriage (scantily clad) and he is forced to marry her to save the family's respect. But when assignment draws him to Ireland to investigate, his new Mrs. decides to tag along. Can Geoff reconcile and find love with his new bride?

Letty Alsworthy: Lily Cole

Younger sister to the hit of society, Letty is used to playing second fiddle and she doesn't completely hate it.  But when she senses her sister is about to run off into the night, she attempts to save her family's reputation.  It doesn't exactly go that way.  Determined to fix things with her new hubby, she chases after him to Ireland and gets caught up in his spying ways.  What will become of the relationship and can she survive the espionage lifestyle?

Mary Alsworthy: Michelle Dockery

Mary has been in society too long, and the marriage offers just aren't coming in the way they used to.  So when the viscount says he'll whisk her away, who is she to say no?  But once the snafu happens, Mary is again out in the cold.  Can this debutante find love?  Hint: yes!

Jasper Pinchingdale: Rupert Friend

Geoff's cousin is a gambler, a lecher, and quite jealous of his more successful relative.  He'll do anything to get what he believes he deserves.  Including seduction...and attempted murder...

Robert Emmet: Allen Leech

The Irishman is up to no good in Dublin, something about a rebellion.  It's up to Geoff to go investigate, along with Jane and Gwen and apparently his wife.  Can they team up to stop a French/Irish alignment?

Returning Cast
Eloise Kelly: Anna Kendrick
Colin Selwick: Christopher Egan
Serena Selwick: Imogen Poots
Miles Dorrington: Theo James
Henrietta Selwick: Lily Collins
Jane Wooliston: Natalie Dormer
Gwendolyn Meadows: Emma Thompson
Sebastian Vaughn: Rufus Sewell
Marquise de Montval: Rose Byrne

For pictures of cast and more info about the characters, see January and February's posts!  Tune in for April's post coming soon, The Seduction of the Crimson Rose.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

26 Things About Me

In honor of my 26th birthday, I want to share 26 items about me. Some that have already been shared, some that haven't. Some that are important, and some that are trivial.  But really, it's all me.

1. Dark chocolate strawberries are my dessert weakness.  Seriously, if you buy me these, I will love you forever...well maybe not forever, but a very long time!

2. My eyes are hazel.  I used to find my eyes annoying; I wanted to have brown eyes. But once I mastered the use of make-up (go me), I realized the amazing quality of hazel eyes to change tones and now I love my eyes.

3. I'm a sexual assault survivor. I've been able to use what happened to me to empower myself to help others and dedicate my studies to learning how I can make a difference. And now it's my passion.

4. I'm a virgin. Yep, I know.  Not something most people would brag about, but I'm still pretty pleased.  Sure I haven't experienced the wonder that is sex (I watch movies, I know how great it is) but I also have no regrets about who has been in between my sheets...

5. I wish instead of buying drinks, guys could offer to buy me books. *sigh* A bookworm can dream...

6. I adopted a dog in August of 2013 from a friend, and it was the best decision I've ever made.  Having my sweet girl Tasha to come home to every day is such a relief. A happy dog means a happy owner.

7. I work with teen boys.  Some days, I love my job.  Some days, I don't.  But I wouldn't take back the experience for anything. Punches and all...

8. I'm considering going back to school for my PhD.  And possibly studying abroad in England...and on that note...

9. I would run away to London forever if I could. I would willingly start the next expat movement and be the happiest person ever.

10. I love reading and even though I have to shove/stack/precariously balance my books (approx. 400) on my shelves, I will never stop buying books.

11. I think crossword puzzles are fun and would sit and do them all day if I could.

12. I dream of being a published novelist who helps people through their difficult times with my words.  I don't want to be the next JK Rowling, but I want to have an affect on someone the way she affected me.

13. Coffee is my life force.  Tea relaxes me.

14. I played 7 years of basketball, 8 years of softball, 1 year of volleyball, 2 years of cheerleading, and 2 years of soccer as a youth. But I didn't fit in with any of the jocks.

15. I tried to kill myself when I was 13, and I'm grateful that I failed.

16. I wish I didn't need so much sleep, because I do way too much and don't have enough hours in the day. But I will procrastinate things in order to get more sleep, especially if I didn't get a good night of sleep.

17. I used to hate my name. Especially since I went by the shortened version of my name, Alex, which kids teased me saying was a boy's name. Once I got to college, I enjoyed hearing professors call me Alexandra and I started using my full name in all professional instances.

18. I wanted to move to L.A. when I was 18 to become an actress, but was told it was more important to have a degree to fall back on, so I went to college. I became so passionate about studying Criminal Justice that I never studied acting again.

19. My favorite color is blue. Any shade.

20. My least favorite food in the entire world is tapioca. Ick.

21. Blush pink peonies are my favorite flower.

22. I have a fascination with abandoned places.  The more festive and populated the place is supposed to be the better.  I went through an abandoned mini golf course and thought it was just the coolest thing.

23. I have one tattoo, the original artwork for the Cheshire Cat in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. I have designed my second one which I would like to get this summer.

24. Working at Barnes & Noble has been my favorite job of all the ones I've had. Particularly because of the discount...good times...

25. I'm going through a small quarter-life crisis since I moved back home last year.  Being in your mid 20s and living at home with a parent can be great but also disheartening at times because I still really can't afford my entire life on what I make now...

26. But I'm incredibly optimistic about what I could have in front of me for my future. If only I take one foot at a time.

Alright, that is 26 facts about me in honor of my 26th birthday. I hope to have a great birthday and hope that everyone has a Merry Un-birthday :)

Saturday, March 21, 2015

February Pink Carnation Book Club

Tardy again, but I'm working on getting back to pace. This month is the Masque of the Black Tulip. Which might be my favorite of the series. The book focuses on Miles Dorrington and Henrietta Selwick as they discover they have more than friendship between them.

Theo James and Lily Collins are the main characters Miles Dorrington and Henrietta Selwick. Several characters repeat from the Secret History of the Pink Carnation. This includes Eloise and Colin, played by Anna Kendrick and Christopher Egan. The rest of the cast can be seen in my post about the Secret History here.

As for new cast, here's the line up!

Joan Plowden-Plugge: Lucy Punch

Colin's neighbor has him in her sights but she senses some possible competition in Eloise. Well not if she has anything to say about it...

Charlotte Lansdowne: Emma Watson

One of Henrietta's best friends, the quiet and gentle Charlotte is at times the logical portion of the group. Though she's shy, Charlotte is quite capable of being her own heroine.

Penelope Deveraux: Rose Leslie

She's Hen's other best friend and is as fiery in personality as she is on the top of her head. Penelope needs her other two friends to keep her from doing anything hasty which is a full time job for Henrietta and Charlotte.

Dowager Duchess: Phyllis Logan

Charlotte's grandmother has a wary eye over her granddaughter as well as all the young bucks trying to win her hand. She's as formidable as a dragon, and would make good friends with Miss Gwen.

Marquise de Montval: Rose Byrne

This strange and exotic woman blows in from France and causes a disruption for Hen. Her interest in Miles creates friction and there is clearly something she's hiding and Hen wants to know what.

Turnip Fitzhugh: Alfred Nugent

Turnip knows the boys from school but he's not exactly one of them.  However he dabbles in fashion so he comes in the cross-hairs when someone is trying to track down the Pink Carnation.

Lord Sebastian Vaughn: Rufus Sewell

One of the elite, elder gentlemen in London society, Vaughn's quick turn of phrase can come off predatory to some.  In fact, Miles isn't keen on how Vaughn seems to be eyeing Hen...

Well here's my cast for my favorite Pink Carnation novel! Tune in soon for the next installment! That is if I can get my butt on top of things...........*sigh*

Monday, March 2, 2015

January Pink Carnation Book Club

I know it's know BEYOND late, but it's better late than never to unveil my book club for this year.  I'm a huge fan of the Secret History of the Pink Carnation series by Lauren Willig.  My best friend turned me on to the series and I was immediately hooked.  I mean, who wouldn't have a think for capes and masks and knee breeches after reading Willig's captivating romances?  I became such a fan, that I even got to interview the author for this very blog.  You can read the awesome interview here.

Since Willig's series is to wrap soon with the 12th and final story, I figured what better way to celebrate the phenomenal works than my book club?!  Having gotten several friends into the series as well, I couldn't help but to ask one friend to help me with my book club plotting.  Having read the series numerous times over, I decided this year's book club to do something slightly different.  Not only would I be reading the books over again, simply as a refresher.  But, I also decided to cast the movie!  Each month, I will be presenting my picks of actors that I think would be great if the books ever got adapted.  So please enjoy my picks and give me any suggestions!

Eloise Kelly: Anna Kendrick
The struggling grad student is looking for key pieces of information for her dissertation, mainly any info regarding the Pink Carnation.  The mysterious spy is eluding her, but with the help of archives belonging to Miss Arabella Selwick-Alderly and the dashing Colin Selwick, she just might find the identity of the world's most elusive spy.

Miss Arabella Selwick-Alderly: Dame Maggie Smith
The elderly lady is kind enough to give Eloise access to her archives and an introduction to her cranky nephew Colin Selwick.  It's possible she's not only trying to help Eloise in her profession, but also in love?

Colin Selwick: Christopher Egan
The cranky heir is not fond of snoopers poking about his family business.  So when Eloise turns up, he's not exactly keen.  Maybe there's more to the dashing guy than just his prickly exterior...

Serena Selwick: Imogen Poots
Her brother Colin is protective of her and protective of the estate papers, but she warms up to Eloise quickly. Anyone who holds you hair back while vomiting is easily a quick confidant.

Amy Balcourt: Carey Mulligan
The French-British lady is tired of hearing about men saving the day and wants to dash off and rescue people on her own.  With the help of her cousin Jane Wooliston, Amy is charging ahead to unmask her hero the Purple Gentian and save the British Empire.

Edouard Balcourt: Laurent Lucas
The brother of Amy and also French-British, he spent his time growing up in France while Amy was in England.  Can he have a link to the Purple Gentian?  Amy hopes so.

Jane Wooliston: Natalie Dormer
The English lady and cousin of Amy Balcourt is ready to assist in the upcoming adventures.  Though with perhaps a more level head than that of her cousin.  Can the young lady help outwit the French in their quest for English domination?

Richard Selwick: Tom Hiddleston
The dashing rogue helps serve his country as the Purple Gentian. Rousting French prisoners and saving them from Madame Guillotine, he is the scourge of the French Empire.  But his singleness is the scourge of his mother's life.  All she wants is for her son to settle down, but he still wants adventures.

Lady Uppington: Helen Mirren
Being mother to a spy can be a vexing life, but even more so when he won't settle down and make babies. Who says a spy's mother can't have as much adventure as her son?  Just so long as it's fun.

Lord Uppington: Michael Caine
The sensible father of a spy must always remain sensible...or perhaps dash along with your son on the occasional adventure...Got to keep the romance with the Mrs alive ;)

Henrietta Selwick: Lily Collins
Trailing after her brother Richard the spy can get old. But she has enough wit and flair to be helpful, so we suppose Richard will keep her around.

Miles Dorrington: Theo James
Speaking of trailing after Richard the spy, as his best friend Miles does all he can to be helpful.  Even if sometimes he comes off rather oafish.  He lives to serve.

Geoffrey Pinchingdale-Snipe: Eddie Redmayne
As the last Musketeer in the spy trio, Geoff is easily the most sensible.  Someone has to be the brains of the operation, right?

Gwendolyn Meadows: Emma Thompson
Young female spies must never be without a chaperone.  Who would keep them from being compromised by seductive male spies? Her parasol, that's what.

Gaston Delaroche: Tom Hollander
Every story needs a villain and this Frenchie is as bad as they come.  Supposedly he owns a torture chamber...and it is just ready and waiting for England's most elusive spy, the Purple Gentian.

Well there you have it, my casting for the Pink Carnation movie. Or mini-series.  In fact, I think it would be rather perfect as a mini-series!  Stay tuned for more casting.  Hopefully, I can get them out in their normal months...Time isn't always my friend. Let me know who you would cast!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

A Year in Review and What's Ahead

I can easily say that 2014 was an amazing and crazy year.  From starting on a poor note in January (that break up and hellish living situation), the year went into awesome mode.  Moving home in February was what I needed to turn things around, and even though I went back to an old job, the new faces became new friendships.  My mom got over her issues with dogs on the tiniest part, and fell in love with my pooch.  The two of them are inseparable now.  In April, I turned 25. Holy shit I'm half way to my 30s.

Sometime in the spring, I got voted in as the statistician at the place I volunteer.  Which has been a steady time commitment of inputting numbers into a computer.  Whoo.  Over the summer, I spent time with friends and worked on my book. Though I didn't finish it, the story is nearly completed.  Only 15,500 words stand between me and a completed novel.  In June, I got a new writing gig for HBO Watch and have loved giving commentary on some of my favorite tv shows and films.

In September, I got voted onto the Board of Directors at my volunteer organization and have loved this new learning experience.  I fulfilled a childhood dream of going to London in October.  My heart is still there.  Just after I got back, I got a new job which I started in November.  And December has been a whirlwind of work and volunteering.  That has been my year.  I've stuck to my resolutions from last year decently.  While my novel isn't finished and I didn't lose 10 pounds by my birthday, I did get a job more related to my field and have spent lots of time with my friends.

So here's to the past and to the future and everything in between!  With that said, here are my resolutions for the next year.  Hint: there will be some repeats from last year.  If at first you don't succeed, try try again, right?

1. Physical

I would like to be at my goal weight by the end of 2015.  That's approximately a 30 pound difference.  So I want to be half way there by July 1st.  To do this, I will be spending the entire month of January sober.  That's correct, no alcohol for the entire month of January.  If this works for me, it could go longer.  But since alcohol is such a factor for calories, this will be an important step in managing my alcohol better.  Also my mom is joining me in this so we'll be able to support each other.  We'll also be cutting our pasta intake.  Which will obviously be harder than cutting alcohol.  Seriously, pasta is so delicious.

2. Financial

With my new job came a slight pay increase (hooray).  This year I will work to save money and especially pay off my car. I'm hoping towards the end of the year I might be able to move out. But I'm not rushing it, mainly because my student loans are annoyingly present.

3. Personal

I hope to continue making time for friends and correspond with the ones that are far away.  The horrible and yet wonderful thing about life is that it just keeps going.  So much so that days and months pass by and you forget to keep up with the changes in their lives.  I'm excited to plan a summer vacation with my friend Karen. As for my novel, I'm hoping to have it finished and edited once by July 1st. I would also like to have two of my next novels plotted out.

So those are my hopes and dreams for this year. I can't wait to see what the year has ahead.