Choosing Figs | Neurotic as Hell | A Travel, Lifestyle, and Life List Blog

On love and writing.


My “emo” post from the other day reminded me of the love poems I used to write in seventh grade. I had an unrequited and unadmitted crush on this guy (I would write his name here, but I’m afraid of him googling himself and seeing this) who lived around the block from me. I used to sit at my open window, which faced the backyard, the alley, and the street around the block in hopes of maybe seeing him walking the dog or heading to the library. Everyone knew that I had a crush on him but I still was always too shy and too embarrassed to admit that I had feelings for anyone.

These poems have been living on my website for years, but it’s been probably years since I have even looked at them. Embarrassingly enough my poetry prowess back then was mostly influenced by the first verse of Janet Jackson’s “That’s the Way Love Goes.” Reading them now though I’m shocked at how little I have changed since seventh grade. I could easily have written these today (an MA in writing and I’m positive my skill at poetry has not changed since grade school) about unrequited and unadmitted crushes, about being afraid, about hiding, about not admitting how I feel.


Why do I hide?
Hide from my true feelings
Why do I say I don’t
when I really do
Love you that is.
Why do I gaze at you
then turn when you look back
Why do I cry when I’m alone
because I’m alone
Because I can’t face you
Why do I hide


I can’t let you scream at me
for I don’t see your lips moving
the way you want me to move mine.
When you find the courage to do
what you want me to do
Then maybe I’ll listen.
Then I’ll let your words bore through my skull.
I’ll let you torment me for being a fool.
Which I know that I am anyway
but don’t forget that you’re one too.
Anyway, I know that I can’t speak.
I know that my lips will not move
for I am a fool.
Maybe I don’t want to be
Maybe I don’t even have to be
But I am, perhaps forever.
I’ve already lost so much, so many
for my lips will not move how you want them to.
So scream.
Scream as loud as you can.
I’ll try to listen if you do the same.
Maybe I can be convinced.
Maybe someday I”ll scream as well.


my mind is filled with thoughts of you
each and every day
my soul and heart argue together
there is just no way
no way your heart will feel for me
no way my heart will win
no way you’ll ever love me true
my soul just will not sin
sin by letting our hearts go
free to intertwine
touch, feel, love, love
where they’d be just fine
fine and clean yet full of worry
they begin to wind
thoughts too heavy for me to handle
entering my mind




I keep forgetting that I want to be a writer. Lately my life is all about photography and web editing and I’ve forgotten about writing. Maybe it’s because I’ve been staring at this draft of a novel for years and have no idea where I want to take it. Do I want to write a novel or a memoir or a young adult book. Maybe I can’t write it because I am no longer obsessed with the topic. Maybe I’m just lazy.

All my life writing was something that I was told I was good at but something I always resisted. The first time I decided to be a writer was after my freshman year of college when I had a story to tell. I first wanted to write it for revenge. Then for empathy. Then for healing. My senior year of college I took a writing class and for a 15-page assignment I turned in a 72 page draft. The summer after I graduated I got it up to 120 pages. It’s sat ever since. Shortly after that something happened and I no longer needed to be obsessed and, therefore, could no longer write it. I’ve written other things since but always abandon them after the first draft. And now that I am no longer in classes I find it hard to actually sit and write anything.

I’ve forgotten that I wanted to be a writer. I’ve forgotten that the story I wanted to tell (whether it be in novel, young adult, or memoir form) is still a story I feel should be told and that even though I don’t need it anymore, maybe someone else does.

I need to figure it all out again. I want to finish it. I want to start it all over. I’m hoping that I can find the inspiration.




It’s been a long time since I’ve picked up a book and couldn’t put it down. Every once in a while I’ll start reading and not be able to stop until I’ve gotten to the end. The last one, I’d say, was Gone With the Wind, which I read over a year ago and that still took me over a month to read despite the fact that I was obsessed over it. I bring this up because I write better and more when I read something that I find to be amazing.

I had a glimmer of this yesterday when I read the first entry in The Best American Essays of 2007. Three words in and I had to put it down to jot in my notebook a few paragraphs of a short story. The essay, “Werner” by Jo Ann Beard, was so captivating and well-written that I completely forgot that it was a true story and not a work of fiction. Unfortunately I quickly lost that mojo three sentences into the second essay, which was more academic.

They always say to be a good writer you have to read, and it’s true. I definitely write my best and write more when I am reading something good. Unfortunately it seems that lately the closest I get to a book is “The Complete Guide to CSS” and the like.

If you’ve read this far (has anyone read this far?) please leave me a comment with a book recommendation. What’s your favorite book, or one that you think is well written or one that changed your life or one that you keep reading over and over. I need good book suggestions. Maybe something will inspire me. And maybe if your book suggestion is good I’ll thank you in the acknowledgments of my first novel.

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Hi, I'm Val. I spent most of my 20s in a standstill, unable to pick which path in life I wanted to take. I wanted the nomadic life of a traveler but also wanted the husband, the condo, and the kitten. Unable to decide which life I wanted more, I did nothing. When I turned 30 I’d had enough of putting my life on hold and decided to start “choosing my figs.” So, I quit my job, bought a one-way ticket to Europe, and traveled for three years. Now I'm back in Chicago, decorating my apartment in all the teal, petting my cats, and planning my next adventure.

  • Rob
    July 25, 2008at1:10 pm

    Books I couldn’t put down:
    Ender’s Game,
    A Game of Thrones (and it’s following books a Clash of Kings, a Storm of Swords and a feast for crows),
    *hangs head in shame* the harry potter books.
    but yeah… lots of other good ones out there but those I couldn’t put down.

  • Sid
    July 25, 2008at1:46 pm

    Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

  • Chris
    July 25, 2008at2:34 pm

    Kudos to Rob and Sid for their spectacular taste in literature. A Game of Thrones is just a spectacular read of fantasty, and Good Omens is hysterical. I love Gaiman and all of his works.
    I may have reccomended this one before, but “American Gods” by Gaiman is right up your alley, esp on the Silly America stuff. My personal reccomendation is for “Spin” by Robert Charles Wilson which is a big unrequited love story, and oh yes, the sun is burning out in 30 years because of a time distortion enveloping the planet. But it’s a love story first and foremost and I think you’d like it. It won the Hugo Award in 2005, which is like the Scifi emmies.

  • Andrew
    July 25, 2008at5:06 pm

    Books I could not put down, eh?
    Most recent: Picture of Dorian Gray (you’ve probably read this already, but I hadn’t)
    Sci-Fi: “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep” by Philip K. Dick.
    Non-Fiction: “The Lucifer Effect” by Philip Zimbardo. This is probably the most humbling book I’ve ever read, and that’s after having to skip parts that were too freaky to read.
    Comedy: “Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal” by Christopher Moore.
    I’m hampered by the fact that all my books are in boxes in preparation for moving.

  • Jen
    July 25, 2008at10:12 pm

    Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami was amazing.
    Jennifer Government by Max Barry was also really good.

  • Lindsay
    July 26, 2008at10:46 am

    I heard somewhere that to truly be a writer you have to sit down every day and force yourself to write, doesn’t matter what it is, but everyday you have to exercise that muscle. I think Chuck Palahniuk maybe said it. Or maybe it was in a movie. Or maybe I’m making this shit up, but it seems like good logic.
    Anyway, I’m one of those people who think Palahniuk is a genius. He makes me want to write. I think his courageous literary style makes a lot of people want to write because he has workshops for that, and a webpage for writer’s resources.
    Start with his book, Diary. If that one blows your mind, and it will, try Lullaby, Rant, and Choke.

  • Jeff
    July 29, 2008at3:08 pm

    I will agree on the Palahniuk but my fave is Survivor.
    Rant is pretty fucked as well.

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