Maleigh is a senior literary and an iced coffee enthusiast. She enjoys writing nonfiction and poetry but hopes that her affliction for short fiction will one day subside. In her free time, she can be found scrolling through Pinterest or with her beloved cat, Manny.
Recently, pop star, Demi Lovato released a new album entitled The Artof Starting Over. The 17th track on the album is her song, “Mad World,” and when I first heard this song, I was immediately intrigued. Now, for the past two weeks, I have listened to this song on repeat, and I have every word memorized, so it’s safe to say that this has become my new favorite song. Honestly, I really enjoyed the entire album (with a few exceptions), but overall, I’d give the album a 7/10.
Now, the other day, while scrambling to get class before 8:01am, like I usually do, an unfamiliar song played on my Spotify. I didn’t know what it was, but I liked it. I didn’t have time to stop and look at the before throwing my phone into my bag, but when I got to class and looked at my phone, I saw that it was “La La Land,” a song from one of Lovato’s earlier albums. Spotify most likely played it based on my recent Lovato obsession, but I noticed that the song had similar vibes to “Mad World,” but I dismissed it because I thought it was just me, especially because the two songs differ vastly when it comes to sound.
However, while researching to write this review, I found an article that said, “Lovato’s ‘Mad World’ lyrics seem like a mature version of those from ‘La La Land,’ which was the 2008 hit from her debut album Don’t Forget.”
It’s not just me! But the story doesn’t stop there…
As I was researching, I discovered that Lovato did not write “Mad World,” and it is actually a well-known song written by British band, Tears for Fears. Does that name sound familiar? It’s probably because you’ve heard or read, literary icon, Callie Matthews’ endless ramblings about her favorite bands, one of them being (you guessed it!) Tears for Fears.
Now, I still agree that the two Lovato songs have similar vibes, but I don’t think that was intentional, seeing as how Lovato didn’t even write “Mad World”.
Now the question is: whose version is better? Tears for Fears? Lovato? Gary Jules?
Personally, I think Lovato’s version is the best. The smoothness of her voice with playing of the piano was so beautiful. I also really enjoyed the key she sang it in, and maybe it’s just that I prefer female voices to male voices. No disrespect to Tears for Fears because honestly, they get all the credit because they wrote the song. They ran, so Lovato could walk, and she definitely walked the walk.
Recently, I journeyed to the Lincoln County public library for the first time. I went in not expecting to find anything, but I did: Tess Holliday’s memoir, The Not So Subtle Art of Being a Fat Girl. Although I haven’t completely finished the book, I have enjoyed every page I’ve read had so far. Holliday’s journey of being a single teen mom, living in the South, being fat, and trying to be a model is a story like no other. It’s a story that, I think, people from all walks of life can relate to in some way. For me, it really hits home because Holliday grew up in south Mississippi, not too far from where I’m from. The fact that she went from being a single mom in a dingy town in Mississippi to a well-known plus-size supermodel, seemingly overnight is inspiring. Holliday has defied all the odds, and she’s a role model for so many. I’ve only read the first five chapters, but all of them have been so good. Holliday mostly discusses her hometown life in Mississippi in the first few chapters, but in later chapters, she delves into how she got into modeling, raising her son, and managing the industry.
Overall, the book is personal and captivating. Holliday is one of the women who inspires me to live my truth, be myself, and that I can do anything, no matter where I come from. She made it out, as a fat woman, from the same simple-minded place that I grew up, so I know I can do anything I put my mind to because she did. That’s my biggest takeaway from this book.
Rate: 10/10; it’s an awe-inspiring story of a woman just living her life, and there’s so much truth, vulnerability, and beauty in this book. If you’re looking for a new read, I totally recommend this one!
So I know I haven’t posted in while, but I made it a goal to post a life update blog this week, so here I am 🙂
Life has been a roller coaster since I last posted… in January.
As I write this, I am sitting in a crowded hallway as we wait, uncomfortably, to be told to return to class, and I can’t help but cherish this moment, every ounce of it: the dirty hardwood floors, the sirens, the concerned faces. This might be the very last time I sit in confinement with the people I’ve blissfully shared the past two years with.
As I embark upon this next chapter of life, I am filled with so much gratitude and warmth for these people around me. I have nothing but fond memories with these people, and I think it’s a blessing to have gotten this experience.
Today, I committed to Loyola University New Orleans, and I am so excited. Everything that’s happened in the last year has allowed me to grow so much, and I have learned so many lessons about life, but this is only the beginning.
Below is my vision board for the year that I made earlier in the year:
I normally would’ve posted this earlier, but with my blog hiatus, I never go around to it. I look back it often to hold myself accountable and to also remind myself to stay humble, be brave, keep going, and to take care of myself.
Recently, a man was shot while walking pop star, Lady Gaga’s dogs, Koji and Gustav. The man has since been identified as Ryan Fischer, who has often been seen with Gaga’s dogs in the past. Reports say that while Fischer was unconscious at the scene, he is now out of surgery and in stable condition. Fischer put up a fight when the unidentified men attacked him while walking the dogs, and many believe that’s why he was shot. However, Fischer’s efforts were not in vain, as one of Gaga’s three beloved French bulldogs, Miss Asia, was able to escape.
Police are still unsure of the motive behind this attack. However, all signs point to a targeted attack, but the reason still remains unclear. Were the dogs stolen because they belong to the pop princess or simply because French bulldogs are high-priced canines? The West Hollywood police department is continuing to try and answer that question. In the meantime, Gaga has yet to make an official statement, as she is out of the country shooting a film in Rome. However, sources close to the star have said that she is devastated and is offering $500,000 for the safe return of her dogs, “no questions asked”. This now raises questions that the robbery was purely for ransom. If so, Gaga has taken the bait to ensure the safety of her beloved Koji and Gustav.
Nonetheless, I can’t help but think of how ridiculous this all seems. Gaga is willing to pay half-a-million dollars to get her animals back, but seems to have no sympathy for Fischer, whose life was on the line. Doesn’t he deserve justice? I’m an animal-lover too, and while her dogs may be like family, how are we to ignore the fact that a man was shot? Witness, Buck Angel, says, “Someone actually got shot over dogs… Are we gonna start taking people’s dogs for ransom now? It’s horrible.”
Angel is right; is this the new normal? Will criminals start coming out of the woodworks to steal celebrity animals for a payday? Is man’s best friend really worth all of this?
Recently, I stumbled upon an article bywriterspractice.com. The article is about writer’s burnout: what it is, how it happens, and how to overcome it. Before reading this article, I had never heard of writer’s burnout, but it 100% described what I am going through. The article describes it as “looking at the page, hating the page, and questioning your entire identity as a writer, all for an extended period of time” which puts exactly how I’ve been feeling into words. Honestly, writing in general has been difficult for me lately, and I have been rethinking my entire life because I feel so lost and confused. The steps the article lists to overcome writer’s burnout really helped, and they are as follows:
Recognize the Problem
“You can’t move on without first recognizing that maybe something is wrong. Have you ever thought, ‘I just have nothing to say, no words to write.I don’t care about writing anymore. I have no new creative ideas. I never want to write again.’If so, you might be going through a writer’s burnout.” In the process of NaNoWriMo, I felt like a failure. Every day, I’d wake up, pull out my laptop, and swear I was going to make progress. Instead, I stared at that stupid, blinking bar for hours on end, before finally closing my laptop to hide under my mountain of blankets, as if hiding would make the shame and disappointment disappear. As someone who is somewhat of a perfectionist and planner, I try to be in complete control of all things in my life, but with this project, I felt totally out of my element. I’m not a novelist, and I never claimed to be, but maybe that was the problem. I think I went into this assignment with the wrong mindset. I went in not believing in myself, and I think I set my own self up for failure.
Don’t Stop Writing
“Write through the toil. It’s the only way to get to the other side.” I did it; I stopped writing. I gave in to the burn out and fear of imperfection, and that was my second mistake. I get so caught up in wanting everything I put my name on to be the best that I forget how to just write. It’s so tiring trying to be perfect all the time, but I feel so much pressure to do so. I often say, “If it’s not the best or it’s not perfect, why even do it?” I have slowly come to the realization that that isn’t the best mentality to have, but I’ve had that mindset for so long that I just don’t know how to break it. I should’ve pressed on. I should’ve followed through with my daily goals instead of simply avoiding them in fear not being good enough. Sometimes, I think, you just have to do the things you dread in order to become stronger and better.
Find Yourself (again)
“When you’re feeling lost in your writing, try taking a moment to remember who you are as a writer, and more importantly why you write. Remember your audience, your message, and most importantly, your voice.” As much as I hate to admit this, I have lost myself as a writer. I can’t even remember why I started writing or why I love(d) it. Last year, I had so much passion and drive for writing and for literary, but now, everything seems so bleak. I don’t know what it is, but I can’t seem to find that spark that I once had. I’ve lost my voice, and I don’t know how to get it back, but I fear I’ve lost it forever, which breaks my heart.
Don’t Try to Explain Yourself
“It’s a complicated and messy thing to try to explain why you set aside your most important projects. At first, even you might not know exactly why you had to switch gears, and that’s okay.” I struggled with this a lot during NaNoWriMo. During the break, for my story, I talked to women, including my own mother, about their struggles with infertility and pregnancy loss. I heard some of the most moving, emotional, and inspiring stories. I thought that because I had taken the initiative to get these real-life stories that I’d be more enthused to write this story, but instead I felt inept. I couldn’t figure out how to translate such important, powerful stories into my own writing, so I didn’t. I worked on other things, so I could say I had a productive day, but when my fellow writers were sharing their daily goal accomplishments, I was shoving my head deeper into my sheets. I felt embarrassed to tell them that I hadn’t made much progress in my story, so I countered it with the fact that I’d been working and that my home life is crazy, which isn’t false, but I felt the need to explain. I felt like I’d let them down, but really, I had let myself down.
NaNoWriMo is not for the weak, and for most of the month, I considered myself weak, and even writing this feels like a cop-out. However, in writing and reflecting on the month, I realize that while writer’s burnout is a thing, and I have definitely been experiencing the struggles of it, I am not defined by a word count or an assignment. My self-worth should not be determined by whether or not I adequately completed something, and I should stop holding myself to these impossible standards. I’ve always wanted to be a writer, and I am. To be a writer, means to write, so I’m gonna do just that. I’m gonna write every day, and I won’t worry about meeting a word count or completing an assignment that I don’t care about. I’m just going to write simply because it makes me feel good, and maybe, in that. I will overcome this writer’s burnout, and find my voice again.
For this month’s review, I will be rating songs from Mary Lambert’s self-produced album, Grief Creature (2019). This album is filled with some weepy wonders, and as a sad song enthusiast, I couldn’t have been more excited when this album released. Lambert describes it as her “life’s work, masterpiece, a break-up album to shame, an ode to mental illness, and a love letter to hope”.
This song is short but powerful. The soft piano paired with Lambert’s vocals is heaven. It’s not my favorite, in terms of songs, but the lyricism and instrumentality in this song is so beautiful, and it makes for a great intro for this album.
“I thought s**t, she looks happy for a girl who is drowning”
This is one of my favorites from this album. It’s the break-up song to shame that Lambert describes, and it’s one of the best songs on the album, in my opinion. It’s a song that you listen to, and it’s sad, but it’s also incredibly empowering. There’s that dramatic, weepy melody, but those strong, uplifting lyrics, and it’s a song that just makes you feel like you are worthy despite the shame, despite everything.
“You can’t shame me if I’ve already done it myself You can’t drown me if I’ve already done it myself”
Me, Museum- 9/10
This is the first of the few spoken-word songs on this album. It’s Lambert’s poem, “The Art of Shame,” read by her and accompanied by her masterful pianism. It’s so powerful, and it’s one of those pieces that live rent-free in my brain.
“I took snapshots with my memory camera”
I love this song purely for the vocals. Lambert really popped off with her runs in this song, and if you had asked me when this album was first released, I would’ve said this song was my favorite, 10/10, but I think I got burnt out on it. I mean, I listened to this song every day, on repeat for at least 2 months, so it still has a high regard in my book. However, it’s just not that 10 it used to be, and I’m a little bummed it’s not because of how much I used to love it.
“It’s not so bad when you’re laughing It’s not so bad when you’re smiling”
Born Sad- 8/10
This is the one upbeat song on this album, and it still talks about sadness, but I’m not mad at it. Lambert’s entire brand is built on writing and producing sad songs, so when she set out to make a sad, tear-filled album, I was a little surprised to even see this gem on the tracklist. Nonetheless, it’s about being sad and this noting o of being “born sad,” so it’s still very much on brand. It’s not my favorite song because it strays from Lambert’s melodious piano and orchestral sound, but it’s still a great song.
“Keeping my head above water Is all that I can do… Everybody wants to be happy, nobody knows how to do it”
Write You A Song- 9/10
This is another one of my faves. It’s very much a love song, and I am so here for it. Also, the vocals in this song are so good. Lambert, at one point, has some layered vocals, and it’s one of my favorite parts of the song. Overall, I love this song, but it’s not quite a 10. However, it is pretty close!
“I’ll write you a song I’ll write you a hundred”
Steady & Sure- 7/10
This song is great. It’s not one of my favorites, necessarily, but I still really enjoy it. Lambert has such a soft, profound voice that it makes it nearly impossible to dislike any of her music.
“Do you know how to hold my heart like a safe and a holy relic?”
Easy To Leave (feat. Maiah Manser)- 8/10
This song is one that really tugs on your heartstrings. It’s one of those sad songs that makes you want to cry no matter how you were feeling before listening to it. The repetition of “Am I easy to leave?” is what gets me everytime. Also, the pairing of Lambert and Manser’s vocals is phenomenal and just a great choice artistically.
“Will anybody stay a while? Will anybody stay for me?
Am I easy to leave?”
This is the second spoken-word song on the album, and it’s next in line to my favorite song on this album. The poem is so incredibly powerful and moving. The emotion in this song can be felt so strongly, and it’s convicting. Then, towards the end of the song, Lambert strikes again with her poignant vocal stylings, and you can’t really help but melt. It’s just that type of song.
“This is what dying feels like What is means to knife and to be knifed by the one that you loved And to keep driving home”
House Of Mirrors (feat. Macklemore)- 9/10
This song isn’t as upbeat as “Born Sad,” but it still isn’t Lambert’s usual sound, making it one of my personal favorites. To be fair, most of the songs on this album, I consider a favorite of mine, but I quite enjoy the pop type sound coupled with Lambert’s moving lyrics. Macklemore’s verse in this song added to the pop sound of this song, but I think that’s what really made this song work.
“My brain is a house divided, rooms with too many doors”
Not Ready To Die Yet- 8/10
This song is so honest and vulnerable. I think that we’ve all been in this place where we’re just sort of stagnant, not moving forward, but we want to progress. That’s what this song is, it’s a poetic “f- you” to that feeling because it’s about overcoming that feeling, and forgiving yourself. It’s a song about choosing yourself, and it’s a song that never fails to resonate with me because I do still believe in hope.
“I’m not great at living, just surviving nightmares”
Climbing Out- 7/10
The beat in this song is interesting. It’s a song you can kind of just vibe to; it’s nice. It’s got the same pop- y feel to it as “House of Mirrors,” but also, very different. It’s not one of my go-to songs, but I still enjoy listening to it. It’s an uplifting song that encourages you to keep going and stop staying stagnant, so I especially appreciate the motivation in this song.
“Sadness is hardly an artform, but it does get better”
Feel With Me (feat. Hollis)- 8/10
This song is such a sensual song, and you can’t help but want to dance. The music just naturally sways your body, and it is just such a bop. This is the kind of song I play when I’ve had a long day, and I just want to feel— which is coincidentally what the song is titled. Hollis and Lambert really did the thing with this one.
“Find within all this space that you need to be free”
Trauma Is A Stalker- 10/10
This is a spoken-word piece, and it one of the most evocative pieces of music I have ever heard. The orchestral sound coupled with Lambert’s voice is so eloquent and passionate. I mean, I have never heard a violin played so beautifully. It’s like a literal slice of heaven, and then, you listen to the lyrics, and you just sort of feel gutted. Who does that?! Two words: Mary. Lambert. *mic drop*
“What if I told you trauma is a stalker? Follows me room to room, visits me at work, leaves dead animals on my day planner, texts me knives, licks my memory before I have a chance to get it right”
If You Ever Leave Somebody- 100/10
This is my FAVORITE song on this album. I don’t think I will ever get tired of hearing this song, like I love it so much. It is so emotional and evocative. I am always moved after hearing this song, and I listen to it at least 25 times a week. It’s one of those songs you just can’t but fall in love with— from the care Lambert took to composing the chords and the piano to the lyricism. She is my favorite poet, and she brings her poetic style into her songwriting, and it is pure bliss.
“If you ever leave somebody, pray to God you’re right, don’t leave in the night, cry like you mean it, don’t cry like a coward, don’t lie for hours, and say what it is”
Another Rape Poem (Sixteen)- 8/10
This song is another spoken-word piece. Similar to “Knife,” it has some gorgeous vocals in it. The song is actually called “Sixteen,” but the poem she is reading is “Another Rape Poem,” which is actually one of my favorite poems by her. The pairing of these two pieces with the fervent piano playing in the background is kind of ingenius. Lambert just has a way with words and sound, and she knows how to manipulate these two mediums in a way that they blend seamlessly and beautifully.
“There were three wolves in the bedroom who circled me without ever flashing their canines Isn’t rape funny like that? I have to speak in metaphor in order to get it out”
“Suddenly I was a prize in a building of a thousand men — drenched in America and sweat I’m not saying that the military raped me”
Bless This Hell (feat. Julien Baker)- 9.5/10
This last song is one of my go-to songs on the album. I just can’t get over how beautiful the piano sounds, and how soulful Lambert sounds while singing. This is also my favorite collaboration on this album, as well. Lambert and Baker make such a great duo, and I adore the layering of their voices in this song.
“You don’t belong here Get out of my head”
Overall, Grief Creature is just that— a creature of grief. It’s a sad album filled with sad songs, but if you’re a sappy, sad song enthusiast (like me), then this is an album I HIGHLY suggest you listen to— bring tissues.
Wow, so it really hasn’t hit me that this exhausting year is about to come to a close, and I have high hopes for the new year. I really do, but I still have to acknowledge my doubts. I mean, 2021 isn’t bringing a time machine for a 2019 do-over or an anytime-before-2020 do-over, for that matter.
I don’t know what to expect for this new year. Usually, I gear up for a new year with a new planner, filling it with birthdays and events, but doing that, after the traumatic year we’ve just endured, feels absurd.
Take Christmas, for example, I won’t even get to be with my family to celebrate. We don’t have a tree or a single light hung. My house is dark and empty, almost as bleak as 2020, so I can’t bring myself to believe that 2021 is going to be better. This year left a mark in so many ways, and I just don’t think we can truly celebrate and rejoice until we’ve unpacked that. Everything is in ruins, and I don’t mean to be pessimistic, but realistic.
I am so blessed to be able to live this life, and every day, I am grateful, but sometimes, gratitude doesn’t feel like enough. Though I am grateful, it doesn’t change the fact that I am unhappy, that I’m suffering in my own right. And if I’m being honest, this suffering began long before 2020, but in the fall of 2019. I haven’t been okay in a really long time, and I think it’s time that I acknowledge that because putting on a smile and braving the world is nearly impossible, and yet, I do it every single day. When does the façade end? When will I realize I can’t do everything on my own? When will I admit that these burdens are too much for one person to carry? When will I seek help? When will seeking help no longer be a sign of weakness to me?
When will I be honest with myself and everyone else? In 2021? Will this be the year of honesty and truth-seeking? Or will these past traumas continue to haunt me?
These past few months have been especially hard for me, and the global pandemic hasn’t helped.
I thought I had my whole life figured out. I thought I knew who I was, but man, was I wrong.
Being student body president, has been one of the greatest experiences. I get to wake up every day with a purpose because I love what I am doing. I love what I am cultivating within my community, but I won’t lie, it’s also been so hard for me. Before, my purpose was writing, but now, I’m a leader. I have people who look up to me, who are counting on me, and of course, I didn’t just stop being a writer. I will always be a writer. I will always have that passion and drive to write and to tell my truth, but now, I have two roles that buy for my attention.
I have to be a writer but I also have to be a leader, and some days, I just don’t know how to be both. I don’t know who I am. Am I “Maleigh, RISE editor-in-chief”? “Maleigh, literary artist”? or “Maleigh, student body president”? To choose, is one the hardest things because I am all at the same time, and finding a balance has been quite the challenge. There’s this internal battle within me, and I don’t who’s the winner.
“I am trying to both be happy and pay attention to the world around me. I do not know if it is possible to do both at the same time.” ― Blythe Baird
If My Body Could Speak was written by poet and spoken word artist, Blythe Baird. It was released in early 2019, and features 46 original poems by the artist.
“If My Body Could Speak is about fighting for the space one takes up in a world that would rather they take up none at all. Blythe Baird deftly and uniquely charts a course through various modes of womanhood and women’s bodies. Through love, loss, and the struggles of disordered eating, If My Body Could Speak uses sharp narratives and visceral imagery to get to the heart of a many-layered existence, speaking to many generations at once” (Goodreads).
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. Personally, I prefer listening to audiobooks that are read by the author and following along with the script. It allows for readers to get the full experience, so that’s what I do.
Baird does an exceptional job of writing poetry that women from all walks of life can relate to, as it deals specifically with body acceptance, eating disorders, queerness, womanhood and femininity, and rape culture.
Her poem, “When the Fat Girl Gets Skinny” is the most notable, as it went viral on YouTube.
The poem vividly and poetically tells the story of Baird’s struggle with an eating disorder.
“If you develop an eating disorder when you are already thin to begin with, you go to the hospital. If you develop an eating disorder when you are not thin to begin with, you are a success story. ”
― Blythe Baird
“If your body could speak, would she forgive you?” ― Blythe Baird
Senioritis is very real, and if you think you will never get it, you’re wrong because it happened to me…
“I’m Maleigh Crespo, and I suffer from senioritis.”
Yes, it’s true. I succumbed to the pressure of senior year, but I am trying to find my way back, slowly but surely. I thought I’d give you a few tips that I’ve learned along the way:
It’s not like the movies, so stop trying so hard
Senior year is not like High School Musical or Twilight. There’s no epic romance or incredible self-discovery, so stop waiting for that to happen, and do your homework.
College is overrated— and overpriced
Don’t get me wrong, education is important, but with that incredible urge to simply not go to college lingering over your head, it gets hard to continue moving forward. I get it. College is also crazy expensive for no reason, and if finances alone don’t make you want to drop out before you’ve even been accepted, please let me know how you live life. It’s normal to feel these things, but if you’re the college-going type, please go to college. Fill out the arduous applications: type your name and email into the little squares a million times if you have to, write that essay that the fate of your future depends on, pester your counselor for the thousandth time about your class rank; do it all, but don’t give up. You got this!
Stop talking to that boy
Again, this isn’t Twilight, Bella. It’s not gonna happen, so please stop talking to him every night and get some sleep. You’ll thank me later.
PRIORITIES, PRIORITIES, PRIORITIES !!!
If you learn nothing else from senior year (or this blog post), I hope it’s prioritizing! I know you want to go out to dinner with the girls, but the girls don’t have a huge research paper due tomorrow at 11:59pm. Though you probably could’ve done both had you managed your time wisely…
Keep a planner or schedule at all times. Hold yourself accountable. Say you’ll get things done and ACTUALLY GET THEM DONE. Be honest with yourself, and only pan to do things you’re really going to do. Don’t set yourself up for failure.
Learn the word “No,” and Use it Often
Stop agreeing to do things you don’t want to do or saying yes when you KNOW you don’t have time! Your friends will still love you if you miss one event, and if they don’t, you need better friends anyway.
Treat yourself kindly, and make time for yourself! Don’t make too much time for yourself to the point that you aren’t being productive, but every now and then, do something nice, just for YOU! Please just take care of yourself— mind, body, and soul.
Senioritis is real, and you need to be aware of it. Don’t be in denial, but don’t be paranoid. It can happen to anyone, and that’s okay. You just have to recognize it and overcome it.
If you feel symptoms of this illness coming on, take the proper precautions to prevent it from derailing you from having an awesome senior year. Keep your head up. It does get better 🙂 (or maybe it doesn’t…)