Once upon a time there was a girl. She was assigned a blog, and told to use it for grad school. She used it for many other assignments, and even created a virtual CV (not linked here). But when grad school ended, so did the impetus to blog. She’d always loved blogging, but life happened, time got away from her, her mental health yo-yo’d, and she just didn’t want to do it anymore.
So….that girl is me. I’m thinking, now that life has settled down somewhat, I might pick this back up. I’m giving myself the next two months to decide and make a plan. Until then, there’s like 20 book reviews for you to read, plus some other stuff. Explore as you see fit. And maybe…don’t be shy about leaving a comment?
Author: Roxane Gay
Published 2017 Grove Press 978-0802125392
272 pages $25 US
Available in print and eBook
tl;dr: READ IT!
Why I Read It
I’ve been feeling reflective lately. It’s probably a product of my being almost finished with grad school and getting ready to embark on the main course of my life. But I’ve been thinking about life, about relationships, about what it means to grow up, about what it means to make it. Is there a point in life where you think, “Yes. This is it. This is what I’ve been waiting for. This feeling. This moment”? For some people, I think this is a very tangible thing. I think they can look back at their life and pinpoint that exact moment where this thought, or a version of it, resided in their mind. I haven’t reached that point, but I imagine, I hope, that one day I will get to experience this. Until then, I sit and wonder. What does it mean to grow up? And, how do you know when it’s happened?
I can’t remember where I heard or saw the quote “Be gentle with your friends.” It’s probably something I made up or adapted from quote about being gentle with one’s parents, but still. It’s been on my mind. The other day, I’d intended to talk to my best friend about something important that happened to me. She was busy, as happens, so I told her we could talk later. Perfectly reasonable, right? Two days later, she asks if I still want to talk or if everything was ok. I told her, sure everything was fine. We’ve been friends for almost ten years, she knows when I’m lying. She asked if I was sure, and I said yes in that text tone that means drop it or this will end badly. Because by then, I didn’t want to talk about the thing anymore. It had made me mad, and I was not in the mood to retell the story again. I was still mad about it, but I was done talking about it. She made one more attempt to get me to talk, and I had to physically walk away from my phone for a while before I could answer. I dislike it when she continues after I’ve made it clear that we’re not discussing whatever it is.
In my time away from the phone, though, I started to think. I’m annoyed. Why? Because I wanted to talk to her and she was busy? That happens. That’s life. Deal. I’m annoyed. Why? Because I’m still pissed about the thing that happened? There’s nothing I can do about it now, and talking about it just pisses me off more. I’m annoyed. Why? Because I’ve had no interaction with a human who wasn’t a virtual stranger in over a week? Living alone, even temporarily sucks. I need meaningful interactions with people I care about and who care about me. I realize this, and not having this makes me cranky. It’s not her fault I’ve been alone for almost ten days. There was literally no reason to be so pissed at her.
Eventually, I calmed down enough to express myself in a way that wouldn’t punish her for trying to be a good friend, that wouldn’t push us into a fight, but that did make clear that I would not be discussing the thing at all and that I would get over it or not eventually. Is that growth? Is that a marker of being an adult, knowing when to engage? Knowing when you’re experiencing heightened emotions that may or may not have anything to do with the current situation and acting according to the situation rather than the emotion? Recognizing that ignoring the problem does not make it go away. I was tempted, seriously, to ignore her and not talk to her until the next time I had something to say/share/ask or she texted me for whatever reason. But that’s petty, and I knew I couldn’t do that to her. I kept thinking about the phrase “Be gentle with your friends.”
Someone once said that I am incapable of self-reflection. I beg to differ. Just having this blog is an exercise in self-reflection. That moment, though, when I stepped away from the phone and chose not to engage was also an exercise in self-reflection. I knew I wasn’t actually mad at her, because there was no reason to be mad at her. She hadn’t done a thing to me. I was experiencing my own problems, and she just happened to be there. A few days later, I got caught off guard by Mother Nature, and recognized why I’d been more peeved that usual.
However, that brings me back to my original question, “What does it mean to grow up and how do you know when it’s happened?” I recognized in that moment that I’d done something very adult. I was frustrated. I took a step back. I reflected. I responded. How often do we actually do this and recognize that it has happened? In that moment, I realized that I had become an adult. More than turning 18, more than turning 21, more than being able to vote, drive a car, get an apartment, plan a wedding, interact with disgruntled patrons. More than anything, I recognized in that moment that I could be, that I was an adult. I’ve had other moments that have made me question, realize, and come to terms with my adulthood, and I may talk about them, but this moment was profound.
What was the moment you realized you were an adult?
Ok. I’m in mourning. I am mourning fictional characters for the hundredth millionth time in my life. When Opie died on Sons of Anarchy, I couldn’t even get through the next episode. That happens in Season 4. I haven’t watched a full episode of SOA since. I did catch the last ten minutes of the series finale, though.
Now, though, I’m mourning my favorite minor character, Zoe Monroe, and my favorite recurring major character, Lexa kom Triku, Heda of the 13 clans.
I totally understand why Lexa died, even the way it happened. Why? Because we saw her fight. She’ll fight dirty if she has to, because as unafraid of death as she was, she was not about to welcome it without a fight if she had anything to do with it. An accidental bullet wound to the gut, though, is something she couldn’t predict, couldn’t guard against, couldn’t fight. I’m heartbroken by the death of this character, but I’m willing to see where the story goes because of it. There was a reason the writers agreed to let the character die. I’m sure we all can guess what it is, but I’ve been seeing a lot of hate from the Clexakru. I know we’re in mourning, but this wasn’t a case of the actor wanted out, so death was only option. (See McDreamy. I’m still mad, Shonda! I’m still mad about Lexi and Mark and Calzona, but that’s not what we’re here to talk about.) This was a case of plot and character development. Several characters are about to be devastated, and have to find a way to move past Lexa’s death and the consequences. Clarke already is. Octavia’s trust in Clarke is hanging on a very thin thread, and I would love to see the conversation or understanding that occurs when Clarke announces the death of Lexa as the reason she wasn’t where she’d planned to be. Indra was already feeling sorry for herself, feeling as though she’d put her trust in the wrong sky person, again. Lexa was of her clan. How long have they, Lexa and Indra, been together? How much do you want to bet that Indra trained Anya, who trained Lexa? Now, they’re both dead. What must that feel like? Kane and Abby, how will they react when they find out? Pike? I don’t give two shits about Pike, but he is currently still the Chancellor. Will he whoop with joy and use it as further fuel for his hatred? Lexa herself. We know where she is, even as her physical body is dead. ALIE 2 is the source of their “death is not the end” rhetoric, so she’s most likely in the City of Light. (Pause. Seriously?! Virtual fucking reality? I’m actually very interested to see how this plays out. Are the place ALIE calls the City of Light and the place Lexa is the same place? Does ALIE2 have a different version of the City of Light since that code is the upgrade/better version of ALIE for which ALIE searches?) But I digress. How will she feel, wherever she is? (That’s an existential question if ever there was one about life after death) I wonder if we’ll get to see Lexa wherever she is. I’ve seen spoiler photos on tumblr, so it will happen, but still. Will it be only in that episode or will she pop up again at some point before that? Even better question: How the eff does Clarke get there?!
If you can’t already tell, I have a lot of feelings about Lexa, in particular, and the Ladies of The 100, in general. There is so much there, all the actors are amazing at conveying so much in so little screen time. Which leads me to Monroe. Oh, Monroe. From my first time seeing her French braid to the look of pure pain on her face as she died, I have wanted to know more about Zoe Monroe. How did she get into the Sky Box? Why was she so comfortable with a gun? I think the grand total of her screen time can’t be more than an hour. Katie Stuart must have put so much thought into who Monroe was and what made her tick, that she had a huge impact on the show and the fandom. I am pissed at Bellamy, for many reasons, but mainly for being the reason Monroe is dead. Yes, Monroe is grown and made her own choices, but think about it. Monroe would do anything for the remaining hundred. These are people she lived with and fought beside for longer than we know. They were her family. She willingly stood against Bellamy at first. She knew it was wrong to slaughter innocent people, but he convinced her somehow that it was for their own good. He was her general, and she couldn’t stand against him…or his warped logic. (Seriously, WHAT THE FUCK, BELLAMY?! Ugh, I have so many thoughts about him, even as I know that talk he had with Clarke had to happen the way it did, I am angry that he allowed Pike to prey on his insecurities and untreated trauma. He’s not back to “Whatever the hell we want”…he’s worse. But this is not about Bellamy. I’ll get to him whenever Octavia beats the shit out of him.)
I think I’m done…for now. I just really needed to get that out.
In peace may you leave this shore.
In love may you find the next.
Safe passage on your travels, until our final journey on the ground.
May we meet again, Monroe.
Yu gonplei ste odon, Lexa kom Trikru. Reshwe.
Photos from The 100 wiki.
Well, this semester has been a roller coaster. So much is happening and as happened, and I’m positive that my collection development class grade will suffer for it. But I’m glad it’s this semester and not next semester. Next semester is the last 5k in a marathon, the hardest, most heart pounding, please-let-me-finish, don’t-give-up-you’re-so-close part. Next semester is my last semester of grad school. Next May, I will graduate with a Masters in Library and Information Sciences, if all goes according to plan. But I shouldn’t get ahead of myself. This post is about this semester.
In a fit of pique…nothing. Nothing happened, I’ve just always wanted to use that phrase. Don’t judge me.
My cataloguing class is going well. I’m only required to post in 12 of the 16 topics at any point in the semester. I think I’m up to 8 or 10. I haven’t checked today. That’s for tonight when I log on to complete the assignment that’s due on Tuesday and post some responses. I’m not super worried about this class. There is one adjustment I need to make in the grand scheme of things, but that won’t be hard. I do have to print and go through my lectures and my textbook
My collection development class, on the other hand, suffered the most during the dark days of September and the twilight days of October. So much of that class depends on discussion, and I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I spent most of my energy on being a good group member to my policy group and getting up every day for work. I’ve been posting regularly since about mid-October, but that’s probably not enough to save that grade. Then there’s my first half of my reading log. We’re supposed to read 250 pages outside of homework. Yeah, I’m pretty sure I turned in a little less than a hundred pages for the first part of the log. Again, I just couldn’t do it. I could barely finish a book for fun from my favorite author, do you think I was going to read 125 pages of utterly boring yet useful research? I did the bare minimum to be informed for my policy group. That’s it. Can you sense a theme? I’m willing to let myself down. I have let myself down many times over this semester, but a portion of four other people’s grades depends on me getting my ass in gear, so I did what I could for them. They are an awesome group, the best group I’ve had since Tricia and Eliza, and I am not going to disappoint them. To make up for the utter disaster that was that assignment, I’ve created a schedule for the next half of the reading log. I will be finished by next Wednesday, if I stick to it. I don’t really have a choice, as the assignment is due on the 30th, along with a presentation, a final copy of my group’s policy manual (for which I have to do style corrections), and reflection paper, on top of the final discussions and comments. I’m going to try to recoup some of that grade since none of the discussions are closed. So yeah, the reading log needs to be done ASAP.
In work news, I am an official member of the social media committee! I’m still in charge of Twitter! I need to develop a strategy for our YA account. I’ve left it for too long sitting and wasting away while I focus on the main account. I have news that I’m really excited about, but I’m not sure I can post it widely just yet. But I get to go shopping for warm winter clothes, a coat, and new boots for a trip to Boston in January! I have so many more responsibilities at work, and I’ve only just realized that I was supposed to do something two weeks ago that I haven’t done yet.
So. That’s where we are. Not super fun or really detailed, but I’m still trying to get back into the swing of things. Sorry about the lack of Readers’ Advisory posts. I haven’t been finishing books. Sorry about the lack of Author Highlights and Lush Adventures and Thoughts&Musings. Sorry about the general lack of everything at this point. Now, it is time for coffee and collection development reading and notes.
Forgive me, Internet, for I have sinned. It has been one month since my last post.
Ok, so one month isn’t the longest I’ve gone without posting, but it still felt weird. I’ve thought about posting for a while now. If only to come back and I say that I’m ok. I’ve worked through my downswing. I took care of business. I’m doing alright now. I’m caught up in my classes, though I know it will not be a stellar showing at the end of the semester. I’m ok with that. I had a bad semester. It is not the end of the world. I work full-time. I go to school full-time. It was bound to happen at some point. I’m just glad it was now and now next semester. Next semester is graduation semester. Next semester is e-port semester. Next semester is the graduate equivalent of senior thesis. I cannot afford to have this happen next semester.
But this was just a short one to say that I’m thinking about you, little blog and blog followers. Next post will be much more substantial.
Six years ago, I would not have been able to write this in public. I live with, fight with, argue with, suffer from depression, and sometimes a bit of anxiety.
I haven’t been able to write, really write, in three weeks. I haven’t really been able to do much of anything, homework included, for a month. The day I wrote the Mouthful of Forevers review was the day I got some really not great news. It hit me in the chest, put me on the ground, and I’ve been struggling to get back up again ever since. I live with, fight with, argue with, suffer from depression, and sometimes a bit of anxiety. In 2009, I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, complicated by a bit of PTSD. Six years later, I’ve been downgraded from BPD to Unspecified Depressive Disorder. I’m depressed a lot. It doesn’t take much. Procrastinating, being overwhelmed and wanting the world to slow down so that I can catch up. Getting really bad news. Having to attend a surprise funeral. All of these things have happened in the past year, and when I think I’m over them or recovering from them, something else happens.
On that day in late August, I was called self-centered. I was called manipulative. I was called infantile. I was told that I have no coping mechanisms, that things that would normally not affect a mentally healthy/stable human would send me on a spiral into depression and suicidal ideation. I was called a lot of things, none of them positive.On top of that, I was said to be incapable of introspection and self-examination. Even worse, it was said that my choice of career, librarian, was a manifestation of my pathological need to be isolated, yet accepted. [Someone doesn’t know a thing about 21st century libraries.]
Already, I’d recognized that I was beginning to feel lower than normal, that I was becoming overwhelmed with my responsibilities, that I needed and was ready to go back to therapy and get my life in order again. I was setting plans in motion. Then this happened.
Six fucking years of work almost destroyed. Six years of getting up everyday, going to work everyday, going to school every day. Six years, off and on, of journaling when I felt extremely low. Six years of talking myself out of depression. Six years of self-realization, self-actualization. Six years of making attempts to talk to strangers in the hopes of making new friends, which I hate doing. Six years of going after things that terrify me, like grad school and a library job and a promotion. Six fucking years of trying to better than I was at 18 years old. I was shaking. I was angry. I was near tears. I wanted to lay down and not get up again. I wanted to crawl into a whole and never come out. I wanted to drink every bottle of wine in my house, and I have a lot of it.
Instead, I told my mom. Instead, I grabbed three bottles of water and drained the first one in ~45 seconds. Instead, I texted my best friends, one who knew me before, one who knew me after, and two I see on a regular basis. I read off all the traits, and asked them. Because I don’t think that I am any of those things above. I recognize that I have the capacity to be. I’m human, dammit. But I work, actively, at not being those things. I work at being an adult every fucking day. Then again, I am incapable of self-examination, so they said.
Every answer came back, “Uhm…no. Where is this coming from? Are you ok?” In that moment, I wasn’t. I was not ok. I was barely safe. I was hanging on by strength of will alone. It was a long night and even longer day after, because I went to work. My entire world had been rocked, but I went to work the next day. I have been going to work every day.
I am actually really proud of myself, because six years ago, I would not have been able to write this in public. I would not have recognized that I was on a downswing. I would not have reached out for help. I would not have had emergency triage with four friends on three different sets of text messages simultaneously. I would not have recognized so soon that I was letting these words rule my life and ruin my self-perception.
Even now, I’m struggling. My participation in class is slipping. My dedication to my job is fading. But I will not be that girl anymore. I have wallowed in this trench of self-loathing for a month. I have given this process, this person, entirely too much power over my life. I have had enough. I love being a librarian. I love learning and I love the 3.9 GPA that comes with it. I have coping mechanisms, including coloring, going to the gym, reading, journaling, and web-surfing. I recognize that I have the capacity for a whole host of negative emotions and traits, yet I work at not giving in to them. It’s not easy. I lean, heavily at times, on outside support. But I am determined to be better, always and in all ways, than I was at 18 years old.
Thanks for listening. Until next time
On 9/21/2015, BookRiot participated in #BlackOutDay by running articles by black writers. I took a moment to round-up the books and authors mentioned in these posts. The books run the gamut from fiction to nonfiction, kid lit to adult, and straight and queer. There are classics and award-winners alongside more popular and genre titles. Take a look, then head out to your local library or bookstore!
I couldn’t resist adding these last two 🙂
Author: Clementine von Radics
Published 2015 Andrews McMeel Publishing 9781449470791
112 pages $16.99US, $19.99CAN
Available in print and eBook
Why I Read It
During my end of fiscal year shopping spree at my library earlier in the summer, I asked my friends what they thought a library needed. One thing mentioned was more and diverse poetry. I went through our poetry collection, and while it is not sparse by any means, it did need some updating and retrofitting. I bought all the poetry that looked good, and even some that didn’t look good, because who am I to decide what someone will like or not like. I bought African poets, African-American poets, white poets, celebrity poets, former sex worker poets, tumblr poets, Asian poets, and many others. As a lover of poetry, I couldn’t resist trying to read all of this new poetry I bought for the library.
Love and life are the strangest things.
A collection of poems chronicling the life, loves, and heartbreak of one woman.
Here’s what I think
It usually takes me a day, one sitting even, to read a book of poetry. As much as I can, I try not to stop too often to reflect on each individual poem, because I would rather examine my feelings to the piece as a whole first, then go back and choose my favorites. I couldn’t do that with Mouthful of Forevers. Every poem felt real in a visceral way, and I could not casually go on to the next as if my life had not just shifted a bit at the reading. I should not have started reading this at work, because I was in tears. I was completely and utterly destroyed in ways that I’m not sure I can describe right now. In 112 pages, and though I cannot relate to everything von Radics writes about, it felt as if my life had been mined to fuel someone else’ creative genius.
I have some favorite poems from this collection. One of them is the most famous titular poem. I can see why it has inspired wedding vows and tattoos. It, like all of von Radics’ poems, is powerful.
Prepare to be completely destroyed.
Links to the Author, Interviews, and Reviews
Author tumblr: http://clementinevonradics.tumblr.com/
tongue tied magazine review & interview: http://tonguetiedmag.com/post/119979560217/book-review-poet-interview-mouthful-of
hooligan magazine interview, page 16: http://issuu.com/hooliganmag/docs/issue3