Tuesday, January 17, 2012

This blog is now closed.

Please direct your attention to my new web site.

(You'll find the details of why I chose to do this over there, too.)

Saturday, January 7, 2012

The first book I read in 2012

I just finished reading Jeffrey Eugenides' most recent novel, The Marriage Plot, which was released in October of 2011.

His Pulitzer Prize-winner Middlesex (published in 2002) is one of my favorite books of all time. So I had really looked forward to reading this, and had high expectations for it.

And maybe that's why I was a bit disappointed by it. I think I would have liked it more had I read it prior to reading Middlesex. Because I loved Eugenides' earlier work so much, I couldn't help but make comparisons.

The Marriage Plot is the first of his novels that isn't set in my hometown of Grosse Pointe, Michigan. As much as I gripe about this place, a huge part of why I love Middlesex (and The Virgin Suicides, for that matter) is that I can picture the setting perfectly.

But anyway, I should stop gushing about Eugenides' earlier novels, and get to writing about The Marriage Plot.

It's centered around three graduates of Brown University: Madeleine, Leonard, and Mitchell. The novel begins on graduation day in 1982 and follows them through their first year or so thereafter. The book is titled The Marriage Plot for two reasons: Madeleine, an English major, writes her senior thesis on that topic (Austen, James, Eliot, etc). Plus, the three aforementioned characters are part of a love triangle: Mitchell loves Madeline, but Madeline loves Leonard.

The book contains some really beautiful/amusing passages-- the type that I really admire Eugenides for as a writer. Here are a few of the things I highlighted:
  • "Everyone in the room was so spectral-looking that Madeleine's natural healthiness seemed suspect, like a vote for Reagan" (25).
  • "Reading a novel after reading semiotic theory was like jogging empty-handed after jogging with hand weights. After getting out of Semiotics 211, Madeleine fled to the Rockefeller Library, down to B Level, where the stacks exuded a vivifying smell of mold, and grabbed something-- anything. The House of Mirth, Daniel, Deronda-- to restore herself to sanity. How wonderful it was when one sentence followed logically from the sentence before! What exquisite guilt she felt, wickedly enjoying narrative! Madeleine felt safe with a nineteenth-century novel. There were going to be people in it. Something was going to happen to them in a place resembling the world" (47).
  • "In Madeleine's face was a stupidity Mitchell had never seen before. It was the stupidity of the fortunate and beautiful, of everybody who got what they wanted in life and so remained unremarkable" (77).
But, as you might notice, I stopped highlighting things pretty early on. This is because Eugenides' statements seemed less profound than they would be had I liked the characters more.

I just couldn't bring myself to care about Madeleine. She wasn't entirely unlikable, exactly. But she reminded me of someone I went to high school with: someone who, however full of good intentions, had absolutely no idea how privileged she was.

I don't know. To me, she just seemed empty: completely devoid of a history that would explain her personality. She'd be fine as a minor character. But as the protagonist, she just wasn't complex enough for me.

I felt similarly about Mitchell, the guy who's in love with Madeleine. He's from Grosse Pointe, and I feel like I wouldn't have learned anything about him if I didn't have prior knowledge about his hometown. For example, of his graduation, Eugenides writes, "Deanie, in a blue blazer and London Fog raincoat, was beaming at the sight of his youngest son, having forgotten, apparently, that he'd never wanted Mitchell to go to college in the East and be ruined by liberals" (117). Because I know that Grosse Pointe is a notoriously conservative town, I laughed when I read that.

Leonard, meanwhile, is pretty interesting. He's manic depressive; I alternated between feeling compassion for him and being extremely annoyed by his failure to recognize how much he was hurting those around him. Leonard wasn't a very likable person, but he wasn't supposed to be. My opinion of Leonard is similar to that of the other characters in the book. And I admire any author whose talent can allow me to participate in a story that way.

Another thing I struggled with: Although a lot of the references to literary theory made me laugh, it all just got really old/pretentious after a while. Eugenides grew up in Grosse Pointe and then went on to attend both Brown and Stanford. He sort of reminds me of Edith Wharton in that he has access to the upper classes and takes advantage of his ability to reveal things about people like that. And I think that his aim here was satire, which is awesome. But, like everything else about this book, it fell short and all just seemed a bit over the top.

Although I enjoyed the ending (and I won't give anything away), I didn't enjoy the pages leading up to it enough for it to be really profound for me.

And while I want to blame my criticism of this book on my biases (the fact that I'm a huge sucker for good character development, as well as the geography thing), what friends of mine who read this before I did have said about it rang true to my experience. As my friend Liz put it, "I think it was good but it just wasn't... as good? I don't think [Eugenides] accomplished what he had intended to do."

I agree with that. This book had quite a few great moments, but was not, as a whole, great. And maybe that's just because I loved Middlesex so, so, so very much and therefore will always hold Eugenides to a ridiculously high standard as a writer, but still.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Books I read: 2011 edition

For the past few years, I've felt like I haven't been reading enough. I don't know what "enough" is, exactly, but I've definitely been reading less than usual.

And that's how I feel about 2011, even though looking at this list, I didn't do too badly. My big thing this year was that I had a hard time focusing on fiction. I told everyone I was on a huge nonfiction kick. And that's certainly what it felt like, even though that wasn't entirely true. I read a decent number of novels, some of which were pretty long.

I didn't read much poetry until just this month, when I discovered Mindy Nettifee. She gets special mention up here because her books inspired me to start writing poetry again. Read them.

But anyway, the list. As in previous years, I've added comments about a few, and links to longer posts that I wrote earlier this year about certain books.


In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez (1994)

Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (2006)

The Man from Saigon by Marti Leimbach (2009)

Sexing the Cherry by Jeanette Winterson (1989)

On Beauty by Zadie Smith (2005)
This book contains a brief reference to an early Tracy Chapman album. A+.

White Teeth by Zadie Smith (2000)

Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn (2001)

Alfred and Emily by Doris Lessing (2008)

American Salvage by Bonnie Jo Campbell (2008)

The Well of Loneliness by Radclyffe Hall (1928)

The Buddha of Suburbia by Hanif Kureishi (1990)


Hope was Here by Joan Bauer (2000)

When We Were Saints by Han Nolan (2003)

The Absolutely True Story of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie (2007)

Pregnant Pause by Han Nolan (2011)

Don't You Dare Read This, Mrs. Dunphrey by Margaret Peterson Haddix (1996)
I picked this out randomly, because I love YA books. It contained a list of books by the same author, and although I hadn't recognized her name when I picked this up, I realized that she also wrote Running Out of Time, a book I read in elementary school and loved. So it was cool to accidentally stumble upon another book by the same author.


I Never Called it Rape: The Ms. Report on Recognizing, Fighting, and Surviving Date and Acquaintance Rape by Robin Warshaw (1988)
My one complaint about this book is that it's a bit dated. A lot of the scenarios therein chronicled women who found themselves trapped in a bathroom in the home of someone who had assaulted them. They then had to crawl out of the window to find help. Cell phones have changed that, so I think that a more current edition would be helpful, because unfortunately, this is still a very relevant issue.

He's a Stud, She's a Slut, and 49 Other Double Standards Every Woman Should Know by Jessica Valenti (2008)

The Journal of Helene Berr by Helene Berr (2008)

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs (1860)

Up From Slavery by Booker T. Washington (1901)

Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty by Dorothy Roberts (1997)
This was the best book I read all year. It was published quite a few years ago, so I don't know why it wasn't on my radar until now. But it rocked. I could literally feel my brain growing and learning as I read it-- a lot of the information was hard to digest. It was totally riveting and I think that everyone interested in race, class, and reproductive justice should read it.

A People's History of the United States: 1492-Present by Howard Zinn (1980, 2003)
I actually started reading this last year and just finished it this spring. It's a giant beast of a book, but everyone should read it; it was first recommended to me by a high school teacher six or seven years ago. I think this particular high school recognized my political leanings before I was even aware of them, though, so I'm glad that I waited until college to read it.

Side note: I have a list of people I'd like to high five before I die. Howard Zinn and Lucille Clifton were both on it, until they died within a couple of weeks of each other. That's when I started to get serious about my high five list, and in November of that year, I tracked down Michael Franti after a show in Ann Arbor and gave him a high five. He also gave me a hug, which was AWESOME, but I digress.

When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to presentby Gail Collins (2009)

Manifesta: Young Women, Feminism, and the Future by Jennifer Baumgardner and Amy Richards (2000)
The one cool thing about this book for me is that the authors included a blurb about a student at the University of Michigan who started a feminist zine there in the 1990s. And the name sounded really, really familiar, so I Googled it, and realized that she teaches in the women's studies program at Wayne now. So I took a class with her this fall. :)

Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power in a World Without Rape edited by Jaclyn Friedman and Jessica Valenti (2009)

Behind Every Choice is a Story by Gloria Feldt (2002)
As I've mentioned in previous entries, I did not always consider myself to be pro-choice. I only became pro-choice after hearing many women's stories and realizing that reproduction is not an area of life in need of government interference. This is not a book about abortion. It's a book about the difficult decisions that women make.

It was published quite a few years ago; I was bummed to find that many of the web addresses Feldt included don't work anymore. But other than that, it's a pretty good read. What I liked about it is that Feldt left it largely unedited, which allows each woman's individual voice to come through.

Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America by Melissa Harris-Perry (2011)

How the Pro-Choice Movement Saved America by Cristina Page (2006)
My problem with books like this is that the people who really ought to read them never will. This is yet another reason why I think the climate surrounding the "abortion debate" should be modified. The whole pro-choice vs. pro-life thing isn't effective. Talk to people. Respect each other.

A Shining Thread of Hope: The History of Black Women in America by Darlene Clark Hine and Kathleen Thompson (1998)

The Way We Never Were: American Families and the Nostalgia Trap by Stephanie Coontz (1992)
This past summer, a former professor mentioned that she was reading Coontz's most recent book, and told me that she thought I'd really like it. Although I didn't go out and find a copy of the book right away, I kept the author's name in the back of my mind, and was surprised to find her work referenced all over the place (in essays I read, blogs, etc). So finally, I looked to see if the Grosse Pointe library owned copies of any of her books. And I found this one.

It's dated, and could benefit from some more recent statistics. But Coontz is a historian, so I still really appreciated what she had to say about American families in earlier centuries. I also really liked how objective she was. The book has been described as "myth-shattering," and I'm always skeptical of that label, because it's usually a euphemism for "hugely biased." But that really was not the case with this book.

The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan (1963)
As mentioned above, I intended to read Stephanie Coontz's most recent book. But it was written about The Feminine Mystique, which I hadn't read. So, maybe because I'm completely insane, I decided to read it in its entirety. Lucy joined me, because a friend of hers recently wrote a capstone paper on it, which she found interesting.

I also wanted to read this book because, as someone who was born twenty-five years after it was published, I feel like I've been told how to feel about books like this one: It's outdated, not inclusive of women who aren't white/middle class/etc. And while those things are all pretty much true, these books obviously had a lot of influence in their time. So I like to read them to figure out why; they're not exactly assigned reading in my women's studies classes these days, and I'm fine with that. The focus of the program I'm in is to emphasize that feminism is still relevant today, and therefore, our readings are more current. But I like to read and think history is really important, so here we are.

That said, parts of it were definitely difficult to get through. For whatever reason, I wasn't expecting Friedan to spend so much time on psychology: Freud, Maslow, etc. To be honest, I don't like psychology very much. I used to. But after taking however many psychology classes at SVSU just because I found it interesting, I got tired of spending so much time in my own head, and decided I cared more about how people interacted with each other. And now I'm a women's studies major. It's sheer personal bias, but it still really influenced my opinion of this book.

A Strange Stirring: The Feminine Mystique and American Women at the Dawn of the 1960s by Stephanie Coontz (2011)

Just Kids by Patti Smith (2010)

Inferno: A Poet's Novel by Eileen Myles (2010)
This isn't really a "novel," which is why I've placed it under the nonfiction heading. Creative nonfiction, that's it. Myles herself is the protagonist, and describes her time on the art/poetry scene in 1970s NYC. It was interesting to read this right after I finished Just Kids.


for colored girls who have considered suicide when the rainbow is enuf by Ntozake Shange (1975)
This is another one of those books I had a hard time categorizing. Should I have put it beneath the heading below? It's referred to as a "choreopoem," so. Here you go. I have yet to see the Tyler Perry film.

Crush by Richard Siken (2005)
Stephanie raved about this book, so I decided to read it. Also, I pretty much automatically love anyone who has ever won the Yale Series Prize for Younger Poets, which Siken did. This reminds me that Carolyn Forche gave a reading at SVSU back in March and I missed it because I live two hours away and had to work that night anyhow. I'm still really bummed out about that.

Late Wife by Claudia Emerson (2005)

Rise of the Trust Fall by Mindy Nettifee (2010)
What I loved about this was that it was both poignant and hilarious. Also, it inspired me to start writing poetry again, which is significant, because I hadn't written any in almost three years. Mindy Nettifee gave a reading at the West Side School for the Desperate (where Stephanie lives) back in October. It was on a Monday night, and I live all the way out in Michigan, so I missed it. And I'm so bummed about that, because Mindy Nettifee is one badass poet, and I would have loved to see her read in person.

Sleepyhead Assassins by Mindy Nettifee (2006)


M Butterfly by David Henry Hwang (1986)
Is this really the only play I've read all year? Gotta step my game up, I guess. I love reading plays. The idea of an entire story being told through dialogue = win, win.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Obligatory end-of-year summary

What did you do in 2011 that you'd never done before?
Made a zine! Went to Lollapalooza! Did legitimate feminist activist work! Rode a Greyhound bus for 14 hours straight!

Did anyone close to you give birth?
Rose did. :) My cousin Sandy also had twins, but I don't know if that counts, because she and I are not especially close, and I haven't yet met her kids.

Did anyone close to you die?
My cat Mac. Really, though-- he was my very best friend and I miss him a lot.

Which countries did you visit?
The only country outside of the U.S. that I've ever visited is Canada, and I don't count that because I have citizenship there. I did visit a number of states, though: Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Illinois (for the millionth time), and Kentucky. In that order.

What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011?
Some kind of job or extracurricular activity that actually pertains to my interests.

What dates from 2011 will you always remember?
Technically, all of them. My memory for dates is completely absurd. That said, some are more memorable than others.

What was your biggest achievement of the year?
My grades this semester are AWESOME.

What was your biggest failure?
Being afraid to take risks. Wasting too much energy on people who don't care about me at all.

Did you suffer illness or injury?
Other than menstrual pain, no. Really, though, my uterus developed such a distinct personality this year that I named her Maude, after the 70s sitcom. She is obnoxious, demanding, and opinionated, but means well.

What was the best thing that you bought?
Lollapalooza tickets. That weekend rocked. I'm being literal, of course.

Whose behavior merited celebration?
My mother's. Somehow, I managed to get her to jump on the organic food train with me (this can also be counted as one of my greatest accomplishments of the year).

Whose behavior left you appalled and depressed?
The haters. You know who you are. Wise up, fools.

Where did most of your money go?
I gave it all to Trader Joe! In exchange, Trader Joe gave me food and cute tissue boxes with cute sayings on them.

What did you get really excited about?
My birthday, because I'm not-so-secretly an overgrown child about that every single year. Other than that, there wasn't much to get excited about, because most of the awesome things I did this year occurred pretty spontaneously. "What? You guys are leaving Saginaw for Pittsburgh RIGHT NOW and will be at my house to pick me up in less than two hours? Okay-- I will be ready!"

What song will always remind you of 2011?
My taste in music is so varied and questionable that it is quite impossible to answer this question. Ask me which 1,000 songs will make me think of 2011, and then we'll talk.

Compared to this time last year, are you:
Happier or sadder? Much, much happier. Much better-adjusted, also.
Thinner or fatter? Thinner. One of my mom's reasons for giving in to my demands for organic food was that I apparently refused to eat anything in our house, and she became concerned, because I lost a lot of weight.
Richer or poorer? Financially, poorer. My life feels a lot fuller than it did at this time last year, though.

What do you wish you'd done more of?
Reading. Risk-taking. Speaking up.

What do you wish you'd done less of?

How will you be spending the holidays?
Quietly, at home, in a food & wine coma.

What was your favorite TV program?
The Golden Girls. This, I'm sure, will remain a constant throughout my lifetime.

What was the best book you read?
Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty by Dorothy Roberts. If you're interested in race, class, and reproductive justice, I highly recommend that you read it. It'll break your heart and fill you with rage. But it's worth it.

What was your greatest musical discovery?
The Penny Loafers. They're an a capella group I discovered via Pandora Radio this year. I think they're cool because instead of singing without instrumental accompaniment, they use their voices to create the background music. It's really interesting.

What did you want and get?
FRIENDS! The beginning of this year was rough because I'd transferred schools but didn't know anyone on my new campus. The people I've met through the women's studies program have made things much better, and I'm so grateful for their friendship.

What did you want and not get?
A pony and infinite naps.

What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 23. I kept things pretty low-key because my birthday fell on a Thursday during finals, so not only did I have things to study for, but I had to babysit, because I babysit every Thursday. Also, I had the worst cold ever. It turned out great, though. I got a pair of warm slippers from my parents (seriously guys, they're awesome), and the kids I babysit teamed up with their mom to surprise me with all kinds of goodies, too. It was really sweet.

How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2011?
Well, see, that's just the thing. I lack a fashion concept. I wear whatever's on top of the clean pile. And those things don't always match and people assume I'm mismatching on purpose and trying to make some kind of statement. But I'm not a hipster. I'm just lazy.

What kept you sane?
I don't really claim to be sane, but talking to people who care about the same issues I do really helped me to feel better about things.

Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
I think most people are aware by now of my huge-o celebrity crush on Emma Stone.

What political issue stirred you the most?
I don't know how anyone could turn away from the Occupy movement. Also, all of the anti-choice bills pushed through congress this year really got my ire up, of course.

Who did you miss?
The many friends I met at SVSU-- I haven't visited Saginaw very much this year. Also, Stephanie and Sarah, because I always miss them (I got to see them more times this year than I usually do, though, so that's good). And my cat, who died in August. :(

What new friends did you make?
At WSU: Lura, Kali, Alie, Kaitlyn, and Ashley. And then there's Stef, who I met via the Intarwebs. She lives in New York. I haven't yet met her IRL; maybe that'll be a goal for 2012. :)

Share a valuable life lesson you learned in 2011?
Warm slippers will make your life immeasurably more satisfying.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Today I am 23.

Which isn't any kind of milestone. And please don't remind me about that one Blink 182 song.

In the past 23 years, I've written countless poems and published some, written a ton of stories, but published none of them. And I've written a bunch of other things. Blog posts, letters, birthday cards for my pets. I've edited two school-sponsored art & literary magazines and then had this (poorly developed) idea to make my own zine. It'll get better someday.

I had something like a 20% chance of survival at birth due to my failure to adjust to the idea of breathing outside of the womb. But then I conquered that obstacle and screamed for three months (sorry about that whole colic thing, Mom & Dad), thereby developing one hell of a set of lungs. I've since used those to grow into a singer who has danced onstage in horrible shiny pants. And then later I became a loudmouth feminist. I wonder what's next.

I've read a lot of books. And I think I wrote a novel when I was fifteen because accidentally, out of nowhere I realized I'd created a 237-page Word document-- a story that went on way longer than I had intended it to.

I had knee-length hair as a child because my mom couldn't bear to part with my baby curls. So I've gotten my hair stuck in an escalator and also pooped on it. And then I wrote slam poems about those things and performed them at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island and won a swanky trophy.

I've lived in the suburbs and also in a cornfield, but that's really it. I like to make birthday cakes out of healthy foods.

I am kind of a square, mainly because I'm the only person of my generation who uses the word "square."

I've seen Chantal Kreviazuk in concert three times. I also met her and was a little bit bummed out when she spelled my name incorrectly.

I floss compulsively but still get reprimanded every time I go to the dentist. I'm convinced that dentists are just used to reprimanding everyone for not flossing enough.

I've developed some really embarrassing celebrity crushes and some not-so-embarrassing ones. My most recent one is of the latter variety, so I'll spill: Emmastoneemmastoneemmastone!

I've skinny dipped at 4 a.m. in Higgins Lake and napped in the sunshine. I've had way too many dreams about having sex with people I really shouldn't ever even think about have sex with.

I've mastered the art of fighting with soccer moms in SUVs over parking spots outside of the elementary school at dismissal time. Because I babysit a lot.

And yet I've never had kids and can't ever picture myself having any.

I named my uterus Maude. I like to tweet about it.

I've flown to Colorado on Christmas Eve. And have had pizza and vodka for breakfast on Christmas morning. We mixed the vodka with Powerade because that's all we could find at the gas station, which was the only place open on Christmas morning.

I think Karen Carpenter's voice is totally gorgeous, even if no one my age even knows who Karen Carpenter was.

I got in big, big trouble with my mom one time because I decided to stop at the candy store on my way home from school one day in the second grade.

I've injured my sister badly enough to have her sent off in an ambulance... not just once, but twice.

I've developed and maintained a pretty impressive coffee addiction. And memorized a lot of random facts and dates and numbers. I'm fairly certain I know the birthdays of just about everyone I've ever met.

At sixteen I attended a summer writing seminar because I'm a nerd and it completely changed my life. And then I went back every summer for years.

I wish I could do that with everything I love. But I hear that living in the past is unhealthy.

So, I'm off to be 23-- which, for the immediate moment, means babysitting and getting some last-minute studying in for an exam I've got tomorrow morning. And also eating cake. And telling my cat that I love him even though he's asleep and can't hear me and doesn't even speak English anyway.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Wait... what?

By writing this, I run the risk of sounding whiny and ten years younger than I am. But I'm going to put it out there anyway, because it's something that's been on my mind all semester.

Where did I come from, and what the hell am I doing here? I live with my parents and sister in the epitome of white, middle class suburbia. All three of them smoke. Though they deny it, they're pretty racist. They drink as much Pepsi as I do coffee and don't consider a meal complete without a decent-sized portion of red meat. They don't believe in turning off the TV-- ever. They each own a car and drive everywhere-- even to visit friends who live around the block in the middle of summer. Neither of my parents went to college and my sister's dropping out of community college after this semester.

Don't get me wrong, they're pretty accepting of my feminism and lesbianism and commie/hippie tendencies, even if they'll never understand any of it. I even got my mom to jump on the organic food train with me (although she says she only did it because I literally refused to eat anything she cooked and lost about ten pounds).

But I just don't understand where I got any of this; they're different from me in every way possible. I want to say that I came to believe what I believe because of outside influence: friends, teachers, whatever. But that's really not the case. I grew up here, in Grosse Pointe, and moved to Saginaw for three years before moving back into my parents' house.

For me, it's always just been a matter of common sense (emphasis on the word always). Maybe all kids are born with this mentality and most outgrow it, but I just didn't? I don't know. But I remember being a little kid and feeling totally floored when I learned that my parents paid a water bill. I didn't understand (and I still don't understand) how anyone could put monetary value on a substance that makes up about 70% of a person's body. And I've applied that mentality to food, too, or anything people need to survive. Like a place to live. Around the age of nine (fearless little thing that I was), I told my friend's dad that I thought it was wrong of him to own a vacation home on Lake Charlevoix, because it was vacant most of the year. What a goddamned waste.

I don't know. I've always surrounded myself with like-minded people, of course. That's what we do. And it's made life bearable-- even enjoyable. But I can't say that I grew up thinking one thing and then went to college and met people who changed my way of looking at the world. Because, as illustrated above, that just didn't happen. I've always felt this way. And then I got to college and was disappointed because I still didn't really feel like I identified with anyone.

I've been kind of angry at myself lately, mainly due to my lack of involvement in things like the Occupy Movement. It's right up my alley and yet I'm utterly absent from it. I justify this to myself by pointing out that I live near Detroit, and Detroit is vastly different from Wall Street, where this protest originated. But that's really no excuse; this isn't the only thing I've (cowardly?) shied away from. There's also some other activism that I'm not as involved in now as I was just a few months ago. And although I'm generally pretty good at following the news and being aware of what's going on, I'm certainly not posting witty commentary on everything the way many of my friends are.

And yet, I know that I've always expected way too much of myself, so I'm trying to look at the whole picture. Given my upbringing and current living situation, I'm pretty strong. I may be taking a million years to get through school, but I haven't quit. And even though I get really effing overwhelmed by the news and my readings for class and the harsh realities of the kind of stuff I'm drawn to, I haven't turned away from it. I can't.

Here are some of the things I've got going for me: I'm more aware of things than I've ever been; if I wasn't, I wouldn't be reading almost compulsively, and working so hard to drag my family into the twenty-first century. I'm on track for a straight-A semester, so I must be doing something right, something productive. I have a job for which I earn money. I get out of bed every single day.

I realize that by writing this, I'm beating myself up for not doing this and that and the other thing, which tells me that I'll be back to it eventually. As Audre Lorde said, "Caring for myself is not self-indulgence. It is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare."

We all do what we need to do.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

"It's hard to dance with the devil on your back, so shake him off."

- Sarah calls me "green bean" because we both love YA literature and there's a character in the sequel to _Stargirl_ who's five years old and instead of saying "human being" she says "human bean." So, green bean because I am one of Sarah's favorite "beans" and green is my favorite color.

- I have another friend, also named Sarah, who sent me a coffee mug in the mail for my birthday yesterday. She is always doing random nice things for people, and I love her for it. She sent me a condolence card when my cat died this past summer, too, complete with a full color photo of him that she printed off of my Facebook page.

- I am currently obsessed with this song (this live on SNL version in particular because Florence Welch just looks so happy).