Tuesday, February 13, 2018

BOOKS! (Middlesex + The Other Wes Moore)

My original plan for the end of last year/beginning of this year was to wait until I'd read four books before writing another review. That way I could boost my reading numbers and also knock two reviews out in quick succession. But that's already taken longer than I'd like (one more book to go!), and I'm venturing out of the country the day after tomorrow. So rather than potentially not writing another review until March, I'm going to write one now. My last read of 2017 is a novel that I bought during my trip to Mackinac Island a couple years ago. My first read of 2018 is a memoir that was recommended to me by my aunt.

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

Cal Stephanides, born Calliope, is a Greek-American intersex person who grows up in Detroit during the 1960s and '70s. Due to a history of incest in his family, a genetic mutation is passed down through the generations until it was expressed in Cal. He is born with both male and female reproductive organs, but he isn't thoroughly examined at birth and so is raised as a girl until puberty. As his body exhibits more male characteristics, he decides to present as a man and runs away from home instead of being forced to have "corrective" surgery to help him present as a woman for the rest of his life. His story and family history are narrated by present-day Cal in 2001, who works as a foreign service officer in Berlin. The title Middlesex is a double entendre that references the street that his family live on after their white flight from Detroit to Grosse Pointe, and also references Cal's identity as an intersex person.

Rather than focusing on Cal right away, the first two parts of the novel give precedence to his lineage, including his Greek grandparents' flight from Turkey and the establishment of the Stepanides family  in Detroit. While the first 211 pages might seem like an extended detour, I was enthralled by all of the history I read. I had no idea that Greece and Turkey had such strong contention, or that the Turkish (likely) set the Greek and Armenian sections of Smyrna on fire after WW1. Or that the Ford Motor Company gave itself authority to control every aspect of their workers lives via their "sociological department" in order to find excuses not to pay all workers five dollars a day. And I knew that the Nation of Islam was founded in Detroit, but I hadn't realized how much its ideas had in common with current hotep ideologies. When we finally do get to Cal's childhood and adolescence in parts three and four, still more lessons await.

Back in college I'd heard a couple classmates speak highly of Middlesex (it won a Pulitzer!), but I hesitated toward reading it because I figured the content relating to gender identity and genetics would be way over my head. Granted, the novel is somewhat long and occasionally complex, but it's also one of the most easily readable novels that I read in 2017. The only disappointment I have with Middlesex is that we don't get to witness Cal's young adulthood. Jeffrey Eugenides does such a delightful job of taking his time with each phase of Cal's younger life, but the novel ends with his eventual return back to Grosse Pointe. We get some initial reactions from his mother, brother, and grandmother when "Callie" is now "Cal", but most of the events from 1975 to 2001 are left to our imagination. While I don't think that this novel needs an extra 200 pages, part of me still would've liked to journey through the Cal's teens, 20s, and 30s.

If you love the city of Detroit, immigrant stories, gender and sexuality studies, or fiction-written-as-biography, then you'll thoroughly enjoy Middlesex.

Favorite quotes:
"It spread in the space between her panic and grief... it was happiness. Tears were running down her face, she was already berating God for taking her husband from her, but on the other side of these proper emotions was an altogether improper relief. The worst had happened. This was it: the worst thing. For the first time in her life my grandmother had nothing to worry about" (216-217).

"Normality wasn't normal. It couldn't be. If normality were normal, everybody could leave it alone. They could sit back and let normality manifest itself. But people—and especially doctors—had doubts about normality. They weren't sure normality was up to the job. And so they felt inclined to give it a boost" (446).

The Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore

My aunt worked for decades as a social worker and now runs after school and summer education programs at a church in Louisville, so she interacts with young people on the daily. Some of these kids come from the hood and might be classified by outsiders as "troubled" or "at risk", and she's dedicated her life to being a source of stability and guidance to them. So I was hardly surprised when she told me to read The Other Wes Moore. She even tells the kids she works with to read it too! This is another fairly easy read that can be completed in a day or two, though I certainly wouldn't advise rushing through it.

Two black kids named Wes Moore grow up in Baltimore around the same time. Both are raised by single mothers. Both have trouble in school and run-ins with the law. One goes to military school and is a Rhodes scholar, becomes a youth advocate, and writes this book. The other gets convicted for killing a cop and gets a life sentence in jail. When Rhodes Wes hears about the other Wes' story, he writes him a letter which begins their years-long relationship and the process of writing this book. But while one might be seen as the "respectable" or "exceptional" black man that non-black people are eager to celebrate, and the other is seen as the stereotypically no-good and inherently dangerous black man that non-black people are eager to denigrate, Wes Moore steps in to say, "Not so fast". He writes this book not merely to compare their diverging trajectories, but to point to how similar both men are. Rhodes Wes could've easily ended up like the other Wes, and only a handful of pivotal moments and life-changing encounters made the difference.

On the one hand, The Other Wes Moore is a cautionary tale about choices and consequences, with a tinge of bootstraps ideology. But it also treats poor and criminalized people with dignity and understanding, and calls on all of us to create environments where young people can expect more for themselves. If you care about young people and under-served communities, then read this book.

Favorite quotes:
"My father had entered the hospital seeking help. But his face was unshaven, his clothes disheveled, his name unfamiliar, his address not in an affluent area. The hospital looked at him askance, insulted him with ridiculous questions, and basically told him to fend for himself. Now, my mother had to plan his funeral" (14-15).

"I learned that the way many governors projected the numbers of beds they'd need for prison facilities was by examining the reading scores of third graders. Elected officials deduced that a strong percentage of kids reading below their grade level by third grade would be needing a secure place to stay when they got older" (54).

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Gateways, and such.

When asked what got us interested in Japan, many Japanese learners like me will mention how anime was our "gateway drug". For people who came of age back when Adult Swim played that 6-hour block various anime episodes from late night Saturday to early morning Sunday, that limited exposure to Japan had a profound effect.

Case in point. I'm going to show you how anime led to me adopting my dog Julia.

If I hadn't been introduced to anime (especially shows like InuYasha, Blood+, Samurai Champloo, and others that had bomb soundtracks and opening/ending theme songs) in high school, I might not have been inspired to study Japanese in college.

If I hadn't studied Japanese in college, I might not have studied abroad at JCMU. If I hadn't studied at JCMU, I might not have met Aizawa-sensei. If I hadn't met Aizawa-sensei (who asked me what I do to help the causes that I claim to care about), I might not have signed up to volunteer at an animal shelter near my university when I got back to the States.

If I hadn't volunteered to walk dogs at that animal shelter, I might not have been exposed to pit bulls on a regular basis. If I hadn't been exposed to pit bulls, I might not have been open to adopting one. If I hadn't been open to adopting a pit bull, I might not have adopted Julia last year.

Do I even watch anime anymore? No.
Is anime the cause of every good thing that's happened in my life over the past 10 years? No.
Am I making arbitrary connections between events in my life? Maybe? I don't think so.

All I'm saying is that you never know how one thing might lead to something else...

Thursday, January 4, 2018

ドラマ (Dorama) Time! 19

Happy New Year! For the last three Japanese dramas that I watched in 2017, I wanted to try something a little different by listing the main plot points of each one and then briefly filling in the gaps. As usual, all of these shows can be found with or without English subs on DramaCool. In the order that I finished them:

セシルのもくろみ (Seshiru no Mokuromi/Cecile's Plot) - Fuji TV/2017
  • Nao (Maki Yoko) is a laid-back housewife from Saitama who gets recruited to be an amateur model along with other subscribers of a women's lifestyle/fashion magazine.
  • Nao's paired with a junior editor named Eri who thinks Nao sucks at modeling (because she does), but who coaches her so that they both can eventually earn long-term positions with the magazine.
  • Nao is befriended by the magazine's long-reigning top cover model Yukako, who also helps refine her modeling technique. Nao finally starts taking modeling seriously.
  • Some drama happens, Yukako quits modeling. Nao is in the running to become one of the featured models who gets to replace her.
  • More drama happens, both Nao and Eri almost quit their respective careers, and the magazine staff is reorganized. Eventually both women find their footing in the industry.
I watched this show for Maki Yoko ('Mondai no Aru Restaurant') and Itaya Yuka ('Haha ni Naru'), who are two of my favorite actress. Though if Itaya Yuka's going to keep doing fashion dramas it'd be nice if she switched it up instead of playing the same super-serious exec each time (see 'FIRST CLASS'). I didn't really care much about the backstabbing involving models and other staff at the magazine, and I didn't care that much about Yukako even though she went through some difficult times and was instrumental to Nao's development as a model. What kept me watching was the camaraderie between Nao and Eri, where mutual spite transformed into a partnership, and then into a genuine friendship. And perhaps I'm also a sucker for a woman underdog story, I don't know. There's also an openly bisexual makeup artist who doubles as a wise sage, which is interesting, but the show doesn't really use him for much other than to give Nao advice.

カンナさーん! (Kanna-san!/Ms. Kanna!) - TBS/2017
  • Kanna (Watanabe Naomi) works as a fashion designer and is shocked when her husband Ryo asks for a divorce so he can be with his mistress/work colleague.
  • Kanna and Ryo both date other people for a bit, but as those relationships fizzle out they focus on co-parenting their young son as best they can.
  • Kanna's trifling mother-in-law is trifling the whole time. 
  • The design house that Kanna works for gets bought out and Kanna loses her job.
  • Kanna works in construction to make ends meet, Ryo stops being a dummy, and a choir sings "Joyful Joyful" from Sister Act 2 as they get re-married. Kanna still draws designs but her future in fashion is uncertain.
Watanabe Naomi (comedian/fashion designer) is literally the only reason I gave this show the time of day. I'm actually not that familiar with her work besides the clips here and there that I've seen online. I'm a fan of hers simply because she's a fat woman in Japan who's extremely successful in entertainment and fashion, and I just really want her to win. 'Kanna-san!' is a lot like 'Jimi ni Sugoi' in that the entire show rides on the lead actress. If anyone other than Ishihara Satomi had been cast in 'Jimi ni Sugoi' it would've been just a boring workplace show about a young woman who goes to work and dresses cute. If anyone other than Watanabe Naomi was cast in 'Kanna-san!', it'd just be a boring show about a single mom who designs clothes and keeps getting tried by her ex-husband and mother-in-law. Watanabe's enthusiasm and unique appearance are what make the show work. Thankfully, however, there are no fat jokes and no one comments on her weight at all. There are subtle references, like when the tub overflows when she settles in for a bath, or when she buttons two shirts together to make a skirt in her size. But her being fat is never the butt of a joke, which I can appreciate.

僕のいた時間 (Boku no Ita Jikan/The Time I Was There/Hours of My Life) - Fuji TV/2014
  •  Takuto comes from a wealthy family and was expected to become a doctor and take over his father's hospital, but opts out. Consequently, his parents mostly ignore him in favor of his younger brother who's groomed to be the successor instead.
  • Takuto and Megumi go to the same university but only meet for the first time during a group job interview. At first bonding over their mutual failure at being able to secure a full-time job, they become a couple.
  • Takuto gets hired at a furniture company, while Megumi trains as a nurse for the elderly and disabled.
  • Takuto learns that he has ALS, a rarity but not impossibility for his age. He breaks up with Megumi, encouraging his senpai Takumi to date her instead, and erases himself from her life so as to avoid telling her about the diagnosis.
  • Two years later Takuto still works and lives a decent life thanks to the support of his mom, brother, best friend, and caretakers. He and Megumi cross paths again by chance at a wheelchair soccer practice.
  • Megumi leaves Takumi to be with Takuto again. They stay together as he loses the ability to move, write, and speak.
When I checked the upcoming shows for the fall 2017 season I wasn't sold on any of the options, so I looked up some of the most popular dramas from the past 10 years for alternatives and found this one. My takeaway from the show, other than learning more about the progression of ALS, is that you have to acknowledge things as they are rather than getting wrapped up in how you think they "should" be. This is something I've struggled with basically my whole life, especially in 2017. Once Takuto makes peace with how his life has changed and will continue to change, he's at greater peace and is able to make the most of what his life has become. This show reminded me a lot of my grandfather (formerly very independent, now significantly less so due to certain medical issues) and the concessions people have to make when their bodies age or begin to lose certain functions. Humbling story with a sad but resolute ending.

'Seshiru no Mokuromi' was fun to watch, 'Kanna-san!' was cute I guess, but neither of them hold a candle to 'Boku no Ita Jikan'. That's my winner this time around.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

BOOKS! (Stealing Buddha's Dinner + Beijing Doll)

I finished these books weeks ago but haven't been in a writing mood lately, hence the delay. But I've been feeling pretty good this week, I'm at my favorite cafe and I'm ready to do this. So let's do this! Today's reads are second-hand books that I found at my local Little Free Library and at the Detroit Bookfest, respectively.

Stealing Buddha's Dinner by Bich Minh Nguyen

If you've been reading my reviews for a while you may be thinking, Seriously? Another immigrant story? And to that I would say: 1) Hey, I like what I like. There will be more. And 2) Bich Minh Nguyen went through a whole lot in her formative years, okay?

She emigrated to the US with her family as a child, leaving her mom behind in Vietnam. She grew up in one of the whitest, most conservative places ever during the 1980s, and didn't have wealth or connections or religious affiliation to help her blend in. Her father remarried, adding a stepmom, stepsister, and eventually a half brother and foster children to a crowded household that already included her older sister, her grandmother, and two uncles. She adopted American tastes and habits to fit in, only to wind up with limited proficiency in her first language, a nearly non-existent connection to fellow youths in the local Vietnamese community, and the biting realization that whiteness would never be hers, no matter how she tried. She couldn't even find reliable friends in her two sisters, since she was younger than them, a bookworm, and supposedly unpretty. And even though she knew her mother was out there somewhere, she couldn't ask about it because her dad and stepmom were the type of parents who didn't talk about anything! Anything that was too real or unpleasant remained grown-folks business or simply wasn't spoken of aloud.

Grand Rapids is much like Ann Arbor, Ferndale, Royal Oak, and gentrified areas of Detroit in that it has a reputation as being one of the "hippest" places in the state. It's attractive, it's changed over the years, and it gets a lot of credence since it's the largest city in west Michigan. But apparently it's also very conservative and can still be a tough place for people who are considered too different. It was so for Nguyen in the '80s, and it has been so for one of my college friends, a young, Black, first-gen American, LGBTQ woman my age who grew up there and now lives in NYC. But this is Michigan after all, so perhaps Grand Rapids is merely emblematic of the state itself. That's another discussion for another day. My point is only that Nguyen's delayed arrival at self-awareness and acceptance is understandable given her surroundings.

I also can't forget to mention Nguyen's ability to demonstrate the bond between consumerism and whiteness. The 1980s saw a huge boom in both advertising and consumer trends, and as an impressionable child Nguyen used popular food/food products, television, and music to try and gain proximity to perceived normalcy and perfection. The title Stealing Buddha's Dinner refers to an incident when Nguyen tested the power of Buddha by stealing a plum from the altar that her grandmother set, and waited to see what consequences would follow (none did). It represents not only her challenging religious convention, but also testing the other tenets that frame her young life: Vietnamese-ness, American-ness, family, what it means to be a good kid, what it means to be beautiful, girlhood, coolness, and the taboo of confronting the past.
If you are interested in reading about Vietnamese culture and food, refugee experiences, blended families, 1980's American pop culture, Grand Rapids history, or young outcasts, then read this book!

Favorite quotes:
"Nonetheless, drawn to what I could not have, I kept seeking out landscapes in which I could not have existed. Deep down, I thought I could prove that I could be a more thorough and competent white girl than any of the white girls I knew... I thought if I could know inside and out how my heroines lived and what they ate and what they lovedHarriet in New York, Laura in Dakota, Jo March in Massachusetts, Elizabeth Bennet in EnglandI could be them, too. I could read my way out of Grand Rapids" (163).
"In the end, I left my questions unanswered. I couldn't comprehend the loss, the nearly twenty years' absence, the silence and unknowing, the physical distance literally impossible to break. I didn't know what to say to make anything different. I didn't know what to do with so many years between us... In the end, I left my mother all over again" (237-38).

Beijing Doll  by Chun Sue

I didn't think to ask Zuri McWhorter (@literaryhomegirl) if this was her own personal copy. But it was on the table along with the creative wares that she was selling at the Detroit Bookfest, and it was visibly worn when I bought it, so I'm going to hope that it was hers. Chun Sue wrote this autobiographical novel when she was 17 years old, got it published when she was only 20, and it was banned in China not long afterward. Wow, wow, and wow.

An ode to her teenage years, Beijing Doll contains an abundance of typical teenage angst, impulsiveness, idealism, sense of loss, and disappointment with the world. What is atypical about Chun Sue, however, is that she is able to act on her impulses in ways that few teenagers have the freedom to do. She quits high school twice and spends most of her time hanging out with friends and having dalliances with boys, sometimes staying out all night. She's an avid rock music fan, a wannabe musician, and a skilled writer, so in the midst of her escapades she also has somewhat of a career in music journalism, interviewing various bands and artists in the underground rock scene. Beijing Doll might not be considered a literary masterpiece, but it made a considerable impact when it was published, and it does offer a fascinating look into what urban youth culture was like in Beijing at the turn of the millennium.

The kicker is that despite acting out, she still had a home to go to at the end of the day! Chun Sue came and went as she pleased, did almost whatever she wanted, disobeyed her parents time and time again, even got in trouble a couple of times, and her parents never kicked her out or punished her harshly. Which was surprising to me, as I'm used to hearing or reading stories about traditional Asian parents being notably strict. Her father was a no-nonsense military man, but her mom dealt with her most often, and I don't know if she was ahead of her time as a parent or simply exasperated by trying to rein Chun Sue in. As much as the girl expressed feeling alone and misunderstood, she didn't face that many consequences to her actions.

This novel is also an implicit reminder that men can be predatory no matter where on earth you look. All of the men that Chun Sue gets involved with are older than her, and she was even fielding advances from college students when she was only a middle school student (became sexually active at around 14 years old). Sure she tried to act grown and often lied about her age, but I refuse to believe that it's really that hard for men to tell how young a girl actually is. Like y'all know. And y'all know that y'all know.

Anyway, if you like coming-of-age stories, rock music, or contemporary Chinese literature, then read this book!

Favorite quotes:
"Jelly said I asked too much of life. But how was I to ask too little?" (60).

"I didn't know how to go about finding my lost passion, but my dreams had not been fulfilled, and so I was still young" (164).

Friday, November 10, 2017

Things People Give Me #33 and #34

For the past 7 months or so I've been volunteering with a group of middle school kids who were going on an exchange trip to their sister city in Kusatsu, Shiga-ken, Japan. I got involved because one of the organizers/chaperones is my neighbor as well as the mother of a girl I went to school with from elementary through high school. The group returned from their 10-day trip last week, and my neighbor invited me over to show me pictures and tell me all about their experience. They visited a number of elementary and junior high schools in that city, and one of the schools greeted each visitor with a hand-folded origami bookmark. My neighbor let me have hers, as well as a box of tea that she bought while there. Thanks, Ms. Sturgis!

Today I received a free lunch bag from my bank, as a token of gratitude for being a member for 15 years. And I was so confused. Fifteen years? Since when did I....? And then I remembered that I've been with the same bank since elementary school, when my mom signed me up for the "little savers" program (or whatever it was called), where they let us kids open bank accounts and make deposits once a week to teach us about saving. I might just give the lunch bag to her, since she's the reason why I have the account in the first place. Thanks, Ma! And thanks to my bank!

Sunday, November 5, 2017

BOOKS! (Ghana Must Go + We Are Never Meeting in Real Life)

Don't know if reading slumps and life slumps coincide (usually I can keep reading no matter what), but for some reason since autumn started I've had the hardest time getting through books as quickly as I have been this year. I finally managed to finish two, one of which I bought in Mackinaw City last year and another I bought on a whim while killing time at bookstore some weeks ago.

Ghana Must Go by Taiye Selasi

For a while, Kweku and Folasadé's meeting at an HBCU in Pennsylvania in the 1980s was the beginning of their own African immigrant success story. Kweku, having escaped poverty in Ghana, established himself as a talented surgeon in Boston while Folasadé, having escaped war in Nigeria, traded her would-be law career for selling flowers and raising their four children. The family's wellbeing and the solidification of their place in America rests on Kweku, until his ability to provide is wrested away from him. Too proud to admit his failure to his family, he runs away from home, eventually divorcing his wife and moving back to Ghana, leaving Folasadé to carry the family on her own. Fifteen years later Kweku dies from a heart attack at home with his second wife, prompting Folasadé and her grown children to congregate in Accra. Not only must they renconcile their feelings toward Kweku, but they also must contend with unresolved bitterness between each other.

Olu, the eldest, is a surgeon just like his father but resents the stereotypical deadbeat dad that Kweku represents. He is also afraid to love his own wife in the full and vulnerable way that she deserves. Taiwo and Kehinde, the twins, have always been revered for their beauty and they possess an otherworldly connection to each other that is respected as sacred. Their relationship is ruptured by events that occured during an abbreviated stay in Nigeria not long after Kweku left the family. In the present Kehinde, a famous artist, is recovering from attempting to take his own life, and Taiwo, a law school dropout, is angry at the world and can't stop going back to her married lover. And lastly there's Sadie. Kweku was instrumental in helping her survive after being born premature, but he left when she was too young to know him as her father. Sadie resents being treated like a child, and unlike her siblings she doesn't seem to possess any special skill or beauty. She idolizes her wealthy white friends and uses bulimia to cope with feelings of inadequacy. Each of the six family members lends their perspective, with Kweku's voice being most prevalent in the first part of the book. Giving Kweku a proper send-off is integral to his posthumous redemption, and sets the stage for each family member to wrestle with their own lingering hurt and identity issues.

What I love most about Ghana Must Go is that Taiye Selasi is in no rush to tell us everything we want to know. She'll offhandedly throw in a hint of extremely pertinent information about a character or event while discussing something else entirely, and won't provide a complete explanation until she decides to do so in her own time, giving us little tidbits along the way. You almost have to read the book twice to fully get it, because you realize that you were given clues previously but weren't aware of it. If you have ever had a difficult relationship with a father figure, have any connection to immigrant families, have ever dealt with sibling rivalry, or would like to learn more about West African history and customs, then definitely read this book!

Favorite quotes:
"that the world is both too beautiful and more beautiful than he knows, than he's noticed, that he missed it, and that he might be missing more but that he might never know and that it might be too late... and that it might not even matter in the end what he's noticed, for how can it matter when it all disappears?... how can he be faulted for all that he's missed when it's all wrapped in meaninglessness, when everything dies? He is pleading his innocence (I didn't know what was beautiful; I would have fought for it all, had I seen, had I known!)" (20-21).
"Only foolish artists wait until they're famous" (83). 

We Are Never Meeting in Real Life by Samantha Irby

I believe I first heard about this book when Crissle from The Read gave it a shoutout. Then a few weeks ago I spotted it in a bookstore, skimmed through it and read the line "ALSO HER PERSONALITY WAS TERRIBLE. THAT BITCH DIDN'T EVEN PURR" (35), and I was sold! To be honest, I don't enjoy reading personal/opinion essay collections that much, but I keep doing it because I'm nosy and I hope that the people who write them have something both challenging and humorous to say. This one took me longer to read than I'd expected because, like Oscar Wao, it got a little too real for me and I related to much of it on a very personal level. It's one of those books that makes you cackle and then depresses you and then makes you cackle again, and so on.

In a nutshell, Samantha is a Chicago-based writer who uses humor to interrogate pop culture and the various aspects of life that suck. And life has kind of sucked a lot for her. She grew up poor in a dysfunctional family, and both her parents were deceased before she entered her twenties. As an adult she is a black, queer, fat, opinionated woman in America with digestive issues and a chronic illness. And let's not forget the depression and anxiety that she didn't have the privilege to be treated for until she was on her own. She has self-professed weird habits, likes to stay at home whenever possible, and has a comical love-hate relationship with her cat named Helen Keller. She's kind of a mess, but as far as she's concerned, with everything she's dealt with and still has to deal with, she's earned the right to do whatever she wants (and I don't disagree)!

My favorite essays are as follows. "The Miracle Porker" tells how she ended up with her sickly and spiteful cat. "Do You Guys Pay Your Fucking Bills or What?" is about paying for things as an adult and how impulse spending is different for people who grew up poor. "You Don't Have to Be Grateful for Sex" is a candid reminder that fat or "ugly" girls don't have to share time or their bodies with anyone who doesn't treat them well; being able to have sex with a hot guy changes absolutely nothing about your quality of life. "A Total Attack of the Heart" is all about mental illness, beginning in her youth. "Mavis" gives the ins-and-outs of a lesbian relationship (eye-opening for me, as I definitely need to read more LGBTQ literature). "Fuck it, Bitch. Stay Fat" deals with weight, weight loss, and body image, and I love this essay the most simply for its title. "I'm in Love and It's Boring" discusses first loves and the boring-ness of being in a healthy relationship for once. And "Yo, I Need a Job" details the skills she picked up by working as a receptionist in an animal hospital. The other essays are great too, but the aforementioned are my favorite. If you like reading a mixture of jokes, adorable awkwardness, and sadness, then read this book!

Favorite quotes:
"I don't know that I'm always happy in this big body. Or what there is that I can actually do about it. I was not born to delicate people... This rotting meat corpse they created is riddled with inexplicable disease and is wide as it is tall. I was never destined to be a waif, or to have a less-than-terrible relationship with food. I grew up poor, anxious, and unhappy, with cheap carbohydrates the only affordable substitute for joy. If I had a depressed kid right now, I'd drag him to a doctor and ask for some Wellbutrin, but that was never an option for tiny me" (154).

"If 'it gets better', I'ma need to know when" (200). 

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Things People Give Me #32

When your best friend since 2nd grade has a Netflix account and you don't, and she invites you over to her family's house to spend the day watching What Happened to Monday and the first season of 'Stranger Things'

...and when you arrive you're greeted with a large hot honey lemon tea with two sugars from Tim Horton's, plus warm jiffy cornbread muffins that your friend made herself, plus other snacks

... and your friend insists you lay out on the big couch and lays a blanket over you that she'd warmed up in the dryer just for this occasion

...and then her parents come downstairs to join the binge-watching party, and when dinnertime comes they make hot sausages and tater tots and salad and everything is so so so good

...and you're reminded of how necessary it is to cherish people who make you feel safe and welcome and free to laugh as loudly as you please, and how necessary it is to spend time with said people

...and you're reminded that God has called all of us to LIVE, and you been slippin'.

Thank y'all.