Monday, October 16, 2017

Why Feminsm? Me Too

For those of you who hang out on Facebook and twitter, you have probably seen the results of the "Me too" movement.

 If you haven't, here is a brief description: women (and others) are posting a "Me too" or #MeToo if they have personally been a victim of sexual harassment or sexual assault. Since October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, its a good time to do it. The number of the "me too" statements is a bit alarming. Which is the point. The hope is that by letting people know how many of us have been victims, we can raise awareness and maybe people will try to change things.

I hesitated, but eventually decided to participate.

And soooo many of my friends shared, too. Some simply wrote "me too" or copied the message that most people shared. And a couple of my friends shared pieces of their past or whole stories. Which inspired me to write this. The worst thing about this is that I know that some of my friends did not participate, but I am aware that they share the same experiences.

If most women are like me, this is not a one-time experience. I have had my body commented on several times while I was working. Two of the worst were from regular coffee shop customers who specifically felt the need to comment on my butt. I have never felt so vulnerable and analyzed before. I'm at work, I am not displaying my body, and I am certainly not inviting comments. All of those times were very deer-in-the-headlights moments for me. What do you do? What do you say? In all of those instances, these men were taking advantage of the fact that I am in my place of employment. I'm not really supposed to do or say anything aggressive. I don't want to smile because I don't want to encourage them. There are lots of people nearby and I don't want to cause a scene and draw attention. And I'm embarrassed. And I can't speak because now I know that while I have been working, completely oblivious, these men have been staring at my ass. Suddenly, my work place doesn't feel so safe and I feel that I can't do anything.

If those comments had been made in my hearing to another of my coworkers, I would have put my foot down then and there. I am great at standing up for other people, but I am terrible at standing up for myself. But usually these kinds of men are good at isolating you enough to make their comments unheard by others, but not isolating you enough that you feel you can stand up to them.

A couple times I have been lucky enough to have someone else nearby (always another man) who called the person out and stood up for me. Those are the moments that give me hope that things can change.

My worst experience happened over the course of a year or so. I was 9. Let me say that again I was 9 fucking years old. I had a friend who I was very close to and I spent a ton of time at her house. Her older brother (who was 15-16 at the time) continuously molested me, mostly by grabbing my butt (I'm starting to sense a theme here...).

I was young and I was confused and I did not understand what was going on. But I also felt ashamed and embarrassed and I never told anyone (and then I actually repressed the memories to be dug up in my senior year of high school. Fun times). All I knew was that I didn't like it. I tried telling him "No," and "Don't." And I literally used to press my back against the wall sometimes if I encountered him in the hallway. And he would laugh at me. And sometimes he would ignore me, so I never knew what to expect.

This had a trickle down affect in my life and I never liked guys/men to touch me (though I didn't know why for a long time). I once caused a scene in a chemistry class when a male classmate came up behind me and grabbed my shoulder and said something (that I couldn't comprehend in my panic) and one time I freaked out and yelled at my dad. Poor Daddy never said anything or asked about it and it certainly wasn't anything he had done wrong.

The worst thing about this? My story is a far cry from the worst ones out there. So many women (and homosexuals, transgenders, gender fluid people, et cetera) face much worse than I have. I came out (mostly) whole on the other side. I still panic when strange men enter my space, especially if I feel trapped. It has made romantic relationships more difficult. And I get sad for 9-year-old-me, dealing with things that were so far over her head. But overall, I am OK with the way I am. There are women and people out there who can't recover from their experiences. They will be forever haunted. And that is why things need to change. And why we need to show solidarity and have men decide that they will stand with us and help provide safe spaces with us.

I decided to share because I think its time to stop hiding. The worst of my stories happened a long time ago and I can disconnect from it. But hiding this won't help and won't solve anything.

Thank you to all of my amazing, brave friends who have shared their stories. I know its a hard thing to do and I think you are wonderful for sharing and helping to raise awareness. It's time for us to stop being embarrassed and haunted.

And to all of my friends who have had these experiences, even the ones who are not ready to share, you are so strong.

This is a safe space if anyone would like to share your story. Or if you just want to share a "Me too." We are stronger together.

For more information, there are websites and other blogs you can check out. Here is a site that I have looked at in the past: No More and another I found in the course of reading peoples' stories and writing this: End Sexual Violence. If anyone has other good resources, please, please share them.

Friday, September 29, 2017

2017 Spooky Reads

It's that time of year again! The most wonderful time of the year. Our autumn here has been great so far. The leaves are changing, the weather is cool, skies are grey and rainy, and it smells like fall. Time for some Halloween-themed reads. Here is what's on my list this year:


We Have Always Lived in the Castle
Graveyard Shift
The Poisoner's Handbook
And the new Magnus Chase book because I am Rick Riordan trash. I adamantly refuse to wait until November to read/listen to it.


Strange Practice
I Woke Up Dead at the Mall
A Monster Calls
And, as usual, The Graveyard Book
And possibly All the Crooked Saints because I pre-ordered it many months ago. Stiefvater is pretty good at writing eerie stories, so it may fit right in!

Hopefully I have some good ones in here. Anyone else have Spooky reads planned? Or recommendations?

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Hello Again

Wow, I am terrible at this. I wrote all the way back in May that I was going to try to be better about blogging. Here we are in September without a single blog post in between.

Since October is coming, of course I am starting to get ready for my Halloween reads in October. To that effect, I seriously need to finish some of the books I have going. I got into a rut and lost most of my attention span for reading anything that wasn't related to my Disney World trip (which got rescheduled due to hurricanes). In that vein, I'd like to share some of the books I have read so far this year. Maybe I will compile Disney World trip books in another post.

I read these two earlier this year. I thought they were fun twists on the Sherlock stories. Sort of like fairy tale re-tellings. We follow the stories of Sherlock's and Watson's descendants. Who meet and become crime-solving friends at school.

 This is the much anticipated sequel to This Savage Song, which I read last year and loved immensely. I knew this one would break my heart (and it did) but I adored it. Her duology is incredible and really made me think. I love that dark deeds are turned into monsters and it made me wonder if people could see a physical manifestation of bad deeds, would that prevent more bad deeds in the future? Or as August struggles with, can humans not be redeemed? The setting she created in these books sucked me in.

Speaking of eerie settings, this one took the cake so far this year. This story was odd and rather different from her other books (in my experience, though I haven't read all of her books). The island that these rather demonic horses appear on is strange. There were things that I loved and hated about the book and the story. But no matter how you feel about the characters and their story arcs, you cannot deny that Maggie Stiefvater was the queen of atmosphere in this book. In related new, I am super excited for her book All the Crooked Saints which comes out next month.

This book came in the May owlcrate box. It sounded intriguing so I started it right away. I did not expect to love it as much as I did. There was something about it that spoke to me and I was so sad when it was over. I think it is kind of a niche book, but I guess I fit into that niche just fine. If you are a passionate nerd who is/has been a social outcast and needed creative outlets, I think this is a good book for you. It is cool to know that there are works that impact people on such personal levels.

Here is a little treasure. I heard raving reviews for this book and had to read it. It was beautiful, touching, and emotional. I think the poetry deters some people, but I promise it reads just like a story and is very good. I have been trying to read more books by POC (especially by WOC), and this was a great one to include. It also lead me to finally read The Color Purple which was a great story, too.

Last, but certainly not least is this one. I've had Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda on my TBR for quite some time now, but this arrived in an owlcrate so I dove in. I was compelled by the fact that the main character is a big girl, but that the story didn't surround her weight, really. It was a good and touching story and led me on to read Dumplin as well. I have never been overweight, but I have struggled with my body image, too. And we all tell ourselves the same things. It was neat to see beautiful characters like these develop past those things and felt empowering.

I hope you enjoy. Look for Halloween-related book posts in the future!

Friday, May 19, 2017

Back to Blogging

Well, I never did get around to typing up and posting my official book reviews for December and I haven't posted much of anything, book related or otherwise, since then.

I was feeling pretty discouraged after the loss of Carina and Nugget in December and recently lost Nova, too. She was in "rattie hospice" care for quite some time and much of my energy was devoted to taking care of her. There has been stress at home and work has been keeping me insanely busy. Plus, I finally figured out that I lack tons of energy and a good portion of it is due to my working night shift. It's hard to function as a normal human when you work nights.

I'm still reading and hoping to find a fun way to keep incorporating books into my blog posts. And to, you know, actually write blog posts.

I am super happy to report that I have fully recovered from my previous relationship, nothing is hanging over my head anymore (except the dryer that I need to have moved from his place). And it feels amazing.

The turning point for me came when I was feeling really down about myself and I was being very hard on myself, namely about the break up and how well it fed some of my greatest insecurities (namely my feelings of inadequacy). And finally I thought to myself, "That is so messed up. Why do I think that way? Why couldn't I be enough for the right person?" I started to evaluate where those feelings were coming from. Granted, this is something I struggle with some on my own, but I finally realized that my last relationship left me feeling this way constantly. Finally, I figured out that I had been dealing with some emotional/mental abuse for at least the last several years of my relationship. The light bulb clicked on and I thought, "That is not the way you treat someone that you love." I don't think I need to go into details unless people think it would help them identify similar things in their own lives. Feel free to reach out to me.

I came around 180 degrees. It was honestly like I found the off switch. I haven't missed him or our relationship since then. There were other issues to deal with, of course, but I felt like a new woman. And much wiser.

I wasn't planning on sharing this with the wide world, but a gal I know was asking for relationship advice from strangers to share in a blog post (read it here: Advice on Love and Relationships from Strangers), and while I did not respond, it got me thinking and made me want to reach out. How do you avoid what I went through? And how could I have recognized it sooner?

I'm not really sure what the answer is. Love is blind and it's hard to see some of the rough stuff. I was aware of his flaws, and yes, some of them were huge red flags. So why did I chose to ignore those? I wish I had answers for you. I guess the main reasons were that I had already devoted so much time and energy into making that relationship work. And also, I loved him more deeply than I honestly thought I was capable of loving someone. But hindsight is 20-20, and I see more of the problems now. I also started researching subtle forms of abuse. One of my favorites was this article: 7 Complex Signs Of Emotional Abuse You May Not Know.

But I also realize that I can recognize those flags better now than I could before. I know much more surely what I am looking for in a relationship and in a partner. And I also learned that I was stronger than that failed relationship. It did not beat me. And if I could love like that before, I can love that way again. And next time, I will be able to choose better.

And don't ignore your feelings! If something feels off or makes you upset and you don't know why, something is probably wrong.

Luckily these realizations came in time for me to meet a truly amazing guy. It's still kind of new, but he checks off everything on my list and then some. We've been seeing each other for a few months now and I know I'm still in the infatuation stage, but I have honestly not found anything to complain about. So you never know what is waiting for you on the other side. I have had plenty of good things happen since I have been single. And I'm glad that I was happy and in a good place before the changes to my love life happened.

I am going on a trip (with said guy) to Portland this week and I am very excited. And I have a super exciting Disney World and Harry Potter World trip planned with some girl friends for later this year! I love having things like this to look forward to! I'm already mentally packing for September...

Anyway, I'm still thinking about the book posts and ways to get more active on this blog again. Working nights isn't ideal for blogging, but I hope I can get back into the swing of things. Thanks for reading!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

December Wrap Up and A New Year

Books read this month:
Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter. Interesting take on the Baba Yaga story, but it wasn't my favorite.
Hotel Valhalla Guide to the Norse Worlds by Rick Riordan. Fun, quick read.
A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab. I need to read more of her books. I liked this one (though I loved This Savage Song more).
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. I read this as an audiobook narrated by Tim Curry, which is awesome. I really liked it and it's about time I read this classic. Though I grew up watching Mickey's Christmas Carol, so I kept imagining the characters as mice and ducks...
Landline by Rainbow Rowell. A re-read for Christmas. It's a great Christmas story and one of my favorite books.
My True Love Gave to Me by Stephanie Perkins and various others. This was a collection of 12 Christmas love-y stories. A couple of them were a little meh, but I really liked a few of them!
The Chimes by Charles Dickens. I thought this story was rather strange and occasionally confusing (though this might be more because it got repetitive and I got bored and stopped paying as much attention as I should have and less because it was actually confusing). A Christmas Carol was much better.

My book reviews have not been posted this month. I got a little busy and overwhelmed. I hope to get at least a few of them up within the next week or so.

Reading goals completed:
A book released the month of your birthday (December): A Christmas Carol

I completed my 2016 reading challenge!

Favorite book read this month:
Is it cheating to pick Landline since it was already a favorite? 

Least favorite book read this month:
Vassa in the Night or The Chimes

Well, I managed to read 77 books this year. My goal was 75. I am going to keep the same goal for next year. If I can surpass 75 again, I will try raising it.

My brother got me a Kindle for Christmas, which I didn't think I would like as much as I do. It's pretty great so far (though I'm not going to stop buying and reading physical copies because I love them). I think it will help me reach my reading goals.

I wanted to re-post my resolutions from last year:

"Due to the breakup, most of my resolutions fell completely by the wayside. The only thing I accomplished was my reading goal. It was 40, I raised it to 50, and read almost 70.

Next year I hope to read 75.

So I failed all of my other goals. And on top of everything else, that makes me feel discouraged and indifferent (but defensive) by turns.

I guess I need to start form scratch. And I need a new year. This year has been such shit and I'm still so caught up in it. If only a new year was as clean a break as I would like it to be.

My goal this year is to get better. I am trying to eat a little better (mostly), keep going to counseling, and just get my life back in order and on track. I need to buy a new car and I need to start seriously saving towards getting my own place. That is my ultimate goal. It won't happen this year, but it is what I want more than anything right now."

Well I completed my reading goal. And I do not think that 2016 was a very good year. There were a lot of losses and turmoil all over the world. To be honest, losing David Bowie still gets to me.

The end of my year was pretty rough, with Carina getting so sick for so long and having to put her down and having Nugget follow her over the rainbow bridge within the week. And it was the week of their second birthday. And of my 29th birthday. I miss them like crazy.

Despite all of this, I definitely feel much better now than I did last year. I haven't had many set backs recently. Sometimes I still get a bit sad and lonely, but not for my ex anymore. Usually I am just missing friends and feeling isolated due to my schedule. I don't long for that relationship anymore, even if I do miss companionship. I also had some realizations in the past few months about the types of things that I endured, during the break up and before. I realized that there were some pretty toxic things going on that I definitely couldn't see at the time. Now that I have, I feel much better about where I am at now. And it is an amazing relief. Finally.

I'm not sure if I have eaten a whole lot better. I would definitely say that I'm not eating worse, so I'm going to call it a win!

I did get my new car. And I love it.

I didn't make nearly as much progress towards saving for my own place as I would like. Mostly because of unexpected car costs, Nugget's surgery and vet visits, Carina's MANY, MANY vet visits, medications, and hospitalizations, along with other vet bills to make sure that Nova, Pixie, and Sprite had clean bills of health following the losses of Carina and Nugget. I spent way more money on vet bills the last few months than I would have ever expected. Despite that and the fact that Carina and Nugget still didn't make it, I wouldn't have done it differently. Their little lives are worth it to me.

I also had various successes at work. I was promoted to a full time position and given a raise in January. A couple months later, I was promoted again to a technician, which also came with a raise and has been awesome! I joined a travel response team at work and was accepted. I am authorized to carry a company card (though I never actually carry one) and I am being sent to Memphis this month to help with the launch of our computer program. I recently got another small raise and may be getting another one once the end of the year reviews are in. I feel like I am valued as an employee, I am loving my job and the people I work with. My job isn't always perfect, but I'm really liking it overall.

Besides my reading goals, I hope to continue to do well at work and keep advancing.

I hope to start being more physically active this year. I am not going to set strict goals, I just need to start getting in better habits. Dancing helps, so I will keep doing that, too.

I want to keep saving for my own place. It won't happen this year, but I need to be working towards that goal.

As for more tangible goals, I need to file for divorce and get the joint bank accounts sorted ASAP. I am tired of having those things hanging over my head. It is past time.

And that is about all! I hope everyone had a safe and happy New Year's Eve and here is to 2017 being better than 2016!