“Where Do We Go From Here???”

I began this blog because I could not picture a time in my life that would not revolve around race, class, gender, and other aspects of identity politics. But that’s not the whole story. I also began this project because I was acutely, painfully lonely. I had moved to finish my bachelor’s degree, and I found myself surrounded by people I had very little in common with. On a certain level, this was to be expected—I have always been strange, and have always had difficulty relating to most people. However, what I found was worlds away from what I thought was possible.

I was prolific when I was 14. I cranked out drawings, charcoal sketches, poems, narratives, several awful attempts at detective novels, and several even more awful and embarrassing attempts at fan fiction. I carved out little worlds for myself that I could hide in whenever my own life became too boring or too difficult or too sad.

That has been the role of this blog.

I was so lonely and sad to discover myself in a strange environment that felt vaguely hostile, and that pain spilled over until I shaped the excess into this.

 

I think about this little space, and the immediate question is: Now what?

See, my life has fundamentally changed. After I graduated, my spouse and I packed up and moved back. It wasn’t easy, but the change in setting has made it easier. Like it or not, this place is the closest we’ve ever had to a home. The biggest difference moving away had for me was that I stopped feeling safe. I stopped being able to rely on anyone else whether it was for a helping hand or a simple nod of acknowledgement. At home I knew what to expect, and I had been raised with the belief that everyone is important. Away from home I realized how much I had taken for granted.

Truthfully, my life no longer revolves around identity politics and social justice. Rather, I feel that I have consumed and will continue to consume these issues. They, in turn, feed me, becoming a part of my bloodstream and body. The difference between then and now being that identity politics and social justice are no longer the be-all and end-all they used to be for me.

This brings me back to the question I have been asking myself for months: Now, what is this blog? Do I throw caution to the wind and upload a picture of my beach-ball-like face and loudly proclaim that this is mine!? Or do I simply shuffle through, hoping that if I do have regular readers they are the type to put up with sporadic posts riddled with my attempts to maintain anonymity? Moreover, dear reader, I can’t figure out what the hell you might be getting out of this.

 

While I was Away, I thought I was forming myself. To an extent, I was, but to a much larger extent, I was getting lost. After we moved back I got stuck. I became hypercritical of myself. I painstaking fashioned a bow and arrows, which I used to shoot down all of my dreams. I roamed my psyche collecting their near lifeless bodies to burn on altars of news stories and editorials about Supreme Court rulings and immigration reform. I thought that this would appease whatever haunted me day and night with whispers that nothing I would do would ever be enough.

I was snapped back to reality and into embracing my subjectivity by a number of different factors, but the catalyst was human interaction in the form of an extremely encouraging friend, and, very oddly, taking a job in retail. Even though I have a long track record of abhorring retail, I recently took a customer service job that I genuinely enjoy. The people I work with are helpful and kind, and the customers we serve are mostly patient and good-spirited. The company itself makes an effort to be ethical, and I enjoy working in an atmosphere in which friendliness is encouraged. All that coupled with the fact that I have begun reaching out to people and that I no longer work to reject affection means that by and large, I am no longer quite so lonely.

I don’t know what that means for this blog. That’s part of why the book reviews have surfaced—I still love this space, I just no longer know what to do with it.

Stick with me, dear reader, and earn my gratitude as we see where we will go. Or, jump ship, and I won’t love you any less. This is an exciting and unknowable time. It is the start of a new adventure.

Book Review: Where’d You Go, Bernadette

When I initially picked up this book I expected it to be a fun, light read that might give me some insight to Seattle. While Where’d You Go, Bernadette is fun, filled with enough funny moments to feel light, and packed with commentary about aspects of Seattle culture, it’s also so much more.

I fell in love with Semple’s characters—they are so human! Each voice feels distinct, and even actions that seemed directed by outlandish motives have a realistic logic. Bee, our 15-year-old narrator is charming and exceptional in her clarity and kindness, and all too familiar in her selfish adolescence. I initially thought that the format of this book (which largely relies on revealing correspondences between characters to move the plot) was a gimmick, and in the hands of a lesser writer it certainly has been and will continue to be cover for a lack of skill. However, Semple uses this format to explore the ways our perceptions shape our understanding of reality. In doing so, she fleshes her characters out even more.

Put most simply, the premise of this book is that when Bee’s mother disappears, Bee begins an investigation that she hopes will lead her to her mom. However, this book also houses explorations of love, jealousy, conformity, self-care, creativity, and how pressure to succeed changes people. Semple’s descriptions are precise and poetic in an easy way that is enviable. Like all books I love, I learned more about myself and the world by reading the book.

 

Bottom line:

Buy this book. Very few books promise and deliver a compelling beach read that is this well written and insightful.

Book Review: This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett

Bottom line:

Dearest reader, buy this book. Better yet, buy it from Parnassus Books, or go to another local, independent bookstore, which should have This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage on hand and will definitely be able to order it for you if they don’t. Trust me. This is a favor you are doing for yourself.

I am biased. I have worked on and off in bookstores (mostly local independents) for two and a half years of my life. I am also biased because I adore Ann Patchett. I think that she is incredibly wise and generous. As a matter of fact, I turned to This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage for advice, because no other author I know of quite understands grief, love, and the importance of passing on wisdom like Ann Patchett does. This collection of essays contains solid advice for burgeoning writers, and equally apt instructions on how to care for those in your life going through difficult times. It is entertaining, never preachy, and clever in ways that made me swoon with admiration and appreciation. Ultimately, This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage inspired me to write more, live more freely, and feel slightly more entitled to my own life.

Bottom, bottom line:

Ann Patchett has so much to offer. It would be foolish to pass this funny, warm, and intelligent book of bite-sized morsels up.