I Lied.

I am a total liar. I know. I guess we all knew. But I really am going on hiatus after this.

 

Something really important happened that needed to be blogged about immediately. My very good friend, Eve just published a book!! And you should buy her book; here. She invokes my mighty name in her book too if that sweetens the deal for any of you.

You know you want to read this.

I’ve read this book three times now. She’s a brilliant writer. And I’m not just saying that because I know and like her. I tend to read everything an author has written once I find someone I like.

 

And I intend to read everything she has written; even if I have to break into her house and steal her laptop…  Hopefully she will continue to give in to my peer pressure to keep publishing more of her work. The world needs more talented authors like her.

 

Maybe you weren’t planning on buying any books this year. Or some of you might say, but I only buy books from so and so (Stephen King is my number one). But let me tell you why you are wrong.

 

If you don’t buy any books then you are just wrong and how dare you. And if you buy a book from some famous author that already has money and an established fan base then you are just adding to that person’s unhealthy addiction. Sorry, Stephen King.

 

But, if you buy a book from Eve, then you are supporting a brilliant writer. And adding to her unhealthy addictions. She could become a wino with your help. And then take me out to drink wine.

 

And me drinking wine really only adds to the stupid/hilarious fodder of this blog. You’re really only helping yourselves here. Also: I have not been drunk for a single one of these stories thus far. Let that sink in and then imagine how much stupider I am drunk.
That’s right. You could be contributing to that. So do it! Here.

Book Love

I have been looking at a tumblr site awesomepeoplereading.  And it is truly awesome. Plus, it gave me the impetus I needed to talk about something I have been putting off for a while: books.

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Note to self: Books do not make comfortable pillows.

Books changed my life. I always loved to read. I knew how before I ever started school. My mother homeschooled my older siblings and as there was no sitter, we sat in on the classes. It made the first few years of school painfully slow.

 

I was always reading a book in class instead of paying attention, a habit I kept up right through high school. I never volunteered to answer anything in class, but always knew the answer when called upon (and once the question was repeated and after they finally got my attention). I am a bit of a know it all.

 

When I was 10 we moved to a house that was literally one block from the public library. I was old enough to walk there alone. And it was free. My mother gave the library permission to give me an adult card. And I have never looked back.

A whole world of grown up books was waiting for me.

I spent that whole  summer reading, and every summer after that. I would sit on our porch in the heat and rain with a glass of water or sweet tea and a bowl of snacks. I was lost in another world of some writer’s creation. I read voraciously. I could read an entire adult novel in less than a day (I still can if I have the time to).

 

So I thought I would share some of my favorite books of all time for you. I even divided them into categories. I have a lot of favorites. These are books that are so good, I bought them after I had already read them. But this is in no way extensive. Prepare yourself:

 

Series:

Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling- These books got me through my first hospital stay. There were weeks of boredom and waiting for my blood levels to be right for my first surgery. I couldn’t walk, bathe, brush my teeth. I couldn’t even use the toilet. But when I read these books, nothing existed but the world of Harry and Hogwarts. 

 

Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien – I actually read these for the first time this year. But I am obsessed with the books, story, and movies.

 

Sea of Trolls by Nancy Farmer- She is one of my favorite authors. This series is like  Harry Potter in the 11th century. It is riveting. This is one of those series that you wish there were dozens of instead of only three.

 

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams- I can’t even remember the first time I read this. Probably middle school. And I thought it was some of the funniest writing I have ever read. It still is. PS: He has other books not in this series that are somehow even better.

 

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle- Most people don’t know there are 4 books in this series. All of them are interesting and wonderful.

Childhood Favorites:

Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell- This is one of the first books I can ever remember reading. It made me want to be a writer. It also is one of the most unintentionally feminist books I have ever read. It made me realize women were just as capable as men in every way.

 

The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm by Nancy Farmer- I love her so much that she gets two spots on this list. This is the first book I read by her. I loved it so much that I buy a copy every time I see one for sale. I collect them and am constantly giving them away. I think sharing a book you love with someone is one of the greatest things you can do.

 

Stone Fox by John Reynolds Gardiner- Remember reading Where the Red Ferns Grows as a kid? Did it make you cry? Not me. I loved that book, it is very good. But THIS book made me cry.

 

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupery- This book will always be treasured by me. I will probably get a tattoo of it someday. I wish the whole world would read it.

 

Sign of the Seahorse by Graeme Base- All of his books are some of the most beautifully illustrated things I have ever seen. And the stories are good too.

I love his art.

Short Stories:

I have a particular love of short stories.

 

Stephen King- He is my favorite author, but my favorite things by him will always be his short stories. All his compilations are fantastic and I think they keep getting better. ‘N’ is one that really stuck with me.

 

Ray Bradbury- He got me reading and loving short stories. I remember the first thing I ever read by him. I remember reading it and feeling like my world had changed and knowing that this would be an important memory. It was ‘All Summer in a Day.’ My favorite book of all time is an 800 page compilation of his. And that is saying something. ‘The Scythe’ has influenced me in ways I can’t describe. His writing is soft and gentle and sometimes terrible and horrifying. “The Fruit at the Bottom of the Bowl’ is very reminiscent of Edgar Allen Poe.

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My favorite book in the entire world. If those shelves behind me look like they are buckling under the weight, they are. Every shelf is double packed; with books on top of books too.

Phillip K Dick- This man is pure sci-fi. A friend recently compared my fiction to his and I felt this was the highest of compliments. ‘Second Generation’ is one story I can read over and over. I am sure you know his work. He wrote Bladerunner. And Minority Report. And Total Recall. And Paycheck. And A Scanner Darkly. I could go on…

 

Edgar Allen Poe- I doubt any of you are surprised that I adore this guy. My favorite thing by him ever is ‘The Raven.’ I know it is very well known and popular, but it deserves to be. I also love ‘The Cask of Amontillado.’

 

100 Little Series- There are about a dozen of these short story compilations. I have read most of them. My favorite two are 100 Astounding Little Alien Stories and 100 Vicious Little Vampire Stories. These books will challenge your concept of aliens and vampires in the best ways possible.

 

Scary Stories:

I read a lot of horror and suspense. They rarely affect me. But these stories have haunted me long after I moved on to the next book.

 

World War Z by Max Brooks- If you’ve seen the movie, forget it. This book is nothing like anything I have ever read before. It is in my top 5 all time favorite books. And I don’t even particularly like zombies. The story that stuck with me most was under the streets of France. That shit is haunting.

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I wanted A to read this so much that I read it aloud to him every night before bed.

Gerald’s Game by Stephen King- I have read everything by him and this was the book I couldn’t sleep after reading. The man in the moonlight just did me in.

 

Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood- This book does everything she intended it to do. The ending is so horrifying to me.

 

Prayer for the Dying by Stewart O’Nan- His writing is so beautiful, it is like reading poetry. But don’t let that fool you. This book is incredible and disturbing.

 

Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes- This book chronicles one of my greatest fears. Need I say more?

 

1984 by George Orwell- I know there is some debate of 1984 vs Brave New World. But this book is scary because the people don’t even have the privacy of the inside of their own minds. It still gives me the shivers.

 

Comics:

I’m not too good to consider the writing and stories in comic books to be just as serious as any other medium.

 

SCUD by Rob Schrab- Have you read this? No? Read it! It is the best comic ever written. It is full of pure fucking awesomeness. And that’s all I will tell you.

 

Bone by Jeff Smith- It took me a minute to get over the weird creatures that are the main characters. But the story is too good to miss.

 

Hellboy by Mike Mignola- This was one of the comics that got me seriously into comics when I was younger. The stories are funny and weird and interesting.

 

Ghostopolis by Doug Ten Napel- He has several comics that I love, but this is one of the best. It has some interesting ideas about the afterlife.

 

Watchmen by Alan Moore- I think the movie did a great job adapting this, but you should read it anyway because the story is that good.

 

Uplifting Stories:

Life of Pi by Yann Martel- The movie is good, but the book is better. I laughed my ass off during several parts of it.

 

I thought my father was God- This is a series of short stories written by NPR listeners. They are all true, short, and interesting. This book is funny, sad, spiritual, interesting.

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I’m not wearing pants in any of these pictures. You’re welcome.

I am the Messenger by Markus Zusack- This is one of those stories that just sticks with you. I had to read it twice just to re-experience the book from the perspective of knowing the ending.

 

Widow for One Year by John Irving- I love everything by this man. Some of his books are depressing. But this is another one that snippets of just seem to stick with me. I find myself thinking of it during odd moments of my day.

 

Non-Fiction:

Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan- I love two non-fiction books over any other; food and diseases. This one is about food. It is interesting and well written.

 

Why Does He Do That by Lundy Bancroft- I wish every single woman on the planet was required to read this. It’s about abusive men and their motives. It was the single most helpful thing I have read on the subject. I intend to read it once a year for the rest of my life.

 

Gift of Fear by Gavin deBecker- This is the only other book on this list that I believe should be required reading for every woman on the planet. I have bought more than 10 copies of it because I continue to give it to people that need to read it.

 

Gaining by Aimee Liu- This is about eating disorders. It is helpful to read if you have one, are recovering from one, or know someone that has one. It is about life after an eating disorder. It made me realize I wasn’t alone with my issues.

 

The Ghost Map by Steven Johnson- This book is about cholera and the father of epidemiology and anaesthesia: Jonathan Snow. He is my hero. This is one of the best books I have read about diseases and I believe I have read them all.

 

Bonk by Mary Roach- She is hilarious and amazing and everything she writes is incredible. This book is about the study of sex. She reminds me of the bloggess. Read her, love her. She has a TedTalks about orgasms that is brilliant.

 

Honorable Mention:

These are a few favorites that I didn’t know where to put.

 

Microserfs by Douglas Coupland- I love all of his books. They are weird and funny and lovely.

 

Rant by Chuck Palahniuk- His novels are great. But I am always fascinated by the things happening in the periphery of his stories.  This is my favorite because it is about rabies and time travel and I can’t even explain what else here.

 

The Pleasure of my Company by Steve Martin (yes, that Steve Martin)- This book is another that will stay with you. It is amusing and sweet.

 

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson- This book was so hard for me to read. But all of her books can be. They are about the dark side of growing up. Not in some Christopher Pike, ‘my best friend is secretly a ghost’ way. Her books are more of a ‘I was raped or have an eating disorder’ kind of way. I own multiple copies of this book and even suffered through Kristen Stewart’s acting to watch the movie.

 

Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon- My favorite plot device is the unreliable narrator. And this books nails it on so many levels.

 

Marry Him by Lori Gottlieb- I went through this phase where I read every book I could find on dating. Most of them were hilarious, terrible, or hilariously terrible. This is the one that I thought was actually sensible, logical, and helpful. I don’t suffer from the issues described in this book, but I recognized many of my friends, male and female, in it’s pages.

 

And there you have it. A, by no means, exhaustive list of some of my favorite novels. Do you think I missed something? Do you have something to recommend to me? Please do so in the comments.

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BOOKS!!

 

PS I just wrote a humongous post about books. And I had to really narrow down my favorites. None of you can leave me too long of a comment. Honestly, ever. But definitely not if we are talking books.

Menstruation

Growing up, I was given to understand that the terrible experience of menstruating was to happen once a month for most of my adult life. It sounded like a pretty shitty deal to me, but whatevs, being a woman sucked sometimes. Or most of the time.

 

In my naive youth I had thought I was only going to get my period for one day every month. It still sucked. But I could deal with it for 1/30 of my life.

 

My parents never talked to me about it. Not surprisingly considering the sex talk I got. Not one of my four older sisters talked to me about it either. Also not surprising considering how much older they were than me and that we all kind of hated each other.

 

I didn’t get my period until I was 14. The same year my little sister got hers. I was seriously underweight and that probably delayed it. Also, I was pretty sure I had been delaying it through sheer force of will which was the same reason I never had a pregnancy scare before the procedure (at least in my mind). I may be overestimating my will here.

But seriously, I am all ‘mind over vagina’ over here.

I was wholly unprepared for the immense shame I would feel in getting my period. It didn’t matter that I rationally knew every woman menstruated. It didn’t matter that I logically knew I had done nothing wrong. It was gross. And bad, somehow.

 

I didn’t tell anyone for the first few months. I threw away my ruined underwear when it caught me off guard. Which happened very frequently at that age. I used up the feminine products my sister had left when she moved out. Then used the little money I had to buy my own. Then just used toilet paper for one awful month.

Also, we were poor. So it was this bullshit.

One day my parents were in my room. I don’t know why. But they went through my closet and found a bag of used feminine products. I would keep them in my closet until it was over and then sneak them down to the trash can outside. The perfect crime.

 

I was found out. My mother sat me down and tried to have the menstruating talk with me. I wanted to die. If it was possible to die from shame and humiliation I would have right then. I was nauseated by my shame. My face was burning, my heart was pounding. I just wanted to say whatever needed to be said to end the conversation. I couldn’t even hear her over the sound of my heart beating and the blood rushing to my face and neck. She could have literally said anything to me.

 

Besides,  I had already been menstruating for months and months by this point. She had nothing useful to tell me. Except that it would hurt and that I wasn’t allowed to wear tampons till I was 18. (I have no fucking clue why).

 

The thing was, it didn’t hurt. I was so thin that I hardly ever even got my period for many years. And even when I did, it was short and painless.

 

Little did I know, it was biding it’s time. Because I believe my period is sentient. And it hates me.

 

I know there is supposed to be a 28 day cycle. Bullshit. My cycle is: when do you have something important planned? Good. That day.

 

Going to a party? Have a date when I finally decide to sleep with that dude? Going out of town? Getting hijacked by pirates? Having heart surgery? I’ll be on my period for that.

 

Think I am exaggerating? I’ve had 5 heart surgeries. I was on my period for 4 of them. That is not a coincidence. I’m sure I will even be on it during my honeymoon (if I ever have one). Or if I am ever hijacked by pirates.

 

Once, during my heart surgery phase, I went up to see my mother. I was on blood thinners at the time. Yes, they do thin all your blood.

 

I was already having issues with my blood. I wasn’t building red blood cells properly. I was bordering on anemia. I kept losing so much during my surgeries. And I was a vegetarian.

 

I had planned to get my period up at my mother’s (which I did, thank you). By this time I was using the Diva Cup. Which is really going to be a wonderful story for another post coming soon.

 

Diva cups are awesome. I can’t recommend them enough. Blah blah blah. Read about them here. (And no, they aren’t paying me for that glowing endorsement, but they should. Maybe by the next period story).

This little guy.

But being on blood thinners meant I needed two lines of defense against the enemy. The cup and the pad.

 

My mother and I went out for a day of shopping. We went to one store and I “refreshed my defenses”. Then we drove to the next store. It was about a 15 minute trip.

 

As soon as I got out of my mother’s car, I suspected something was wrong. You know how you just get a sinking feeling in your stomach and just know? Like when you let your best friend cut your hair in sixth grade and even though you hadn’t looked in a mirror or seen the look on her face, you knew something was wrong. It was like that.

 

I walked straight to the bathroom. Dreading each step that brought me closer to my doom. Hoping I wasn’t going to find what I thought I was going to find.

 

In the bathroom, I pulled my pants down and saw it. The horror. I had bled through. Everything. It was like the final scene in Carrie. (Shoutout to Stephen King!)

Pretty much my exact face.

I took my pants off and then my underwear. I didn’t know what to do. I rinsed my pants off in the sink. They were beyond hope, but I had to wear them out of the store. Thank god there was a handicapped stall with a sink or the other shoppers would have gotten quite a show.

 

I threw my underwear away right then. They were too wrecked to even put back on. I didn’t want to put my pants on, but I had little choice.

 

Have you ever gone to the bathroom while wearing a wet bathing suit? Not in the suit, but in a bathroom? And then you have to pull this cold wet thing back on you. And it feels so gross and clingy. I hate the way that feels. And as you already know, I hate not wearing underwear.

 

I found my mother in the store. She looked at me horrified. “What happened in there? How did you get soaking wet?”

 

And I for a brief second, I felt that burning shame from all those years ago. My face began to flush and my heart rate increased. And then I thought, fuck it. So many worse things had happened to me by that point. This was nothing. This was fucking hilarious. I explained to her what happened and we laughed.

 

We ended up walking down the strip mall to a Bed Bath and Beyond to buy the darkest towel possible so I would have something to sit on for the drive home.

 

Everytime I use it, I think of this story and laugh a little to myself. Even more so when someone else uses it. So if you ever come over, now you’ll know why I have that one brown towel.

Vermont

When I worked construction, I took a work trip up the eastern coast of the United States. It was a driving trip from Florida to Maine. The trip was extremely fun and full of adventures.

 

I had never been to the northeast before and was particularly excited about seeing Maine, the home state of Stephen King. Who was my absolute favorite writer beginning when I was 13.

 

When I got to Vermont, I stopped by the town my mother used to live in before I was born with her first husband.  The town was idyllic. The leaves were changing colors in all the trees. There was a beautiful church with a tall white steeple. It was like a Norman Rockwell painting.

I swear it looked like this shit right here.

I swear it looked like this shit right here.

 

I don’t think I even really believed towns looked like this town did. I could see the appeal. I wanted to move there.

 

I stopped at a quaint truck stop and bought myself a hot chocolate (I don’t like coffee). I stopped for a few minutes, sipping my hot chocolate. I wanted to breathe in the town for a bit before moving on. While I sat there, contemplating my mother’s life in this lovely town, it started to snow.

 

It was the first snow of the season. I had never seen it snow before. I stood there, full of wonder, my face upturned to the sky. The perfect delicate snowflakes gently settling on my face and in my hair. It was the most magical moment of my life.

Total perfection

Total perfection

And then I tried to scrape the snow up off the ground and start a snowball fight. But I was 18 and nobody wanted to have a snowball fight with me.