books: “trick mirror” by jia tolentino, “nine perfect strangers” by liane moriarty, “ghost wall” by sarah moss

trick mirror

ugh jia tolentino is such a good writer tbh, when i got my new yorker subscription the first thing i did was read her entire backlog in like two nights. i’ve been following her work since jezebel and it’s really exciting tbh!

anyway i really enjoyed this book of essays, and i liked how much ambiguity is in it, including tolentino’s own pov — it’s interesting to see someone write about internet feminism and her mixed feelings about it from someone who is an internet feminist and who acknowledges that she’s doing in many ways the same thing she’s criticizing.

i think my favorite bit was the part talking about the current spate of celebrity feminism, where difficulty in women becomes laudable in and of itself, and how much that refracts and warps feminism to suit the aims of the speaker. it’s something i struggle with a lot, actually! i have seen some very talented writers who i mostly like and want to agree with like — i’ve seen a straight-up defense of monstrous mothers and how it’s feminism, actually, to not love your children, and how unfair criticism of abusive mothers is since motherhood is a trap, and i cannot overstate how much it fucks me up to see that and how much it hurts to have my own abuse dismissed as not, like, REAL problems because a REAL feminist would Understand.

anyway: good.

nine perfect strangers

this was — fine, i guess. i thought the central conflict would be something less utterly, cataclysmically stupid, and — maybe i’m still startled from the whole sarah dessen thing, but i’m super unimpressed with the really meanspirited “and the DUMB WOMAN who called me UNFEMINIST loses ALL HER MONEY AND DIES ALONE” thing

ghost wall

i really liked this; captures that abuse “god stop antagonizing them” feeling admirably. i — am not Arty and wish there were quotation marks anywhere, but i still really liked this a lot.

book reviews: the witness wore red, the ballad of black tom, transcription, lot, provenance, the raven tower, wilder girls

long time no write, blog. things have been weird and difficult recently and updating this has seemed literally insurmountably hard, but i also didn’t stop reading in that time, so we’ve got a backlog — reviews under the cut.

Continue reading “book reviews: the witness wore red, the ballad of black tom, transcription, lot, provenance, the raven tower, wilder girls”

too much

a big part of why i’ve been quiet on here recently is i’ve been trying to figure out how much i should or shouldn’t speak or have hobbies or interests in public

recently someone said something that really made me realize i need to stop boring everyone by posting dumb shit i’ve made, which — i mean, sucks to hear, but also at least i know now instead of just humiliating myself over and over again, you know? because that’s what i’ve been doing, posting things i’m proud of or want to show to people and then just getting absolutely no response, which — i guess “nobody is responding or engaging with you in any way” is a clear and obvious sign you probably should shut up, but i’m real fucking stupid. but now i know! i can maybe even fix myself this time!

it — kind of sucks because i know i like a lot of stuff that is embarrassing or bad, that’s a consistent trait about me as a person, i find things that are not good and then care about them too much. expecting anybody to not talk shit in front of me about objectively stupid, liking bad things makes me a shitty person; i just can’t turn it off, though.

ah, well. you’d think at some point i’d stop liking stupid shit nobody cares about or i’d learn at LEAST how to not talk about them, and yet…! things would be much easier for me if i could just be normal and not Like This, but if i knew how to not be this person, i wouldn’t be, you know?

real sad dumbass hours

i’ve been having the feeling on and off for the last two-ish months that, if i vanished tomorrow, most people would be better off. this is a lie for a variety of reasons, and talking about it is hard because it makes people feel bad about it, but — it’s been a lot of just sticking my foot in my mouth and tripping over myself and things i thought were innocuous not being innocuous, and i’m clearly doing SOMETHING wrong but i’m not sure what

i know the things i like are dumb, and the feelings i feel are stupid, and my behavior is generally speaking: bad, and wanting anything from other people or to be treated a certain way is inherently abusive, and normally i’m a little more on top of not doing all the things i do when i forget myself, but — idk! idk. i’m sad and tired and not rolling with things as well as i normally do, and it feels bad. i have been told i can lean on my friends, but i’m never not going to be preparing for that to blow up in my face, you know?

book review: “her body and other parties” by carmen maria machado, “the memory police” by yoko ogawa, and “the white book” by han kang

things are really hard right now. more details when i feel up to it, but in the mean time: here are three excellent books i read.

“her body and other parties” is a series of short stories. many of them are horror, and also many of them made me laugh. the weakest i think was the one about law and order (the tv show), mostly because i know very little about law and order and have never been particularly moved to see it. otherwise, a lot of genuinely creepy and fucked up shit, with — i guess it makes sense, considering machado has a wife, queer* characters as ordinary and unremarkable.

i tore through “the memory police” in like two sittings. the plot is about an island where things are disappearing; most of the citizens forget the objects that have disappeared, but some people don’t. the main character forgets, and she and an old man collude to hide someone who remembers. this may not sound like a compliment but is: the book felt like it was feeling out the edges of something very large and difficult while being really satisfying in and of itself. i enjoyed this immensely.

“the white book” is by han kang. i — don’t think i disliked “the vegetarian” for entirely fair reasons; i’d been pitched a very, very different book than i got. this one i went into with way fewer expectations and — again, this isn’t going to sound like a compliment but totally is; i felt physically cold during this book. it’s about the narrator’s older sister, who was born prematurely and died soon after birth; the whole thing is the imagined perspective of the older sister, set during winter.

* re queer: i am still working on my feelings on this tbh. this was a go-to slur for close family members; honestly that fucked me up less than the endless #discourse about — yes, it is fucked up to tell someone else they can’t identify as queer, but also the amount of “how dare you imply calling people ‘queer’ as an umbrella term is not always great, only terfs have a problem with queer, it’s not a slur and also simultaneously it’s Powerful” (i am 0% exaggerating; i have had people imply heavily i must be misremembering or bad at reading or something. i am not.) is honestly the thing that made me really reluctant to use it for a long, LONG time — nothing like being told explicitly my life experiences are wrong to make me thoroughly uncomfortable, you know? ambiguity is one thing; the absolutely ott insane lashing out towards those of us who have absolutely experienced it as a slur fucking sucked. i don’t really know how i feel about it still, but actively avoiding (i.e., blocking lol) the Extremely Online who refuse to believe anybody would ever call someone “a fucking queer” has made me a lot more receptive to it.

i’m also coming up recently against certain limits of language and getting frustrated with it; i could really use some ambiguous or hidden or obscured language right now. “queer” seems to be the — i guess least not what i don’t want? i don’t know.

…anyway that’s sort of a whole weird backdoor into some of the Unfun Shit that’s been going on, so, you know.

food stuff: stuff with food

(tw disordered eating, food talk)

i went off brain meds, which has been a really weird and confusing trip; a big thing is that i don’t… quite know what my appetite is doing, actually.

i accidentally tripped a food tripwire i didn’t know i had and started restricting really weirdly, so i’ve been trying ~intuitive eating~ and trying really really hard not to worry about exact numbers. somewhere between maybe T levels chilling out a little and possibly the brain medz and maybe exercise or what i’ve been eating? means that my usual level of appetite has lessened in a weird way — i still get hungry all the time, but i get full much more quickly, and i’m still adjusting.

honestly, eating is a huge pain in the ass. being able to just subside off of nutrient slurries would be ideal, but also super wouldn’t be, so — guess i’ll eat as best i can and hope for the best 8′)

misc housekeeping

(tw: suicidality and self harm ment)

so like — it’s super melodramatic to talk about deleting posts on the internet as even vaguely related to suicidality, but honestly it’s not not related.

a lot of my suicidal tendencies are not like — i don’t want to kill myself, that’s violent and punishing (and lol what self harm is for), i want to stop existing, which is much more passive and peaceful. in the worst throes of it, it’s not so much that i wanted to hurt or punish myself or anything, i wanted to remove myself from other people’s concern — if all you do is hurt people by existing, then probably it is for the best to hurt everyone a bunch once and never have to worry about it again!

(as a side note, i put a lot of effort into coming up with a plan that would inconvenience or shock as few people as possible; tbh i’m still kind of proud of it, i think it was a pretty solid one.)

erasing posts isn’t — sometimes it’s shame, but honestly a lot of it is the same self-negating tendency, down at its core. i’ve experimented on and off with not doing that, and i’m — gonna try, i guess, even though i feel guilty about leaving things up, too? bluh being a person is fucking hard work and i hate it.

the thing is — i am fundamentally too fucked in the head to have the sort of relationship i would like to have? i’m afraid of people, i want to have sex with someone but the thought of actually doing it is terrifying (not least of all bc — not only do i have non-standard meat, i also actively don’t want to use it in certain ways that are pretty universally understood to be typical, and like — so far i’ve had one relationship with someone who didn’t, like, rape me or anything lol but sure didn’t take me seriously when i said not to touch me certain ways, and another where the person would have taken me seriously except i was literally incapable of depriving them of use of my body however they saw fit bc I Can’t want things like that and just kind of dealt with feeling bad), i literally can’t trust myself to not be a stupid idiot, and on top of that i’m too much of a fucking coward to just — do it

honestly if i want this so bad, i should get just get drunk and let someone fuck my body until i get over myself lol, at least then i’d have experience; who’s going to want some fucking ugly freakshow with a bad personality AND absolutely 0 understanding of how to fuck? and if i can’t do that i should at least have the good sense to stop fucking wanting it, or at least stop talking about it in public, because literally nobody wants to hear endless whining when you’re not gonna change and never gonna change!!!!!

temporary sademployment

hello i am home from the last day of my job and i’m really sad about it

so there’s all the usual things of “i learned a lot” and “i liked the people” reasons to be sad, but also — BOY my last job fucking sucked??? the whole “you look too gay to succeed” conversation was the nail in the coffin, but i was constantly aware that i was by far and away the most Alternative Lifestyles person working there, and that basically 100% of my interests were not appropriate to talk about and every time i tried it was like running into a wall. i don’t like — i think it’s a little embarrassing when people dismissively talk about ~normies~, there’s nothing particularly morally anything about liking sports or vidya or whatever, but like — my coworkers clearly thought i was weird

after my last job, it was such a fucking relief to be somewhere where i wasn’t constantly on edge about being Too Much or Too Weird or Too Gay. my manager was gay, one of my coworkers was gay, another was nonbinary, coworkers liked internet memes and went to gen con; i could do things like talk about the bureaucracy around changing my name or the four different places i have to send paperwork to prove i’m Trans Enough and nobody gave me a hard time about it? where i could spam cat pictures and people would actually ask me questions about the nub? where i horked up tabletop setting ideas at people and bounced weird body horror ideas around? where, when things had to be shut down, managers actually legit lobbied for us (hard! a manager was talking me up literally all over town!) and tried to get us places that would be good?

i’ve spent most of my life not bringing my real authentic self to work, and — i mean, work ry and home ry are never going to be the genuine same person but — being somewhere people didn’t clearly think i was somehow nebulously Not Right was like putting down a giant weight. i mean, i literally cried in front of my coworkers three times in the last two days by summarizing “homeward bound”, and then “the last unicorn”, and then talking about elephant rescue; i would have eaten my own hands before doing that at my last job!

i am determined to be excited about my new job, and — chicago tech is small tbh, so i’m sure my coworkers and i will cross paths again, and even if not i have it put in my calendar to bug people to get coffee and stay in touch at the new year, i have one coworker added on social media and am discord friends with another, it’ll be okay, just — i’m just real sad :c

for your reading pain

here are two things i read recently that gave me an emotion; you may also feel an emotion as well.

motherless by choice“, by katie naum

There is no easy way to say, “I’m estranged from my mother.” It’s even harder to say, “I’ve cut my mother out of my life,” clarifying that you are the one who has severed the bond. Say it to anyone, friend or stranger, and a certain light you hadn’t even noticed fades from their eyes, every time. Smiles falter or grow forced. Mothers give so much to their children that a justification for estrangement must be staggering: some monstrous abuse that outweighs all the love and self-sacrifice inherent in parenting. Only someone selfish and heartless could cut off a mother who loved them — right?

strike with the band“, by kate wagner

One day, around the beginning of my junior year of college, it occurred to me that I wasn’t going to make it. I had already developed carpal tunnel and tendonitis from years of improper violin technique taught to me by my rural music teachers. I was out of money to go to festivals, and I had no way of making lasting, important connections in a field where who you know matters more than anything else. I had no serious job prospects, nor any hope for job prospects. At work one night, the falseness of the “work hard and you will succeed” ethic washed over me: the truth was the music world was a two-tiered system, and I was in the second chair. Hungover, in the comfort of a dark recording booth, I began to cry. Few things are as life altering as realizing your preferred life is unalterably a fucked impossibility.