Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Book Reviews 2015, Part Four

Well, I'm not really much for Big End of Year posts because it gives me too much stress to try and sum up a whole year. I make a memory jar throughout the year where I put mementos and I go through them on New Year's Eve, and that satisfies my need for summing up the whole year. (Although, I forgot to put in mementos starting in August, so I had to run around this afternoon looking for various things to represent the important events that happened in the last five months).

Anyway, so that's why this post isn't going to be like fanfare and trumpets about the greatness of 2015, or whatever. However, I do have my last book reviews to put up. My goal at the beginning of the year was to read 30 books, it might have been 36, don't remember, but I definitely shortened it to 30 when I remembered that I am a useless parasite who eats Tumblr all day. I'm tired, guys, I don't know what I'm writing even.

So, I, obviously, fell short of my goal, but I kind of almost made it? 20-something books? Obviously not counting books for school (well, three of them were technically for school but I counted them because they're cute and something I might have read anyway) or manuscripts I read for internships, or books I only started and never finished. If you count those, I read way more books.

Here's my last book review post, then! And yay 2015 is almost over, I guess, time is an illusion.


17. George by Alex Gino
So, this book is about a trans girl named Melissa, and I particularly liked it because Melissa is actually ten years old. You don't see the story of transgender kids a lot in mainstream media. Anyway, this book was definitely not my reading level, it's meant for elementary school kids, but it was a really heartwarming story and very well written. I think I would have really liked it and learned a lot from it when I was nine or ten. I thought the main character Melissa was really sweet and I was rooting for her to be accepted throughout the book. The book also touches on a lot of important issues- gender identity, obviously, and prejudice, and how adults can mean well but make their children feel like they've done something wrong. I hope this book leads a new trend of trans representation in children's media, since it was a great start.

18. My Basmati Bat Mitzvah by Paula J. Freedman
This book was so good! Also a middle grade book (because honestly middle grade books are the best and I don't know why I ever read adult books or YA instead) and really good. It's about a girl named Tara who is planning her upcoming Bat Mitzvah while starting seventh grade. But she runs into some problems because her mom is Indian and as such, she feels split between her two cultures: Ashkenazi Jewish and Indian. She deals with problems like questioning her faith in God, awkward middle school romances, racism, and finding a way to unify the two sides of her heritage in time for her Bat Mitzvah. This was written really well, it was extremely captivating, and Tara was a wonderful narrator and protagonist. I also love seeing Jewish representation, especially Jewish representation that isn't strictly white Ashkenazi. And- there's a lot of good food descriptions. So, basically, amazing.

19. Kampung Boy by Lat
This one I technically read for class, but, OK, we barely discussed it in class and it's a cute graphic novel. It's a classic (well, from the 1950s anyway) from Malaysia. It's really sweet and simple. I don't know if I'd recommend it, because it's not super interesting, but it's a fun cute read for a kid for a bedtime story maybe. The graphics were endearingly simple, and the story was basically a coming-of-age story about a kid growing up in a rural village that was slowly being taken over by industrialization. I liked it.


20. If The Tabloids Are True What Are You by Matthea Harvey
I got to meet the poet who wrote this. She visited my "Poetry and the Book" class and gave a talk about her designs for the book. And she gave us all free copies! So I read it. It's a collection of really interesting poems. Just weird, cool stuff. Like, poems about different types of edgy mermaids and poems about girls who live in a glass factory and poems about fake tabloid headlines and poems that come in the form of pictures of ice cubes. It was just super fun and I don't know what the, like, grand purpose of the poetry was, but it was really a fun read.


21. Coraline by Neil Gaiman
Well, this read has been a long time coming. I've been a Neil Gaiman fan about forever, and I just never got around to reading one of his most famous books, Coraline. I finally read it this week and it's amazing, obviously. It's a very well-done horror book, and normally I don't like horror (I get super easily scared) but because it's Neil Gaiman, I really do not mind the horror parts. Which was the whole book. It's very scary. Don't read it if you're easily scared. That being said, the heroine, Coraline, is immensely brave and awesome and she made me feel less scared because she stood up to every scary thing. This book is just so imaginative and makes you feel alive and it keeps you on the edge of your seat constantly. And there's a talking cat who was pretty great.

So, yeah. Yes. That is it. I'm currently reading Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones (very good so far) and I'll probably finish that by tomorrow so I'll probably round out the year at 22. Not... too disastrous? No, that's not low enough of a bar. This was not the worst thing that's ever happened in the history of humanity. It definitely is not that! In fact, it's probably not even, like, the 100th worst thing ever. Probably. See, I am being positive, I can think positive.

Here's hoping I read more books in 2016!
Have a happy New Year's Eve, if such a thing exists,


Wednesday, December 16, 2015

A Few of the Ways I Managed to Procrastinate This Week

So, I'm super tired, and it's almost 11 right now and I've been putting this off for hours so whatever. This post is not going to be great.
This past week was "conference week" at my school. This is like finals week but instead we do big research papers. So it's been stressful. I imagine the rest of you college students and some high school students too have been suffering through finals and stuff too. And probably, you guys procrastinated as well.
So, what are the different ways to procrastinate? You think you've done them all? Ha ha ha, no. I've done them all, and it's pretty horrifying. Here are some of the more unique ones from this past couple of weeks:

1. Go through every Buzzfeed Food article and make a list of every intriguing food-related word in them. Then alphabetize the list.
2. Write streams of consciousnesses based on songs.
3. Make playlists for every possible imaginable mood.
4. Make a list of every ship I have for every fandom, then search those ships on Tumblr and save the first good fan-art of them I see to a folder on my desktop.
5. List Parks and Rec gifs that relate to my current situation.
6. Make a list of 25 things that you can list- like types of trees, spices, gemstones, etc. For each of those things, list 25. Then, look for them on Google Images and pick the artsiest photo.
7. Go to your list of every song you know (an obvious thing you would have from previous procrastination adventures) and pick out all the words from all the song titles and put them in alphabetical order.
8. Go to your Tumblr, or whatever social media account you have. On page 1 of it, imagine that your seventh-grade self is looking at it. On page 2, imagine your eighth grade self is looking at it. Etc.
9. List Parks and Rec episodes that will likely make you cry. Then watch them.
10. In fact, go ahead and watch the last episode of each Parks and Rec season, imagining that season one Leslie is watching them with you. Wow. She's come so far. *wipes away another tear*
11. Try and come up with words that start with every letter of the alphabet that would make an interesting theme for a room. Now, come up with words that start with aa, ab, ac, etc, through to zx, zy, zz, if those exist.
12. Plot out a musical based on Steven Universe.
13. Even better, write out all the lyrics to all the Steven Universe songs and come up with words that start with every single letter in every single song.
14. Might as well do a sing-along in your room to all the songs, too.
15. Take Parks and Rec trivia quizzes. Laugh at how easy they are, because you've seen every episode a thousand times at this point and know everything. ...Everything.

That's besides the usual procrastination... binge-watching my favorite shows, checking Facebook and Twitter and Tumblr, taking Buzzfeed quizzes and reading Buzzfeed articles, searching Tumblr tags, reading way too much fan fiction, having an existential crisis, crying, giving speeches about the beautiful relationships in Avatar: the Last Airbender in the shower, and returning to websites I haven't been on in years just to see how they're doing.
And crying.

I hope that wasn't too boring. I couldn't think of anything else to write about, haha. But... good news! Despite all my procrastination, I finished all my conference papers! All I have left to do is pack my stuff, go to my last class tomorrow, and then I'm DONE FOR THE SEMESTER!
OK, sleep time now. :)

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Me Complaining, Interspersed with Cute Animals

Hello all. I couldn't think of anything good to write about today, so I decided to just complain.

Yesterday, I wanted to get a cup of tea. I like tea. It is good. I went to the teahouse on my campus and ordered a spiced plum tea to go. Sounds delicious, right. I then realized this cup of tea was filled to the absolute brim. I wanted to put honey in it, because I cannot enjoy even fruity tea without an extra sweetener. I also wanted to make the tea process quick so that I could head to my French class which was in 20 minutes. Because of said French class, I was holding a book, that I was reviewing last-minute for the quiz we had that day. Can you guess what happened next?

Let's take a break from the complaining:

OK, back to complaining: I attempted to spill out some of the tea. The presence of the book and the fact that I was holding the cup precariously over the garbage can led to boiling hot tea spilling all over my hands. And the floor and stuff. I cleaned the floor and valiantly actually put honey in the tea, then I picked up all my stuff and left. Then the pain kicked in. Then I Googled "how to take care of first degree burns." Then I went to a nearby sink and ran cold water over my hands. Then I cried a lot. Then I went to health services, still crying, and said in that horrible I'm-totally-not-crying-to-you-dear-complete-stranger voice, "Uh... hi... I spilled this tea on my hands, burned myself, can you help?"

Oh what's this? A kitten?

So, I did not get to take my French quiz, and now I have to make it up tomorrow, in addition to going to French class. Also, it's conference week (that's like finals week, only instead of finals, we write giant research papers) so that's great. Also, I'm exhausted and my throat hurts. Also, I have gross and painful burns on my hands (turns out some of the burns were second-degree, not first-degree), so it is difficult to do anything. Did you know that you need your hands to do most basic tasks?

WAIT is this kitten snuggled up inside a BOOT yes it is:

Anyway, that's about the end of my complaining. I want to hear your complaints in the comments, because it is a stressful time of year and I need to have more people join me in the complaining void. Now I'm going to go back to my eternal suffering. (Aka, easy, good life that had a cup of boiling tea poured on it)

also... hello small puppy


 See you next week, when I'll still be in conference week hell. So, I don't know. Definitely see you in two weeks with a real post ideally?

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Fall Semester Poetry

Hey everyone! So I know I skipped last week's post... I've been skipping a lot recently. Sorry :( I forgot to post because of Thanksgiving. So, that's kind of a valid excuse?

Anyway, I thought that today, since the fall semester is wrapping up (and don't I know it, with two giant papers constantly looming over my head), I would share all the poetry I wrote this semester. Since I'm not taking a poetry seminar, I haven't been as prolific as I was last year. However, I am taking a poetry literature class; that is to say, I've been reading a lot of poetry without writing a lot. The poetry I've been reading has inspired my poetry to take new turns, which is pretty cool.

So, here's some of the poems I wrote this semester:

Poem 1: Trees

I look on trees naively,
as though they are my friends,
who cannot speak as I do,
with lungs and mouth.

And yet at least
for my imagined mind,
they sing-

I'll never know whether
their music is real
or merely
an imagined thing.

Poem 2: October 21st

Summer tore its way
into today.
I tried to wear a sweater
and have a cup of tea
but the day would have none of it.

Three days ago,
I tasted snow.
Now the ice cream truck sings
its way down Glen Washington Road,

the inexhaustible exhaustion of summer
drifts its way down
to cloud up my mind.

This morning I shot up
sure that my alarm clock had failed
to go off on time.
Nope- it was just 9:29.
Lucky no one had seen
my foolish dream,

which bobbed pleasantly
behind me,
the rest of the day,
singing, "back to sleep, sweet"

I'll drift back to sleep
in my warm and empty room.
When I wake up,
it will be October again.

Spoken Word Freewrite

I hate people.
My biggest fear is birds.
All I ever do is watch Parks and Rec
and I eat way too much.

Everyone hates me,
or they're annoyed by me or something.
I'm way too full of myself to notice, though.
I'm so vain,
and honestly everyone's sick of it.

I talk too much.
I'm not even good at the things I think I'm good at.
I'm sick of those scary dreams.
I'm not afraid to die.
Everything, even this last line, is a lie.

Experiment Poems
(So, some backstory: we were reading Gertrude Stein's Tender Buttons in class, and I honestly did not get what the hell was going on with that book. So I tried to make myself understand it by attempting to imitate her style with a few Stein-esque poems of my own. I still don't really get it, but it was a fun writing exercise.)


The clear in yellow peels off that I ate blue. I didn’t eat because I coughed into the phlegm universe. I smoothed over the skin of my back down into the caving stars where I slept and came. Alive, and that is that I drank in jelly. I wanted to glob out into caves of napping. Napping into the nose that takes me swirling down into pillows I ate swallow alive. The fall into sleep I fall asleep.


Edges on the paint. Someone brushing, their hair bristles into the holes that stars pin. Yum, licking, the dark licks at the sky and the smearing glass. Break that I pull and pull that I wake into waking. Walking up reams.

Fist balled takes the shadows red into the seams. Curl like the curves of my fast and vigorous dream into swan voids. Whole, hole, into the space away from the hard. Oceans of menstrual blood in the tapestry Oriental carpets of autumn dreams. Nothing is turned upside down. Some hang and some just crumple.

(Then we read Frank O'Hara's Lunch Poems, and those inspired some tiny poems too:)


Early whistle of rain
and I am exhausted
            ah god
            violet, exhausted

            untapes down my scalp
         eggshells crinkle my vertebra-
                        shot, shock
                           flushes me live

soft incense, thunder
       brushing my hair

elephant curls itself
        into the starry darkness


the sweater is
   fuzzy Microsoft
heating my throat
            into tears


swallowing swallowing
canvas nebula
eye swallowing
let me fall in water

(I wrote some more poems inspired by Stein and O'Hara but I'm not going to subject you to all of them)

The Night Campus
Wood wet, driftwood, on the triangle stage of the Yoko.
Cigarette smoke like onions
One girl with a big long coat and a ponytail
walks ba-a-ack and forth on the edge of the street
talking on the phone in french
            with a cigarette
            using the city-sponsored pavement to get away with it

Two small students sit on the sidewalk bricks
            breathe gray
            lean into each other

Everything is shadows
on the night campus

People smoke
on rocks and side-street stones
            underneath the
                        puddle of street-lamps

Trees don’t say anything

The world is small
with the clouds close on us,
the frame of the angular library

The two girls are just talking
Groups cluster outside the library
The phone girl is still at it in French

Shuttles wander down
            Glen Washington Road looks like

the streets of kindergarten TV fantasy dreams
Smaller than the world

            leading to nightmare realms

People walk
There goes the tiny ember of orange on the end of their cigarettes

And it’s cold


That last one was a little inspired by Frank O'Hara, too. I might use it for an upcoming assignment so like... hey, if you're my poetry teacher Googling my work to see if I plagiarized it, I really did write it, and it really was inspired by Frank O'Hara.

Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed at least some of those poems. I had fun writing them. 
Good luck to all those currently suffering through conference season/finals season/actually living in the real world outside the bubble of college,