100 Books Reading Challenge

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Started a reading challenge project mid-spring. The goal: read 100 books by summer in a year. I’m inching along, albeit at a slower pace than I’d like. Figured posting the list on my blog would hold me accountable–also, I get to share cool books!

So here’s a list of books I’ve reading; I plan to update every 10 books or so. If you have any book recommendations, I’d love to hear them! 🙂

  1. One! Hundred! Demons!, Lynda Barry
  2. James and the Giant Peach, Roald Dahl
  3. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Sherman Alexie
  4. Here, Richard McGuire
  5. Zombie Survival Guide, Max Brooks
  6. Burned, Ellen Hopkins
  7. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, Mindy Kaling
  8. Walking Dead 1, Robert Kirkman
  9. Walking Dead 2, Robert Kirkman
  10. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelous
  11. Milk and Honey, Rupi Kaur
  12. Partner Track, Helen Wan
  13. Girl, Interrupted, Susanna Kaysen
  14. Kafka, R. Crumb
  15. Project Jennifer, Jill Rosenblatt
  16. Dignity, Donna Hicks
  17. Can We Talk About Something More Pleasant, Roz Chast
  18. Ginny Moon, Benjamin Ludwig
  19. Autobiography of Barefoot Gen, Nakazawa Keji
  20. Meow Meow, Jose Fonollosa
  21. Beautiful Darkness, Fabien Vehlmann
  22. Phenomenal Woman, Maya Angelou
  23. The Skin Above My Knees, Marcia Butler
  24. Essential Poems (To Fall in Love With), Daisy Goodwin
  25. Sailing Alone Around the Room, Billy Collins
  26. Future Tense, Paintings by Alex Gross
  27. Why Not Me?, Mindy Kaling
  28. Thirst, Poems by Mary Oliver
  29. Global Street Art, Lee Boffkin
  30. Men Without Women, Haruki Murakami
  31. Vintage Cisneros, Sandra Cisneros 
  32. Have You Seen Marie, Sandra Cisneros
  33. Woman Hollering Creek, Sandra Cisneros
  34. The Quiet Eye: A Way of Looking at Pictures, Sylvia Judson
  35. Blue Nights, Joan Didion 
  36. The House on Mango Street, Sandra Cisneros
  37. This is How You Lose Her, Junot Diaz
  38. The Embassy of Cambodia, Zadie Smith
  39. Love Mad Poems, Rumi
  40. The Wolves In The Walls, Neil Gaiman
  41. Forms of Distance, Bei Dao

(Updated Oct 6, 2017)

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Writing

handsSometimes I don’t really know what to write, and then I think oh, you shouldn’t write for the sake of writing, you should write because–because you’re trying to write something. Because you’re trying to convey something. Because there’s a story you have to tell, a thought to flesh out, a destination to get to. You’re driving your point home.

But I don’t always have a point or a story or destination. And then I remember how I used to squirrel away hours just stabbing down words, stringing together sentences, writing whatever I wanted just because. Because it was fun and it made me happy and I didn’t really care if people read it or loved it or hated it. It was like rubbing on unscented lotion. It’s therapeutic, no one really knows you’re wearing it, and it’s something you do for yourself. You’re not trying to leave behind little scent fragments of yourself. You’re just doin’ you.

And I like how writing’s an avenue to sort things out. It’s like talking through a problem, but writing through ideas instead. I’ll start off with a nebulous idea of what I’m going for, or something I’m trying to get out and by the end of, oh, five or ten pages, I’ll have come to some conclusion. That, or at least have reached greater clarity on something than I would’ve if I hadn’t written it at all. Thinking is thinking: chaotic and constant. Feeling is feeling: sometimes uncontrollable and inexplicable and discomforting. Writing’s sorting through that. If my head were a tree raining varied thought-leaves, then writing’s my little rake.

2:04 AM

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At 2 in the morning I’m never quite sure of what I’m doing anymore or what this is except that it feels a little like madness and I’m hell-bent on creating.

But it does not/will not/cannot replace the voltage you feel at 5 in the morning when you’re inching along and it suddenly dawns upon you: this fits. Collapse in tired happiness and make poetry out of it in the morning. (Hearts handing out little paper milk cartons that read MISSING.)

In the cosmic blink of an eye we will be gone; in the cosmic flutter of a lash we’ll fall in love. With definitions and coppery fingers–with catchy songs and awful hope. With deviant behaviors and dreaming awake. With rain and shadows that you skip-skip-skip through because you’re too busy, too busy, too busy dreaming in hollowness.

Best Friend(ship)

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I’m grateful to have “found” my best friend three years ago. It sounds weird, but I see our friendships as vaguely ‘magical’–a sort of fate, of meeting a person you can automatically be yourself with. Someone who gives you shit, someone whom you give shit, someone whose flaws you’re aware of and vice versa and accept anyways. Like, that shit is hard to find. It’s already hard to find people you can be utterly comfortable around, whether you’re feeling moody or overly excitable or incredibly confused.

But to find someone whose hair you’ll get into, who’ll get into your hair, and will still be your best friend, true and through–that’s not common. Someone who’s there, and not just when it’s convenient: well, my, oh, my. You’d be surprised, or maybe not, at how fast people’ll chunk up the deuces when things get real. Or unpleasant.

To be frank, I’ve had a whole string of friendships that soured at some point, got weird or complex or messy, that either got better or just weren’t anymore. And sometimes I’ll forget that, but then something’ll remind me. Maybe a dream or conversation or social media post. And then I’m reminded of why I avoid groups of girls, am biased towards one-on-one friendships, am irritated by highly defensive people (maybe the last one’s just a personal thing), etc.

The reality of having had weird and muddy and possibly shitty relationships makes me appreciate the current relationships in my life. The ones that are, for lack of better word, clean. With the closest people in my life, it’s easy. There’s unwavering support, no resentment, genuine kindness, and contentedness. We’re not erupting in fights every Thursday or secretly being passive aggressive or what-have-you’s.

Every year I feel like writing a little best friend appreciation post, about how happy I am to have certain people with whom I can be weird or moody or just real around. So that’s this and this is that, my annual spurt of gratitude post.

June Bugs in the Winter

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Saturday morning. I woke up at 5 and we arrived by 6, the wind so cold it bit into us like knives. I wore my frayed red scarf as we boarded the bus, skies were purpley blue. I watched the sunrise through the sketch of back roads, blues and oranges and rocky gravel.

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Countless love triangles zig-zagged their way unrequited among the best friends. Among him, you, her, me. Your best friend. My best friend. My best friend’s friend’s then-best-friend, then his best friend, or your best friend. I was to you as he was to me; she was to him as I was to you as he was to me. Now he’s little to them and we are nothing to each other.

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Cycling through obsessions like a broken washing machine. I am: drawn to the same aesthetic like a film-drunk moth. Film, film, film and light gossamer. And beautiful people in beautiful places.

Don’t Take Shit Personally

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I think it’s absurd the extent to which people can make things that are not about themselves about themselves. And then when they funnel themselves into the victim mentality of taking things extra personally because how could it not be personal? Somebody didn’t say hi–not because they didn’t see you, but because they have a secret vendetta against you. Somebody didn’t not text back–not because they’re busy, but because they hate you and everything you represent. Anything somebody else does isn’t because they made a choice of their own volition, but revolves around you, and how they feel about you, because it’s entirely about you.

Then there’s the defensive myopia characterized by the self-victimized self-absorbed. The last thing you want to tell said victim (of taking things personally) is that not everything’s about them. It’s too meta. Uncomfortably accusatory. Even if you put it gently–hey, hey, this was never about you, but somehow you’ve pretzaled it into being all about you, but it isn’t! It just comes across as brash. You don’t understand me! is a likely response. I know it’s not about me; I never said it was! But it is. Because xyz–is yet another defense.

Even though it’s pretty damn hard to follow, there is a nugget of advice I like to follow: don’t take shit personally. Even when it is, somehow, about you, because this girl actually does hate your guts, it most often never is. People live in their own words,  their own mental constructions housed on foundations of belief, justified or not. They understand their own truths and motivations, are mired in their own flaws and idiosyncrasies. We’re all stars of our own shows. And the shit that I do, or you do, or your cousin does, is reflective of our own personal realities, not you. It is not about you. It’d never been about you.

But somehow, as the egocentric-leaning humans we are, it always ends up being about ourselves, because everyone somehow gives that much of a shit about us. News flash: they don’t. This might be disheartening to realize. This might be liberating to realize. And, for what-I’d-assume-is-the-vast-majority-of-people, this might just be too far-fetched to realize. That’s fine; you’re allowed to take everything as personally as you’d like. But then–and I don’t mean to sound like some lecturing glasses-adorned finger-wagging owl–who suffers in the end? You do.

Life, at least around other humans, gets a lot easier when you stop taking shit personally.

Insomnia

Sometimes sleep is like an elusive creature that slinks around corners in between cracks over globs of hardwood floor then around and back. It’s like happiness: you can’t pursue it too aggressively. It’s like your own shadow: chasing it is futile. It’s like this weird thing made up of: zigs and zags and slow shit and bright lights, coming and going in waves.

C’est Octobre

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The leaves fell and temperatures dipped 20 degrees overnight. Fall. A season in flux. The weather’s nice, albeit confusing;bit of sun and it’s sweltering hot, patch of shade and it’s shivery-cool.

I’m so basic, I’m getting the pumpkin spice coffee. I’m so basic. The girl in front of me says this four times to her friends while we’re all getting coffee. She is–and I look up to see just who is just so basic–decked out in basic fall dress, basic orange scarf and basic boots and all. Oranges, yellows. Except it’s grey and murky outside today.

The cold make me nostalgic. Tunnels me into a tube of miss, insomnia and memory woven together. Heavy rope. Haven’t felt this way in a while. It’s familiar, muted. Nowadays, when I can’t sleep, in lieu of curling up angrily around air, I’ll send out the insomniac’s frustrated 3 AM snap: I can’t sleep, and the streets are so loud.

 

my tiredness

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is dividing the number zero is a
forgotten cigarette in between two slabs of sidewalk is a
depressed piece of cotton in the bottom of your
medicine drawer is the
fog on mornings when my mother hasn’t read where the wild things are to me is a
fishing boat with cracks in the fiberglass is
our bleary-eyed round-table exercise in creative writing (october 3rd 2017)


We went around and talked shared tiredness in metaphors. Some metaphors were poignant, others contradictory (“My tiredness is the sun that warms you”). The girl next to me described her tiredness like an unrelenting wind and it seemed angry, and the girl across from me, who said the story-less fog one, seemed sad. So many forms of tiredness, all stewing in our slow misshapen circle.

Note: I will also add that I was unjustifiably sleepy. I sleep over nine hours a night and twelve this past Saturday. (Now that I think about it, though, maybe I’m sleeping too much.)