Numbered Words: 2018

“Because when we’re terrified about the enormity of the universe’s indifference, and our smallness in the face of it, we tell stories.  When we’re powerless to shape and control our fear, we tell stories.  When we feel alone, we tell stories.
And when we have stories to tell but no one to read them, we tell stories anyway.”     –Patton Oswalt, introduction for The Ghost Box II; Summer, 2018.

It’s that time again.  Time to share the list of books I read last year.  Just like last year, I’ll warn you: there’s no need to hold onto one’s hat.

1. Difficult Women (Gay)
2. Finding My Badass Self (Stanfa-Stanley)
3. Crossing to Safety (Stegner)
4. Anatomy of Innocence (Caldwell & Klinger)
5. A Myriad of Roads That Lead To Here: A Novella (Elias)
6. Fahrenheit 451 (Bradbury)
7. Getting Off: Pornography and the End of Masculinity (Jensen)
8. Theft by Finding: Diaries 1977 – 2002 (Sedaris)
9. Dreamland (Quinones)
10. In Zanesville (Beard)
11. The Man from the Train: The Solving of a Century-Old Serial Killer Mystery (James)
12. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (Schwartz)
13. The Ghost Box II (Hingston & Olsen Publishing)

Just like last year, I don’t feel proud of this list, but I am sharing it because I strive for authenticity.  I had a very good run during the summer, until I started reading the axe murder book (James).  It’s an incredible book, but it’s written by a famous baseball statistician.  You get what I’m saying.  This was also my first year back in “studenthood.”  That’s one reason why I had a good run during the summer: I wasn’t taking any classes.  I can also see that my reading started to suffer around the time I started to have problems related to my old job.  It has been enlightening to review my year and see where the wave broke and everything started to get weird.

I’m starting 2019 with Shirley Jackson and Brene Brown.

Again, just like last year at this time:  It’s a new year. I will do better this year, and so will you, if you want.

Numbered Words: 2017

I’m back in Texas, which means I can share my “Books I Read in 2017” List. I’ll warn you: there’s no need to hold onto one’s hat.

1. The Handmaid’s Tale (Atwood)
2. The Lovely Bones (Sebold)
3. The Heavenly Table (Pollack)
4. Secondhand Souls (Moore)
5. Adulthood is a Myth (Andersen)
6. It (King)
7. Under the Banner of Heaven (Krakauer)
8. Predators: Pedophiles, Rapists and Other Sex Offenders (Salter)
9. Motherfucking Sharks (Carr)
10. The Ghost Box (Hingston & Olsen)
11. Heart and Brain (Seluk)
12. Point Your Face at This: Drawings (Martin)
13. The Evil That Men Do (Hazelwood)

I don’t feel proud of this list, but I am sharing it because I strive for authenticity. I don’t remember why I chose to keep a list. I can tell you that keeping this list has forced me (thankfully!) to evaluate how I spend my time. As I wrote in the previous entry, I do not do resolutions. What I do is self-care. The older I get, the more I realize how important it is to take care of myself and to devote time to those activities that feed my soul, those activities that truly bring me joy. I am looking forward to more reading in the coming year. Today, I have nearly finished reading 2018’s first book: Difficult Women (Gay).

If you kept a reading list in 2017 and read less than you hoped, please do not feel discouraged. I am a self-identified book worm. I love books. I want all of the books. For the first time, my checked bag was over 50# on the trip back to TX from NC. I moved my toiletry bag and a new book – problem solved. It’s a big book – a crime writing anthology edited by Harold Schechter – that I cannot wait to consume. But, I feel embarrassed by my 2017 list. It’s a new year. I will do better this year, and so will you, if you want.

2018

Hopeful Highlights for 2018

I’m starting school (again) in mid-January. I’m starting a Master’s program at ASU. I’m currently registered for 2 classes – one is online and the other is an evening class. I feel anxious. When I was last in school, the kids were still taking notes with pen and paper. Do they still do it this way? I don’t think I want to type my notes. I used to handwrite during lecture and type later. It helped me study. As it is, I’m planning to take my laptop with me and decide when I get there – when I get to the class. I have not attended an academic class in quite a while, folks. I got past my concern about my age before I applied. That was a significant hurdle for me. It’s going to be an adventure, folks.

I desperately want to write more this year. I hope the blog will be updated more regularly, and I hope I can provide more thoughtful, meaningful content. I am always hopeful for a larger audience and more feedback, both positive and constructive criticism. I have considered limiting my writing to certain topics. I have considered not writing as much personal content. However, at this time, that is what I know best. I feel that personal content is what I am most able to make creative and meaningful and maybe even entertaining. Considering I am going back to school, I may provide content about the adventure of returning to school as a 30-something who has been working FT for several years; the adventure of creating a home office; content about what I’m studying/researching. I just hope to write more and share more.

I hope to read more. I kept a list of all the books I finished during 2017, and while I do not know how many are on the list because I am currently in North Carolina and the list is in Texas (and it’s not complete because I finished a book after arriving in NC), I know I did not read enough. I keep telling Todd and whoever is within earshot that I did read It (Stephen King) this year and clocking in at 1,200 (approximate) pages, it should count as more than one book. In the end, I will only count it as one book – one huge accomplishment of a book. I will keep my list honest. In 2018, it will be a longer list.

I’m holding out for international travel in 2018. We have some plans made. Todd has made plans. I have just consistently reminded him that I will go almost anywhere, which has been not at all helpful to the planning. We have reservations for lodging, tickets to a symphony concert and tickets for a Lars von Trier play that will likely not be performed in English. The current plan is to visit Sweden and Denmark in the same trip.
I got a passport in 2015 with the possibility of visiting Canada during our PNW trip that December. We didn’t visit Canada. My passport is coming up on 3 years of age without having been used. I hope 2018 is the year I leave the country.

Todd and I are engaged. I don’t know who of the readership knows and who doesn’t. We’re not ones to make a big scene. This is something that occurred in 2017, but we’ll likely get married during 2018. Again, we’re not ones to make a big scene.

I would like to get to Ohio during 2018. I have not been there since Oct. 2016. There is a lot going on up there, and I avoided it during 2017. A lot of that avoidance was about self-care, and it still is. Additionally, with everything else I have going on that generally equates to building a life, a trip to Ohio isn’t affordable or even realistic. I feel a little guilty about admitting that, but it’s true. I live in Texas. It’s not cheap or easy to get to Ohio. Similarly, it’s not cheap or easy for my loved ones to travel to Texas from Ohio. Life is hard. It’s good (like, so good), but it’s not easy. Today, it’s my understanding that my loved ones are well and in good places (both figuratively and literally). This knowledge goes a long way.

I am planning to buy a planner for 2018. Last night, while waiting for midnight, I browsed online and wrote a brief blog entry about my experience with planners (an entry not likely to be shared). You can imagine that this experience has not been good because I am not an organized person. I don’t recall keeping a planner since I was in college – not my last stint at grad. school, but college. After writing this entry to this point, I feel more interested in having and keeping a planner. It seems like 2018 is going to be a busy year. I’m not making a resolution to get more organized because resolutions are too much pressure for me. I think I will try the planner route again. I will be open-minded and realistic. I will use the experience to exercise kindness toward myself, if nothing else.

So, at the end of this entry I am sitting in a ridiculously beautiful 3-story house in the Beech Mountain region of North Carolina with my partner and many members of his family, which will soon be my family as well. There is snow on the ground and the trees; snow like I have not seen in years. Picture perfect snow. Ever since we arrived here on 12.27.17, I have been overwhelmed by questioning, “How did I get here?” To be fair, I asked myself this exact same question throughout 2017 – in good times and in not-so-good times.

Enough already.

10.22.17

When I feel or think that I’m not *this* enough, I don’t know if my feeling or thought is realistic.

In LA, Todd wanted to buy me a “Feminist AF” shirt. It was a great shirt. I liked it. It was kind of him to want to buy that for me. He thought it suited me. I turned it down because I worry that I’m not feminist enough. I don’t even know who gets to make that decision.

Can we say that I know a lot about serial killers if I sometimes forget where John Wayne Gacy lived? Or if I don’t know many details about Henry Lee Lucas? I’ve only just recently decided I want to learn more about Carl Panzram. What about forgetting the number of victims for a given serial killer? I am almost never sure of the number of victims. I gotta say: it’s similar to my interest in music. I have favorites. I have preferences. I know more about Jeffrey Dahmer than I do Richard Ramirez. If Ed Kemper still wrote to people, I would get a PO Box and write to him. True story.

Maybe I’m not enough of a horror nerd because I haven’t seen Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2? I feel indifferent about seeing it. The Exorcist is scary, but it doesn’t scare me that much. I can watch it without problems. I found the book to be scarier. Pet Sematary, on the other hand, equally scary book and movie. We don’t need to discuss how many times I’ve watched Hannibal or Silence of The Lambs, but maybe I need to watch Hannibal Rising a few (okay, several) more times to even out that my viewing of the Lecter movies? Todd and I were recently discussing the Saw franchise and I had to admit that while I fondly remember the 2nd one, I think I only watched it one time. I like horror movies, but that’s not the only genre of movie I like. I’m never going to have watched all of the horror movies. I don’t want to do that. I want to see the comedies, too, and serial killer documentaries and documentaries about the opioid crisis, sex offenders, folklore and cults. I also enjoy a good tear-jerker and some classics.

I may not be enough of a book nerd. I love to read, but I almost never read a book that was just released. Christopher Moore is my favorite author, and I still haven’t read The Serpent of Venice. I’m currently reading a book that will never see the NYT Bestseller List. Although I don’t know what they will be, it’s safe to say that the next 4 books I read haven’t made it and won’t make it to the NYT Bestseller List, but they will be what I want to read. As a side note: Noir, also by Christopher Moore, will be released 04/17/18, and I’m not likely to read it or even buy it right that minute.

I believe and feel that I am enough, as a person, but somehow, simultaneously not enough to fit into these groups (i.e., feminist, horror nerd, bookworm). I think to get myself to a point that I believe I fit in any one of these groups, I would end up being untrue to myself somewhere in the process. I would end up feeling like I’m wasting my time trying to meet what may very well be an impossible standard (not that I have a habit of setting impossible standards for myself or anything like that /s). I would likely feel resentful. I bet Nicholas Sparks makes the NYT Bestsellers List. I don’t want to read that. I don’t want something I enjoy and LOVE to become an assignment I’m trying to complete “for someone else.” For someone who isn’t paying attention, has no idea I’m doing this for him/her and doesn’t care. I’m not willing to do that.

I’m only willing to be myself – a woman who reads and watches what she wants to, what she likes. A woman who thinks it’s important for women to be treated equally to men, women should have choices and power. I enjoy watching horror movies, and I want to watch so many of them, but I also want to re-watch Psych and the Harry Potter series. I want to keep up with Bob’s Burgers, to an extent. I want to watch whatever looks interesting to me. I don’t want to read ALL of the books. I only want to read the ones that sound good to me. After I finish Motherfucking Sharks, I might get into some Camille Paglia. Who knows? I’ll never reach that looming, impossible standard I have set in my mind that will make me a real feminist, a real horror nerd, a real bookworm, but I know someday it will go away. It will be like it never existed at all.

I don’t know how to measure any of this.