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Pixar Book Tag

I’m resurrecting an old book tag back from the days when people had fond feelings about Pixar. Continue reading “Pixar Book Tag”

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People-pleasers can be drawn to toxic relationships. It’s important to know why.

I came across Sam Dylan Finch’s wonderful blog on Twitter.

His writing is so clear and compassionate.

I don’t LOVE how much I identify with this post, which is exactly why it’s so important.

Give it a read.

Let's Queer Things Up!

I’ve learned in life that when you observe a pattern about yourself, it might be worth examining (okay, this is an understatement — I can pretty much guarantee you that you’ll come out wiser).

One of my big “aha” moments this year was around a relationship pattern that I hadn’t noticed before. I realized that I’m a people-pleaser.

Being liked by others, especially in my personal life, came at the expense of voicing my true feelings and needs. It was more important to be liked than it was to have relationships that felt honest and nourishing.

And it’s a lonely place to be — it can feel like no one knows your true feelings or self, and that you are secondary in relationships that should feel equal. Unsurprisingly, this can lead to a hell of a lot of resentment.

And thus… a pattern emerged.

My favorite kind of person to…

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In Defense of Harry: A Harry Potter fan’s response to reader resentment

I wrote this a million years ago and I think it still holds up.

Author’s note: I tried to keep this essay spoiler free, but found it hard to come up with any supporting evidence without detailing plot events. So, if you would like your Harry Potter experience to remain unspoiled, read no further.

Additionally, I’m familiar with the term “Mary Sue,” but have chosen to use “Gary Stu” because Harry is male.

“Ugh! I hate Harry! Hermione should have been the protagonist.”
“He’s so angsty and whiny! Seriously, get over yourself!”
“He thinks he’s so much better than everyone, including his best friends!”
“He’s such a Mary Sue. Seriously, he’s good at Quidditch, and he can talk to snakes, and he’s the Chosen One? What a tool.”
“I’ve never cared about Harry. He’s just a vehicle for the plot.”

I heard this last criticism at Bible study during a discussion of our favorite and least favorite films. I had to grip the edge of my chair…

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No, I’m not doing well

I wrote this last year just before leaving a non-affirming church.

In light of the UMC’s decision, a lot of the feelings I wrote about are still relevant.

I came here

for art, for energy, for community, for people like me, done with

“accidental” pregnancies and tiny weddings and Trump rallies

and surely, maybe

I’d meet more men

in a city of 700,000.

Bursting with creativity

I came here.

Now I’m stuck

in this ugly gray

where walking down the sidewalk in a straight line

is an Olympic sport

and nobody

knows how to drive,

beating back screaming homeless

and rude Chinese ladies

and I didn’t ask for this.

I didn’t fucking ask for this.

I’m tired

of mixers, classes,

being proactive,

waiting on men

who remain passive

and I’m twenty-two again

waiting around

waiting still

and nothing

has changed.

Meanwhile, my church

pays lip service to loving singles,

all around me married people

making plans, making visits,

making time,

and sure-okay-I-guess-

you’re-invited-but

holy-shit-what

will-we-talk-

about.

Stuck

in small talk-

“What do you do?

Did you just move?

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Posted in Books, Uncategorized

Book Betrayal: Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer by Katie Alender

Between the fall of 2016 and the summer of 2017, I read a number of trashy YA novels for stress relief. Kale, My Ex, and Other Things To Toss in a Blender marked a breaking point for me; after reading that mess, I decided to stop altogether.

Before hitting my limit, I picked up a book called Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer at the Seattle Library. Right away I noticed similarities between the book cover and the film Marie Antoinette starring Kirsten Dunst; the publisher had gone to great lengths to mimic Sofia Coppola’s rock-and-roll palette.

Though the title seemed pretty self-explanatory, I scanned the book for more details.

This was the back cover:

Image result for marie antoinette serial killer

This, I thought, looks AWFUL.

I checked it out immediately.

I should mention that I love serial killers. Not, like, in real life. And NOT the twist-ending-it-was-actually-a-demon kind. Serial killer literature – with actual human serial killers – is my ultimate guilty pleasure. The best books make me paranoid and antsy. The worst make me laugh. I almost like the second kind more – nothing like an unintentionally hilarious serial killer mystery to get me through the night!

I expected Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer to lean toward terrible. Sure enough, the book opened with Marie Antoinette’s ghost murdering a young girl!

Are you KIDDING!? I thought. She’s also an IMMORTAL GHOST!? Immortal ghost books form one of my favorite subsets of serial killer lit. I’ve had some hilarious times reading sexy Jack the Ripper novels.

But anyway.

The first few pages of this book had me cheering. I couldn’t wait to keep laughing.

Things did not proceed as I expected.

After the gruesome murder, the book introduced its protagonist, Colette.

Colette had befriended the popular crowd early in her high school career. She tried to maintain the illusion that her family was as rich as theirs.

Ugh. Really? CLASS DRAMA? GET BACK TO THE MURDER.

The book kept returning to Colette’s friendship with Alpha Bitch Hannah. Through reconciling with an old friend and working out her feelings with the popular betas, Colette realized how toxic her friendship with Hannah had become.

That really got to me.

When I picked up this book, I was in the process of ending a friendship. That phrase implies an active choice and a clean break when in reality there were multiple epiphanies and unacknowledged hurts. There wasn’t a clean mutual break. I didn’t write this person a Dear John letter about my need for independence. Through our interactions – and some of her inaction – I realized a person I’d invested a LOT of time and energy in did not care about me. At all.

I kept having moments while reading this book where I would go, “Colette, just dump her! Just dump- Oh…”

Hannah and Colette had a surprising number of positive interactions. Hannah would do something kind only to demean Colette a few pages later. Most of the time, Colette dismissed her own hurt feelings. She told her other friends some version of, “Nobody’s perfect. Everybody has flaws.”

“All people are flawed,” her friends agreed, “but you get to decide what you’ll put up with.”

I’ve forgotten almost every detail of the book but that one line.

The book goes even farther, extending the theme of toxic friendship to Marie Antoinette herself.

(This goes into spoiler territory. Ye be warned.)

The mysterious ghost turned out to be Marie Antoinette’s best friend, the one who led Marie and her family to be executed. In the book’s climax, Colette essentially acts as a corporeal mediator for a centuries-long ghostly dispute.

I wiped tears away as I read. Was I SERIOUSLY CRYING? Over a GHOST SERIAL KILLER NOVEL? WHAT WAS MY PROBLEM?

Colette put the ghosts to rest, ended her friendship with Hannah, and followed her tour group back to the States. I should mention Colette had a cute French love interest who helped her with her ghost quest. I wasn’t all that fond of him; Jules, the French tour guide, seemed like the focus group answer to “What do the teens like?”

I expected Colette and Jules to exchange lofty promises of fidelity over long distance.

Not so.

Colette bid farewell to Jules, reflecting that their relationship, though temporary, was both valuable and worth remembering.

WHAT KIND OF MATURE NOVEL DID I JUST READ???

cute shrug

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No, I’m not doing well

I came here

for art, for energy, for community, for people like me, done with

“accidental” pregnancies and tiny weddings and Trump rallies

and surely, maybe

I’d meet more men

in a city of 700,000.

Bursting with creativity

I came here.

 

Now I’m stuck

in this ugly gray

where walking down the sidewalk in a straight line

is an Olympic sport

and nobody

knows how to drive,

beating back screaming homeless

and rude Chinese ladies

and I didn’t ask for this.

I didn’t fucking ask for this.

 

I’m tired

of mixers, classes,

being proactive,

waiting on men

who remain passive

and I’m twenty-two again

waiting around

waiting still

and nothing

has changed.

 

Meanwhile, my church

pays lip service to loving singles,

all around me married people

making plans, making visits,

making time,

and sure-okay-I-guess-

you’re-invited-but

holy-shit-what

will-we-talk-

about.

 

Stuck

in small talk-

“What do you do?

Did you just move?

How long have you

been coming here?”-

endless meeting

and greeting

conversations repeating

and

no

invites

no

meet-ups

until

I

pick up the phone

I

suggest a spot

I

make the first move

always

the first move

and every

one

after

and they say

I’m welcome,

I’m always

welcome,

caught

in the gulf

between

“Can I come over?”

and

“Come on in.”

 

When

the life changes

that would make me

palatable

feel

so far away

they seem

impossible.

 

When I’m a model

member of my life

stage,

when I’ve

attended

every Bible study

baby shower

class meeting,

still

the prodigal

is welcomed, paraded,

appearance lauded,

“We’re so glad you made it!”

when I’ve-

I’ve been here

the whole

time.

 

“But you have God!”

feels more and more

insulting

like I haven’t trusted

like I haven’t tried

like I haven’t been praying,

like I can’t hear the truth

in what they’re saying:

I have God

because

no one else

wants me.