Sunday Stuff

I’m starting to look over this year’s challenges and think about what I want to do in 2019. I’m currently at 40 out of 50 on the PopSugar Challenge, so if I buckle down, I could totally finish that by the end of the year, especially since I own most of the last ten books I need to read for it. To be honest, though, I probably won’t. I have far more interesting library books to read!

I’m debating starting two challenges without end dates on them next year. I’d still do the Goodreads Challenge, but that’s just number of books. The first of the two challenges that have been interesting me lately is the Dewey Decimal Challenge, where you read a book for every category of the Dewey Decimal System – or at least every 10s category. It’s a lot of books, but with no time limit on the challenge, it’s just something to keep track of over the next few years.

The other challenge is a geographical one – there’s two main ones, and I think I’d start first with the US challenge – read a book set in each state and territory of the US. Once I finish that, I might move onto the world challenge, which is a book for each country on Earth. Preferably written by an author from each country.

I have about six weeks to figure out what challenges I want to start.

On a completely different topic, I’m really glad I have posts scheduled out about a week and a half on average, because right now I am NOT feeling good. I caught my husband’s cold – which is really just a sore throat and some stuffiness, but it’s made my thyroid flare. So I’m coughing but trying not to, face is full of snot, and my immune system is going absolutely INSANE because the tiniest upset sucks when you have an autoimmune disease. I’m not getting much reading done, is what I’m trying to say! Heck, I’m having trouble focusing long enough to type up this post. Chronic illnesses, man. I just need it to clear up by Thanksgiving, as we’re getting away for the weekend up to Philadelphia, mostly to see VNV Nation in concert Friday night!

And of course this all hit me the same day I finally got my pre-ordered copy of Girls of Paper and Fire, and then the very next day the library sent me The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy, but instead of reading either I’m about to go pass out. Blargh.

Book Review: Educated

educated memoirEducated: a Memoir
by Tara Westover
334 pages
Published 2018

I blurbed this on my Friday 56, but I actually read it a couple weeks ago. I had to take enough time to distance myself from the text before I could formulate my reaction into words. More than once, I had to set this book down and walk away because something hit me so hard I couldn’t continue. A phrase, a quote, or a chapter title would jump out and sucker-punch me.

Tara’s family was much more extremist than mine; though we were homeschooled until 8th grade (with public school after that), we had actual books and tests. Oregon actually has yearly required standardized tests for homeschoolers, so in that respect I was years ahead of Tara. (Though my science and history education were still very poor – I thought dinosaurs and humans existed at the same time until I was in my twenties.) We had birth certificates, and saw doctors regularly. We lived in town. But my family is conservative Christian, and learning that there are viewpoints outside that caused similar emotions to what Tara goes through. Educating myself out of bigotry, at the cost of a relationship with my family – THAT is what I have in common with this author.

Tara had a pretty horrific childhood. There were a lot of severe injuries among her family members that really should have been seen by a doctor, and never were. Her father’s bullheadedness (and undiagnosed bipolar disorder) probably led to several of the family’s injuries. Her father was more neglectful than abusive, though. It was one of Tara’s older brothers that was abusive.

Between her family, her isolation, her lack of education, and her poverty, Tara overcame so many issues to get into university. It’s really astounding. The pushback from her family is sadly unsurprising. What she’s done with her life is something to be proud of, not ashamed of.

And what I really mean by that is that I’m proud of my life and my beliefs, even if my family doesn’t understand them or me.

There are so many parts of this book that speak directly to me, from quotes like

Their voices were forceful, emphatic, absolute. It had never occurred to me that my voice might be as strong as theirs.

to the part where she devours the classic books of feminism in grad school because until that point, feminism had always been a bad thing. I’ve done that. I grew up on Rush Limbaugh yelling about feminazis. To realize that was wrong, and read the books of the first and second wave, is an awakening I know all too intimately.

I checked this book out from the library, but I’m going to buy my own copy. This is a book I need to keep around to remind me that I’m not alone in this journey – someone else has been through it too.

From the cover of Educated:

Tara Westover was seventeen the first time she set foot in a classroom. Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, she prepared for the end of the world by stockpiling home-canned peaches and sleeping with her “head for the hills” bag. In the summer she stewed herbs for her mother, a midwife and healer, and in the winter she salvaged metal in her father’s junkyard.

Her father distrusted the medical establishment, so Tara never saw a doctor or nurse. Gashes and concussions, even burns from explosions, were all treated at home with herbalism. The family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education, and no one to intervene when an older brother became violent.

When another brother got himself into college and came back with news of the world beyond the mountain, Tara decided to try a new kind of life. She taught herself enough mathematics, grammar, and science to take the ACT and was admitted to Brigham Young University. There, she studied psychology, politics, philosophy, and history, learning for the first time about pivotal world events like the Holocaust and the Civil Rights Movement. Her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge University. Only then would she wonder if she’d traveled too far, if there was still a way home.

Educated is an account of the struggle for self-invention. It is a tale of fierce family loyalty, and of the grief that comes from severing ties with those closest to you. With the acute insight that distinguishes all great writers, Westover has crafted a universal coming-of-age story that gets to the heart of what an education is and what it offers: the perspective to see one’s life through new eyes, and the will to change it.

Sunday Night Thoughts

So it’s Sunday evening, and I’m sitting here looking at No Is Not Enough and Bob Woodward’s Fear and One Person, No Vote, and Swastika Night – and reading Catwoman: Soulstealer and Rain: A Natural and Cultural History and Many Love instead. Sometimes it’s about self-care and taking a break. My review of Educated is going live in the morning, and that book took a lot out of me. The last week, the last month, the last two years have taken a lot out of me. The things keeping me going are A) my friends, B) books about rebelling and overthrowing governments (and I’ve been reading A LOT of those!), and C) honestly, this blog. For so many reasons.

It’s partly for me – my memory is NOT what it used to be, (thanks, thyroid!) and keeping this blog reminds me of what I’ve read, what I liked and didn’t like. And it’s partly seeing you reading and liking and commenting. For an introverted homebody like me, knowing people actually LIKE what I have to say is a tremendous ego boost. (The number of times I’ve turned to my husband in surprise and said “People like reading my shit!!” is kind of hilarious.)

Aaaaaaaand I’ve now had to oversee a Facebook comment thread on Kavanaugh that turned into a direct IM with the friend who just. wasn’t. getting it. And I am off for the night.

Oh hey it’s Sunday

And I still don’t know what I’m doing with this space. Saturday was long and humid working at the Maryland Renaissance Festival, and I am absolutely pooped. I know about the SCOTUS vote, but right now (Saturday night, as I’m writing this), I do not have the spoons to even start to address it. There may or may not be an evening post tonight talking about it. We’ll see how I feel once I have slept.

Oh lord having a chronic illness SUCKS BALLS. I am so glad we’re never working both days of a Fair weekend this year. I don’t think I’m capable because one day makes EVERY. THING. HURT. And it’s not like I’m running all over the grounds. I am alternately standing, sitting, and occasionally walking around a, what, 10 foot square booth? Might be 12. I’m not really sure. It’s not large, anyway.

So yeah. I’m gonna go collapse in my bed and sleep until sometime Sunday. Probably far past when this post goes up. Then we’re going to lounge around the house until we find enough spoons to go see Venom, and then maybe I’ll write some long ranty opinion piece about the piece of shit that just got onto the Supreme Court.

I’ll leave you with some Wonder Women. 20181006_2207247668070089285426173.jpg

Sunday Something

I’m still trying to decide exactly what I want to do with this space on Sundays. I’ve done link roundups, I’ve done short updates on life, I’ve even moved a review to Sunday on the rare occasion I didn’t have anything else planned by Saturday night, but nothing has really felt, I don’t know, right.

I’m mulling over the idea of doing opinion pieces on Sunday, or possibly snippets of fiction. (I’ve written a little bit of very short fiction, and would kind of like to practice more.) I’m just not really sure what I want to do here on Sundays.


In other news, I’ll be roaming around the Baltimore Book Festival today! We went Friday, and attended several panels. I’ve now listened to several authors from my To-Be-Read list, and I think my favorite so far is Na’amen Gobert Tilahun, author of The Root and The Tree. He was on two panels we watched Friday, and it turns out he’s on a few more today. (I’m not stalking him, I swear!) He’s really fun to listen to. Zoraida Cordova, author of The Brooklyn Brujas, was also really fun to watch.

One of my first panels today is about Author/Blogger relationships, so I’m hoping to get a lot out of that. I’m also planning to go to panels about how Cities can be their own characters; Politics, Resistance, and Spec Fic; Magic Systems; Literary Sci-Fi/Fantasy; and maybe a panel about the Marginalized Majority – how marginalized voices together actually become a majority.

On Friday I went to a panel about creating characters, one about worldbuilding, one about heroes and villains, and my last panel was about genres that people think have been overdone revived by marginalized authors. (Do we really need MORE vampire novels? Yes, if they’re not white, cis, and hetero!)

I’ve also been thinking about something Na’amen Tilihun said about dystopias – he likes them for the revolution part. He could do without the first third in which they’re setting up how terrible things are. Thinking about which dystopias I have and haven’t liked – Future Home of the Living God featured a failed, quickly squashed revolution. Hated it. Station Eleven had no revolution. Hated it. But The Power, American War, The Book of M – all featured revolutions. Loved them. Even The Bannerless Saga features people going against the status quo, and a main character who’s starting to realize maybe the status quo isn’t exactly fair. So it’s really the revolutions that I love, not the dystopias. There was a lot to think about from that panel, and I’m very glad I stayed long enough to go to it.

I came home Friday with five books and a mug – two of the books are even signed! (Na’amen Tilihun’s first, The Root, is one of those two, with The Shadow of The Rock being the other.) We’ll see what I bring home today. You can follow my Twitter for updates throughout the day!

Sunday Miscellany

Oh man, it’s been a rough week. Monday was a very hot, very humid day working at the Maryland Renaissance Festival. I adore the friends I work with, but that heat and humidity just ruined me. I’ve spent most of the rest of this week in a bit of a daze, recovering. Couldn’t even stitch any codpieces. I got a little bit of reading done, but not much. And then Thursday night I couldn’t sleep worth a damn – I’d fall asleep for an hour or two and be woken up by a roommate getting home from work, or my husband’s alarm going off, or another roommate leaving for work – and each time, be up for at least an hour (sometimes three) before being able to sleep again.


The Culprit looking innocent

So Friday night rolled around and I was really, REALLY looking forward to getting some sleep. Fell asleep a little after midnight – and woke up at 2 am to the cat puking up a hairball. Or trying to. It takes her a few tries sometimes. And then she wants to chew on plastic after she’s puked. So I was up until around 6:30 dealing with the cat. Then I got four hours of sleep – which was the biggest chunk of sleep I’d had in two nights so YAY! Hopefully I’m still asleep while you’re reading these words, as I’m writing it Saturday night before bed. I’m about to collapse.

I’m pretty sure I had a couple links pulled up to post here but I can’t remember what the heck they were.

So I’m just going to leave you with the soundtrack of my insomnia.