To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is one of my favorite classics, which is true of many people. In fact, in October it was voted America's favorite book. So I thought it might be appropriate for me to talk today about why it's one of my favorites.
The first thing we need to recognize is that To Kill a Mockingbird is not a novel about a black man. Nor is it fully a novel about racism. Many black critics and social justice activists point out that it falls into the "white savior trope" of focusing on a "good" white person and their fight against racism instead of focusing on the actual black people. That in itself isn't necessarily a bad thing, since there's a place for many different stories in the world--but very nearly all the stories we have about racism are like that. Certainly, the popular ones are, and not recognizing that would be wrong. The stories of black people need to be heard, much more than another story about a white person, and their stories need to be told by black people themselves. When white people constantly envelop racism in self-soothing narratives about white saviors, it's unhelpful and disempowering to others, and acting like To Kill a Mockingbird is the book about racism only worsens things.
(For some of these important diverse, own voices stories, at least in the YA sector, I recommend checking out Rich in Color.)
I've always considered myself pretty knowledgeable when it comes to mental illness. Psychology, after all, is one of my main interests. However, my big project for my final class, a LibGuide for teens about mental health, taught me a lot I didn't know. Categorizations have changed a lot over time, and there were many conditions I came across that I hadn't heard of before. In fact, the amount of work I expected the project to take ended up at least tripled because I had to keep revising my organizational structure. Not only were there many changes in the official DSM structure in 2013, but there are a number of conditions that cross categories.
More than anything, the project made me consider how arbitrary human categories and labels can be, at least when it comes to health. It's something I've experienced in my own life, and it's something I could see in this project. It makes sense, of course. The mind and the body existed long before we gave them names, and the lines we like to draw, the boxes we create, don't exist in nature.
Language means a lot to me, as a writer and a person. The names and labels we use grant us power over the world and ourselves. They make it easier to understand our lives. I think it's important that we have that. Yet language (and science) is imperfect, and it's important to recognize that there are areas where the lines start to blur and our categorizations fail. Just because things, or people, don't exactly fit into established parameters doesn't mean they don't exist.
Hey everybody! Happy late Thanksgiving! Christmas season is upon us, but first, I wanted to share the things that I'm most grateful for this year.
I'm thankful for all the progress I've made in
my mental and physical health.
I'm thankful for the decision I made to
become an editor.
I'm thankful for all the work I've been able to
accomplish on CUCUY.
I'm thankful for my friends, my family, and
I'm thankful for the challenges I haven't had to face and for the strength I've been given to get
through the ones I do.
I'm thankful for stories and the way they bind us together. I'm especially thankful for YA lit! And
I'm thankful for the beauty in the universe and in our souls.
I'm thankful for art and artists.
I'm thankful for God's plan for each of us.
I'm thankful for modern technology, especially the Internet and social media.
I'm thankful for modern science, especially medications like antidepressants and gabapentin.
Also, bladder instillations.
I'm thankful for the opportunities and resources I have.
Okay, well, some kind of weirdness is going on with my bout of strep. I guess the antibiotics aren't working? IDK, though. I'm planning to call urgent care again on Monday and see what's up. In the meantime, here's an update on my life, as told through a series of "-ing" verbs!
Eating: a waffle with maple syrup and scrambled eggs, courtesy of my mom
Drinking: water with Miralax (yay IBS)
Wearing: a teal half-sleeve dress
Smelling: nothing in particular
Reading: Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor
Writing: this blog post, and not a whole lot else
Listening: to my brother's cat yowling at anyone who walks by
Earworming: (not a verb? too bad, it is now) "Havana" by Camilla Cabello
Watching: Star Trek: Voyager, among other shows
It's been quite a week for me. I spent most of it working (probably over-enthusiastically) on the big project for what will likely be my final class. I finished on Thursday. It's a guide to Internet resources for teens regarding mental health, and you can check it out here! (I learned a ton doing it.)
Then, yesterday, a new story for the chronic illness annals: I went to the dentist. I've been having trouble with bleeding gums and such, which I suspect is the result of my very restricted diet (which just keeps getting worse because my digestive system keeps deciding it's bothered by new things), so the hygienist was examining my gums. Suddenly she said, "Can I look at your throat?"
As she looked, pressing my tongue down with the little mirror tool, her expression went very serious and a little alarmed. "You've got pus spots on your tonsils," she said. "I think you have strep."
I was just as surprised as her. My throat had been hurting for about a week, and I was a bit more tired and headachy than usual, but it hadn't been enough to warrant concern for me. The pain was mild, at least for me, and of course I'm accustomed to feeling sick. The dentist looked and confirmed the spots, and I went to urgent care. I didn't really think it would turn out to be strep, but the doctor there tested and confirmed it. I have strep, and I didn't know it until the dental hygienist looked at my throat.
I had strep a lot when I was younger. I remember having a hard time with the pain even the one time I got strep after my fibro first developed. I suppose after everything I've been through with interstitial cystitis since then (it's an honestly torturous condition), my entire definition of pain has shifted. My tolerance has gone up enough that I perceive pain on a different scale. It happened with the fibro, and I suppose it happened with the IC, too.
I can't believe it's November already! September felt so slow, but October just sped past me.
Last week, I shared some internet tools that could be of use to just about anyone. This week, I wanted to share some tools that writers can use, tools that I, in fact, do use in my writing career. Almost all of these are free, with the exception of the writing conferences and the programs mentioned in the "Writing" section. Check 'em out!
One thing every author needs is people supporting them. Writing communities can be incredibly helpful throughout the entire process. Here are some good resources for a writer looking for their community.
Yeah, yeah, y'all know I'm a big fan. But the first rule of social media is that you shouldn't do it unless you enjoy it! As such, I recommend you give all the big social media sites a try, but then adjust or end your membership if you don't find yourself having fun. Twitter in particular I'd recommend for finding and talking with other writers, but any of them have a writing/bookish community you can be a part of!
Hey everyone! In the past I've shared some useful Internet tools for writers (and I'll be sharing an update on that next week, followed by a post about fun websites and apps), but today I thought I'd share some great tools for anyone to use. So here we go!
Pixlr Photo Editor
This is my photo editor of choice, a free online program that has a fair amount of options and complexity, but is also easy enough to navigate. I'm not terribly experienced in photo-editing for commercial purposes, but this works for me in editing my personal photos. (There's also an app.)
Giphy Gif Editor
This website allows you to easily create gifs out of image slideshows or videos, and the gifs are public, which means you can search a trove to find the gif you want. I use this website the most for my gif-y needs.
Genius Song Lyrics
I know a lot of people don't pay much attention to song lyrics, but they're an important piece of the art and the message, and as a writer, I do care! So I always look up songs before I buy them for myself, and I've found that this website is the best in terms of lyric accuracy and analysis. (It also has a music news aspect, but I don't usually pay attention to that.)
Sometimes, I need to make a choice, but I don't have any real preference. In the case of my long list of library books to read, I also like to mix things up. So I use this tool to help me decide which part of the list to start on and whether to go up or down as I go through the list. So if you need to make that kind of choice, try this out!
One thing you realize as you get older is how very often it is that life doesn't go the way you expect it to.
As I discussed last week, when I hit my "new norm" for life as a chronically ill person, I became quite unhappy. This unhappiness continued, at a significant and disruptive level, for a number of weeks. As I was working through things on my own, I realized that a lot of the problem was that I wasn't just unhappy with my present; I was also unhappy with the future I was facing.
When I decided to apply for online graduate school, to get my Master's in Library and Information Science, my thought was that jobs as a librarian would be easier to find than jobs as an editor, which had been my original plan for a day job. I also thought that librarianship would be a more stable field overall. I thought it would be disabled-friendly. (I also liked the thought of working with teens, since YA is really my passion.)
Though I was already very sick, I hadn't yet come to the point of comprehension. I didn't yet understand that my level of illness meant I was very disabled now. I didn't yet understand that I now had multiple incurable conditions. I didn't know that my level of disability might not be something I could fix. That point of comprehension hit pretty quickly, however. And once I was well enough to continue my Master's degree again, I started thinking that it might not be worth it.
It was a fleeting thought at first. I worried about the high cost of the classes and the amount of energy I had to expend on them. I worried that, because of my level of disability, I would never be able to do the job I was spending all this time and money on. And, to be honest, though I'd discovered that I have a decent handful of skills that are library-friendly, I wasn't enjoying my classes very much. (Though, since they were beginning-level classes, I figured that didn't mean a whole lot.) But since my health was improving, I held to the possibility that I could still get well enough for librarianship. My mom also encouraged me by pointing out that education in and of itself is valuable, even if it doesn't end up applying to a job.
This is the second of two parts (thus far) of my "official" story about living with chronic illness. Read part one, "Fibromyalgia: My Story" here. This also acts as a kind of part two to my mental illness story, "Obsessive-Compulsive: My Story," which can be found here.
*Contains discussion of suicidal thoughts*
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), also referred to as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), is a medical condition characterized by long-term fatigue and other long-term symptoms that limit a person's ability to carry out ordinary daily activities.
Interstitial cystitis (IC), also known as bladder pain syndrome (BPS), is a type of chronic pain that affects the bladder. Symptoms include feeling the need to urinate right away, needing to urinate often, and pain with sex. IC/BPS is associated with depression and lower quality of life.
Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) is a condition in which a change from lying to standing causes an abnormally large increase in heart rate. This occurs with symptoms that may include lightheadedness, trouble thinking, blurry vision, or weakness.
-- via Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
As of next month, it will have been four years since CUCUY (originally titled SAMMI), the most recent original novel I've written, first came into being.
All right, welcome to October! Today I'm sharing the 25 funniest posts (plus one video) that I've seen during this past quarter of the year.
It's time to share the eight YA and MG books that are at the top of my to-read list for the fall quarter of 2018!
As I said in my What's In My Memory Box post, I've already done a post looking at what's in my makeup bag. But the contents of said bag (and the bag itself) have changed since then. I feel like I spent all of my teens trying to figure out what makeup I liked and what products to use and what worked best for me--and now that I'm in my twenties, I've figured most of it out. So here are the products that really do work for me, taken from my makeup bag.
I've written letters here before addressed to my past selves: my sixteen-year-old self and my six-year-old self. But I haven't ever written a letter to my future self, at least not here. (I know I wrote one in a church group when I was twelve or so that was addressed to me the night before my wedding. I gave to my mom to keep for me until then. I think it's quite likely she's lost it by now, but in any case, wedding me is still in the future.)
So this letter is for a very future self: my elderly self. According to the Internet, senior discounts usually start with age 65, so, in line with my previous letters, we'll assume this letter is about my 66-year-old-self. That means I, in 2018, am talking to the person I will be in 2060.
So how is it in 2060? I know it's unlikely that any major technological breakthroughs like the ones I talk about here have happened, but it's always possible. I'm most interested, of course, in what your health situation is like. Do they have better treatments for our conditions? Do they have cures? Did our disabilities get better over time, or did they get worse? (Are you dead already? That's a possibility, in which case, hello, me in heaven. What's it like over there?)
Hey everybody! Today I wanted to talk about social media, which is one of my favorite things. I spend a lot of time on social media websites, and although there are drawbacks (as with any technology), I feel like on the whole it really enhances my life. When people get all negative about it, it hurts my soul a little bit.
After all, social media allows me, as a disabled person, to have a richer social life. It allows me to stay in contact with people who have moved away. It connects me to other people with disabilities and illnesses like mine, which is useful both for treatment and lifestyle help and just for commiseration.
Social media also grants me access to a lot of information about the world. Honestly, my favorite thing about social media isn't posting things myself, it's reading other people's posts. I've learned so much from the people I follow online. My Ravenclaw self is thrilled by the way social media and the Internet as a whole allow us to access and share knowledge!
So here are the social media tools that I use along with the ways that I use each one.
Facebook has become something of a "staple" in the social media world. If you want to be accessible to the people in your life, you need to have one, but it's not very new or exciting anymore.
On Facebook, I have a personal profile where I'm friends with people I know IRL, along with a few trusted Internet friends. I also like a lot of pages about topics I'm interested in As such, each day as I go through my feed, I see a wide variety of information about all kinds of things. I don't post very much on my personal profile anymore, but every once in a while I'll share an article or a quiz that I liked or a personal update.
My personal profile isn't widely accessible. However, I also have a Facebook page where I post links to all my blog posts as well as various book recommendations. This page is open for anyone to like!
Welcome to September, everyone!
Today I thought I'd share some examples of technology from science fiction that I can't wait to see become the norm in real life. Sci-fi is probably my favorite genre, both to read and to watch, and I think it's great how it has inspired (and continues to inspire) the real-life creation of many technologies. But there are still a whole lot of things from sci-fi that we have yet to create, and I want them.
When people complain about the existence of modern technology, what they fail to recognize is that technological advances often improve quality of life for disabled people. Every invention that allows tasks to be accomplished more easily makes it possible for disabled people to do something that we couldn't before. For example, most of my life is conducted via the Internet. Without it, my disabilities would make it impossible for me to accomplish as much as I do and to have the social life that I do.
As such, most of the technologies on this list aren't just cool or useful; they can also act as disability accommodations. These technologies would allow me, and many, many other disabled people, to live a better, fuller life. For example:
Many disabled people are unable to drive. Many more struggle to endure long distance travel. Others have mobility issues that make walking difficult. All of these things are true for me at this point in time, and so one of the sci-fi technologies I most look forward to is teleportation.
Many sci-fi worlds possess the ability to instantaneously teleport across various distances. Star Trek, for example, has transporters that can move people (and objects) across feet or across thousands of miles. Many fantasy worlds also have this power, such as Harry Potter's Apparation.
I'm an unpublished novelist, primarily of YA fantasy, and a freelance editor. I love psychology, cats, social justice, and love! I'm also a huge fangirl. Basically, stories are my life.
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