Posted in 2018, Fiction, LGBTQ

The Ghost Network by Catie Disabato

I’m not really into mystery novels but this one was worth reading. If you read the description on Goodreads where it claims it’s “Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl for adults” you’d be perfectly misled. I read Fangirl and this is nothing like it. Fangirl is a love story by someone obsessed with fanfiction and has low self-esteem and doesn’t believe these cute guys can actually like her (there is more to the story than that….it’s also about her figuring out her writing style, it’s about her relationship with her twin and coming to trust her roommate. It’s about her relationship with her parents. But this blog isn’t about Fangirl so I won’t go into detail). Although the Ghost Network does contain characters who are experiencing a loving relationship, the story is about the Situationists (which apparently was (or is) a real group that originated in Europe led by a man named Guy Debord.

This story starts out with a disappearance of a girl named Caitlin Taer, whose body they never recovered from the sea even though her friends, Nick Berliner and girlfriend (see, love relationship) Regina Nix made it back to shore after their (stolen) boat was recked (I should also mention that they were drunk at that time). Taer’s disappearance was a lot less of a mystery because everyone was still too busy trying to figure out where Pop Sensation Molly Metropolis has disappeared to. Molly was at the height of her Pop Music career when she disappeared before a show. Her body was never recovered and no one knew of her whereabouts. The only comparison I can make to Fangirl is that, whereas Cath was working on improving her writing, Molly was working on improving her music. Well, I guess the other comparison I can make is that where Cath was obsessed with Simon and Baz fanfiction, Molly was obsessed with the Situationist.

Molly obsession got the point where she was trying to figure out what the New Situationists (a new group of Situationists that originated, although rumored to be dismantled after one of their members, Mary Helen Krauss [she is not actually French] was arrested for manslaughter after a domestic terrorist attack went wrong.¬† The original plan was that they were going to blow up parts of the Chicago Public Transit System after working hours. Just to take the extra step, they pulled the fire alarm to make sure any homeless or security guards got out. However, in Krauss’ section, there was a sleeping security guard that didn’t hear the alarm and therefore….boom goes the guard. Krauss was sentenced to 25 years of prison.) were up to.

Molly persisted on befriending Nick Berliner (a known New Situationist) in order to get more information. Nick refused at first, but Molly persisted. When Nick went to discuss this with his girlfriend, Krauss (he visited her every week), she asked him to bring her (Nick did not know at the time that Molly had already visited Krauss, but they kept that a secret from him). Krauss asked them to find out anything they could about what that NS was planning. That’s when they found out that the Situationists were trying to retrieve all archives of the Chicago Public Transit System, those that existed, those that were planned but never built, those that were rejected and those that were just thought up but never presented to the board. With that, came the Ghost Network.

Caitlin Taer was a reported and a huge Molly Metro fan, so when she found out that Molly disappeared, she wanted to be the one to take on the report. That’s when she learned that a former high school acquaintance of her, Regina Nix, worked closely with Molly. Taer’s editors said that if she can get an interview, she can have the story. Taer contacted Nix and Nix obliged. That’s slowly how their love relationship started. They developed a friendship and then it developed into more…and pretty soon they were living together. Nix was depressed and wasn’t as interested in finding Molly as Taer was. Taer thought about Molly almost all the time. When Nix was asked to clean Molly’s hotel room, she asked Taer to come along and that’s where they found her journal. That’s when Taer’s obsession fully blossomed. That’s also how they come to know about Nick Berliner (his number was written in her journal). Nix also told Taer that Molly always read about the Situationists. Eventually, they befriended Nick and tried to solve the mystery of “where is Molly Metropolis.”

The story is written by a fictional Catie Disabato who was given the work of her mentor, Cyrus Archer after a car accident. He was writing the book on Molly Metropolis and her disappearance. Catie further investigated the matter in order to finish the book and find out the truth. It reads like a report and is sprinkled with footnotes. My favorite part is all the uncertainties of identities….and the fact that there is a secret society. I love secrets so, it’s no wonder I enjoyed this book.

It was suspenseful but also extremely detailed. Whereas the book synopsis claims it’s about finding Molly Metropolis, I honestly say she was just a piece to the larger picture and this book is really about discovering the Situationists. She goes into complicated detail about the history and intentions and I still don’t think I fully understand this organization. But the mystery behind it is what makes it appealing. The idea of a new world is what made it exciting.

This is definitely not a book I would recommend to just anyone. This reminds me of a much more middle school version of what Atlas Shrugged was meant to be. An awareness of human perfection. A place where intellect rules over popularity and status.

The cool thing is that this book feels real. They have current celebrity references (like Miley Cirus and Jennifer Lawrence…even Christopher Nolan is thrown in there). And in the acknowledgments, she even thanks Caitlin Taer and Regina Nix; her created fictional characters as if they really did undergo this great adventure that helped her discover this new world (which in a way, they did).

If I haven’t lost you already, here are some of my favorite quotes.

If you know a place, he realized, it’s no longer a trap.

 

Very often, when you meet a person for the first time, their emotions are really turned off. Even people who are really open, I’m not just talking about closed-off people. Most of the time, people don’t show you thier heaviest, deepest emotions the first time you meet them. I mean, they don’t want to show you that vulnerable part of themselves and you don’t want to see it. You don’t want them to see yours either. There’s a social contract between people who have never met before, to be some diminished version of yourself.

 

Debord was interested in a sociological study performed by Chombar de Lauwe in 1952, where de Lauwe strove to show that the average Parisian doesn’t live in a neighborhood so much as a small swath of the city determined by her won habits and preferences.

 

Most people are ready to suffer, as long as it’s for the right reasons.

 

 

These quotes make you self-reflect, don’t you think?

If you know any books regarding secret societies or mystery worlds, please comment and let me know. I’m starting to realize that I appreciate those book a lot more than the fantasy books that used to help me escape. I know Jules Vernes has books with secret worlds. But I don’t know of any others.

Posted in 2018, Fiction

The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

I remember watching The Golden Compass movie when it first came out (before reading the book) and I thought it was soooooo boring!!! Now after reading the book, I understand why. The actors did a terrible portraying the fictional characters. The actors, themselves are usually good but in this movie, the only believable characters were the animals.

Therefore, it took a while for me to find the motivation to read it. If it wasn’t for a pen pal making a pack to read it together, I probably wouldn’t have opened it, regardless of how many people told me it was a wonderful read.

Now that I have read it, I agree with it. It’s fantastically detailed and filled with imagination. This was the first part of a 3 part series of His Dark Materials.

The details, in the beginning, made the story feel slow at first, but after our protagonist’s adventure began, it was hard to put down. I would definitely recommend it if you are a fan of the fantasy genre.

There was a moment in the book where the author really described a fearful event. To us, it would be a normal event but in the book, the occurrence is so unbelievable that I remember my eyes going wide. That is how you can tell a book is good. When you start feeling what the characters are feeling.

Here are some of my favorite quotes (spoilers below):

“Nothing will hold my hand, Margaret, save only judgement. If I stay my hand in the North, it will only be to strike the harder in the South. To strike a day too soon is as bad as striking a hundred miles off. To be sure, there’s a warm passion behind what you say. But if you give in to that passion,friends, you’re doing what I always warned you agin: you’re a placing the satisfaction of your own feelings. Our feelings don’t matter. If we rescue the kids but we can’t punish the Gobblers, we’ve done the main task. But if we aim to punish the Gobblers first and by doing so lose the chance of rescuing kids, we’ve failed.”

That’s why John Faa makes a great trusting leader. He commenced by saying when the times comes, he will because his heart is not soft, but it will be under judgment and not passion.

Being a practiced liar doesn’t mean you have a powerful imagination. Many good liars have no imagination at all; it’s that which gives their lies such wide-eyed conviction.

Hahaha, it’s an honest quote.

“Well, that seems kinda precipitate. Seems to me a man should have a choice whether to take up arms or not.”
“We have no more choice in that than in whether or not to be born.”

I feel like that’s life. You don’t get a choice on which war you get thrown in, you just get thrown and you have to do the best you can.

“There wasn’t really and Adam and Eve? The Cassington Scholar told me it was just a kind of fairy tale.”
“The Cassington Scholarship is traditionally given to a freethinker; it’s his function to challenge the faith of the Scholars. Naturally he’d say that. But think of Adam and Eve like an imaginary number, like the square root of minus one; you can never see any concrete proof that it exists, but if you include it in your equations, you can calculate all manner of things that couldn’t be imagined without it.”

Here they are talking about Dust. That when Adam and Eve ate the apple, their Daemons turned into one form instead of changing about like a child’s do. The twist here is that Dust started forming because the Lord said “for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return” as in, you will be filled with Dust (another cool argument is that someone argues that returning to the ground is God’s way of admitting his own nature to be partly sinful). Dust in the book is an elementary particle that surrounds kids after puberty. It is themed as original sin. One sentence that really struck was when he mentioned: “There was a physical proof that something happened when innocence changed into experience.”

I really like that the book focuses on the importance of Dust. In my opinion, it’s a metaphor for finding yourself. Lyria doesn’t want to grow up, and her pursuit of understanding Dust is her way of trying to figure out where she belongs. The people who inform her about Dust are ironically her parents. Given that Dust is proof when “innocent changed into experience,” it’s interesting to know that the more she knows about Dust (herself, her life…her place in the scheme of life), the more she is losing her innocence.

We’ve heard them all talk about Dust, and they’re so afraid of it, and you know what? We believed them, even though wecould see that what they were doing was wicked and evil and wrong…We thought Dust must be bad too, ebcause they were grown up and they said so. But what if it isn’t? What if it’s [good]?”

I love that logic ūüôā

Posted in 2018, Fiction, Our Shared Shelf

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

I read The Hate U Give because, not only was it constantly being advertised, it was the book of the month for the Our Shared Shelf virtual book club.

I was really excited to read it because one of my friends mentioned that it was an influential book for the #BlackLivesMatter movement. Now, in my opinion, if I didn’t already believe that black lives do matter, this book wouldn’t have convinced me otherwise.

The problem was that there was no connection to the main character. It’s not that she wasn’t relatable, because she was, at least for me. I can relate to not wanting to sound ghetto around white people due to the fear of judgment. I can relate to needing to separate parts of your world with different people. I can relate to constantly having the pressure of “which identity do I need to be right now” in the back of my mind that disconnects me from the moment and my reality. Very relatable, no connection though. That probably has to do with the fact that she is emotionally unavailable. She had to get hard because, well, her life has been horrible. Her family, as odd as it is (which I won’t go into detail as to why since it has little to do with my argument here, but it is rather interesting and is beneficial to the character dynamic of the book), is probably the only thing keeping her sane. (The rest of this blog contains spoilers) She watched two of her best friends getting killed….heck she watched one of her best friend getting killed when she was too young to process death, let alone murder. I can only imagine the emotional impact it can have on her. That’s probably a good cause as to why she had to shut down. She didn’t shut down in the angry teenage angst kind of way, more or less, she just stopped expressing herself. She expressed her thoughts constantly, sure. She expressed how she felt, or how she felt she needed to feel. But the majority of the time, she just felt like a narrator rather than a protagonist.

I get it. She has a painful story to tell, and if I were in her situation, I probably wouldn’t have had the magnitude to tell it. Maybe if she made Khalil more of a person rather than a memory, things might have felt different. I know that he technically was a memory…but the thing about the mind is that it can make memories feel real. She could have written him to be somewhat present. The way her aftermath occurred made it seem like she just underwent a very traumatic experience….if I didn’t know that he was her best friend, I wouldn’t assume that he was. It was too…detached. Or maybe she’s just more grown up than I am, but if my best friend was wrongly killed, I’d be broken to the point of dysfunction. That is why I couldn’t connect with her. If her emotions were a little more extreme it might have changed the whole story. If she were angrier, or more fearful, or even completely dead inside (this is a teenager we are talking about, after all…I’ve been there….it’s crazy) and she is acting all responsible. But, I guess the end result is that it got the message across. No matter how well you cooperate and follow the laws, black people still have injustice brought upon them. No matter how many right things she did, in the end, she still lost the war. So I would say that the protagonist here isn’t really Starr, but the black lives matter movement itself….leaving the antagonist to be the system.

“‘Pac rapped ’bout that stuff too, yeah, but he also cared ’bout uplifting black people,” says Daddy. “Like he took the word ‘[n-word]’ and gave it a whole new meaning–Never Ignorant Getting Goals Accomplished. And he said Thug Life meant–”
“The Hate U Give Little Infants F—s Everybody.”

I didn’t grow up listening to Tupac. I only really know a few songs from him but I always knew he was a big deal….kind of like Elvis, Michael Jackson and The Beatles…although I didn’t grow up listening to them either. Suffice to say, I might not have the best music taste.

Regardless, I never knew this about Tupac. I asked a friend who loves him if this is true (because part of me thought this was just a theory from the author…kind of like the gang theory from Harry Potter [also mentioned in the book…which makes total sense and that’s somewhat the reason I liked the series]) and she said it’s true (even if it weren’t true, that wouldn’t take away from the book. It’s a cool saying). Anyway, the reason I bring this up is because, since it is true (according to my one source, so don’t take my word for it), I feel like all his work in the progression of black people has gotten lost somewhere. I don’t mean black people in general. I mostly mean the hip hop artists, whom, instead of using the N word as an empowerment tool, they use it to bring other’s down. The usage of it in the songs these days is similar to using the B word. There is no grace to it. So it’s sad that Tupac made it meaningful, and that these new artists, whom claim to be inspired by Tupac, are shattering that legacy.

Now thug is an appropriate acronym. I do believe that, even though we try to act otherwise, we are affected by how others view us and treat us. We become the product of our environment. It’s why we love stories with underdogs, and going against all odds and other unreal things that don’t normally happen to the average person. We are amazed by the unordinary because we are prone to become numb to our surroundings. People settle. It happens. We let our dreams die. When our dreams die, it affects the world. Think of “It’s a Wonderful Life.” There was a plan for your existence, and if, for whatever reason you stop honoring that path, it affect the world…directly or indirectly.

“This neighborhood makes young men deaf to their elders”

The truth to this statement caused me to pause and digest. Sometimes, when the situation seems overwhelming, we stop listening to wisdom and start listening to the fastest way out. I don’t blame Khalil for needing to sell drugs (before we knew the real reason). When people are taught to believe that you won’t accomplish much, you look for a way out. You think you will be an exception. You think you’ll figure it out the way no one else has done so before. Life is extremely personal and it’s hard to believe that you are just a vulnerable piece in the game of life. Elders are wise from their experiences and obseravations. Youth blinds us to time because the pressure of it feels deathly.

“Sometimes you can do everything right and things will still go wrong. The key is to never stop doing right.”

One of the reasons I loved reading this book is because the family had strong moral values…well….to an extent. It’s hopeful to read about people continually trying to do good regardless of the circumstances. It’s easy to give in to the darkness, and this family kept trying to be better…to do better even after they’ve already made countless mistakes. George W. Bush made a speech where he said “Self-correction is the secret strength of freedom. We are a nation with a history of resilience and genius for renwal.” That’s essentially what the characters in this book embraced. It’s refreshing. I’m always reading books where characters are trying to justify their actions but here….they face the truth, as ugly as it is and learn from it.

I also liked that the main family had to fight off racism…not just from the cops…but internally as well. Starr had to face dating her white boyfriend after a white cop shot her best friend. She knew it was wrong to judge him by his color, but…it is what it is. There is this invisible line when two cultures (whether ethnic or religious) merge of what’s appropriate and not appropriate. Starr refused to let any of her white friends in on her personal life…and she doesn’t introduce her black friends to her white friends. She is certain they wouldn’t understand (and there is truth to that) but she doesn’t even give them a chance. She, without realizing it, judged them. It happens. The question though is whether or not you let arrogance rule your thoughts. She learned to try and see the best in people regardless of the exterior. Great character development.

Daddy once told me there’s a rage passed down to every black man from his ancestors, born the moment they couldn’t stop the slave masters from hurting their families. Daddy also said there’s nothing more dangerous than when that rage is activated.

As a minority, I often find myself livid about the injustices of the past and the present. I can’t really explain why that happens, or why it feels so strong….but this works as a possible explanation.

I don’t know if I would recommend this book. It wouldn’t be for everyone. I would recommend watching the movie though. Although it hasn’t been released yet, the trailer pretty much gives the story away. Frankly though, I’m displeased at the direction they took of Khalil’s last moments…with him reaching for the brush. The way it was written in the book was so much more…intimate. His last moments were of him worrying about Starr…whereas in the trailer, it seemed he care more about impressing her, or showing off. Won’t know until the movie comes out, obviously.

Posted in 2018, Non-Fiction, Poetry

My Heart is Broken by Joyce Knock

I read this book because the author reached out and asked if I would recommend her book on Amazon. I’m all for free books and giving my opinions so I gave her a big yes ūüôā

This book is less than 50 pages but is emotional nevertheless.

It felt a bit disorganized but that was the beauty of it. When your life falls apart, life is disorganized. You get flashbacks, you get the emptiness of the moment and you get the hatred and fear of the future without a loved on in it. It’s hard and the author provided a few writing exercises¬†to help us overcome our own feelings.

She provided various poems about her son (er, the grandson whom she adopted who was the person she lost).

She gave us a bit of a background and the tools she used to overcome (but never forget) the accident.

It’s a short read but, like I said, emotional. It ends on a hopeful note and…if you do buy the book, the proceeds fund the Levi Knock “Pay it forward” Foundation which provides scholarships for youth in the Arts and Sciences.

(Featured image taken from :https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36116559-my-heart-is-broken-a-journey-of-loss-grief-and-hope)

Posted in 2018, Non-Fiction, Our Shared Shelf

Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot

This book was the official March-April book of Our Shared Shelf (a Goodreads book club started by Emma Watson).

Emma picked it because she fell in love with the sentences of the book. I was confused because this book had little to do with feminism, and Our Shared Shelf is a feminist book club.

Although the sentences did read like poetry, the content was about an emotionally abusive relationship. In other words, easy to read, hard to digest.

Out of all the books I’ve read this year, this is probably one I would not recommend. If you can handle mature content, then maybe it’ll be worth the read since it probably won’t last more than one or two days. (I read the e-book version so I can’t tell you page counts). All in all, it was not life-changing in anyway.

According to the Goodread threads though, it helped a lot of people reflect. Since I read many books regarding mature content and self-help, this book didn’t stand out in any way. Not to mention, I have friends who go to Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous who always tell me what an unhealthy vs a healthy relationship looks like.¬† So given my background knowledge and information, clearly this book was not intended for me as the audience. It’s also hard to judge a biography since the whole point was that she was trying to release her memories in order to heal and recover, it wasn’t necessarily to change my life or to act the way a good book acts.

I don’t regret reading the book, it’s just not one that I really cared to be engrossed in, or to talk about or to even think about after I was done. In retrospect, I didn’t really emphasized with the protagonist.¬† She lead us into some really dark trails but failed to expose herself to the audience. She told us all the dark details of her relationships but none of the dark details of her heart (well, maybe like one or two). She completely revolved her life on this relationship that I don’t think she has an identity outside of it. Maybe that was the point of the book, to find herself. Still, she described herself in forms of relationships. She was either a mom, or an ex-wife, ex-girlfriend, student, daughter, grand-daughter. She was a mix of every person she has become attached to that I don’t think I know anything about Terese Marie Mailhot other than she has a misfortunate life when it comes to love. I know she’s been published a couple of times, but none of that seemed more important than whether or not Casey loved her back.

Anyway, here are some of my favorite quotes from this book (these quotes are more feelings inspired than thinking inspired so I will not be commenting on them. Also, I combined a few of them together since some were of similar topics) :

It’s too ugly–to speak this story. It sounds like a beggar. How could misfortune follow me so well, and why did I choose it every time?

I learned how to make a honey reduction of the ugly sentences. Still, my voice cracks.

My professor told me that the human condition was misery. I’m a river widened by misery, and the potency of my language is more than human.

Time seems measured by grief and anticipatory grief. I don’t think she even measured time.

I know the math of regret and nostalgia.

Empties are a clich√©–the sound of them is so familiar.

He knew something was wrong, and that’s when I wondered if maybe falling in love looked like a crisis to an observer.

You ruined me with touch. It was a different exploitation.

He fell asleep and spun a restlessness that comes when people are waiting to die. Sometimes grief is a nothing feeling.

I learned that any power asks you to dedicate your life to its expansion.

If my security depends on a man’s words or action, I’ve lost sight of my power.

Observation is a skill. Observation isn’t easy, and the right eyes can make me feel like a deer, while the wrong ones make me feel like a monster.

I think self-esteem is a white invention to further separate one person from another. It asks people to access their values and implies people have worth. It seems like identity capitalism.

I don’t think that I am lonely. I think that I am starved and maybe ravenous for the very thing you withhold from me.

I thought unseeing would be a cruel game to play with myself. But now I am reading the dark and knowing how my feet drag on every inch–feeling monstrous and tired. I’d like to have familiarity back.

I was polite enough, and considerate enough, to hurt myself like a secret.

Romanticism requires bravery and risk. The obsessive thoughts ruined things. Good news was met with a numb feeling. The voice I heard was practical. It noted every opportunity to die and then noted how I refused to jump out of a moving car.

I was not right to want to die. I didn’t want to leave my family. I liked my mind and its potential. I knew the type of burden I was. I was like my mother.

She taught me that I didn’t own things. I really liked the idea of possession. We don’t own our mothers. We don’t own our bodies or our land–maybe I’m unsure.

I remember that motherhood is mostly bearing shame to dress my children, to feed them, and to spare them the things I wasn’t spared.

The knowledge proposes I either start each day as new and take you for your word, or I tear the walls down to illustrate my pain. I feel pregnant with burden, and I chose it. I want to take it back.

That pain didn’t burden me. Trying to forget damaged me the most.

Pain is faster than light, and I wish people would not fault me for things I can’t forget or explain.

We’ve become too symbolic and never real enough.

When a man’s hands become a ghost, there is no way to strip them from a body. Haunting, what a mother does not see.

There is some stillness, even in my history–a good secret in so much bad. It almost feels like a betrayal to have good thoughts.

Things were created by story. The words were conjurers, and ideas were our mothers.
Thunder is contrary. Thunder can intuit, and her action is the music caused by lightning. She comes because we ask, and that’s why falling apart is holy.

I felt the sticky notes of my lips pull apart from his. The right love is an adhesive. I realized that I had a singular mind with Casey. Even with my duplicity and my rambling. I felt unworthy of that kind of love and ready for it.

The rest of the year was a practice in language. Every new word became more horrific. I can say full sentences. In the shower, before I knew how to be scared or protect myself, I disappeared. Ten minutes of my life were enough to kill me. Every day I negotiate the minutes of my life, remembering that I can’t remember enough.

We tried to be explicit with each other. Some knowledge can only be a song or a symbol. Language fails you and me. Some things are too large.

My people cultivated pain. In the way that god cultivated his garden, with the foresight that he could not contain or protect the life within it. Humanity was born out of pain.

God foreordained Eve’s transgression. He didn’t see you though. You were stealthier than Eve. So stealthy, there is no text for you–until now. You were folklore and rumor, and there is a myth a man took, like the apple, but of your person.

Both of your mouths, weapons. That’s how love works for a spirit like you: a determined torture. Who could fault you? Did you come from misery?

 

 

(Featured image taken from: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35840657-heart-berries)

Posted in 2018, Non-Fiction, Our Shared Shelf

Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge

This book, due to the content, inspires discussion. However, since racism is a controversial topic, I have to come to terms that my opinion will be contentious.

I tried to keep an open mind throughout but there were parts of the book I disagreed with. I should first mention though, that I am not black, nor am I British. Therefore, I have no way of knowing what goes on in Black British culture. Therefore, I can’t disprove any of her validity in this book, nor do I want to. I simply want to accept her perception of the truth, and acknowledge mine.

I will say that after reading this book, I started questioning everything in my society again. I questioned all aspects of my life again to see if I have been unknowingly racist, or if I had been a target of racism without knowing it. If you know anything about me, you know that I love books that make me think even after I’m done reading them. Therefore, this book was worth the time.

I would not recommend this book if you have a closed mind or a political agenda. Yes, racism is a matter of politics, but education is not (I mean it is, and that’s the problem). If you read this book, use it as an educational tool and not as a political rant, is what I mean. Otherwise, you completely miss the point. If you can’t separate yourself from your beliefs, even just to humor the author, you have no business reading this. You’re not ready.

Format

Reni Eddo-Lodge provided a brief, yet quite detailed, history of blacks in Britain. She then talked about the injustices in the system (both past and present) of Britain against blacks. Then defines and argues her case on “white privilege”, followed by the intriguing idea of the “black planet.” She also dives into feminism, class and our current situation of racism and how to overcome it.

She talked very little about religion (the only reason I bring this up is because the most controversial topics are race, money, sex and religion…she covered 3 of the 4) and how that affects black people. Maybe it’s not too big of a deal there as it is in the United States (so much so that we have separation of church and state. Or Maybe I’ve read too many books where religion is discussed by minorities and now I just expect it.)?

Quotes and Discussions (SPOILERS AHEAD) 

Who really wants to be alerted to a structural system that benefits them at the expense of others?

Sometimes stepping up means change. Change for your own security, change for your own habits and change for your own community. It’s hard to act when there are things at stake. This is why, the ones who do, are idolized and called heroes. Fighting for change is a courageous act. The willingness to change the system to right the wrongs takes strength and heart. Not everyone has what it takes to fight the good fight.

I have to tread incredibly carefully, because if I express frustration, anger or exasperation at their refusal to understand, they will tap into their pre-subscribed racist tropes about angry black people who are a threat to them and their safety.

I know that this backfires a lot. For example, if a woman is being “difficult,” everyone just assumes she is on her menstrual cycle. People who don’t want to take things seriously make joke of situations and blame it on exterior forces for why someone is upset instead of looking at the issue.

The options are: speak your truth and face their reprisal, or bite your tounge and get ahead in life.

This reminds me of the Hamilton musical where Burr is giving Hamilton advice.

I stopped talking to white people about race because I don’t think giving up is a sign of weakness. Sometimes it’s about self-preservation.

This is an insightful thought. I, personally, don’t know the difference between giving up and self-preservation (I dig myself in a lot of rabbit holes this way). To be able to understand the difference takes wisdom. I remember a teacher once telling me “you gotta learn how to pick and chose your battles, otherwise you will waste your time.”

To be white is to be human; to be white is universal. I only know this because I am not.

Interesting statement….

I’d only ever encountered black history through American-centric educational displays and lesson plans in primary and secondary school. With a heavy focus on Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman’s Underground Railroad and Martin Luther King, Jr, the household names of America’s civil rights movement felt important to me, but also a million miles away from my life as a young black girl growing up in north London.

This really frustrated me. I couldn’t fathom the idea of learning about your history from a different country.

In a tutorial, I distinctly remember a debate about whether racism was simply discrimination, or discrimination plus power. Thinking about power made me realise that racism was about so much more than personal prejudice. It was about being in the position to negatively affect other people’s life chances.

Makes you think, doesn’t it?

But I know now that I was resentful of her because I felt that her [a college friend who dropped the class because it wasn’t for her] whiteness allowed her to be disinterested in Britain’s violent history, to close her eyes and walk away. To me, this didn’t seem like information you could opt out from learning.

I know the feeling. There are topics that I have no choice but to hear, and there are topics that I can easily opt out of because it has little to do with me. For the longest, what 3rd world countries were going through didn’t matter to me because they were so far away and I had little power to do anything to help anyway. It’s easy to shut the world off with all these distractions of technology and good times around me.

‘I thought Black History Month was a great idea. What I wasn’t going to do was make it like the American one, because we have a different history…There’s so many people who have no idea–and I’m talking about white people–no idea about the history of racism. They don’t know why we’re in this country.”

Ansel Wong and Linda Bellos organised and hosted the first Black History Month event. I found it interesting that they wanted to do it differently. In the States, Black History Month is when you celebrate the tenacity, innovation, and overall impact black people had/have in our country regardless of the odds they faced and the racism they’ve encountered. However, our history with slavery is so open that we do not need to spend the month explaining it. It’s in the school curriculum. It’s how, as a kid, I saw black and white people as Americans. Not, slave owner and slave. They were both given so much detail in their history, with our pioneering forefathers and our pioneering civil right movement heroes, that it didn’t occur to me how strong and alive racism really was until this past 2016 presidential election. I knew it still existed, but not to the extent of the KKK and Nazis coming back and taking a predominant say in our society. I miss the times when we all agreed they were too crazy.

This was an inadequate education in a country where increasing generations of black and brown people continue to consider themselves British (including me).

I can relate to this. I come from a hispanic household but since I learned all about American culture in my schooling, it never occurred to me that I was actually Hispanic, but rather, American. I feel like the history we learn is the culture we are a part of. That’s why when people travel and actually get to know different places and different histories, we call them “worldly.” I feel more in touch with my American heritage than that of my Hispanic hertitage.

‘Mugging’ was an American term, imported from police statements and press coverage in black-concentrated cities. The fear of mugging was imported, too.
Street robberies have always existed in Britain. But importation of the word mugging brought with it a coded implication that the perpetrators were overwhelmingly black, and that mugging was an exclusively black crime.

The power of words….

In a radio documentary broadcast on BRMB Radio Birmingham in 1982, PC Dick Board, a police officer working in the city, made his feelings about unemployed young black people clear. ‘Let’s be fair,’ he said.’We’re talking about a certain type of people now. We had all these reasons in the twenties and thirties, and we never had this. We never had the soaring crime rates, and what we now know as the American phrase “mugging”. Which is robbery with violence. We have a different sort of person, who by hook or by crook is going to get his own way at the expense of everybody else. Even his own kind. That’s the point. Never mind this unemployment business, we’ve got a situation here now that is being used deliberately and there’s no question about it, they couldn’t care less whether they’ve got a job or not, in fact they’re happier without them.’ He continued: ‘All this is complete twaddle about they’re looking for jobs and “I can’t get a job” and all this…A lot of them use their colour as leverage against us…they use it, and they use it very well. There’s enough people in this country prepared to listen, and turn a blind eye to what these people do.

Minorities face this in the United States.

I think there’s truth in both perspectives, and that the extremity of a riot only ever reflects the extremity of the living conditions of said rioters. Language is important – and the term ‘race riot’ undoubtedly doubles down on ideas linking blackness and criminality, while overlooking what black people were reacting against.

By making a fuss, disrupting the everyday, and pointing out the problem, they had become the problem.e

Similar to Black Lives Matter. They are protesting AGAINST unjust police brutality but the way it has blown up has made it feel like blacks against whites, regardless of circumstance. Instead of realizing that the “take a knee” approach was to symbolize the death of civility, the majority of people took it as a disgrace to the flag and that “these black people are ingrates!”

But I don’t think my ignorance was an individual thing. That I had to go looking for significant moments in black British history suggests to me that I had been kept ignorant. While the black British story is starved of oxygen, the US struggle against racism is globalised into the story of the struggle against racism that we should look to for inspiration – eclipsing the black British story so much that we convince ourselves that Britain has never had a problem with race.

I know so many people who never knew Britain had black slaves. Come to think of it, I only learned about it 4 years ago myself. It’s not surprising for me though since that is not my country; however, if¬† I were British and didn’t know, I’d feel like I’d been robbed of knowledge.

When passing the sentence, Judge Mr Justice Treacy described the crime as ‘murder which scarred the conscience of the nation’.

Deep.

I used to have feelings, a vague sense of security in the back of my mind, that if I returned home one day to find my belongings ransacked and my valuables gone, I could call the police and they would help me. But if the case of Stephen Lawrence taught me anything, it was that there are occasions when the police cannot be trusted to act fairly.

That’s a fear most minorities (of any kind) face.

People feel that if a racist attack has not occurred, or the word ‘nigger’ has not been uttered, an action can’t be racist. If a black person hasn’t been spat at in the street, or a suited white extremist politician hasn’t lamented the lack of British jobs for British workers, it’s not racist (and if the suited politician has said that, then the racism of his statement will be up for debate, because it’s not racist to want to protect your country!)

Growing up, I would have told you that racism is about calling people slurs. Or that racism was about laws about segregation. Or that racism was a two-way street,  that anyone can be racist. I probably would have said that words like the N word were worse than someone calling somebody a cracker, for example, but I would have said that cracker is still racist. Now, that sounds ridiculous to me, but that was my very simplistic understanding. That racism was individuals, and I would not have seen systemic things.

I was had this thought process. That’s what we were told racism was.

We tell ourselves that good people can’t be racist. We seem to think that true racism only exists in the hearts of evil people. We tell ourselves that racism is about moral values, when instead it is about the survival strategy of systemic power. When swatches of the population vote for politicians and political efforts that explicitly¬† use racism as a campaigning tool, we tell ourselves that huge sections of the electorate simply cannot be racist, as that would render them heartless monsters. But this isn’t about good and bad people.

I think maybe instead of using the words good and bad we can use mature and immature. Emotionally speaking, of course.

Structural is often the only way to capture what goes unnoticed – the silently raised eyebrows, the implicit biases, snap judgements made on perceptions of competency.

Don’t have much to say about this, just that I liked it.

A staggering 45 per cent of black sixteen-to twenty-four-year-olds were out of work in 2012 compared with just 27 per cent in 2002.

Talk about regressing. I wonder why that is.

A 2013 British report revealed that black people are twice as likely to be charged with drugs possession, despite lower rates of drug use. black people are also more likely to receive a harsher police response (being five times more likely to be charged rather than cautioned or warned) for possession of drugs.

What?!

In the same year, an inquiry into the death of David Bennett, a black man who died in a psychiatric unit, added ‘[black people] tend to receive higher doses of anti-psychotic medication than white people with similar health problems. They are generally regarded by mental health staff as more aggressive, more alarming, more dangerous and more difficult to treat.

Double standards!!

They are both in and of a society that is structurally racist, and so it isn’t surprising when these unconscious biases seep out into the work they do when they interact with the general public. With a bias this entrenched, in too many levels of society, our black man can try his hardest, but he is essentially playing a rigged game. He may be told by his parents and peers that if he works hard enough, he can overcome anything. But the evidence shows that that is not true, and that those who do are exceptional to be succeeding in an environment that is set up for them to fail. Some will even tell them that if they are successful enough to get on the radar of an affirmative action scheme, then it’s because of tokenism rather than talent.

I think a part of my innocence died when I first learned this fact about society.

Despite this, many insist that any attempt to level the playing ground is special treatment, and that we must focus on equality and opportunity, without realising that levelling the playing ground is enabling equality of opportunity.

See, I see this as the government version of being a mom, telling her children to play nice with each other even though no one wants to play with the youngest. Having the mom enforce the rules keeps the siblings connected and together, otherwise, why would they want to get along on their own terms? As we age, we start to automatically trust each other and hang out with each other but that wouldn’t have happened without mom’s interference. It’s why the movie “Remember the Titans” was so great! Two difference races get together and eventually become family but someone had to interfere and tell them they weren’t being nice and they had to grow up. As diversity and acceptance sets in as a norm, we won’t need to have these laws anymore.

If the current system worked correctly, and if hiring practices were successfully recruiting and promoting the right people for the right jobs in all circumstances, I seriously doubt that so many leadership position would be occupied by white middle-aged men.

Well, most jobs are found by networking. If white men have been dominated the work force for years, they will help their friends and family whom just happen to be white as well. Therefore the work force will be predominately white men.

My blackness has been politicised against my will, but I don’t want it wilfully ignored in an effort to instil some sort of precarious, false harmony.

Hm. I can see her point.

Colour-blindness is a childish, stunted analysis of racism. It starts and ends at ‘discriminating against a person because of the colour of their skin is bad’, without any accounting for the ways in which structural power manifests in these exchanges. With an analysis so immature, this definition of racism is often used to silence people of colour attempting to articulate the racism we face. When people of colour point this out, they’re accused of being racist against white people, and the accountability avoidance continues. Colour-blindness does not accept the legitimacy of structural racism or a history of white racial dominance.

I guess a good analogy to this would be you can pretend you don’t see people as handicapped, but if you ignore the fact that they need help, they might never get up the stairs. Build a ramp, so to speak. Instead of thinking it shouldn’t play a factor, figure out how to help.

Meanwhile, it is nigh-on impossible for children of colour to educate ourselves out of racist stereotyping, though if we accumulate enough individual wealth, we can pretend that we are no longer affected by it.

I used to think that. Mostly because of Will Smith. I grew up watching The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and he always seemed like this happy guy. And everyone seemed to love him regardless of race or gender or age, even.

In order to dismantle unjust, racist structures, we must see race. We must see who benefits from their race, who is disproportionately impacted by negative stereotypes about their race, and to who power and privilege is bestowed upon – earned or not – because of their race, their class, and their gender. Seeing race is essential to changing the system.

I think this is what is happening with the MeToo movement. We must see it no matter how uncomfortable it has been. But we have seen many changes because of it. We also see some changes because of Black Lives Matter. I remember reading this story in middle school where these people were treated so badly by their government that they were practically starved. This mother saw her baby and realized she didn’t him to live in this world. So she barbecued him and when the soldiers came around, they were upset that she had food and didn’t share (since that is what you were supposed to do, offer your food to the government first) and she said something along the lines of “go ahead, take a bite” and eventually told them that they just ate her son and that they reduced them to this.. The soldiers were obviously disgusted but she made her point. Not that I think that we should go around killing and eating babies, let’s not do that, but making the point as serious as possible can open people’s eyes. It’s like, killing the first born is how the Pharoah learned to cave to God. Sometimes it does need to be dramatic.

You might be surprised to learn that it was a white man who first gave white privilege a name.

Actually, I was surprised.

Some black people hold a burning hatred for white people, they will say, and it’s unacceptable. It’s ‘reverse racism’, they insist.

Thank you! I think hating any kind of race is racism. I remember Deepak Chopra told a lady that by refusing to date men of her own race was still a form or racism.

There is an unattributed definition of racism that defines it as a prejudice plus power. Those disadvantaged by racism can certainly be cruel, vindictive and prejudiced. Everyone has the capacity to be nasty to other people, to judge them before they get to know them. But there simply aren’t enough black people in positions of power to enact racism against white people on the kind of grand scale it currently operates at against black people.

This is why the idea of mutiny is so intriguing in utopians and dystopian societies. In the end, it’s always the same. The people without power got power and used it to abuse the people who originally had power and nothing ever changed. The huge parody to life. We never learn our lessons.

‘Shallow understanding from people of goodwill is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.’

This reminds me of a quote from Humans by Matt Haig where he says “love something or hate it, don’t insult it by being indifferent.” That’s probably not word for word, but that’s how my memory remembers it.

‘who are used to having people of all backgrounds in their midst, race already matters far less than it did for their parents. In a generation or two more of the melting pot, it may not matter at all.’

I feel like that’s the direction it’s going. I mean we are already accepting gender-neutral and transexuals in our society. Pretty soon, none of the labels we’ve felt the need to use will matter to the future generations.

‘Race was something I was always aware of, just not in relation to myself,’

I know the feeling. In Southern California, diversity is a big thing so it’s not uncommon to see a myriad of ethnicities scattered about. I would have never pegged the world as racists if all I had was SoCal to influence my decision.

It’s the people who control the mass media, the big corporations, big business that wants cheap labour, to undermine the power of organised unionised labour. They’re the people to blame, not the immigrants.

Very true.

Forget the Daily Mail, it’s the soap operas that decide how people work in their heads.

Media brainwashing is a real thing. Media influence is alive and powerful. I remember someone telling me that we learn to accept the difficulties of life once we see it on a sitcom. Therefore, once we started having black people on sitcoms (as main characters, not as props), blacks were accepted more in society. Same thing happened with gay people. Pro-choice vs pro-life. Anything controversial can seem not-so threatening behind the screen. We can learn with our guards down.

They would have engaged with the ideas being put forward rather than using intellectually dishonest tricks designed to circumvent taking the protesters seriously. I think that there is a fear among many white people that accepting Britain’s difficult history with race means somehow admitting defeat.

The dangers of pride.

The real test of this country’s perimeters of freedom of speech will be found if or when a person can freely discuss racism without being subject to intellectually dishonest attempts to undermine their arguments.

 

Freedom of speech means the freedom for opinions on race to clash. Freedom of speech doesn’t mean the right to say what you want without rebuttal, and racist speech and ideas need to be healthily challenged in the public sphere.

I can see that. It’s what support groups do. Safe spaces, so to speak…only…think globally.

As an adult Harry Potter fan, I’d begun to think of Hermione Granger, with her house-elf liberation campaign, as a well-meaning but guilty-feeling white liberal, taking on a social justice cause with gusto without ever really consulting the views and feelings of the people she was fighting for. Outside of the wizarding world, Hermione would be working at an NGO or a charity, or slowly climbing the bureaucracy of the United Nations. With her strong moral compass, she’d be educated and adamant about animal rights or global warming.

I just think this is cute since Emma Watson recommended this book for her book club.

I suppose we will all have to wait in suspense until 2066 – the projected year when white people will be a demographic minority in Britain – to find out.

The curiosity in me wants to witness this faster. I hope I’m alive then.

the only way to foster any shared solidarity is to learn from each other’s struggles, and recognise the various privileges and disadvantages that we all enter the movement with.

I feel like this should be in a library wall somewhere.

‘I is for identity politics.’

I is also for intersectionality, the tearaway offspring of identity politics, where you must constantly wonder how your various personal identities intersect with each other.

This reminds me of another quote along the lines of “a dog doesn’t need to prove that he’s a dog, a cow doesn’t need to prove that he’s a cow but a human needs to define himself to be a man.” (I might have butchered that quote entirely).

The trouble is, it has become a faddish among people who don’t read books or essays but merely tweet and Internet comments, and they don’t know what they are talking about.

Funny!

Women of colour were positioned as the immigrants of feminism, unwelcome but tolerated — a reluctantly dealth-with social problem.

Wow…

If the last five years have taught us anything, it’s that feminism is a broad church that has less to do with the upkeep of your appearance, and more to do with the upkeep of your politics.

Love that!

Each time a celebrity stakes her claim on feminism, a little bit of the stigma surrounding the word is shattered.

Yes!

White feminism is a politics that engages itself with myths such as ‘I don’t see race’. It is a politics which insists that talking about race fuels racism — thereby denying people of colour the words to articulate our existence. It’s a politics that expects people of colour to quietly assimilate into institutionally racist structures without kicking up a fuss. It’s a politics where people of colour are never setting the agenda.

Yeah *sigh*

Feminism is not about equality, and certainly not about silently slipping into a world of work created by and for men. Feminism, at its best, is a movement that works to liberate all people who have been economically, socially and culturally marginalised by an ideological system that has been designed for them to fail. That means disabled people, black people, trans people, women and non-binary people, LGB people and working-class people. The idea of campaigning for equality must be complicated if we are to untangle the situation we’re in. Feminism will have won when we have ended poverty. It will have won when women are no longer expected to work two jobs (the care and emotional labour for their families as well as their day job) by default.

She does admit that these demands are unrealistic.

I should recognise that we live in a world in which women are constantly harangued into being lusted after, but punishes sex workers for using that situation to make a living.

YES! TRUE! UGH!!!

‘your silence will not protect you.’
-Audre Lorde

*Shivers*

Forget politician-speak about Britain being a tolerant country. Being constantly looked at like an alien in the country you were born in requires true tolerance.

That should be a shirt.

 

 

 

 

 

Featured Image taken from: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33606119-why-i-m-no-longer-talking-to-white-people-about-race

Posted in 2018, Fiction, John Green

Turtles All The Way Down by John Green

In my personal opinion, this book didn’t pick up momentum till a little after the middle. I picked to read this book because I heard it was sad and that it was John Green’s greatest book yet. Sadly, it did not live up to the hype. (My fault, really, for submitting to the hype.)

But let’s talk about what the book did get right. It introduced a character, Aza Homes, that has a mental illness. She has a strong case of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder mixed with anxiety over germs. She has a callus on the fingerprint of her middle finger that she keeps bandaging throughout the book. She opens the wound, thinks it’s infected, cleans it and wraps it up again. She developed the callus because once upon a time, her mom told her that she knows she’s real if pinching herself hurts. That turned into a bad habit. Being inside Aza’s head is difficult if you’re not used to overthinking. She has thought spirals and constantly thinks she’s dying. Reading this book in the waiting room of a doctor’s office was strangely comforting.

The storyline was not interesting at all. Russel Pickett is a billionaire fugitive CEO that goes missing on a day of a search warrant. There is a hundred thousand dollar reward for any information that will lead to his capture. Daisy, Aza’s best friend, wants to get that reward so she convinces Aza to help her since she know’s Russel’s son Davis. Daisy and Aza are high schoolers, mind you. This is not a detective story. It’s just two girls trying to solve a crime police officers can’t. They try to put the pieces together until love gets in the way.

The relationship between Daisy and Aza was great. They are uncommon best friends and when they argue, it’s very developing. My favorite parts where with them actually talking through their feelings instead of pretending everything is okay. They are both selfish in their own way.

The relationship with Davis and Aza is sad. Mostly because of all they’ve lost and how, based on those circumstances, they have a silently strong connection with each other.

The relationship with Aza and her mom is, well, typical. It’s not that different from other single mom stories. The mom is worried about her teenage daughter, the daughter is trying to conceal her mom from worry.

This book is very monotone (well, up until the intersting part in the middle of the book). At least that’s how it felt like.

Favorite Quotes (Contains spoilers)

Man can do what he wills, but he cannot will what he wills.
-Arthur Schopenhauer

This is at the beginning of the book. I just think it’s a good quote. It basically means that just wanting something is not enough. Something that most people don’t understand. Especially if you have a disorder of some kind.

At the time I first realized I might be fictional, my weekdays were spent at a publicly funded institution on the north side of Indianapolis called White River High School, where I was required to eat lunch at a particular time–between 12:73 pm and 1:14 pm–by forces so much larger than myself that I couldn’t even begin to identify them. If those forces had given me a different lunch period, or if the tablemates who helped author my fate had chosen a different topic of conversation that September day, I would’ve met a different end–or at least a different middle But I was beginning to learn that your life is a story told about you, not one that you tell.
Of course, you pretend to be the author. You think, I now choose to go to lunch, when the monotone beep rings from on high at 12:37. But really, the bell decides. You think you’re the painter, but you’re the canvas.

This is a long quote. Well, this is actually the first page of the book. Aza, herself is an interesting character to venture on such an uncommon story. If you’ve ever had an out of body experience, this is pretty much the feeling. You don’t necessarily feel in control of your life. It feels like you are just a victim of the circumstances rather than a human¬†being. Already, I fell in love with Aza’s thought process. What this book lacked in storytelling, it made up with fantastic thoughts. It’s possible that the storytelling would have been better if it were in the mind of Daisy, Aza’s StarWars Fan Fiction blogging best friend.

The thing about a spiral is, if you follow it inward, it never actually ends. It just keeps tightening, infinitely.

Not to mention, the deeper you go, the harder it is to see the light to find your way out. One of my favorite quotes is “My mind is dangerous neighborhood, I have to remember to bring a friend.” Although friend’s aren’t quialified professionals, sometimes their mere company alone helps. Aza admitted that it was easier to get distracted when Daisy was around. However, depending on your friends who do not understand your situation is not a full proof method. John Green wrote instances about that as well.

I would’ve told her that Davis and I never talked much, or even looked at each other, but it didn’t matter, because we were looking at the same sky together, which is maybe more intimate than eye contact anyway. Anybody can look at you. It’s quite rare to find someone who sees the same world you see.

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“Your brain seems like a very intense place,” Mom answered.
“It’s just weird, how this is decided by someone I don’t know and then I have to live by it. Like, I live on someone else’s schedule. And I’ve never even met them.”
“Yes, well, in that respect and many others, American high schools do rather resemble prisons.”

True…and hilarious. The only difference is that in high schools, thinking won’t get you killed…maybe bullied…but not killed. But that’s not the point. Our justice system since that incarceration is the only way to teach discipline.

“I’ve got a theory about uniforms. I think they design them so that you become, like, a nonperson, so that you’re not Daisy Ramirez, a Human Being, but instead a thing that brings people pizza and exchanges their ticket for plastic dinosaurs. It’s like the uniform is designed to hide me.”

Daisy is correct about uniforms. It’s to make you into one entity and not into a being. It why they are called uniforms and not costumes.

I remembered Daisy throwing daddy longlegs at me because she knew I hated them, and I’d scream and run away, flailing my arms but not actually scared, because back then all emotions felt like play, like I was experimenting with feelings rather than stuck with it. True terror isn’t being scared; it’s not having a choice in the matter.

It’s why we are afraid of situations we feel powerless in. But still, let’s take a moment to digest that. Also, I like how she ackowledged that she was experimenting on feelings. I had to go through a phase like that where I thought I was supposed to find certain things scary, or gross or whatever just because that’s what “girls” do. I feel like, regardless of gender, a few of us experiment on acting the way our family excpects us to act than how we really want to act. Of course, that might be a good thing when teaching about values and filters…but it’s counterproductive when teaching about personalities.

“Our destiny is coming into focus. We are about to live the American Dream, which is, of course, to benefit from someone else’s misfortune.”

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“Whether it hurts is kind of irrelevant.”

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I have these thoughts that Dr. Karen Singh calls “intrusives,” but the first time she said it, I heard “invasives,” which I like better, because, like invasive weeds, these thoughts seem to arrive at my biosphere from some faraway land, and then they spread out of control.
Supposedly everyone has them–you look out from over a bridge or whatever and it occurs to you out of nowhere that you could just jump. And then if you’re most people, you think,¬†Well, that was a weird thought, and move on with your life. But for some people, the invasive can kind of take over, crowding out all of the other thoughts until it’s the only one you’re able to have, the thought you’re perpetually either thinking or distracting yourself from.

Ladies and gentlement….thought spirals!

If I die weep at my grave every day until a seedling appears in the dirt, then cry on it to make it grow until it becomes a beautiful tree whose roots surround my body.

This is just funny. Daisy is such a drama queen.

“I don’t mind worriers,” I said. “Worrying is the correct worldview. Life is worrisome.”

YES! AGREED!!! I want a t-shirt with this saying.

“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.”
-William James

Aza later complains that one can’t always just simply chose a thought. I agree with Aza on this one. But it’s a powerful quote nevertheless.

Me: I is the hardest word to define.

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“I’ve noticed you use that word a lot,¬†crazy. And you sound angry when you say it almost like you’re calling yourself a name.”
“Well, everyone’s crazy these days, Dr. Singh Adolescent sanity is so twentieth century.”
“It sounds to me like you’re being cruel to yourself.”
After a moment, I said, “How can you be anything to¬†your self? I mean, if you can be something to your self, then your self isn’t, like, singular.”
“You’re deflecting.” I just stared at her. “You’re right that self isn’t simple, Aza. Maybe it’s not even singular. Self is a plurality, but pluralities can also be integrated, right? Think of a rainbow. It’s one arc of light, but also seven differently colored arcs of light.”

I really liked the conversations with her therapist…especially because her therapist was witty too.

“If taking a pill makes you different, like if it changes the way-down you…that’s just a screwed-up idea, you know? Who’s deciding what me means–me or the employees of the factory that makes Lexapro? It’s like I have this demon inside of me, and I want it gone, but the idea of removing it via pill is…I don’t know…weird. But a lot of days I get over that, because I do really hate the demon.”

The struggle with accepting mental disorders.

“I guess I just don’t like having to live inside of a body? If that makes sense. And I think maybe deep down I am just an instrument that exists to turn oxygen into carbon dioxide, just like merely an organism in this…vastness. And it’s kind of terrifying to me that what I think of as, like, my quote¬†unquote¬†self isn’t really under my control?”

I remember having similar thoughts, although not so detailed, when they taught me about the cognitive functions and all that jazz. How is it that the most important thing for us to do to live, we have no power over?

“Nobody ever says anything is too bad to be true.”

Ha! Guys, let’s start saying this! Actually…I’ve said something similar to this. One of my friend’s used LOL in a depressing text and I asked her why. She said because it was hard to fathom that it was real. That’s when I said “yeah, it sounds too horrible to be real.”

It’s a weird phrase in English,¬†in love, like it’s a sea you drown in or a town you live in. You don’t get to be¬†in anything else–in friendship or in anger or in hope. All you can be in is love. And I wanted to tell him that even though I’d never been in love, I knew what it was like to be¬†in a feeling, to be not just surrounded by it but also permeated by it, the way my grandmother talked about God being everywhere. When my thoughts spiraled, I was¬†in the spiral, and of it. And I wanted to tell him that the idea of being in a feeling gave language to something I couldn’t describe before, created a form for it, but I couldn’t figure out how to say any of that out loud.

False. You can be in fear, lust, depression, denial…there’s a lot of emotions you can inhabit. Love just happens to be the most song-inspiring.

“I like short poems with weird rhyme schemes, because that’s what life is like.”

I don’t….because that’s what life is like. I want poetry to take me to a new place. However, every now and then, I do appreciate realism.

I could feel the tension in the air, and I knew he was trying to figure out how to make me happy again. His brain was spinning right alongside mine. I couldn’t make myself happy, but I could make people around me miserable.

That last sentence is one of my biggest fears. As the youngin of the family, I grew up with the feeling of being a burden. So that particular sentence hit me hard.

“There’s a moment,” she said, “near the end of¬†Ulysses¬†when the character Molly Bloom appears to speak directly to the author. She says, ‘O Jamesy let me out of this.’ You’re imprisoned within a self that doesn’t feel wholly yours, like Molly Bloom. But also, to you that self often feels deeply contaminated.”
I nodded.
“But you give your thoughts too much power, Aza. Thoughts are only thoughts. They are not you. You do belong to yourself, even when your thoughts don’t.”
“But your thoughts¬†are you. I think therefore I am, right.”
“No, not really. A fuller formation of Descarte’s philosophy would be¬†Dubito, ergo cogito, ergo sum. ‘I doubt, therefore I think, therefore I am.’ Descarted wanted to know if you could really know that anything was real, but he believed his ability to doubt reality proed that, while¬†it might not be real, he was. You are as real as anyone, and your doubts make you more real, not less.”

I never knew this about Descartes and his philosphy. I like it!

Every loss is unprecedented. You can’t ever know someone else’s hurt, not really–just like touching someone else’s body isn’t the same as having someone else’s body.

Thank you! This is true!

“What I love about science is that as you learn, you don’t really get answers. You just get better questions.”

Never thought about it like that. Reminds me of The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.

Chewie and Rey are accompanied by a blue-haired girl named Ayala, whom Rey describes as “my best friend and greatest burden.”

So….burden issue…re-triggered.

I expected the sight of Daisy to piss me off, but when I actually saw her, sitting on the steps outside school, bundled up against the cold, a gloved hand waving at me, I felt like–well, like I deserved it, really. Like Ayala was the thing Daisy had to do to live with me.

I have conflicting emotions with this.

“There’s no self to hate. It’s like, when I look into myself, there’s no actual me–just a bunch of thoughts and behaviors and circumstances. And a lot of them just don’t feel like they’re mine. They’re not things I want to think or do or whatever. And when I look for the, like, Real Me, I never find it.

Identity issues. I can relate.

So you would, and in writing it down you realize, love is not a tragedy or failure, but a gift.
You remember your first love because they show you, prove to you, that you can love and be loved, that nothing in this world is deserved except for love, that love is both how you become a person, and why.

The “why” part struck me as unusual. What are your opinions on that? I disagree but I don’t know why. Maybe because I don’t believe that love should define your why’s. Maybe because the love I’ve known in my life was never explanatory. Or maybe because I was thought love was a tool to help-build your character, but never the answer.

 

Featured Image taken from: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35504431-turtles-all-the-way-down