dignity&prime

i am wordless without you
(correction: i am without speech)
everyone here knows me
because of you
but you’re not here so they don’t see me either

a spider with a leg torn off
i am not charming
not pretty
i am just scraping by
my insignificance is not even noticed –
that is how insignificant i am

indignant pride/before you, i had none
after you, i am left/missing the lie

  • Current drink: Spotted Cow by New Glarus
  • Current book: Hip Hop Family Tree, Vol. 1 by Ed Piskor
  • Current audio book: Understanding the Fundamentals of Music by Robert Greenberg
  • Current music: KUMIRA – Road (with Rheehab)

Where I’m At: June 2017

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Life is weird, but I’m back at a full-time office job now and will be able to pay off about 90% of my debts with my first paycheck this Friday.

That feels good.

What doesn’t feel good is the nagging feeling in the back of my mind that I’ve given up – that I’ve surrendered to feelings of inadequacy and my inability to make money as a writer after months of trying. But those thoughts are dumb. I know logically that they are dumb. I haven’t given up and I didn’t completely fail: I now have a more mature understanding of what it takes to be a writer.

I am now practicing a positive thinking and spinning. I have to work weekends now (which means that I can’t perform at festivals or sell my art at events)? Well, that means that I can use my time to hone my skills for when I do have weekends free again. I don’t share a day off with my boyfriend now? Well, I now have more time during the day to do the creative (and boring) things I can’t normally do while he’s home – leaving my evenings open for us to have a chill, distraction-free time.

I’ve also started utilizing a very visual organizational approach: I have a giant piece of drawing paper hung up in my bedroom laying out my weekly goals. They are divided into these sections:

  1. Cleaning
  2. Sleeping (a big struggle of mine!)
  3. Jobs (I still have 2 part time gigs to juggle with my new full-time one)
  4. Exercise 
  5. Personal maintenance (mainly good habits and doing my skin care routine)
  6. Morning routine
  7. Creative time
  8. Other (errands like bill paying, appointment setting, volunteering, and grocery shopping)

These may seem super basic and unnecessary to list. However, I’ve found that I struggle with balancing all of them. For example, some weeks I’m on top of my cleaning and errands, but no creative stuff gets done. Or I’ll paint for three straight days and sleep three hours per night, neglecting everything else. If I need a very large list on my wall to make me a little less of a hot mess, so be it.

Only time will tell how successful my new plan is. But I can’t write if I don’t have food in my stomach and a roof over my head, so I think I’m on the right track.

  • Current drink: knock-off grapefruit LaCroix
  • Current book: Womanthology: Heroic by Ann Nocenti et. al. 
  • Current audio book: The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff
  • Current music: The Deli – Encounters [Full BeatTape]

I Read 50 Books in 5 Months (and I’m a Better Writer Because of It)

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Image source: pixabay

I spent much of my time in graduate school lamenting the fact that I spent so much time reading for class that I didn’t have any time to read for myself. Conversations with acquaintances about my background often included the question “What are you reading?” to which I learned that Genre Knowledge in Disciplinary Communication was not the preferred response. In those final weeks of school, I created a Goodreads account, an extensive (but not exhaustive) list of books to read in 2017, and gave myself the New Year’s goal to read 35 books.

As of May 30, I have read 55 books.

This was not totally intentional. It helped that I was working only part time; now that I am a full-time employee, I expect my reading numbers to drop dramatically. But I found that once I fell into the dreamy abyss of reading that it was easy to develop a reading routine. I experimented a lot: the books included literary classics, 600-page manga omnibuses, short story anthologies, self-help books, and young adult fantasy and horror novels. I found at least one book in each genre truly enjoyable.

I have only felt positive effects from this new habit. Reading dozens of books has helped me as a person, especially in my communication and coping skills. I find that casual conversation comes easier to me now, as if the characters and dialogue I’ve read have prepared me for new experiences. Reading has also proven a excellent stress reliever. When I’m feeling overwhelmed, I just go into another room, close the door and get lost in a story.

Where I see the greatest differences are in my analytical and writing skills. My critical think improved, especially in reviewing media: my reviews on Geek Volcano have become both shorter and better. I find it easier to make connections, predict, and find common tropes. I no longer find the need to summarize unnecessary details, letting my commentary paint my interpretation of the episode (or movie, or book, etc.)

My writing skills have greatly benefited, mainly because I’ve familiarized myself with genre elements and some common patterns of good story and character development. I recently finished reading a self-published novel which had the best intentions but was poorly executed. In fact, it had a lot of the pitfalls of my unfinished novel that I currently consider nonpunishable: namely, rough pacing, more telling than showing, and flat characters. Before I couldn’t unable to pinpoint why a book didn’t seem good. This one in particular had it’s greatest issue in that it was written like a movie or a comic book – which happen to be the media that the author enjoys most. Just as a good artist familiarizes herself with the techniques of the greats before her, a writer must read.

I think the greatest benefit that reading has given me as a writer is that my confidence in my writing increased, causing me to write more. With more writing, I have seen even more improvement. I was afraid of awful sloppy drafts until I realized that even the authors who I respect deal with them. I also edit more judiciously (i.e., killing my darlings) because I know that if something truly is good,  I can use it in a future work where it fits better.

I haven’t decided yet how I am going to balance my reading and writing time with my new schedule. Maybe if I’m lucky, I’ll hit 100 books by the end of the year! But I feel like it would be an even better achievement if I produced one book that I consider publishable in that time instead. Still, keeping up on my reading will help me reach my writing goals, too.

 

Graphic Novels I Want to Read

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I have a massive To-Read List, which spans nearly every genre and which I will likely never complete in my lifetime. In fact, I have a separate book list I plan on posting later this week, with a few selections that I hope to get my hands on sooner rather than later (or never).

But the graphic novel section of my list has grown terribly fast and I feel like it warrants a separate post. I’ve been reading a lot of old school manga lately, and I want to delve into more obscure titles. The ones I’ve read so far are easier to find and are mainly by Shigeru Mizuki and Osamu Tezuka (Phoenix and Princess Knight being my most recent reads).  There’s also a bunch of recently release graphic novels from the U.S. and abroad that I’m hoping to acquire ASAP. A select few are on this list, in alphabetical order!

Continue reading

g/m/w pt.1: she’s so self-conscious

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she’s trouble/d
hotmessinalittleblackdress
that fits everywhere but her beer gut
but she needs to drink
to smile
small/fat/inadequate
gooseflesh grows more pronounced
more blue
bitter tasting
saliva to slime
it turns green envy
when it hits the air
gooseflesh turns to scales to steel
when faced with harsh reality
she gains her power 2 ways:

  1. rejection
  2. fear of rejection

SHE IS ALL-POWERFUL
SHE KNOWS ALL OR NOTHING

 

 

My Favorite Recent Reads

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I must admit that I forgot to write the book review that I promised at the beginning of the month…because I was distracted by other books! In my defense, many of the books I’ve read in the past couple months have been amazing and several of them deserve (but will not get) their own review on this blog. Instead of continuing to beat myself up over not writing multiple complete reviews, here are five mini-reviews of my favorites from the 20~ books I’ve most recently consumed.

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

This was the first book that I ever pre-ordered and I have no regrets. I’ve read dozens, if not hundreds, of myths and legends from other cultures. While my main interests are in Greek and Japanese mythology, I’ve felt increasingly attracted to Norse lore in the past year. Much of the massive and intricate world of this mythology has been lost to time and anti-pagan cultures, leaving behind mainly stories of Thor, Loki, and the apocalypse, known as Ragnarok.

Gaiman takes the limited remaining mythology and turns it into a beautiful, interconnecting short story collection. His characterization stands out the greatest; trickster god Loki is a character who was long destined to be written by the witty Gaiman, who succeeds in balancing Loki’s inner demons with his outer motives, which range from chaotic neutral to pure evil.

This was also the easiest read on this list. I quickly devoured it in a few hours, and then read it again shortly after. To a Gaiman fan who knows nothing about Norse mythology, this book is an excellent primer. As a Norse mythology fan, Gaiman’s collection is the well-woven literary treasure that this amazing lore deserves.

The Impossible Fairy Tale by Han Yujoo

I was fortunate enough to read this book within a week or so of its U.S. release in March and was not disappointed. Yujoo’s first novel, The Impossible Fairy Tale is a seemingly quick read at 192 pages. The first part of the novel flows exceptionally well, moving at the pace of a typical (albeit dream-like) thriller. However, the second, shorter part of the novel provides a jarring contrast that takes significantly longer to digest.

The first part of the novel is about two elementary school girls in late-90s South Korea: Mia, a supposedly lucky girl who gets all the material possessions she wants (given to her by her two “dads”: her biological father and her mother’s lover) and The Child, a nameless symbol of childhood abuse and neglect filled with an immature notion of consequences and a too-mature understanding of pain. The two are classmates in a school filled with disturbingly violent students, who seem to love playing the “choking game” and killing small animals.

The second part of the novel is a complete deconstruction of the first part, with The Child confronting the narrator/writer, who is also apparently the classroom teacher. The novel has no solid resolution, but it does not need one. It is by far the most unique book on this list.

The Vegetarian by Han Kang

The first word that comes to mind when I think of this novel is “brutal.” While the violence in The Impossible Fairy Tale feels more senseless, The Vegetarian has this odd, abstract and visceral horror surrounding a mentally ill woman who never really gets a chance to speak for herself.

This three-part novella is about a particularly uninteresting housewife named Yeong-hye who becomes a vegetarian after she begins suffering from horrific, bloody nightmares about human cruelty. Her condition worsens throughout the book as she further alienates herself from mankind – which sometimes seems like it is for the best, as she keeps being mistreated by the (mostly male) humans in her life.

This was another quick read that left me shaken. I think the most disturbing and striking part is that Yeong-hye doesn’t ever share what’s happening in her own words. The only thing she controls is her own body.

Princess Knight, Vol. 1 by Osamu Tezuka

I am a sucker for old-school anything, but I haven’t read much from the Godfather of Manga himself, Osamu Tezuka! Best known in the U.S. for Astro Boy, Tezuka has a massive bibliography featuring a broad range of works. I stumbled across the complete two-volume set of Princess Knight at my local library and decided to make it my first foray into Tezuka’s body of work.

Princess Knight starts as a Disney fairy tale and quickly turns into a proto-feminist Hero’s Journey. Prince/ss Sapphire was born with both a boy heart and a girl heart and her family struggles to keep her identity as a girl hidden because in their kingdom a woman is not seen fit to become ruler.

The story is filled with fantastical elements, deus ex machina, fairy tale romance, and other typical Disney fare. The second volume feels particularly rushed and “easy”; however, the first volume has great pacing, genuine suspense, and some pretty awesome development for many of the characters. The oddest part of the story is actually the Christian themes, with much riding on the power of God, the cross, and a mischievous angel. This gets weirder in the second volume, with the introduction of a Greek Goddess, but the adaptation of these Western cultural elements are one of the many things that ultimately make Princess Knight feel very unique.

You Are What You Speak: Grammar Grouches, Language Laws, and the Politics of Identity by Robert Lane Greene

The only non-fiction book on this list, You Are What You Speak is an intelligent examination and criticism of prescriptive grammar – that is, the idea that if one does not follow the arbitrary rules of a language, they are looked as inferior. I have spent most of my academic career as a descriptivist, so I was worried that reading this book would be more of a “preaching to the choir” kind of thing. Lane Greene does provide many historical references that support my beliefs, but his book also taught me a great deal about the political motives and uses of language around the world.

Lane Greene writes in an accessible way that still shows that he knows his shit. With maybe one exception, he always balances his coverage of prescriptivists and traditional grammarians, providing reasons why they may have believed or said what they did. However, this isn’t always the case because, as you’ll learn if you read this book, a lot of the grammar rules in English originate from one person who wrote a pamphlet hundreds of years ago that simply stated their personal preferences.

If you are interested in the origins, the ever-changing nature, and the politics of language, this is a great place to start your research. Thanks to Lane Greene’s references, I’ve found countless other books that I’m excited to read…once my book backlog drops!

  • Current drink: Pure Leaf Raspberry Ice Tea
  • Current book: Kitaro by Shigeru Mizuki
  • Current audio book: The Girls by Emma Cline
  • Current music: “Why So Lonely” – Wonder Girls