So…Life Happened

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Retrived from: http://searchwh.com/2017/lifestyle-hobby/advantages-heroism-life/

Hey friends,

Remember me? Seems like I took my sporadic blogger moniker a little far this time. I opened my blog today for the first time since July, which is definitely the biggest break I’ve ever taken from this space. My intention was to write a review and pretend like nothing had happened, but I think I’d like to talk about the last five months and offer you an explanation as to why you haven’t seen new content at all from me in that time.

(Oh, if you follow me on twitter and such you’re totally off the hook for skipping this post because well, I think I’ve whined plenty there about what’s happened)

Trigger Warnings: Surgery, medical stuff, body stuff, fatmisia, lifestyle changes, depression, anxiety, mental health

A lot of you know I’ve been struggling with sciatica for a while now. The last time I was active on the blog, I was in the middle of a really bad flare-up that lasted longer than the usual two-three weeks, and the pain was relentless. I was on bed rest for nearly six weeks, and barely functional. Things escalated, I went in for an MRI, and was told that I had a major prolapsed disc that had probably been around for a few years now (they suspect around the onset of my sciatica three years ago), and I was admitted for surgery immediately. It happened so fast, I only met my surgeon the day after the operation had been performed. Those 36 hours were pretty surreal. I’ll spare you the gory surgical details, but it was a longer procedure than expected. 

Post surgery, here’s where I was: Months (potentially years) of nerve compression had happened leading to some neurological symptoms in my foot and tightness in my legs, and I was looking at about six months of physiotherapy to regain mobility in my foot. My surgery had been successful in that my spine was intact, no other organs or systems were damaged in the process, I wasn’t going to be paralyzed. and the nerves had decompressed.

Suffice to say my life has dramatically changed and my world has become super small since the first week of August. The first couple of months were…hell. This is actually my second major spinal surgery, but my first one was at age four and I barely remember it, so this is my first time fully experiencing and processing the upward battle that is post-op recovery. It’s this thing where you’re no longer feeling the hellish pain that put you on in the operation theatre in the first place, but your body has been sliced open and the morphine has worn off and you can feel it all. My life was eat, sleep, physiotherapy, and rest. I was too exhausted to hold a book or laptop. I was in a world of pain. PT was frustrating and slow. My incredibly supportive parents’ lives were all about looking after me. Depression and anxiety were constant companions, and I didn’t really talk about it to anyone except the internet. My best friend was my only visitor, he would faithfully spend every weekend with me, even if it meant watch me sleep after my PT sessions because I was too tired, or when I started walking, walk those hundred feet three times a day.

But, sitting and writing this, I realize I’ve come such a long way since then. I went from a walker to using a stick to walking independently. I can now walk longer distances, I’m more functional in terms of being able to stand for longer and sit for more hours. I’ve started going out by myself, and even run a few errands. I don’t have to wear a lumbar support belt anymore, which means I will no longer have to be rude to strangers on the street that stare at me or ask me really personal questions. Our extended family comes down in a couple of weeks to celebrate my dad’s 60th birthday, and I will be able to sit and be a part of the traditional ceremonies that will be happening. These things I’m infinitely grateful for, because six months ago I didn’t think any of this was possible.

There’s still things that are scary and overwhelming and weigh on me. My foot is still not at a hundred percent, and it scares me to think that if it doesn’t get better than this then I won’t be able to get back to dancing ever again (I’m a trained Bharatanatyam dancer). Somedays, hints of the old sciatica pain come through after an intense PT session and I worry about never not being in some form of pain for the rest of my life. My job-hunt has been on pause for the last six months, and the prospect of having to explain this really long and unexpected break in my career feels daunting. I’ve been told to lose weight so as to take off the pressure from a spine that’s been operated on twice, and I’m dealing with a megaton of internal and external fatmisia while I make some dietary and lifestyle changes. My mental health has definitely seen better days, and now that I’m mobile I need to get around to finding a therapist.

There’s so many uncertain things, and I’m trying not to let them take over, which is easier said than done.

So there, that has been (is) my life. It’s been a hell of a rollercoaster, 2017, but I think the end of the year is looking less bleak than I thought it would be three months ago. I’ve finally gotten my reading mojo back, and am hoping to make my Goodreads goal by the end of the year. I’ve spectacularly failed on my blogging goals, but I’m trying not to beat myself too much about that. I’m working on some academic projects with my friends to stay sharp and have started looking for a job again.

All this to say, thank you so much for still sticking around despite my horrendously erratic blogging this year. Thanks for sticking through all of my promises to be a more regular blogger even when I’m not. Thanks for accepting this explanation for my absence. Thank you for being a source of support in any corner of the internet at any point in time. I’m back right now, I’m feeling excited to talk about books again, and I’m hoping that feeling stays with me, along with you all. Thank you, thank you, thank you. 

So much love to all of you,

-J

 

 

Let’s Talk About (My) Identity

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Image source: Deviantart.com

This post is inspired by my twitter pal Painter McSomething, as well as recent events in the ace and aro communities. My original intention was to do a Twitter thread, but I wanted to go into details and doing that on twitter feels scarier. Plus, this post may be TMI for a lot of folks, and this way the only way to be exposed to the information is to click on it, which is a choice my followers can make actively without being forced to interact with it on twitter. 

So, this is going to get personal. If you’ve had a chance to read Painter McSomething’s thread, they did a great job sharing how their identity as a grey-ace panromantic person works for them. I know there’s been a lot of talk among people both in and out of the ace and aro communities about wanting to learn more, especially in the last few months. Now, there’s quite a few resources for people to check out online (I’ll link some at the end of the post), but I figured it’s also helpful to hear how people ID as ace and aro and what that means to them.

Disclaimer: This is not an educational post on aromantic and asexual 101. I’m going to be only talking about myself. Remember that not everyone’s experiences will perfectly match up to mine, and my experiences don’t probably reflect everything you’ve read online. This doesn’t invalidate either mine or other people’s IDs as aces or aros in any way, shape, or form.

I’m grey-asexual, meaning I fall somewhere on the asexual spectrum. I don’t fall in one particular place, my feelings of sexual attraction and my libido vary all the time, so grey-ace works best for me. I’m mostly uninterested in sex and that works for me. Even as a teenager, I was interested in sex, but not interested in *having* sex with other people. This has not changed thus far. Here’s where the term autochorrisexual comes in. This means I engage in certain sexual activities (choosing to keep the details to myself here), but none of them involve other people. I occasionally do find other people attractive, mostly aesthetically, almost never sexually. I read a crap ton of erotica novels and genuinely enjoy them, and I’m not averse to visual representations of sex in movies and such. Libido is a whole other factor to consider. Again, I’d like to point you towards another thread by Painter McSomething. My libido goes up sometimes, and mostly (but not always) correlates with my reading of erotica. I’m also kinky, but it is a completely non-sexual experience for me. It has more to do with the power dynamics, and helps a great deal with my anxiety. I don’t feel qualified enough to discuss more about BDSM, but this is the extent of my experience with it. 

I’m grey-romantic, which means I fall somewhere on the romance spectrum. To be honest, I’m ninety-nine percent “no thanks romance”, but I have commitment issues, so I prefer ID-ing as grey-romantic. I have no interest in a singular or multiple romantic partners, and definitely prefer the idea of queerplatonic relationships. I have had crushes in the past, but have had no interest in any sort of romantic or sexual involvement with them. I value friendships deeply, and have a small number of extremely close friends. I have one or two people in my life with whom the relationship goes a lot deeper than traditional friendship, but is still strictly platonic and (so far) has no labels, and I like it that way. Even if I were to ever be in a defined QPR, I don’t think monogamy is my jam, and that’s okay. My (hypothetical) queerplatonic partner’s gender does not factor into this, in that I’m not strictly queerplatonically attracted to a specific gender. I value close emotional commitments. My feelings about physical behaviors like hugging, kissing, hand-holding, spooning, etc. really depend on the person. I don’t identify as touch-averse, but I definitely have a preference about whom I engage in these behaviors with. 

I’m going to talk about gender identity for a second here. After a lot of hemming and hawing, I’ve landed on identifying as demigirl. “Cis” has not felt comfortable to me for a long time, but neither did going with nonbinary or trans. Some days I feel femme, somedays nonbinary. This reflects in my emotional responding, how I connect with people, how I want people to see me, my hair, my clothes, my makeup, my everything; the lines are very blurry. I’m still working out how this works with my aroace-ness, and some days feel very conflicted. I am not comfortable with female-specific words like “woman”, “lady”, “queen”, etc. My pronouns are she/her

This is all I have for now. Again, this is all just me, and how I identify as a grey-ace, grey-aro demigirl. These might reflect other people who share these identities, or they might not at all, and that’s okay. None of this also means that I’ve figured everything out about myself. I’m comfortable with evolving IDs and values, and I’ll just keep checking in with myself from time to time. This does not mean I don’t have days where I’m wondering if I’ve just all this up about myself, or days that I don’t feel like an imposter. I absolutely do. But that’s when I reach out to some lovely hearts for validation, and work through it.

So, I hope this helps you some, whoever is reading this. Whatever I know about the ace and aro spectrums I know from my own experiences and my research when I was contemplating these IDs. I’m always willing to share, and always open to chatting with anyone, or answering any questions you may have. I also don’t have all the answers, and I will be honest with you when that’s the case. I’m also linking some resources below, but these are not exhaustive at all. The best way to learn more is by talking to people within the community, especially those who are constantly advocating, but please remember not to demand anyone’s time and emotional labor. 

Thanks so much for making it to the end of this. This was not easy to write. Being this open and vulnerable here is terrifying, but I also know this was necessary. I hope this helps anyone out there, and I apologize if I inadvertently hurt anyone with anything I’ve written in this post. 

P. S. I’m still not out to a lot of people that I know in real life, and I don’t feel comfortable being out to most people outside of the internet for now. So, if you’re reading this and you happen to know me outside of the interwebz, please check-in before discussing any of this with me in-person. I am not in a place where I can or want to be accidentally outted. I appreciate the support. 

Resources:

AVEN: http://www.asexuality.org/

On aro/ace jargon 101: https://theacetheist.wordpress.com/2015/02/18/how-to-not-to-do-101-on-asexuality-sex-repulsion-and-sexual-activity/

On using allosexual: https://asexualagenda.wordpress.com/2012/09/12/why-i-use-allosexual/

On allosexual: https://aroaceyellspace.tumblr.com/post/158869186213/honestly-i-have-no-idea-what-the-fuck-peoples

On allosexism: http://asexualityexists.tumblr.com/post/29138181610/on-allosexism

On inclusion: https://vaspider.tumblr.com/post/157183577991/okay-but-if-someone-doesnt-experience-homophobia

You Might Be Aromantic If: http://anagnori.tumblr.com/post/69145328274/you-might-be-aromantic-if

The Asexual Journal: http://theasexual.com/

The Ace and Aro in SFF database: http://claudiearseneault.com/?page_id=1320

 

 

 

Dewey’s Readathon: Spring 2017 Edition

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Hey friends,

I know, it’s been a while. A long while. My sincerest apologies. I just cannot seem to get a handle on this life thing. We’ve moved and I’m still adjusting. It’s been weird. Also yes, I’ve had to change the blog format, for reasons (that are mostly financial). Apologies if that’s throwing anyone off.

I’ve been a little off the blogosphere and bookternet in general recently- minus yelling on twitter. Nothing outside of YA has been grabbing my attention lately, so this edition of Dewey’s could not have come at a better time. I’m more than ready to hunker down for some uninterrupted reading and bookternet time (and yes, of course, will be going grocery shopping because what is a readathon without the snack really?) It’ll be interesting because I’m in a completely different timezone this time, so my readathon is from 5.30 p.m. Saturday evening to 5.25 p.m. Sunday evening. This is going to be very interesting. Somehow, 7 to 7 doesn’t feel quite as long. I’m not sure if I’ll be awake all 24 hours this time, but really I’m just looking forward to being in the zone and have a good time. 

I’ve been particularly absent this time around- I usually like to help Andi and Heather out with writing a warm-up post or hosting a twitter chat- and the reasons are mostly along the lines of me flailing at life in general. I’ll spare you the boring details. However, I managed to spend some time yesterday catching up on the official blog, and this beautiful tribute to our dear friend Heather from Bits and Books left me teary-eyed. Please check it out. 

I will probably do one quick midway update on here and a wrap-up post at the end, but I will be active on Twitter, Instagram (Amanda aka nerdybookgirl is hosting an IG challenge), and Litsy (@theshrinkette). Use the hashtag #readathon to find your peeps!

Whether you read 2 hours or 20, make yourself sick on too many cookies, or just lounge about in your pajamas reading one book, it’s still an amazing thing to be a part of for a whole 24 hours. Don’t miss it. I’ll be there doing my thing: 

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-J

February 2017 Wrap-Up

Print/digital books: 12

Audiobooks: 2

Total number of books/comics: 14

Total page count: 3942

Read My Own Damn Books: 3

I’m an academic. It only takes a short to get to know me to know that I love data. I love looking at the numbers, it keeps things in perspective. It’s an objective measurement of behavior. In the year that I’ve been breaking down my reading numbers by month, this is definitely the lowest it’s ever been. I’m definitely disappointed by these numbers, but it’s good to have them. There’s a few reasons why- primarily because I’ve spent most of the month yelling on Twitter (sorry to my followers over there).

I’m going to try not to dwell on these numbers too much, and instead going to focus on actively choosing to read over doing other things when I have the time. Twitter isn’t going to stop being a trash fire, I have so many books to catch up on, blog posts to write, and we have three weeks till the big move. So, onwards and upwards. 

So friends, what did your February look like? What are you looking forward to reading in March? 

 

November 7th, 2016: It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?

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It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme currently hosted by The Book Date. It’s a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week, and add to that ever-growing TBR stack.

Continue reading “November 7th, 2016: It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?”

Bookish (And Not So Bookish) Thoughts: April 27, 2016

Hiya!

It’s Wednesday, which means it is time for Bookish (And Not So Bookish) Thoughts, hosted by Christine at Bookishly Boisterous.

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The Bookish:

  1. Faith #4 IS OUT TODAYYYYYYY! Make your way to your nearest comic bookstore, I sure did. img_20160427_095722220.jpg
  2. Dewey’s readathon happened last Saturday. (I feel like I have talked about all of the things to death so I’m not elaborating any further)
  3. Went to a sidewalk sale the day after readathon (totally worth it)sidewalksale
  4. Signed up for #SmashYourStack.
  5. Lady Liberty bookmail: The galleys I won from her newsletter and her teespring sticker came in yesterday.

     

  6. Got me some literary swag from Book Riot: Maybe I will do a whole blog post of all of my literary t-shirts/swag. Let me know in the comments if that is a thing you’d like to see 🙂
  7. Saturday is Independent Bookstore Day, and I’m planning to drag D to a few bookstores around town to spread the book-buying guilt. 
  8. Making new Snapchat besties with Andi and Shaina (hey, bonding over readathon delirium maketh friendships for life).

The not-so-bookish:

  1. Went to check my application status on a university’s portal, couldn’t find my application on there. This launched a full-blown panic attack followed by scrambling to get in touch with the school while simultaneously trying to fill out another application to send to them. Turns out, they sent a second email asking you to log onto a second portal to monitor your application status, and of course, I had never received that email. Finally received it last night, turns out they want vaccination records, so guess who has to go get shots tomorrow (ow) because I don’t have any records of immunization shots from the last 10 years. I know I’ve had them, but they were so long ago I’m sure my parents don’t have any of those records lying around. Unis ask for the most random things, I swear.
  2. Got invited to a wedding in June by my parents’ ex-neighbor, who wasted no time talking my ear out about how disappointed she was in my mum not attending the wedding and even probed me for information to verify my mum’s reasons for not being able to attend Yeah, that was not fun. People are so….anyway.
  3. Watched Lemonade last night. ’nuff said.
  4. ABAI (Association for Behavior Analysts International) Conference is happening next month, and I’m looking forward to attending it. Gotta make my spreadsheet and peruse the schedule to see what talks I want to attend. Gotta collect ’em CEUs, baby.
  5. On the mood/mental health front: Doing better. Taking it one day at a time. This nasty cold I’ve got going combined with the dreary Chicago weather has me sleeping in the last couple of days, which I’m not liking. I’m trying not to make too much of it. Got some tight deadlines at work, and it is stressing me out but I’m continuing my one-step-at-a-time approach. I have a lot of work but I’m not feeling productive, know what I mean?

That’s all from me, for now. What’s your Wednesday forecast?

-J

 

Bookish (And Not So Bookish) Thoughts: April 20, 2016

Happy hump day!

It’s Wednesday, which means it is time for Bookish (And Not So Bookish) Thoughts, hosted by Christine at Bookishly Boisterous.

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Let’s start with the bookish ones, because those are way easier:

I got to host the Dewey Readathon’s twitter two nights in a row, which was a pretty great time. Chatted with fellow participants, answered/redirected people’s questions, talked about readathon stacks, game plans, beverages, cheerleading, and all of the other fun stuff. If you haven’t signed up yet, there’s still time! TWO MORE DAYS WHAAAAAAAAAT!

I have been reading Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson as part of Social Justice Book Club and it has been going slowly, only because I have to put it down after reading each chapter to process my feelings. I even put it down for a couple of days because it got very intense. I am hoping that they keep #SJBC going so that I have an opportunity to read other books like this one. Intense, but necessary reads.

I have been doing well with my self-imposed book ban so far; however, Open Books tweeted that they will be doing a Sidewalk Sale this Friday through Sunday. Purchases would support their literacy programs, so yeah, I’ll probably end up there either on Sunday afternoon. I’m hoping this motivates me to get through a chunk of books on Saturday, so at least I’ll be taking books of my TBR stack. Oh well. I’m not even sorry

Book Riot Read Harder book club tomorrow night. We meet at Roscoe Books at 7.30 p.m. If you’re in the Chicago area, you should definitely join us! I’m bringing snacks, and there’s always wine.

I finally signed up for NetGalley and Blogging For Books!

Other life things:

I had been feeling very unmotivated at work since that one work success a little while ago. Severe avoidance behavior along with negative verbal behavior, and feelings of frustration. Talked to my friend and co-worker E about it and she offered some great suggestions. Implemented a couple of those today- made detailed to-do tasks, set timers for each task, prioritized the ones I had been avoiding, and it worked well today! At the end of my work day I was feeling really productive- wrote E an email expressing my gratitude, with a game plan to tackle other work stuff in the same way in the next week. 

My general future course is ridiculously uncertain at this point; I’m having severe anxiety about where I will be in the next few months, which are contingent on being accepted into grad school. I have received a couple of rejection letters already, went through the entire grieving process with each of them, but my general level of anxiety varies from day to day. The funny thing is I have a semi-decent plan B, but the anxiety is so crippling at this point that it is preventing me from taking action steps toward my plan B. This has definitely been a factor in the lack of work motivation. All the anxiety about said uncertainty is also alienating me from family and friends, because they have the best intentions, but most of the time I’m not even in a place to talk to them about it or hear the things they have to say. One of my closest friends has expressed his concern and how he is feeling the effects of my behavior. On the good days like today, I’m motivated to take action about it- I consciously made the effort today to reach out and check-in with him. On other days…I spend an hour talking myself into getting out of bed first thing in the morning and going through the motions. 

The thing is, I had experienced a similar transition about 3 years ago (undergrad to grad school). I will say I didn’t handle it too well- lot’s of lonely nights spent in my apartment( and a lot of booze). I’m grateful that I have a job to go to this time around, because at the very least I am accountable somewhere. I’m also a little older, and wiser, and my 24-year old body cannot handle alcohol like by just-out-of-college-21-year-old one did. I am also more comfortable with and highly value my alone-time now (reading time, plus a human services job can be emotionally and intellectually draining when I’m being productive). At this point, I am just taking it day to day. I can’t really complain, I know I have well-meaning people in my life, I just do not know how to adequately communicate all of these things to them. My goal right now is to use the strategies from days like today, and arrange my environment by putting these self-management strategies in place in advance, so that they take their course on the next day. This blip of positivity I am feeling today, I hope to carry with me tomorrow. 

Sorry if that got a little too deep. A medium to write is allowing me to articulate my private events, which is cathartic. 

Current mood: I want to skip the next two days to #readathon! Hope you guys had a great Wednesday 🙂

-J