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

 

 

Mid-2017 Evaluation: Where Do I Go From Here?

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I’m a little stunned that we’re already in the middle of 2017. It is friggin’ July, this is wild. What even is time? It is ridiculous how fast it flies. So much has happened in the last six months. I don’t think I am where I wanted to be at this time when the year began, but it isn’t the worst place to be. 

I went back to take a peek at my 2017 blogging resolutions, and so far, haven’t done any of them justice. I’m way behind on my Goodreads goal, I haven’t made or stuck to a blogging schedule, I took on extra reading challenges and didn’t manage to keep up with them, I fell behind on the Social Justice Book Club, and I haven’t really discussed any books with problematic rep on my blog. I had to scale back on the layout of this space because I couldn’t afford full membership, but needed some modicum of self-hosting control. All of this is getting me down. These all seemed like reasonable goals at the beginning of this year, but I definitely didn’t anticipate how much of my time would get sucked in our giant move in the first half of this year. I didn’t anticipate the toll it would take on my mental and physical health. I’ve experienced more identity crises in the last 11 months than ever before. I’m still looking for full-time employment. The world seems to be even more of a shitfest than before. These aren’t really excuses, nor am I looking for condolences or sympathy, they’re just things I didn’t anticipate happening or affecting me as much as they are.

Some good things happened too- My Chicago vacation and the annual professional conference I attended went super well. I took on some projects I’m really excited about, and I’ve got clearer career and academic goals in mind since then. Living in India definitely offers me more freedom in terms of movement and having close friends in the same city. My reading pace has picked up in the last couple of weeks, and I feel good about that. 

Given all of these things, I’m taking another stab at my 2017 resolutions:

  1. Blogging schedule: I’m going to set myself a goal of publishing once a week. It doesn’t seem like a lot, and it’s fairly low response effort, but right now consistency is key. If I do more, great, but if I do at least one, it’ll be better than month-long breaks.
  2. Social Justice Book Club is coming back in August- I’ll be announcing the details of that this weekend. We’re going back to a bi-monthly schedule, so hopefully that helps.
  3. I’m going to work on really, really evaluating the time and space I have available before participating in reading challenges.
  4. Catching up on ARC reviews, and cross-posting on Amazon and Goodreads. 

I don’t know if I’ve said this before, but I’m sincerely grateful for every person that follows my blog, reads my stuff, and takes the time to comment. I’m always shocked when anyone visits this space, given that my content is so erratic. Please know that I value each and every one of you. Thank you.

-J

Finding Focus: From Intention to Action

When I started this blog a few months ago, I didn’t start it with a specific intention. I had recently discovered the bookternet, and wanted to join the bandwagon. Since then, I’ve sporadically written posts and reviews and such, because the only thing I’ve ever been clear about this blog is that reading is my priority and I’m not about to start shaving off reading time in favor of writing, or doing my laundry, or anything.

Curating all of my social media to be all about books- following bloggers and authors, posting pictures of my reading, general book squeeing- was quite the eye-opener. I learned a lot about the intersections of publishing and social justice, #ownvoices, the push for diversity, problematic representation, etc. I’d never been mindful of any of this prior to this year, but it became something I couldn’t unsee. 2016 has been my best reading year by a long shot, but along with it has come a certain mindfulness about how we talk about books and the ginormous influence on readers, I had several “holy shit that’s so effing true!” realizations about all of it. I made friends with wonderful people like Naz and Bina, as well as the #DiverseBookBloggers, who were all dedicating their time to actively promoting diverse books and authors of colour. By this time I was all aboard with the gravity of representation in publishing, having revelatory conversations with book friends and learning so much. The blog still remained as it was- without intention.

I’ve had some time to think about this in the last couple of months, and the lack of intention was starting to really bother me. I was fixated on having a theme of some sort on the blog that was different, not for stats (I still haven’t figured what most of them mean or how I’m supposed to use that data to gain followers), but just to be able t0 contribute in a way that was unlike whatever already existed in what felt like an oversaturated book blogging community. In that time, I was becoming more vocal on twitter about the importance of diversity, and had also been burned pretty badly by some books that I’d read or bought which were just products of the power of patriarchy and white privilege. The more I paid attention, I was stunned by the mediocre bar set for privileged folks to publish their books. I was also outraged by the harassment marginalized authors and bloggers were receiving for daring to speak about problematic content. I was seething, and disillusioned, and filled with an urge to take action.

All of that introspection brought me to this- this was never supposed to be about me. Instead of worrying about how this blog can stand out, I’m going to stop centering myself, and focus on the cause- on boosting marginalized voices and experiences. Clearly, publishing has a long way to go, so why not add my voice to the cause? I’ve realized that at this point we need every person we can get to talk about own voices and diverse books, and the only reason I ever felt we had plenty of people talking about it was me living in my tiny privileged bubble of like-minded book people. It’s high time I acknowledge that privilege, and use it to do something. It doesn’t mean I’ll completely stop reading white/cishet/able authors, but they don’t need me to promote their books for them. Marginalized authors could use every person reading their books to talk about them, and that is what I am going to do.

Long story short- you’ll be looking exclusively at own voices and diverse content on here, starting now. It’s going to get loud here, and I hope you’ll stay with me for the ride.

Updates, updates.

TGIF, amirite?!

I feel like everyone has been saying this, but really, where the hell are the weeks going? How is it already the middle of May? 

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The past week has been a blur- I met several book people over the past couple of days, including some Book Rioters! Hey, remember that time I was featured on the Book Riot instagram? Sadly, I was so very uncool around them, even though I’d practiced my speech in my car for 10 minutes. I totally did that fangirl giggle when Amanda asked if she could take that picture of me in all my BR swag glory ( I am not proud of that sound). BUT I MET AMANDA NELSON so whatevs. Poor Rincey got the brunt of my hyperventilation, and she was very gracious and sweet about it. I also got to meet some of my internet bookish friendships, which was glorious. So jealous that I didn’t go to BEA, but it’s fine.

BookCon tomorrow! D and I are video-chatting in a couple of hours to figure out our agenda for tomorrow. I have printed out floor maps and everything, because I can’t stand McCormick Place in general so having my agenda mapped out will hopefully minimize stress. I will be snapchatting (username: jananivaidya), tweeting and instagramming for sure, so you can follow all of my Con adventures on there!

Reading challenge updates:

So, I have a problem. I overcommit. I find it (nearly) impossible to say no to things- work, life, or otherwise. So while I would like to do all of the things, I end up leaving very little room for life getting in the way, so I’m almost always in scramble mode. For example, life, work, and general moodiness and things have led to my reading taking a solid hit, and I’ve not been reading as much as I usually do. Therefore, I don’t really have enough material for separate posts for each of the challenges, so I hope all of the hosts will forgive me for lumping the updates into a single post. Let’s dive right in:

  1. R. K. Narayan Readalong: I have only finished one book, Malgudi Days and it is unlikely that I will start and finish the other one by Sunday. It was a re-read for me, and I enjoyed reading a few stories before bed each night. I’m so glad that Deepika created this opportunity for me to go back to this book. First, because that introduction/tribute by Jhumpa Lahiri is excellent, and second, because RKN was a prolific writer that so few people outside of India know about and will now. Like many contemporary giants such as Tolkien, Prachett, Rowlng, etc. minus the fantasy aspect, he created this entire world that was so relatable to the average reader. Written over the course of 40 years, it captures the essence of pre-independent India, with it’s myriad small-town inhabitants and their day-to-day experiences. I was hit by waves of nostalgia for home when reading this one for sure. His writing style definitely reminds you of Chekov and O-Henry, masters of the short story format. It is amazing how much the man can compress into a story that’s all of 4-6 pages in length. What a versatile storyteller, I’m so glad I loved this just as much as I did when I read it for the first time as a teenager. 
  2. Bout of Books: I definitely have not participated in this event in full reader/social media monster mode, but I have been checking in at least once everyday. I’m learning that I prefer reading challenges that are of a shorter duration- it’s just how I operate. Very short-term-goal oriented. Also, it’s pretty clear how unrealistic my TBR plans are, but I think this time around it just had to do with the timing of the event in my life. I’ve only completed 1 book, one trade, and couple of comic issues. Maybe I’ll finish just one other book by Sunday. I did participate in a couple of the daily challenges, which was cool. Again, crunch-time constant contact with the event definitely works better for me personally, but I’d like to see how I do next time around with less number of distractions/commitments. 
  3. Smash Your Stack: Ha, let’s see, in the first two weeks of this challenge, I have completed all of 6 books/comics/trades. Not my best effort. I’ve got two weeks to redeem myself, and I’m hoping National Readathon Day next Saturday helps me get to my goal

On the health front, I have been eating crappily, partly because of eating out with friends in the past couple of days, and partly because I only got paid yesterday (real food is definitely not budget-friendly with an erratic paycheck). I’ve already worked on my meal plan for next week so getting back on track with it. I haven’t gone running since Saturday, but I did do yoga three days this week, mostly as an opportunity to engage in some mindfulness exercises. 

Currently reading: Riding that book-hopping train with: All Things Cease To Appear by Elizabeth Brundage, The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson (audio), Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson (I will finish by the end of the month I swear), and The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead (ARC, yes I’m annoyed with myself for not going to BEA to see him or George Saunders). 

Currently listening: Mandolin Srinivas for the past few days.

Currently watching: The Office (U. S.). My third round, I think.

Okay, I’m going to salvage the next hour to read, before I sit down to plan for BookCon. Wish me luck! 

What have you guys been upto?

-J

 

 

Bookishness in May

Heyo,

I realized last night that there’s a BUNCH of bookish things happening in May that I will be a part of, so I decided to consolidate all of them in one page, most as a point of reference for me, but also for anyone else that wants to participate in them:

Reading Challenges:

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1. Smash Your Stack, which is all through the month of May, hosted by Andi and Melissa.

 

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2. Read My Own Damn Books, hosted by Andi, which I will once again be attempting this month, with an emphasis on “no book-buying outside of conferences”.

 

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3. Read The Books You Buy, hosted by the Book Date, where I will again make all that moolah spent worth it. 

 

 

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4. R. K. Narayan Readalong starts today! This one is hosted by Deepika, who is an amazing reader and blogger and lover of canines. It’s from May 1st to May 15th. I’ve got at least three books of his that I want to read, and I haven’t read them since middle-school, so this will be a lovely wave of nostalgia.

 

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5. Bout Of Books, which runs from May 9th to May 15th. This will be my first time, sign-up if you haven’t already!


nationalreadathonday6. National Readathon Day, on May 21st. This readathon is hosted by the American Library Association and Penguin Random House, in support of literacy programs. I’m using this as a practice run for my next Dewey’s readathon, since I probably won’t be doing a lot of social media stuff with this one, besides updates and general cheering. The official tag is #Readathon2016. If you have nothing going on that Saturday, sign up and read with me for a few hours!

Bookish Events:

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BookCon is on May 14th! I will not be able to go to BEA, time commitments and I can’t afford both that and ABAI. I am stoked for BookCon though, and I feel that will be less overwhelming for someone like me who is a book-event newbie. But I’m hoping to see my lovely twitter friends that will be attending BEA/BookCon that week, so that means books-and-booze time! Woo! 

 

I know it sounds like a lot, but I think it’s all evenly spaced out, plus some of them are a month-long and only require the minimum response effort of adding a hashtag to instagram pictures and tweets. I will definitely be blogging updates for each event as they happen, so you’ll be privy to all of the details of my bookish life, whether you like it or not.

Alright then, tally-ho folks, I got me some books to read!

-J