J.K. Rowling’s Story

Fireside Chat

What person whom you don’t know very well in real life — it could be a blogger whose writing you enjoy, a friend you just recently made, etc. — would you like to have over for a long chat in which they tell you their life story?

I’m branching off from this a little bit because I honestly don’t know. I read a few blogs, but I’m so awkward when it comes to talking to new people, I wouldn’t want to meet them. It’s a bit scary.

I’m going to include anyone on this and will pick J.K. Rowling.

Okay, okay. I know it’s cliche. Almost everyone who likes Harry Potter would love to meet her, but it isn’t to ask her about Harry Potter (though I’d like that too). I’m interested in hearing her story from her directed to me. I’ve listened to interviews about her difficult start, what it means to actually be poor, and somehow keeping her spirit alive to write a tale that’s so magical, it captures the heart of every reader. You can’t be dead inside and write something as magical as Harry Potter.

I want to hear her tale of how she dealt with the pain and the loneliness. Where she found inspiration and how she made herself continue writing when she had so many other things to be preoccupied about.

J.K. Rowling is a hero of mine and not just because of her writing. If she had been rich while writing Harry Potter, I’d still love her, but her tale of struggle is inspiring. Through her writing she shaped my life and continues to change it every  time I read Harry Potter. I don’t know how many times I’ve read the series, but I know every time I do, I find something new. When I got older and started reading her interviews, I learned how wonderful she is as a person. She herself, continues to change my life and inspires me to keep writing and living every single day.

I’m at the point where I don’t sob, but just tear up when I read this. Progress.

<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/fireside-chat/”>Fireside Chat</a>

Review: A Discovery of Witches

I gave A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harness two stars. Why? I think I had different expectations going in. The title interested me, the length made me pick it up, and the beginning paragraph caused me to check it out of the library. My expectations going in was that this was Diana, who was a witch though she didn’t want to be because of traumatic past events. She had to go on a quest or something similar to find her powers as well as find her courage. Then there was Matthew Clairmont.

Look, I love romances. I look books that make me smile and squeal. I’m obsessed with a good romantic line among a more serious plot. This is what this book offered, but to me, it started feeling more like Twilight. No, Matthew did not bring the problems to her which was a nice change, but he did have this need to protect and get her to be a witch. I think I wanted her to come to that understand herself. Yes, a loved one can help bring it out, but it felt forced. When there was the romance it was cringe-worthy not squeal-inducing. And what is our obsession with sex? Look, I read Sherilyn Kenyon and love it. What I can’t stand is another plot line about two perfectly capable adults not having sex because of pathetic reasons that they don’t figure out until much later. I guess I just couldn’t get into that whole romance. It felt like once again, she was the one who needed him to survive and he needed her because he’s lived so long without love. Basically, she doesn’t support him in any way except to love him. It made me sad.

The ending did interest me though as endings typically do. There were a few points that I believe are going to be predictable and if the author does change it up, it’s going to be in the predictable way. Some plot devices are overused. Will I read the second one? I hope not, but I might just get desperate enough.

Review: The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne Valente is a book I would recommend to a reader who is looking for something different. It’s an original story that’s not original at all; it twists your fairy tales and the stories you already know and combines them into a world that explains these stories. For me it took a while to read it. I think that the pace differs from the usual children’s story, but it did not mean that I disliked it. Typically slow books make me stop halfway, but this tale interested me enough to continue reading it. If I had to come up with a comparative author, it might by Lemony Snicket, but only because of his originality. The narrator of this book isn’t September, but a hidden one who reminds the reader what stories like this is supposed to do and I appreciated that quality.

September is a heroine like no other. She does what she thinks is best and doesn’t consider herself a hero (my favorite type of hero). She makes interesting friends and questions her surroundings. She’s a girl you want your daughters to emulate. While she does cry, she knows why she’s crying. She cares more about her friends, but also her parents and figures out which one needs her the most. A-Through-L is a clever dragon that you’ll immediately love and Saturday is such a peculiar boy (with an off-handed comment at the end that gets you excited for book #2) that you can’t help but want to hear more from. I started this book with doubts. I had picked it up before, but the artwork didn’t capture my attention to be honest and the title was so long it looked like something I wouldn’t be interested in. Despite that, my boss recommended it to me, so I read it. I’m very glad I did and think I’ll be reading the next one.

Would I recommend this to children; its declared audience? I’m not sure actually. If they loved the oddity of Lemony Snicket, maybe so. There are words that will make you look it up in the dictionary, but later on, the narrator reminds the reader that September likes long words. I think it’s a book for a Middle School age kid who loves to do nothing more than to read.

Warnings in a Relationship

Connect the Dots

Open your nearest book to page 82. Take the third full sentence on the page, and work it into a post somehow.

Page 82: Third full sentence. A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

“‘You should have warned her.”

Warnings are a particular thing, aren’t they? Do they work and are they the best option?

In high school, I went to a school dance with a friend. We both went to Youth Group and while we went to different schools, we knew a lot of people from each others because of youth group. At this dance, we saw Jordan. He was the “bad boy” crush that all of us had in a lingering sort of way. It was never all the way there, but he was always somebody that would cause somersaults in your stomach, but dating him was out of the question. He always wore a hat and was pimply and yet, he was reserved and that attracted a lot of the girls.

Jordan and Melissa were dating. They had been caught at a few Youth Group meetings ago kissing in the chapel. They were the reason we suddenly had the no PDA or PC rule. It severely limited game time.

Back to the dance with my best friend. We were there and we saw Jordan. No Melissa in sight. Well, that didn’t mean much. Considering his ‘bad boy’ appearance, he probably never got the permission slip signed. No big deal that is until we saw him dancing with another girl.

I don’t know why, but moving your butt into a guy’s groin was a sign of affection at dances. Grinding was the thing to do. I remember the first time I did it and I look back, shameful. Yuck. Still it persisted at these high school dances with teachers who didn’t let us hug while we slow-danced but was fine with the fast grinding dances. Once again, yuck.

So Jordan and this girl who was not Melissa were going at the gross dancing. The year before I had been dumped for doing this same thing with another guy. This was CHEATING. At least to us in our tenth/eleventh grade mind.

Of course we tried to be clever. The three of us got together, smiled, and tried to place the picture frame to capture Jordan and maybe not me on the side. We don’t know if he saw us or it was by chance, but he moved. He did see us through the dance, but avoided eye contact most of the time. It wasn’t that weird, it’s not like we were friends. We liked Melissa, but Jordan was just her boyfriend who we crushed after every once and a while.

After this dance, we hung back after devotionals and talked to our favorite person, the female youth group leader. Shelianna still holds a soft spot in my heart. I saw her as the perfect strong, Christian woman and still do. They lived on a farm, she has ten kids (then it was around six?), and she works at a correctional facility. There was a lot to juggle and she never sat backseat to her husband. If my friend and I were to seek advice, it was going to be from her.

We didn’t tell her the names and she didn’t want to know. We told her that  there was a girl in youth group who’s boyfriend we had seen dancing with another girl. Do we tell her? Do we warn her? Should we even consider it as cheating?

Shelianna ended up telling us no, don’t tell her. At least not yet. We were worried Melissa would be upset that she never knew and found out there was something more going on between those two. We were also worried she’d be mad at us for not telling her. Shelianna, I think, thought they’d end up breaking up and of course, they did a few weeks later. I talked to Melissa after and acted sad that they broke up, but it was obvious she didn’t buy it. I said I never trusted Jordan. She said “he was cheating on me, wasn’t he?” Not an ounce of surprise just sadness. I told her what I saw and she said it was okay, she wasn’t mad I never said anything.

This warning a small one compared to others, but it’s one you’re never sure about especially when it comes to friends or even people who are only acquaintances. Do you warn a friend when you don’t like her boyfriend? Do you warn her when you saw him possibly cheating on her? What if you heard he sexually assaulted somebody?

I’ve tried giving out warnings, but what I’ve found is that the results are inconclusive. I have warned my best friend that the girl he was dating wasn’t okay. He chose not to listen and it worked for him, I think. (Or at least he refuses to tell me that he ended up worse after her, I’m not sure). They ended up breaking up and he learned a lot from that relationship. I have a current friend who is dating a guy her mom consistently warns her about. I think she holds onto him more. It’s not that I dislike him, but there are warning signs every once in a while. Do I say something? Right now, I choose not to and hope nothing bad will happen because of my silence.

It’s scary to stay silent and many people will not heed your warning and instead are proven right or don’t want to listen to “I told you so.” What about yourself? Are you guilty if you don’t say something and they get hurt? Warnings are difficult to give and they’re difficult to receive. Changing somebody is hard and people say you can’t change another person. I disagree in a way. I know I’ve been changed by people, but it relies on learning to understand oneself and reacting to it a specific way. A guy who cheats on a person won’t necessarily cheat on another. He might, but it may be for a different reason. Eventually he might come to understanding why he does what he does and figure out a way to change with the person he is in love with. This goes the same for girls.

So rambly post, but that’s my incorporation of that sentence or more so, my reaction to it.

<a href="https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/connect-the-dots/">Connect the Dots</a>

Oh Canada! (Sorry Canada)

Image Search

Pick a random word and do Google image search on it. Check out the eleventh picture it brings up. Write about whatever that image brings to mind.

The word I chose was stamp. I work at a library. It was what was in front of me. The eleventh picture was:

 CANADA!

There’s actually a Wiki article, but I decided to not read it because I guess I’m going to write about Canada since that’s the first thing it brought to my mind.

What do I know about Canada: the land that I can almost (not) see across the lovely Lake Ontario? Well here’s my quick list:

Robin Sparkles

Yes, this was necessary.

Some type of food that’s a mix of french fries, gravy and maybe cheese? (Poutine?????)

Justin Beiber

I know nothing about hockey but I think Canda likes it?

Moose

Universal Healthcare that some hate and others love (I love, but I don’t pay taxes yet, so I might hate.

Cold.

So yeah, that’s about it I know about Canda (Sorry Canada). Weird food, How I Met Your Mother, horrible pop singers, tax issues, and wonderfully giant animals. Oh and eh! Once again, I am so sorry Canada.

(Also the sorrys are not in any case a reference to the apologetic-ness of Canada. I actually apologize that much)

<a href="https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/daily-prompt-5/">Image Search</a>

Faith and Religion: My Personal Journey

In Good Faith

Describe a memory or encounter in which you considered your faith, religion, spirituality — or lack of — for the first time.

My family was not full of faith, they didn’t go to church on Sundays, they didn’t do devotionals, and we didn’t talk about God. I went through a short period of terror where I was worried my parents wouldn’t go to heaven and they were damned to hell, but it passed. I could do this post about spirituality, but I’ve been meaning to talk about some of my history with religion, so this seems to be a good post to do it in.

At the age of two, I was going to Awana with my babysitter and sometimes church on Sunday. While my parents didn’t go, this church was a family tradition. My great-grandfather was a deacon (I always incorrectly assumed this was equivalent to a pastor) and my dad used to go to the church as well. While they weren’t religion, they were traditional, so it only made sense for me to go too. I went to Awana from 1st grade (Sparky) to 7th grade (a year over what I was supposed to and this was called TNT). There wasn’t much going on during these years. When we first heard the talk of being saved, I was seriously disturbed. What I remember is rushing home and praying to God to ask him in my heart. I had no clue what I was saying, but I didn’t want to go to Hell. That’s for sure. My mom remembers me coming home and freaking out about it. She said she worried about sending me back because I was so scared. I don’t remember this, but I could believe that it happened.

My AWANA and Youth Group days were pretty great. I met my best friend in fifth grade and we went through Youth Group together too. During this period I didn’t question God or my faith that much. I was always moved during worship time. I loved it when my leaders talked to us. They were like a second family and still some of my favorite people. About this time in high school though I started to seriously question my faith. I think this is an important period for everyone and it should happen because there’s a possibility of bringing oneself closer to God. For me, it didn’t work out that way.

For me, I never subscribed to some of the beliefs that many Christians seem to have that tie in with politics. I can’t think of a time when I thought people who loved  to same sex were bad. I remember the first time hearing about it and I thought it was weird, but I got over that as I got older. There was never a time where I could believe that God would condemn somebody for love when they weren’t taking another life. If a murderer could be forgiven, why not somebody who was gay?

This common belief of condemning homosexuals to Hell didn’t shake me out of my religion. What ended up starting that was the thought of why would God create a world and have people worship Him? None of us asked to be created, we just were. I think of this in comparison to my parents. I never asked to be born, but here I am existing. I respect my parents and am quite happy that I was born (I think, it’s hard to think about yourself not existing because than none of these thoughts would exist and would it really matter?). Though I respect them, I don’t think it would be okay for them to kill me off or disown me because I didn’t make the choice they wanted me to make. Disowning a child is horrible to me. The Bible says when one of his children make a bad decision He cries. My mom would cry if I made a bad decision and went to jail. The Bible also says God has a plan for each and every one of us. It also says humans were given free will (humans versus elves in Tolkien? Anyone?) making it so we can make decisions though there’s a plan supposedly made for us. All of this is confusing and I’m sure somebody who studies the Bible could explain it to me and it might not be full of contradictions, but this is just my basic understanding. So my faith started to waver. Why would something create people so they would only worship that person? Especially considering that being gave people free will. We have the right to make bad decisions but doing that will damn us to hell just like choosing heroin can damn us to death. My analogies are getting mixed.

So overall this is where I am today. I would not go so far to say I’m an atheist or even agnostic. Maybe it’s because of my childhood or the idea of tradition. I know the last time I clearly remember praying is when my brother’s girlfriend had her baby and he didn’t survive. This is important because that’s when I can remember truly having faith. It’s not important in the loss of faith. I understand that God can place hardships because there’s always a reason. That’s something I never questioned.

There’s a lot of rambling here as anyone who talks about religion, faith, or spirituality will do. This is my opinion though and I’m not sure if I’ll ever untangle the web. I probably will send my kids to AWANA because I found so much value to it both in this world and in God’s. What I do hope though is that they will always question (such as my sixth grade question of ‘what about the dinosaurs?’ Did I get a straight answer? Nope.) and understand that love is there and just as long as it’s not harming somebody and they understand that there are parameters. Maybe all of this stuff is just worldly and I should forget about it, but I exist and so do these thoughts.

The Gender Box

Gender is a huge deal and a bigger one than people typically think. We are born with certain genitalia and that will make us who we are. Sure, you might not be athletic, but you might run a company. You might not be pretty, but you’ll be nurturing. There are expectations that stem from the genitalia we are born with and what people believe that makes us.

Many people are trying to change this, including me. I am not as involved in the transgender community as I should be, so I will not be discussing the change of gender or even gender fluidity. If you are interested in those topics, I am sure you can find bloggers who dedicate their blogs to these topics. These are super important to notice and realize. What I will be discussing though, is how gender can box us in.

I identify as a cis-female. This means I’m (mostly) straight and identify as a woman. So far, I do not subscribe to the idea that all of gender is socially constructed. I do believe for some that it is, but for me, I don’t believe it. I say ‘so far’ because in five years I might decide that gender is fully a social construction. Right now though, I believe that there are some parts of gender that are constructed, but not all of them. I’m sure many of you can argue this or point me to posts that address this situation and please do! I needed to line up some of my thoughts before I go ahead and start talking about this subject.

I am not a wonderful feminist and neither are most people. Do we even know what the perfect feminist is? I don’t think so. Since gender construction is such a difficult conversation to fully understand and grasp, I think it would be impossible. I have been hearing a lot about Roxanne Gay’s Bad Feminist and I haven’t read it yet (the library’s copy is missing!) but the idea is intriguing. I hope to find out if she addresses what is considered to be a good feminist if there even is such a thing.

Even feminism can be a box when interpreted by people who do not quite understand what feminism is or care to learn about it. Experiences are important to write about.

1) I crochet. A lot. I love amigurumi and making graphgans. It gives me something to do when I feel like watching television. A few weeks ago by boss said: “I’m surprised you do that.” Of course, I had to ask why. His response? “Because you’re all feminist.”

I was hearing the opposite of what I was fighting for. I’m a feminist because I don’t want to exist in a small box that dictates what  I have to do with my life (or well, one of the reasons). Suddenly, I was being placed in a box: the feminist box. I have no clue what I was supposed to be doing. Do you I not crochet anymore because it’s a female thing? Should I not enjoy cooking? Reading horrible romance novels? Should I stop painting my nails and liking the color pink? How would I portray myself as a feminist, I ask. If I act like a boy, I’m a boy. If I get rid of a female and a male identity, suddenly I’m in-between. I don’t consider myself a woman because I like feminine things, I consider myself a woman because I feel like one. Talking about identity or explaining identity is hard. Just as hard as it is for anybody no matter their claimed identity. You could probably talk me into believing that gender is a social construction and the only reason why I think of myself as a woman is because I’ve had these practices pressed on me. Maybe you’re right but I still like them. I started crocheting after I found feminism.

2) I put on make-up and dress up for other people.

This is a difficult one to discuss.  I fully believe that it is possible for dressing up for oneself and feeling good about the way you look and other people liking the way you look is possible. I love to wear dresses. I think they look good and I like to show skin. This is seriously a thing for me. I like to feel textures and air on my skin. I love straps on my shoulders. I also am aware that I can be attractive to other people, but to me, I’m dressing for myself and it just so happens that they look good according to the public.

Now there are times when I dress up for other people in specific. This does not happen often. I love to feel confident and comfortable. I know that if I put on a pencil skirt and heels, I will look good and probably even confident. Guess what? I don’t feel confident. I’m too tall and I am in a tight skirt. It’s not okay. My feminist side of me says “who cares?” I should act confident and pull it off, but at the same time, why should I if I don’t feel right? Same thing with make-up. I’ve had my make-up done and felt completely out of place. Other’s told me I look good, but I wiped half of it off. Overall though, I have put on nice clothes others will like and have left my make-up on because somebody thought it looked nice. I don’t do it often, but I do argue that it can be a coincidence that I happen to like wearing something another person likes me in.

There are tons of contradictions that exist. I squeal in Pitch Perfect when he finally raises his fist in the air for her. This isn’t because I think I look cute making a high pitched noise and jumping up in down, I feel like there’s a bubble that I cannot control inside of me every single time. I read coming of age YA novels and while I try to stay away from the ones that are inherently misogynist, I do sometimes like a few of them. I read Twilight (escapism!). I like it when I get hit on. I like it when my boyfriend takes care of me or buys me things. I wasn’t single through college. I shave my body because I like the feel of my skin.

These are my personal contradictions, but what I find important is to make sure I’m not being boxed in. I have examined most of these to see if they are what I actually want or if they are just constructions. I’ve found most of them are my own choice. Sure, I didn’t choose to start shaving. I had that day when I was twelve and somebody told me I looked like a monkey and my mom gave me a razor and told me good luck. Maybe I only like to shave because I know I’m supposed to and I had to get used it. Still, I like to feel smooth skin and I kind of wish males had to do it too. Contradictions exist in any following, movement, or religion. The list goes on and on but what I find important is to be critical. I don’t mean to put yourself down, but examine your life and don’t just be another happy shiny person. I’m quite the happy person. Nothing traumatic has really ever happened to me. I’m not depressed. I’m comfortable in my body. I see all of this as luck of the draw, or God, or whatever else you believe in. What’s important is to keep fighting for other people if you don’t need to fight for yourself. Don’t let people box you in because you were born with genitalia that is supposed to dictate the rest of your life. If you do like some of those gendered activities, go for it! If you have some gendered qualities, use them! There’s nothing wrong with being nurturing and persistent. Just don’t let somebody call you a pussy or bossy.

Boxes will always exist. That doesn’t mean we need to watch people be shoved into them. We might not see results in our lifetime, but hopefully it will happen eventually. So keep on being a feminist or whatever  movement you believe in and don’t forget to learn more and expand your mind.