I had to move back to my self-hosted server and I won’t be updating this blog anymore. I still use the reader for the blogs I follow but from now on, my posts can be found on my home-page:
I had to move back to my self-hosted server and I won’t be updating this blog anymore. I still use the reader for the blogs I follow but from now on, my posts can be found on my home-page:
I’m a fence-sitter. I’m the kind of person who can’t help but think about something (*hem* obsess about something) for so long that I end up seeing all the pro and the con arguments and I give up on one a clear decision either way and try to disappear in a puff of over-thinking.
This is why I love it when I have a topic that is so black and white, that there is literally no other side. Or the one that there is, fails to make any impression on me what so ever and I can have one unequivocal opinion. Here it is:
If you don’t believe gay people should enjoy the same rights, privileges and responsibilities that straight people enjoy, you are not worth my time. You are not a good person. Full-stop.
It’s a beautiful relief to be able to be so clear on something. But there is no earthly reason to deny lgbt couples the right to marry, none. I took philosophy in college for a while, and argumentation and logic and I even fail to see how those things certain conservative people say could be considered an argument at all, rather than a bunch of me-me-me-me-the-world-has-to-be-the-way-I-want-it whining or just words that don’t mean anything.
Traditional marriage values? Like women being property and routinely raped and beaten because the husband is allowed to do that by law? Oh, I remember now, that was changed.
Procreation? My parents were not married when they had me. And I know a lot of married couples who either can’t have children or don’t want them? And holy shit that is really offensive.
So yeah, it leads me to conclude that a person still opposing lgbt people’s marriage equality can only do so for 2 reasons:
1. They are purposefully spreading hatred.
2. They have not yet learnt what most of us learn in kinder-garden. That just because you personally don’t like something, doesn’t mean everybody else has to hate it or shouldn’t have it. I hate olives, I am not trying to get them banned as a food!
Freedom of religion goes both ways, people! You are allowed to have it, but the rest of us are free not to be bothered by its doctrine.
Not everybody loves them — and somehow among lit snobs (to which not counting myself would be hypocrisy) there seems to be that tenuous feeling that listen to an audiobook is not quite reading. It’s too easy and somehow we all live in this world in which something counts more, the more effort we put into it.
When I told a friend that I did indeed read Anna Karenina, they were very impressed by the sheer amount of finished pages, rather than anything else. I insisted that for me, I didn’t think it really was worth it and in the topic field, I far preferred Madame Bovary. But that is shorter so nobody believes me. I also read Moby Dick, which still remains to be one of the longest and most torturous reads of my life – quickly followed by The Scarlett Letter, which at least was short. And if a read has to be agonizing, it has better short and agonizing in my opinion.
So if we sometimes even frown on short books as easy, then audiobooks just can’t count. You just sit there and listen, it’s like watching a movie without, you know, watching.
And to a certain part, I agree. Listening to an audiobook is a different experience than reading a book. And if difficulty was a factor in whether or not the consumption of a book is valid, I suppose it would be less valid. I can be tired and groggy and sad and lie on my bed and listen to one. And it makes me happy. I can listen to one while doing something else, like shooting aliens in a pc game, drawing, editing photographs, cooking, cleaning or other similar non-verbal but visual tasks (as in I can’t actually watch a movie or tv show at the same time). None of these work with books.
But we all live in a world in which the amount of time we have to spend on these wonderful things like reading is often severely limited. When I have spent my day looking at text, writing my own stuff, editing, writing emails, reading friends’ manuscripts, I find it really difficult to go to bed reading some more, staring at more text. But I love lying back and listening to the soothing voices of well-read audiobooks for half an hour or so.
A well-read audiobook adds a dimension to the text, it makes it richer, warmer, and yes, better. And unlike a movie, it doesn’t rob you of your own creativity and your imagination. Sometimes it does, but that usually means that the reader asserts himself too much and plays up voices and accents in a distracting way. In the German version of Harry Potter, for example, the reader takes it upon himself to give Snape a Russian accent. And I can’t listen to it because I want to strangle him so hard — what was he thinking?! It makes zero sense. (It’s also prejudiced and weird — oh the cruel, mean character is Russian, is he?)
But in general, audiobooks are wonderful. They are being a child again and curling up with someone reading to you. Plus, and here I veer off the childhood metaphor – I am somewhat convinced I have erogenous zones somewhere deep inside my ears and these beautiful voices carrying amazing prose just give me a really nice happy feeling like few other things do. I think prose is meant to be read out loud. We can’t always do that, but when we can I love taking advantage of it.
So that is my defence and praise of audiobooks.
Do you like them? Which are your favourite ones?
This post comes with a heavy trigger warning. Please proceed with caution.
First the girl, always the girl. The survivor, the fighter, the one who paid for a broken society with her body and her image of self, with her future sex-life and her ability to trust. I hope that she has someone, women and men, who take her in their arms and tell her that she is not alone and they are proud of her – for speaking up, for going through something as jarring if not more than the actual rape by talking, by answering disgusting questions, by being talked about like a thing. Like a victim, like a statistic, like a non-human. I hope they hold her and tell her that it will get better, that there is badness in the world but we can come together and push it out of our little bubbles, where only we exist: people who open up, who share, who are connected. I want her to have that. I want someone there to teach her how we can turn horrible experiences into kindness and a softened heart, an ability for empathy and love. I hope she is not alone in her head.
My heart goes out to her. I want to embrace her with the millions and millions of women who were raped and who still will be. All of us. I want that wave of empathy to come and sweep the world and we cry out that this is not okay. One woman in five is not okay and something is wrong, terribly wrong in our world.
And still I sit here, and I also feel sorry for the two young men. How can I not? When they, too, are victims of this fucked up society in which we know exactly that stealing is wrong, in which every movie loudly proclaims that piracy is wrong. But in which, somehow, a drunk woman in skimpy clothes is still a mixed message. How is that possible?
One woman in five. I think about the women. And then I think about the men. One man in five is a rapist? Maybe one in ten? I know a lot of rapists. You know a lot of rapists. We look in their eyes every day and we have no idea. Just like you know women who were raped, you know rapists. They are our first boyfriends, our cousins, fathers, uncles, brothers, the nice family friends who always brought us candy. They are our friends, our acquaintances, the men we love. They are our politicians, our judges, our journalists and the celebrities we lust after.
We know these men and yet, our justice system puts up two of them – randomly – up for the ritual media slaughter every couple of months and we call it justice. We send them to prison, some blame the girl, some blame the rapist, a few more drops of articles and blog entries and then we forget. Until the circle starts anew. Nothing changes.
I don’t feel sorry for them because they will go to prison, or because this will haunt their entire life. They have committed a crime, they had a choice – the girl did not. I make no excuses for them. And I think that the media coverage was despicable – as it always is. Always teaching, always teaching wrong. But I feel sorry for them because they live in a society where two normal teenagers turn into rapists. Not because they were punished – but because they raped. Not the punishment changes their life forever, the act of becoming an aggressor does – and they need help, too.
We think of criminals, of murderers and rapists and something other. They are not like us, something is wrong in their head, they are those dark figures, looming, alien. Surely we would be able to see the evil glinting in their eyes if we ever came across them. Maybe that is case for murderers or mass rapists, even. Although I doubt the clichéd looks.
But the massive, the overwhelming majority of rapist are only vaguely aware they are doing anything wrong. They are inundated by their fathers calling girls sluts who are asking for it, friends who prove their masculinity not through kindness or acts of charity, but by rating girl’s tits and asses like wares on a market, who call them cock-teases and see women as the obstacle they have to overcome to get to sex. Mothers are no better, they teach their boys to go for the nice girls, the “good” girls, not the ones who let it all hang out. The easy ones. Daughters listen, too. We all perpetuate the cycle. Every day.
Women are the enemy. They withhold sex. They are smarter than us. They wear clothes that make us feel insecure because our breasts aren’t as pretty. And we call them sluts. They are the enemy if they are loud and set an example we disagree with. They are the enemy when they are quiet and endure abuse without giving the man up to the police. Women are the enemy always.
And boys grow up knowing no better.
So these young men, I wish them no harm in prison. I am sick and tired of looking at the world like this: an eye for an eye. I wish that someone embraces them, too. That someone teaches them how you can turn a great bad experience, a horrible thing you have done into kindness and empathy. I hope someone thinks about getting them a really good therapist, a kind person, someone who can explain to them exactly what they did and how they can work to be better. To come out of prison and help other young men understand how fucking easy it is to slip up in this world and do something that changes a young woman’s life forever.
I hope that someone teaches them how they can work on making it harder to slip up. On raising the awareness that consent is everything, that women are not the enemy. On getting our society to understand rape as a real crime, in everybody and not just the few they turn into a spectacle.
I don’t wish them ill. And yes, I feel sorry for them – I feel sorry for boys that are born into a world in which all too early our media, our parents, our friends turn them into potential rapists and lower and lower the bar that it takes to climb into becoming an aggressor, a rapist. A piece of shit. And I feel sorry for the men who only just manage to stay on this side of the bar, always holding back – unable to see women as real people, as anything other than purveyors of their sex organs. The “nice guys” who think that makes them good – and who still see nothing but tits and asses when they look at the girls they don’t rape.
I want to live in a world where a male feminist is not a refreshing and happy surprise. Where men understand how to be men, beautiful and strong and wise and where they learn how to love because they were loved, where they can teach their sons because they have been taught. I want to live in a world where rape is a crime, a real crime, committed by real criminals with criminal energy – not an inevitability of life that sucks us dry, men and women, aggressors and victims.
One in five. I can’t live in a world in which I have to hate so many.
Feeling sorry for someone, thinking that they are a victim, too, is not the same as excusing their actions. But putting everything only on them, my opinion, is ignoring the real cause, is helplessly flinging at hatred at symptoms. They need help, too. For all our sakes. We all need help.
Because all the cool kids are doing it. Really, I swear. I’ve read all these awesome book review blogs who do this and, you don’t know me – but there are a few universal truths about me. One is: I can’t resist a good meme.
1. Tucker Crowe (In: Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby)
This one should be obvious. So Byronic, tortured, sweet, dirty, makes a lot fun of himself. Plus, he writes songs and reads Dickens.
2. Henry DeTamble (In: The Time-Traveller’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger)
Another non-surprising one, more of the torture, the sweet and the dirty. Also he comes with endless beautiful drama and achingly beautiful descriptions of the girl he loves. Also he’s a librarian — need I say more? Oh, yes, and he travels in time.
3. Mortimer “Mo” Folchart (In: Inkheart by Cornelia Funke)
Yes, it’s YA. Yes, he’s just the heroine’s dad — but, god, he’s beautiful and hot. I’d date a single dad! Number 1 on the list is one, too, so is Henry. I think a pattern is emerging.
4. Remus Lupin (In: Harry Potter by Joanne K. Rowling)
Yeah, this is slightly odd, but clearly the beginning of my latent were-wolf obsession all mixed up with my thing for teachers. I invested a lot into this imaginary relationship as a teenager and he still makes me dreamy. Also very tortured and animalistic In my head, he’s also dirty, J.K. just couldn’t tell us on account of it being YA.
5. Edward Rochester (In: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë)
I only chose one of the boys in the classics, but he is undoubtedly my favourite. I also very much adore him in Jasper Fford’s adaptation in The Eyre Affair. But yeah, more patterns, also a more or less single father, tortured, dark-haired and dirty. Also he is very condescending and intense, but he appreciates intelligence in a woman. Lovely.
Who are yours? I’m dying to know!
Writing is personal, it is an intimate investigation of your psyche – whether a book is about the author or not, or whatever degree it is. Someone once said that anything, from the china we choose, to the clothes we wear and the way we shape our handwriting are full of meaning, like a personal thumb-print, a kaleidoscope of self. It is the same with writing: choice of words, habits, themes – the character traits we portray as likeable or forgiveable and the ones we give the villains. The means we choose to tell a story, are intimate and personal – and that is partly what is so interesting in examining an author’s body of work.
But writing, quite obviously is also public. And as many critics of recent bestsellers have shown, these very personal means of telling a story are examined closely – and with good reason. While some may just be ways of journalists to cash in on the success (I read an article, for example, on the negative impact of so called “sick-lit” like John Green’s brilliant The Fault in Our Stars on children, who shouldn’t encounter anything that wasn’t a perfect, beautiful and healthy specimen of teenager-hood), others may be genuine concerns for the emotional well-being of especially young readers. I myself have shared in the concern, for example, about Twilight’s message regarding the connection between attempted suicide and getting a boyfriend back.
As a reader, these comments are easy to make and I have made a million of them over the years. It’s natural, isn’t it? You love books and you love it when it’s done right – but the more you read, the more opinions you gather, and the more you want to talk about them, too.
But I’m a writer, too – and what’s more, suddenly and still shockingly, a published one. And where for my entire life, writing has been that intimate exploration of the self, I am suddenly faced with the possibility of a public. I am not deluded, not the kind of public best-sellers enjoy, but a public non-the-less: readers, who I would prefer not to let down.
And suddenly I am wondering whether my female lead is a role-model, if she is strong enough – or if the male lead is kind and good enough and not pushy or manipulating. I find myself reading through the manuscript for any implications I might have missed while I was busy focusing on others.
A writer’s responsibility in this regard, seems to grow with the popularity their story gains – but by that point, it is far too late. In the end, our stories tell the readers something about us – it may not always be exactly what they think it is, but there is always something: our background, culture, education, weaknesses, the things we care about, what turns us on.
I like female characters who are a little shy – who aren’t perfect; women who hurt sometimes and don’t always like themselves. I like people who have struggled, people with history and scars. At the same time, I like them intelligent, opinionated and caring; people who value kindness. I don’t know what kind of role-model they make, but they are the kind of people I want to read about – and maybe in the end, an author’s responsibility doesn’t lie in writing a book that is devoid of anything that might possibly be problematic, but in the way they react when it comes up. That of course, is something I can only speculate on, maybe the future will tell.
I haven’t been posting a lot here recently. I have been dealing with some issues in my life that always make me want to hide. Lorrie showed me a comic just now that basically illustrated how we tell everybody when we physically hurt ourselves but when we have mental issues, we hide it. I hide. Crawl into a little corner and wait for those moments where I can put a bright smile on my face and be the person people expect me to be.
I have anxiety issues, and they have been getting worse over the last year. My job — teaching English — hasn’t exactly been helping. Apparently exposure therapy isn’t for me, and I seem to have done so much hiding that I got depressed and everything just swept over me like a wave that swallowed me whole.
I am writing this, not to garner sympathy — but because feel guilty for hiding it, for perpetuating a stigma that just isn’t in keeping with the times. I know better. So here it is. I have anxiety issues and I am taking anti-depressants.
I am not a great blogger — honestly, I think being a writer of stories and a blogger are two very different skill sets and I admire those who write good blogs a lot. But I’m working on an idea for a YA novel that incorporates a lot of my experiences with anxiety, HSP, introversion and depression. It sounds like a terribly un-fun read but it’s also something I am somehow yearning to write with every fibre of my being.
Something made me smile today, though. I passed the 40k benchmark in the Lakeside sequel and I realized that was pretty much exactly where I wanted to be at the beginning of March. And I thought I had been slacking! On top of that I wrote a few short-stories and have been collaborating with Lorrie on a contemporary romance that is also totalling at about 30k right now. I am always quick to disparage myself but that really isn’t bad for two months in which I also had a lot of other stuff on my plate. So, I’m going to be proud of that today. One step at a time.