Tuesday, April 24, 2012

All Alone in the Universe

All Alone in the Universe  by Lynne Rae Perkins
Weight: 3 oz
Method of Disposal: Leaving somewhere

I have no idea where this book came from.  I never read it as a young adult.  The pages have yellowed and given it the look of a much older book.  I picked it off the shelves this morning and read/finished it while in the bath tub.  I thought it was a pretty good book for a child or maybe a young teenager.  It does not offer the magic adults can get wrapped up in like many children books, but the value of it is clear.

It is about a girl whose closest friend develops a relationship with another girl and the slow fade of their own friendship, which is extremely painful for her.  This seems like something we all go through when we are young, and I am sure some of us go through as adults.  It is particularly pertinent when you are young though.  Like your first love, it is hard to believe that you could care about someone as much as your best friend ever again and yet you do, repeatedly, throughout your life.  There are friends you keep forever, but as an adult you recognize the dynamic must change as you grow.  I suppose that is how you can maintain relationships in a way you might not have been able to as a younger person.  

I remember my best friend Amanda across the street.  I also remember when I met Noelle , years later, down the road.  The drama that ensued around the triad is only something youth can create.  I am still close friends with Noelle all these decades later, and Amanda and I still write each other letters and sometimes send packages.   Oddly enough, Amanda grew up to be remarkably similar and Noelle and I are incredibly different.   It was not until  much much later I realized that they were never very close to each other, though I loved them both.  They both had to tell me.

The author in this book has found a way to tap into youthful feelings and fears, while also offering valuable ways of coping without being over the top and recognizing that just telling someone not be jealous is not a productive way of dealing with jealousy.  I could recognize young me in almost every young character, and I could recognize my young friends too.  Good job, Lynne Rae Perkins.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?

Why Be Happy When You Could be Normal?  By Jeanette Winterson
Weight: 10 oz
Method of Disposal: Giving to Tracy

A volunteer at the shelter offered to have this book shipped to me from the UK, her home.  I always get Winterson’s books shipped from overseas because it takes a year for them to come out in the United States.  She worked some kind of magic though.  It is usually very expensive, but not this year. 

I was so excited for its arrival, and I devoured it once I had it in my hands.  I was smitten.  I wanted to reclaim any other Winterson book I might have stupidly let go.  I wanted to herd them all together and put them somewhere safe.  I tried to give up this biography as soon as I finished it so that I could write about it, but I could not do it.  I was too attached.  I am not sure that I am making the right decision now.  It makes me nervous, but it is going to a good person who will enjoy it and then pass it on in the way that it should be.  How many people will read it that would not have before?

As always with Winterson, the writing was beautiful and the heart could not be denied.  The life she unraveled for us was unusual, meaningful, and when all put together, beautiful, bittersweet.  I appreciated her willingness to share so much with so many of us.  So much hard stuff.  Thank you, Jeanette, for always writing with all of you.  At least, it feels that way when you are reading it.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


Larabee  by Kevin Luthardt
Weight: 13 oz
Method of Disposal: Gave to my niece, Isabella

Larabee did come to me as an adult.  It was just too perfect to be passed up.  I loved animals as a young girl (are you surprised?), and I was brought to the zoo many times.  My father would let me ride piggy back and at the end of the trip my brother and I would always get a rainbow snow cone.  I loved the flamingos when you first walked in and the peacocks that roamed about.  In Atlanta, we had the gorilla, Willie B. who I called Willie The Bee for far longer than I probably should have.    I could not hear it any other way.

One day, my family took in a stray Australian shepherd.  My mother asked me what I would like to name the dog, and I wanted to name her Laura the Bee, also known as Laurabee.  I wanted her to be named after me and my favorite primate.  Was that so much to ask?  My mother refused, though she did it while laughing, and proclaimed that the dog would be called Dottie.  She WAS speckled.   Anywho, I saw this book while walking around the bookstore with my mother as an adult, and we could not resist.

Larabee, the dog in the book, also loves mail and letters.  The USPS might be a little bit of an obsession of mine.  Just sayin’.

I saw my niece today, and I know how much she loves dogs and all sorts of animals so I passed it on to her.  She flipped through it in the car on our drive to the park, where we made friends with a little girl who had her own motorized car, listened to and saw squirrels eating nuts in the trees, and meandered around a beautiful garden touching blue concrete owls.  All and all a lovely day, don’t you think?

**I am no longer a fan of zoos, as a general rule.  I do not believe animals should be kept in captivity unless they are rescued and unable to be rehabilitated.  Then, I believe they should be in dedicated and well-run sanctuaries.**

Friday, April 6, 2012


Endometriosis: The Complete Reference for Taking Charge of Your Health
by Mary Lou Ballweg and the Endometriosis Association
Weight: 2 lbs
Method of Disposal: Putting in a Better World Books bin

That last blog post took a lot more out of me than I intended or even realized until the next day.  It seemed so simple and obvious.  I like the post but, if I could go back in time, I would not have written it.  My body and what we so often refer to as “heart” are reeling.  I feel unstable.  I do not know where I begin and how this ends.  I am not sure what happened because of what I wrote and what happened for other reasons.  

I am on progesterone for my PCOS.  I know now that I go into severe depressions when I am about to start my period, but I did not know that for years because I never had regular periods and had no way to make the connection.  I am hoping that this will end in 4 days.  That is when I can stop taking the pills for this month.  I take them the first ten days of every month so that they will control the cysts on my ovaries.  I am learning to keep myself in check, remind myself that I don’t always feel this way, remember that it will end again, and that if I just endure it life gets so much better.  SO MUCH better.  How can I swing from being afraid of death to not caring about any kind of self-preservation every single month?  It happens so fast and is so strange to me.

I have been on so many forms of birth control for so many years.  I liked the patch because I felt like I was advertising and validating taking control of my sexuality, despite the fact that I was a lesbian using it to control my body.  I liked the Nuva Ring because it was so easy, and I did not experience a lot of obvious negative side effects.  I hated Depro Provera because it changed everything and wrecked my body.  I had trouble taking the pills (several different brands)at the right times and consistently so ran into all sorts of problems.  It has been an adventure, but I was ready to try something other than birth control.  I was always taken off the bc for some reason or another, usually depression.  I had a terrible gynecologist who once told me to suck it up, life was hard, deal with the depression.  At the time, I was severely suicidal.  I was going through a bad break up and recovering from rape.  I was more afraid of myself than the cancer I might get if I was not on hormones.  Now, I am in a different place, and I do think it might be time to suck it up and deal.  If it really only lasts a few days or a week.  It is too soon to know, but I am hopeful that this is the case.

I do know one thing now.  I know that I do not have Endometriosis, something that was suggested by a gynecologist when I was 16.  That is why I have this book, which I bought years later when I was in college.  I am sure there is someone else out there that can use it more than me.  I am not sure how to get it to them, but I am sure Better World will find someone on the interwebs who wants it.

**In other news, the lumps I was concerned about are going away and the doctor thinks there is nothing to worry about.  Holler**

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Recovering From Rape

Recovering From Rape  by Linda E. Ledray, R.N., PH. D
Weight: 11.2 oz
Method of Disposal: Donating

It is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and I hope we will all take a little bit of time at some point this month to think about rape prevention, the consequences of living in a rape culture, and all the people we know who have endured.  I am not writing about prison rape much in this blog entry, but I would like to bring some attention to how serious this has become in the United States.  Please take the time to check out this website and support this group : www.justdetention.org.  We cannot continue to ignore or make jokes about the abuse that is suffered in our prisons.
This is how rape seems to me, as someone who has been raped and sexually assaulted on more than one occasion.   Someone who experienced this with a friend and from a stranger.  Someone who has never experienced rape as a hate crime or in a time of war.  Someone with a support system (now) and a deep understanding of rape that existed before, during, and after my encounters.    I think what I am trying to say is that I felt very prepared to handle rape, though I never have learned how to.  In theory, in thought, in my mind I understand it and deal with it.  In my body, my emotions, and my insecurities there it lies.  Rape has become insidious.

I move on.  I move forward.  I return to life and continue onward.  I am over it and it is over.  If you really think about it, it was not the worst thing that has ever happened.  It was terrible, but there are other terrible things.  I was lucky.  I am alive, there was no real damage, no pregnancy or disease, no long trials.  I am completely fine…and then my mind takes a turn.  I walk around the wrong bend and there he is rubbing his penis through his basketball shorts and asking me how much I cost.  It does not dominate my life, but it is always lingering backstage and when it makes an appearance it can knock me to my knees.  I really just don’t know when it will happen or what will happen until I catch myself reacting, as if I am out of my body, watching some other person struggle with some new question or concern.  

It happens, sometimes, when I watch a movie, and I see a woman struggling underneath a man.  I get a pain in my gut and it grows and envelopes me.  It happens on the anniversary of the day I was raped by a total stranger named Mark. Or is that just the name he gave me?   I was raped in March of 2007.  I went to the emergency room days later on March 22nd.  So close to Sexual Assault Awareness Day.  So close to my dearest friend’s day of birth.  So close to right now.  It happens when someone makes a bad, off-handed joke about rape.  I am racked with anger, guilt over my anger, embarrassment that I’m so angry, angry that I am so embarrassed, furious that they don’t understand that it is not funny.  It happens when an old friend calls me into question or acts condescending.  Why didn’t you call the police?  Why would they believe me if YOU don’t?  It happens when I wear tennis shoes.  Every.  Single.  Time. I wear tennis shoes I hear him saying, “You look like a little girl in those shoes.”  I feel his stubble rubbing my cheek raw.  Sometimes it happens after too many beers.  It happens when I have sex with someone for the first, second, third, or one hundredth time.  I feel like I can never have sex without him somehow coming into the room.  That is one of the most frustrating things I have ever encountered.  It makes me feel inadequate, unattractive, and unable to relate.  Sex used to be my favorite activity, it is where I had some of my most happy and bonded moments.  Now, it is full of doubt, fear, and distraction—but I still want it.  I cannot stop trying.  It happens all the time, and that is the truly terrible thing about rape.  For me.  No matter how “over it” I am.  No matter how far I get away from it, rape spreads and leaks into my ordinary everyday life.  It rears up when I am not expecting it to.  It introduces insecurity into my safe places.  It embarrasses me in front of my friends.  It makes me feel weak when I remember having been strong.  It makes me question things I never questioned.  That is what rape is like to me, 5 years later.

Let’s do something preventative for Sexual Assault Awareness Month.  You cannot erase what has been done, but you can stop it from happening.  Check out www.ihollaback.org and stand up for other people experiencing sexual harassment/violence.  Tell people it is fucked up when they blame someone who has been assaulted.  Tell people not to make jokes.  It isn’t worth it.  Tell the street harassers that what they are doing is wrong.  Don’t leave someone alone when you see them being made uncomfortable.  Talk to people about consent.  A lot.  Think about what consent means to you and how you use it in your life.  Know that it is far more than just saying “no.”  Support your local rape crisis center.  Listen to your friends and family.  Allow yourself to grieve and to feel pain.  Allow yourself to feel frustrated.