i'm darkness and light, bubbles and faerie wings. i am sparkles and glitter, shadows and clouds. i love purple, and faeries, and books, and music.

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Ginny Moon [book review]

Ginny Moon by Benjamin LudqigGinny Moon
by Benjamin Ludwig

Meet Ginny. She’s fourteen, autistic, and has a heart-breaking secret…

Ginny Moon is trying to make sense of a world that just doesn’t seem to add up. After years in foster care, Ginny is in her fourth forever family, finally with parents who will love her. Everyone tells her that she should feel happy, but she has never stopped crafting her Big Secret Plan of Escape.

Because something happened, a long time ago – something that only Ginny knows – and nothing will stop her going back to put it right… (goodreads.com)

I read this book over a month ago. I finished it in two evenings. I asked at work if calling in sick to finish the book would be a legitimate sick call. After all, I do work in a bookstore. Shouldn’t we get reading days? heh

I have been wanting to write about Ginny Moon since I finished it, but I couldn’t. This novel left me so breathless and in a state of, I don’t know, frozen in place sort of thing. It was an amazing book. I fell completely in love with Ginny’s voice as she told her story. I was turning pages like my life depended on reading this book to stay alive. I laughed. I was scared at times. I didn’t know who to trust. I switched between loving, and disliking, Ginny so often, but in the end, I always came back to love.

I first found out about this book because we had an announcement in the staff room at work – Staff Pick of the Month is Ginny Moon. The title alone resonated with me. Was it a name? A place? I have an instant interest in books with names like Gemma., Ginny, G-names, in the title. And the word “moon”. I love the moon. And then a few weeks later the book showed up in-store. The book has deckled pages (the ripped-looking edges of the paper.) The cover is a bright, bold reddish-orange. It called to me. I picked up the book to read the inside flap and…three sentences into the summary I knew I was buying it on my break. That night I started reading. The rest, as they say, I just told you about at the start of this post!

I knew that physically the book connected with me. I was beyond thrilled when a couple of pages into the first chapter I knew that the story itself was going to consume me. Ginny is 14 years old, and has autism. Her voice is so crisp and unique in the telling of her story. I don’t think I have ever experienced a novel with narration like Ginny’s. There is a never-ending sense of urgency in her voice. She’s a rather unreliable narrator and I didn’t know how to take her actions at all. Sometimes I felt she was sincere, other times I found her sinister. Either way, I was completely hypnotized by every word of dialogue in this novel.

Ginny’s story is full of emotion and I could feel her desperation myself. The story left me breathless and humming. My body was shaking at the end and I can’t think of the last time a novel effected me nearly as strongly as this one did. The day after I finished the book I was telling coworkers about it, and some customers overheard. I showed them the book I was talking so animatedly about and was covered in goosebumps as I explained the story. One month later I STILL get goosebumps talking about the book. It took me over 3 weeks to be able to read anything else.

I haven’t been able to put words to my physical reaction to this story, which is why it’s taken me over a month to write about it. Even now, my post doesn’t do the story justice.

Ginny is such a delight to get to know, even with the roller coaster of emotions she creates in the story. You want her to be happy, and loved, and safe. You want to know her. I least I do.

I loved everything about this novel. Everything.

Well, except for one thing: I didn’t love that it was over when I turned the last page.  I almost started to re-read it right away except that it was late and I was half-asleep. But I will read it again – after I get it back from the second person I have lent it to in the past moth.

This is a fiction novel – a debut! – but if you are mostly a YA reader, I would still suggest it as something you should pick up. There is swearing of course, but Ginny is such a rich, crisp, unique character that you need to get to know her. And this book reads like a suspense novel, but it’s not really. But it is sort of. And it’s so full of emotion – happy, sad, angry, scared, relief.

 

Disclaimer: Not gonna lie. In the six months I have been working at the bookstore, this is the first Staff Pick I have ever really been interested in, or bought. Sure there have been others that I have contemplated perhaps trying, but in the end never picked up the books. I’d have gravitated to Ginny Moon as soon as I saw it whether or not it was the company’s staff pick. Once I started reading it I felt like a tuning fork had just been rung inside me. I vibrated, hummed. My love, and passion about, this book has nothing to do with the staff pick sticker on the front in my store. It’s 100% pure and genuine. I bought this book. I didn’t borrow it from work, or the library. I bought it and I shall cherish it as part of my personal library until the end of time.

coffee, sweet

I didn’t always drink coffee. I have never really cared for coffee. When I worked at the university bookstore, I’d have coffee during really busy, stressful times. People around me knew to avoid me when I was having coffee because I only drank it when I was in a bad mood.

Coffee isn’t a soothing, happy drink. If I want to be soothed, and happy, I’ll drink tea.

Anyhow, the last 10 years, I have become a regular coffee drinker. I used to have to drown the coffee in cream and sugar to cover the taste. And then I started dropping the sugar, and finally the cream. I have been drinking black coffee for a while. Every morning. Who am I? Eh, we all evolve. I happened to evolve into a coffee drinker.

But coffee is bitter, and I really only drank it because I was in a bitter mood. Well, at least to keep myself in a sort of stressed, on edge state, I guess.

But lately black coffee has been…wrong. I wasn’t drinking the cup I’d pour. And this past week I have started taking my coffee with cream and sugar again.

And that reminds me of my grandparents. I have vivid memories of them drinking coffee at McDonald’s. I used to get to drink those little cream cups that came with the coffee. I’d get to stir the coffee with that tall, skinny, brown plastic spoon with the M on top, and then I could put the spoon in my mouth. It was sweet, and bitter. It was creamy. It was a little bit of rebellious adventure since we weren’t allowed coffee as children. Really, I only started drinking coffee in my late-20s. Mostly in my 30s.

I don’t know why springtime always makes me miss my grandparents. It’s partly memories of how my grandmother loved the blooming lilacs and peonies. It could be because it’s the time of year that my aunt, grandfather, and grandgrandmother all passed away (May, June, and April). It’s ten years this month that my aunt passed away. Nine for my grandfather, and eight for my grandmother.

And something this week is tugging at my memories, and emotions, and I have these vivid memories of stirring coffee in styrofoam cups (oh, the 80s) at McDonald’s and getting to taste the sweet, creamy coffee on the tip of that stir-stick. And I feel… content? Nostalgic? Happy?

Happiness might be the closest. I am happy right now. I don’t feel stressed, or bitter, or anxious. I am in a very good place in my head, and I’m comforted by the memories of my grandparents, and their coffee. I don’t remember who had the sweet coffee – my grandmother? My grandfather didn’t like sweet stuff very much. I just remember getting to stir the coffee, and loving those little skinny stir-stick-spoons at McD’s.

I’m still not at the tea-in-the-morning stage, but I have started taking my coffee sweet. And as I drink it, I remember. I feel calm.

On a side note: I miss the pirate ship seats that McD’s used to have when I was a kid. It was the best getting to eat on a ship in the middle of a restaurant!

happy life

If I have learned any lessons in my life, the one I have really held on to has been this:

You need to be happy in life.

The last four years have certainly cemented this lesson into my brain. Life is too short to settle for something that makes you unhappy. And life is too short, and important, to worry about what others might think about your happiness.

The handful of you who might still read this blog have known me for a while. Heck, this blog was started 11 years ago, and I have been blogging for 14 years. You know I am easily amused, I am very emotional, I love colour and magical whimsical things. It’s almost impossible for me to hide that I am amused by something.

It’s who I am.

I have my dark, negative moments. But in public? Around people? At work? I am bubbles. I joke. I emote. I can be loud, I can be snarky. But I love to make people happy. That makes me happy.

After my trauma thing, I started surrounding myself with colour. My cubicle at work had a space cleared, and christened “My Happy Place”.

The little plushies, and figurines I had in that space were a rainbow of colour and happiness. I needed it. The office itself was all grey, black, and white. Besides my wardrobe and hair, nothing much else was colourful. Everything around me seemed dark. And that was difficult to work with.

I started filling my house with colour. My craft room was created. It’s full of things that make me happy.

For years my favourite colour has been purple. I have always hated the colours orange and yellow. And then I noticed I kept migrating towards things that were bright, and sunshiny. I would pick yellow over another colour when I would pick up an article of clothing. What? But it was a happy feeling that came over me as I looked at all the colours.

When I am not passionate about something, or not happy, I wilt. I fizzle out. And finally, I knew I needed to change something. So I took that scary step and quit my job.

Living a happy life isn’t a life of easy decisions. It’s extremely not easy to quit a stable, secure job and venture off into the unknown. I was certain I was crazy and having some sort of breakdown.

At my current job? Happiness is surround sound. I love what I am doing, where I work, and the people I spend my days with. I love all the new books, and products, and kids things. Someone commented one day, “you really enjoy everything about life, don’t you?” when I was super happy about a kid’s sunhat that we received. (And I wore. And then I bought. Because I am me.)

And it made me think.

Yes. Yes I do enjoy everything about my life. Not that I enjoy everything IN my life. There are frustrations, and there is sadness, and there are many things that are not enjoyable. But I do make sure to enjoy things about my life. I enjoy finding JOY around me. I enjoy joy. I enjoy celebrating what makes me happy.

And this? Even when things are doom and gloom, means that in a little way I always have a piece of sunshine with me because I can find joy in little things. Small things. Big things.

I am enchanted by kid’s novels, and toys, and items.

I am surrounded by love of family, and truly amazing friends.

Spending time with those people makes me so happy I feel like my heart might burst.

I enjoy being in love with my husband. And spending time together making each other laugh. We laugh a lot.

I love to laugh.

I love things that make me laugh.

I enjoy silly things. I enjoy strange things. I enjoy simple things.

I enjoy putting things on my head. That’s been something I’ve done since I was knee-high to a grasshopper. Bows, hats, bags, ears, you name it. I like it on my head.

I enjoy sparkly shoes, and sparkly sunglasses. Heck, if it’s got glitter in any way, I will have to own it.

I love watching my animals do silly, and strange things.

It’s not easy to find something to make you happy every day, but I make sure I do. I don’t try, I just leave myself open to it. I am sacrificing things like financial security (in a way), and a full-time job with tons of vacation, so I can be truly 100% happy in a job I chose, instead of a job I was only settling for.

Sometimes you have to change things up, make scary decisions, and hold your breath while you jump into the unknown because you know that you need to be happy. If you’re not happy, then you’re not really going to be living your life. You’re mostly just going to ride along as a passenger. And that’s not the best thing for everyone. When you’re happy, others will be happy around you. It’s contagious.

But it’s not easy. It’s scary. But I think it’s worth every second of fear of the unknown (trust me, years of panic attacks and anxiety have kept me from so many decisions that I would have preferred to have made). I did this. I chose happiness. I chose to live a life that makes ME happy. This from a girl whose parents were convinced would never move out of her bedroom in their house.

I am happy. Being happy can require courage to choose that happiness. Find your courage, find your happiness. Don’t worry if people don’t get it. Many think I am insane to have left the job I left and chose to work in retail. Many think it’s a step backwards, and not an important job like the one I left. Pffft. Jobs are jobs. Why work in one you aren’t enjoying because people think it’s important? No thank you. That’s not for me.

I am happy where I am right now. I am happy with who I am again. I love making other people happy. Happy, happy, happy. Life.

the healing power of a bookstore

Hey, you know what? It’s the 27th of March today. And, like, I knew it was the 27th of March today because I know I’m working on the 27th, but I didn’t realize it was MARCH 27.

As in traumaversary March 27th. (Warning: not a happy post in that link.)

As in PTSD issues March 27th.

Until I thought of the date and then did a mental double-take when I realized what day it was.

Normally I am hyper-aware of when this date is about to arrive. I have many sleepless nights, nightmares when I DO sleep, random panic attacks, and more leading up to the end of March. It’s been the norm for the past 3 years.

And yet, I really have not thought about this at all. And today, when I realized what day it was… I have had no reaction.

Maybe tonight, now that I am thinking about it (but not obsessively thinking about it!) I might have a nightmare or something. But to be honest, I feel so calm, and NORMAL that I don’t feel like that will happen at all.

Because I removed myself from so much that reminded me of the trauma. I am no longer downtown. I am no longer walking to the office I was walking to when it happened. I am in a job that keeps my brain busy, my body busy, and my mood HAPPY. So, so happy.

The trauma was always in the back of my mind for so long. Even outside of the last week of March. It was always there. I was always looking up. I’m still very cautious about my surroundings, but I’m not thinking about being cautious all the time. I know it’s become part of my every day routine and reactions, but I am not thinking about WHY.

Because this job has healed so much of what was broken within me. This job has brought me back so much joy. And I no longer feel lost. I no longer feel like I don’t know who I am anymore.

I have found myself again, and it’s not all because of working at the bookstore, but that’s been a huge part of the reason. Quitting my job, starting back in retail (books!), was such a terrifying change to make, but the more I think about it, the more I confirm that this was one of the best decisions I have ever made.

Because today is March 27, and I am not afraid of it.

i blinked and suddenly it was march

Woah. Hey, there internet! How have you been? Long time no speak. Goodness. It wasn’t my intention to vanish into thin air for two full months. Yikes. Unlike the past few blog-lags, this time wasn’t due to any sort of sadness/depression/anxiety. I was away mostly because I am busy all the time, and offline much more than I used to be. (Granted, it doesn’t seem that way if you look at my Instagram feed, but you don’t have to browse the net in order to post photos on it!)

So, what’s new?

My job: still loving every second of it. To the point that I was sad I could not work two days one week because I had a fever with my horrible head cold. As of starting to write this post, I still can’t taste anything. Or breathe through my nose. Ugh. I do love working part-time, though financially full-time is what I need to be doing. I didn’t realize how much I missed shift work. I like having time during different parts of the day to do stuff. I especially love having mornings free to wake up, lounge about, and get stuff done. I have worked on a few events with the Kid’s team at work and those events made me SO happy.

Me: I turned 41 in January. I didn’t even blog about it. WHAT?! But it’s true. I am a little annoyed at myself for not posting something because I know I will eventually look back on my blog to find the post I didn’t write. But… I have cautious optimism about my 40s. I celebrated my birthday at a trampoline park with some of my best friends and their families. That was so much fun! I feel like I have my life together on an upswing. The changes I have made in my life in the last year have been for the better and are making me ME again. And happy. And healthy(er). (Ignoring the cold I got from playing with children. heh) If anything, I now want to do TOO much, I have all this energy that I want to channel into so many things – crafting, exercising, reading, cleaning, working. I need to find a decent balance so I can do all of the things I want to do and still have time to regenerate. I am anxious for the warmer weather so I can open up the windows and sit outside on my deck swing again.

FLOOFS: In February the humans in this house officially became outnumbered by the furry, four-legged creatures who live with us. We were adopted by a cat. It’s a long story, but the short version is: Yoshi loved her, he protected her when she was being sexually assaulted by a feral tom cat, and one day she just followed Yoshi into the house when I let the dogs in. She’s been with us for 3 1/2 weeks now, and she’s wonderful. Welcome, Abigail. We now live in a FLOOFmenagerie.

So, I’m here. I’m happy. I’m busy. And I need to remember to blog more!