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.

Ramblings by Category

Ramblings by Year

The Rest of Us Just Live Here [book review]

The Rest of Us Just Live HereThe Rest of Us Just Live Here
by Patrick Ness

What if you aren’t the Chosen One? The one who’s supposed to fight the zombies, or the soul-eating ghosts, or whatever the heck this new thing is, with the blue lights and the death?

What if you’re like Mikey? Who just wants to graduate and go to prom and maybe finally work up the courage to ask Henna out before someone goes and blows up the high school. Again.

Because sometimes there are problems bigger than this week’s end of the world, and sometimes you just have to find the extraordinary in your ordinary life.

Even if your best friend is worshipped by mountain lions. (goodreads.com)

I am going to try my best to blog about the books I read this year. I miss writing about books. My course last semester on Editing for Children and Teen books, and my being back at the bookstore has made me excited for reading once more. I might not write about every book I read (and here’s hoping I read MANY in 2017!) but I want to write about those that I enjoyed.

I like starting off the year with a book that makes me happy. And I like starting the year by reading – and finishing – a book. Makes me feel all accomplished (and is a lovely way to relax!)

The Rest of Us Just Live Here is an interesting sort of book. I discovered it while showing a customer something else at work. It was on the staff pick wall and something about it hooked me. I bought it before the store closed that day because I knew I NEEDED to read it on my day off the next day. In fact, I started it New Year’s Eve, but I am pretty much dead from this flu so I didn’t manage to finish it before I needed to go to bed.

I am writing about this story because I keep thinking about it. First of all, my instinct that I needed to read this book was spot on. I devoured it. I liked it a lot. But parts also bothered me. See, the book is sort of a weird mix of YA urban fantasy and a contemporary issues (mental illness) novel. The story is about those kids who aren’t the chosen ones. The bystanders in a story about Chosen One Teens who battle and save the world from apocalypses. There is very little reference to those Chosen Ones (called “indie kids” in this book) though. The story, to me, was more about teens who had regular issues just trying to cope with life.

Mike, for instance, the protagonist has OCD, and his older sister is recovering from an eating disorder. Their father is an alcoholic and more-or-less checked out of life and family, but still living with them because their over-achieving, running for political office, mother doesn’t want to ruin the perfect family vibe. There’s a very poignant scene between Mike and his therapist towards the end of the book that made anxiety/OCD/mental illness very real, and raw. I loved the way the author describes the struggle with accepting medication to help calm anxiety and see it as a failure to be ok on your own. There are comparisons between medical and “accepted” illnesses (like diabetes, or cancer) and those not being seen as failure.

So as a story about teens dealing with Real Life things, and mental illness awareness, this was a rather good book.

Where the book lacks, in my opinion, is within the idea of it being about the kids who aren’t the paranormal saviours. Sure each chapter starts off with a paragraph about what’s going on with the Indie kids (who all have those fancy, weird names that characters in paranormal novels tend to have. I was rather amused by the five or so kids who had the name Finn. That does seem to be a popular name in those types of books. I always refer to those strange names as Soap Opera Names.) but once that little summarized Indie Kids storyline is over, it’s back to Mike and his gang of friends. His best friend, Jasper, happens to be one quarter God of cats (long story), but refuses to be an Indie kid. Other than that, and the occasional news of the death of one of the Indie kids (as they fight the impending apocalypse that we don’t really know anything about), and the random explosion of an auditorium, and the school – we don’t really have much bystander reaction to whatever else is going on that’s paranormal and/or The End of The World. I’d have liked a little more interaction between the indies and the normal kids who just want their school to not blow up before graduation.

The other part of the story that stuck out to me was Mike’s interaction with the new guy, Nathan. Mike takes an instant dislike to Nathan as he only transferred to the school six weeks before graduation and seems awfully suspicious. Much of Mike’s dislike for Nathan has to do with jealousy as the girl he’s mooned over since the dawn of time, Henna (Finnish, not an Indie Kid name!), has feelings for Nathan. But from Mike’s point of view, Nathan does seem suspicious, and could possibly be the reason for whatever battle the Chosen One kids are battling. Mike is a pretty unreliable narrator at this point and I did have to keep guessing what Nathan’s deal was. Turns out I was off by a long shot, and even though Mike’s friends are annoyed with him for always suspecting the new guy who has suddenly joined their group, I have to say I’m Team Mike on this. In a small town, where all these strange paranormal things keep happening, a new person who smoothly sails in at the same time everything (“everything” they claim is going on, of which we don’t really know about) is going on, can be a rather suspicious deal. I get where Mike’s paranoia comes from 100%. I don’t think his friends were very fair to him about his reaction because it made sense to me.

I love that my instinct about this book was on point. As a novel about mental illness and dealing with teenage issues, I think this story stood out to me. I wish the actual part about how the normal kids just want to get on with their lives and not have to worry about all the paranormal apocalyptic stuff going on was a little more present in the story though. It was certainly a very interesting way to tell a paranormal story in a short, summarized paragraph per chapter, but I wish there could have been more obvious signs that stuff was happening around the normal kids.

I am content with the first book I have read in 2017. It made me feel. It made me think. It was enjoyable to read. And I have a feeling that my bookstore job might bankrupt me. 😉

the year of lost things & found things

Every year, as the end of December closes in, I feel as though I am reaching the finish line staggering, and out of breath. The last handful of years, I see the start of a new calendar year as a refresh, sort of like clearing your browser history and cache. I have felt alone in my struggles through each year as I look around at others’ recaps. I miss the days when I used to read (and enjoy) blogs. I miss the days when friends I made through blogging used to blog. I would read their summaries of the year that ended and feel as though I was alone in having a difficult, struggling year. I gave up hope that the next (new) year would bring about more happiness, because things always just tended to pile up on top of what was already a suffocating weight on my shoulders.

However with the end of 2016 I can finally say I am not alone. I don’t know what the heck was going on, but I don’t believe anyone had a good 2016. I’m not talking about the astonishing amount of celebrity deaths (of those there were way too many), but my own friends and their personal struggles, the rest of the world and all of the horrid, awful, evil things that have been going on. Loss of innocence, and hope, and a general loss of positive anything when you look online.

I left facebook for a while. I left twitter for a while. I went back on both, but I have very limited access because I removed apps from my phone. I mostly update facebook through instagram – the one social media platform that brought me joy. Until it didn’t – when they removed chronological order for posts. I don’t get that AT all. I don’t browse it as much anymore. I just post my own photos.  I like their filters at least.

And I was struggling myself. Between all the negative in the world, and bad things happening to good people, and not being able to fix problems of others with a magic wand (I wish), I was drowning in an ocean of grey, and apathy. I was fading as a person. I was questioning everything – who I was, why I should live, why hope for anything.

And I couldn’t stomach that feeling, or those questions anymore. I knew I needed to do something. Anything. I needed to finish this story and start a new one.

And so I did.

I held my breath. I took a leap. I took a chance. And I was suddenly less lost than I was earlier in the year. And you know, using the leap/jump metaphor isn’t an easy one for me. But I needed to associate leaping off the edge of something with thoughts that were less horrific than a man jumping off a building and almost hitting me. I needed to associate taking that leap with something positive, and courageous. I quit my job because I couldn’t find ME anymore within the walls of that office, or cubicle. I have been working at the bookstore for a month now and I can’t recall when I was last happy like this.

Leaping is now about courage, and passion, and realizing dreams, and less about death and trauma and fear.

I don’t want to go into 2017 holding on to the fear that has been surrounding me the past three years. I want to start 2017 with the joy of sharing my joy with others. And this is what I found with the scary, difficult decisions I made in the fall.

I was so lost, but I refused to stay lost. In taking chances, and making life a little less comfortable financially, I found myself again and I feel as though I can finish putting the still broken parts of myself back together.

I have zero idea what 2017 will bring. I am not convinced that it will be a better year than 2016. It does have the added bonus of not being an even-numbered year. (You all know how much I do not like even numbers!) There is still so much lost out there, and I think that perhaps the world needs a little more courage to take the leaps it needs to take to be found again. Cheesy, I know. But I think more people need to focus on what can make themselves, and others, heal and find their paths, rather than settle for what is taken for granted as “well, that’s just how it is.” Life isn’t like that anymore. Life isn’t something you settle for. You need to take your leaps and find your answers. Spread happiness. Spread kindness. Spread joy. It might mean you won’t feel as lost as you thought you were.

—–

In 2016 –

I didn’t read nearly as much as I thought I would. 45/50 books in my challenge. Many of those in December were picture books, or early readers.

I quit my job.

I got a tattoo.

I decorated my Happy Planner every week since the end of June. I took an hour or two every Sunday to update the week ahead and used colours that I was feeling at the time. It was a healthy dose of crafty therapy that I desperately needed.

I went back to therapy.

I sang in a band, in front of people. It was amazing.

I blogged more than I had in the past, but still not very much. Turns out I didn’t blog at all in May.

I lost two friends too soon, who made the world spark. I could only go to one memorial.

We moved Jinx’s Garden and grew our first ever watermelons. It was nice.

I got a bird feeder and watched birds in my backyard.

I turned 40.

I realized I needed to change my life or I would drown.

I changed my life. I started a new story. I ended the year happier than I have been in a long time.

—–

Happy new year, internet. I hope it’s a better one than the one before.

My Happy Place

Find your happy place.

christmas 2016

Pookmas 2016

We certainly had snow for Christmas this year. Not like last year. And after a rather rough year, we managed to have one of the best Christmases I can think of. Stockings were full, and there were more gifts under the tree than I thought we’d have. And as always, Shawn won Christmas yet again with the best gift ever.

The Little Girl Who Lost Her Name

Every year Shawn manages to give me one gift that makes me cry, or at least tear up. He’s made me photo frames, and cards, and thoughtful gifts, but this one is hands down the one that hit my heart the hardest.

Once in a while silly little ads on social media sites work. In this case it was something Shawn saw (and I saw, too, actually only not this particular title) and thought it fit me. It fits. So well.

It’s no secret that I have been struggling since March 2013. And maybe even a little before then, but certainly since the trauma things have been a mess. As much as I have worked hard to put myself back together again, I was still feeling slightly broken, and very lost. Just the cover of this story made my breath catch. The title. The purple. The little girl with dark hair and polkadots.

Then I opened it. And the second page stopped me in my tracks.

follow the rainbow

A magic rainbow trail.

Seriously. When this entire year I have been surrounding myself with as many colours of the rainbow as I could. In a year when I felt like everything around me was grey and I was desperate for those rainbow moments. This little girl, with the lost name, found a magic rainbow trail that she had to follow.

Me.

So much me.

And on the story goes as the little girl meets random animals, and magical creatures, whom she helps with their problems, and in return they each give her a letter in hopes to help her find her name. Words like courageous, and splendid, and spellbound, are tossed around. And with each page my eyes grew even more teary.

And in the end…

I am who I am.

The girl who lost her name, finds it again and falls asleep wrapped in that magic rainbow.

And I cried. And I hugged my husband tight. And I cried. And I pick up this book and hug it every day. Because this story, this book, this gift… it was all so apt. So perfect for everything I have been going through and feeling since the start of this year.

– – – – –

Our tree wasn’t up as long as it normally is, and will come down this weekend. Our house isn’t as decorated as it has been in the past. I didn’t listen to Christmas music on repeat for a month (instead I shuffled my entire music library and had the Christmas tunes appear at random). I wasn’t feeling un-Christmassy, but I wasn’t feeling as overtly festive as I normally do. This was a quiet, and simple Christmas. I am working in retail now, and at the moment am not exhausted by it. It was nice to be out of the house during a time I’d normally be sitting on the couch dreading going back to the office once the holidays were over.

One year I’ll win Christmas with a gift that makes Shawn’s heart sing. He always outdoes me. He won with wedding vows, too. Dammit. Never thought I’d be out-sentimentaled on a continuous basis. It’s a good thing I love him. heh

full heart, sore feet

Rainbow Sparklecorn

The above photo accurately depicts how I am feeling these days. Rainbows, and stars, and magical, sparkly happiness. Me. Who I am. Who I have always been, but lost.

I have completed 7 full shifts at the bookstore and aside from sore feet (and lower back), I have never felt better. I feel like I am floating through the aisles as I wander the store and help customers, or tidy up books on the shelves. I can’t stop smiling. I am so genuinely happy that I feel like sunshine and rainbows.

I have been lucky enough to be scheduled for 40 hours a week, and during weekdays only. It’s nice to have my weekends off to see Shawn since I have been working afternoon-into-evening, and getting home way past my bed time. This coming week I’ll be working until 10pm or 11pm. I am slightly worried about exhaustion and driving in the winter, but I have been managing so far. I sleep well at night. I think I’ve only had one headache in the past 2 weeks, instead of one every day.

Even with the exhaustion of relearning how to be on my feet for 8 hours a day (and having to talk to people!), I feel as though I have so much energy to want to do things again. I read a 400+ page book from cover to cover in a day this weekend. I have shovelled snow. I feel bright and light.

I know this is a seasonal contract, and I can only hope to be offered part-time work after it’s over, if they ever need more help. But I am such a happier creature once more. I knew I wanted to do this, but it’s been like night and day the changes I feel and see in myself. I love the store. I love the books. I love the customers. Even when you get the occasional grumpy, negative client, I still take it all in with a smile. I am there because I WANT to be, not because I have to be. I am there to talk books (and other cool stuff) to people and share my joy and enjoyment of books with them. I love recommending titles to people looking for YA or MG books. I love sharing my thoughts about mysteries and fantasy novels. I am just loving every single second of this job and I am so happy to finally feel happy again. To finally feel like MYSELF again.

For the four or five of you who still read this (ha), you know how much I have been struggling the past three years. You know how lost and broken I was after the stupid jumper trauma. I just wasn’t me. I didn’t love anything about anything or myself. I was lost, I was apathetic, I was sad and scared.

But now I am feeling so much joy. So much…just right. Like things are clicking back into place. I am seeing colours and sparkles everywhere, and not only grey, colour-draining monochromatic surroundings. I feel as though the above amazing rainbow, star, unicorn onesie (the best gift ever from Monkey!) is a reflection of my soul right now. So cheesy and pathetic, yes, but true.

The decision to leave my old job was so difficult because of how it was a safety net for health benefits and money, and leaving my friends there was the hardest part. Leaving the job itself wasn’t difficult. I haven’t looked back yet, and not once have I thought I made the wrong choice. Retail isn’t easy, it’s not for everyone, and many think I am going backwards and not doing something important. To that I say – titles, and positions are just labels. Why focus on what your title is when you’re not happy with what you’re doing? Pay cuts are terrifying and difficult to work around, but not impossible, and I am so lucky to be able to choose what I want to do even though it will be a bit of a challenge to re-budget things.

I have the most patient, and supportive husband in the world. He might not get why I would want to go back to retail, but he gets that I want to be (and need to be) happy. And he knows I am happy. And we will make this work. And because of how fulfilled this bookstore job makes me feel, I feel as though we can make anything work. Always.

I’m still slightly lost in some ways, but I have found the right form of healing I needed to follow. Happy. I am so very happy. I love my new (but old) job, and I am so thankful that I found the courage to make this change.

It's possible my new job might bankrupt me

sophspirational saturday

Sophspirational Quotes by #NoSophie