This one’s going to be a bit more phoned in than my usual big clip show (I’m literally drafting this on my phone, AsAMatterOfFact 😅). I’m feeling a bit drained this week and, honestly, I just haven’t been in the mood to plan my usual holiday blog party.
So I’m approaching this instead as a kind of bookish journal entry/year-end mood tracker. A gratitude/grievance list, if you like. It’ll be fun, I promise!
TW: brief discussion of depression, anxiety, existential insecurity of a clinical magnitude.
I really hate roller coasters. Physically, metaphorically, existentially…they suck. No offense to any adrenaline stans out there, but I can’t stand the breakneck turns, the sudden drops, the highs that never last long enough.
And I’ve never even been on a full-sized model. Log flume rides are bad enough, tyvm.
What I’m saying is: it’s been a whimsical year. Whimsical in a Tim Burton way. Tim Burton by way of Edgar Allan Poe designing a roller coaster.
Things that went well
- I became a contributing writer for Angélique Jamail’s zine, Sonic Chihuahua!
- I finished the first draft of my queer Selkie adventure/semi-romance!
- I did a ton of super whimsical (in a fun way) performance art by which I mean #MermaidTikTok videos (link in sidebar)!
- I learned to skateboard and took up the ukulele!
- I had a ton of support from my family and my writers’ group. You guys are awesomazing!
Things that sucked
- I had to stop working again because of the severe depression/OCD/panic attacks/etc/etc.
- I still don’t know why the whole Day Job thing is so excruciatingly hard for me. Even interviews are triggering panic attacks.
- I’m not going to get into all the sociopolitical/environmental madness ever lurking in the shadows of all our brains, but…it hasn’t not sucked. I absolutely still stand by my celebratory post from November of last year, but politics is still politics. It could be way worse…but it still sucks.
- Other assorted personal pratfalls.
Reading that helped
- Together Forever, by Cameron Dokey. A very 90stalgic teen paperback romance about a girl who tries to base her romantic decisions on astrological compatibility.
- BUST Magazine. A really upbeat, inclusive, encouraging, radical-in-a-non-toxic-way feminist quarterly. Learn about modern riot grrls, non-problematic tropical bars, #VanLife, and what it was really like being a back-up dancer in the “Blurred Lines” music video (hint: as wildly uncomfortable as you think it would be).
- Sonic Chihuahua (I’m totally not biased 😉). An analog blog-in-print by Angélique Jamail of Sappho’s Torque. She talks vampire novels, surreally bad B&Bs, why she will never buy an heirloom turkey again, why you should totally try rainbow trout, and why heavy metalists are just the nicest and raddest and you should totally check out her cousin Vali’s band (Black Market Tragedy).
- Big Gay Ice Cream, by Douglas Quint and Bryan Petroff. An ice-cream-truck-owning power couple presents their weirdest recipes in yearbook form. With a Foreward by Anthony Bourdain.
- Paperback Crush, by Gabrielle Moss. I’m going to have to do a full review of this one, because it’s a freaking nostalgic extravaganza of an ode to the 80s/90s mass-market teen paperback. If you’re like me, you will feel validated AF for your “trashy” reading habits.
- Black Water Sister, by Zen Cho. Good girl goes badass to help a not-so-ancient goddess get revenge on a mob boss, self-actualizes in the process. A fabulous example of feminist godpunk horror (see my October posts for more thrillingly weird sub-genres).
- Babysitters Club Super Mystery #2: Babysitters Beware — I mean, who doesn’t love some good, clean babysitting horror? No one dies, friendship wins, and cookies are Slammers. Did I mention how wonderfully 90stalgic this year has been?
- Sweet Valley University Thriller Edition #16: Killer Party. Who knew I’d be adding “Y2K psychological thriller” to my bizarre mixed-genre list? Tentatively expect a New Year’s Eve (or earlier!) review because this book was bonkers in the most bizarrely, amazingly 90stalgic way.
Reading that didn’t (the DNF report)
Written in the Stars, by Alexandria Bellefleur. I thought this was going to be a fun bookend to my teen paperback romance post (another astrological love story!) , but I ended up DNF’ing it because of the extremely inappropriate behavior of the brother/business partner who sets the protagonists up by gaslighting his sister into dating situations she keeps clearly saying no to, and then babbling to his business partner about her own private life while she’s on a brunch date with her mom.
It’s not cute. It’s not endearing. It’s just creepy AF. And it’s a real pity because the protagonists do have some cute chemistry. I just don’t want to see them ultimately thanking the guy who thinks his sister’s and colleague’s love lives are ANY of his business. For a book that’s about cosmic destiny, it doesn’t seem to trust that the love interests could’ve met in a less traumatizingly inappropriate way.
That said, I am still planning to try Bellefleur’s latest sapphic romance (due out in February), Count Your Lucky Stars, about long-lost best friends who reunite and reignite after a seemingly epic romance fail. And who knows, maybe I’ll come back around to Written in the Stars. Maybe it’ll convince me that True Love can overcome a bad set-up and maybe Darcy and Elle will help each other stand up to their respective overbearing families.
Side Note: to the book’s credit, I absolutely love that Elle’s mother, while she’s a total snob who doesn’t see the value of Elle’s unconventional accomplishments, seems absolutely on board with her daughter’s bisexuality. The story has enough intriguing (and infuriating) conflicts without needing to make its antagonists bigoted as well.
New Year’s Intentions
I like this idea from the December/January Girls Life: skip the overly narrow goals and judgmental resolutions. Focus on general things you want to accomplish with no set deadline or value. Things you can celebrate in small increments, at whatever pace works best for you.
- More analog creativity — oh, I’m still going to make Tiktoks & Instagrams, but I want to follow creativity expert Austin Kleon’s advice and destress/recharge through offline art. The ukulele, for instance. Maybe I’ll try scrapbook journaling. Maybe I’ll pull out my mini Buddha Board and not take pictures of my creations. Maybe I’ll make some super organic forest art like Dawn and Claudia in season 1 of the BSC Netflix show. We’ll see!
- Keep doing my Tsundoku Challenge — reading the books I already own that I haven’t gotten around to yet. Or at least start them; I have a lot of anthologies that are best read at a leisurely pace. Maybe I’ll do some I-read-[insert percentage]-of-the-book! posts like with the So Fey collection.
What about you, Bookwyrms? How are you caring for yourselves this week? What are some of your New Year’s intentions? Anything you want to vent about?
A very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all! May your tables be comfortably full and your free time be refreshingly unproductive!