Group Book Review

What’s up nerds?!

ERMYGERD IT’S FALLLLLLLL!!!

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I mean… it’s the midwest so it could be 90 fucking degrees tomorrow… but at this particular moment in time, it is fall.

Fall is happiness. It’s my favorite season. The only downside to fall is that it is followed by winter. But during fall not even that can bring me down because all I can see is the nice part of winter with Thanksgiving and cocoa and Christmas and playing with my nephews and niece. Fall is snuggle weather. Sweater weather. And I have a LOT of sweaters.

So I love Fall.

I love the crisp in the air that makes me want to wear a comfy sweatshirt but doesn’t yet bite my face off.

I love the ‘curl up with a mug of hot coffee and a blanket and a cat and journal about my FEELINGS’ feeling.

I love the way the world is suddenly the color of my hair.

And the smell of back to school supplies. Even though I no longer go back to school, I get to live vicariously through the teens in my library. New notebooks and sharp pencils and new pens and markers.

Fall makes me nostalgic. It makes me long for lazy, endless, college days smoking (don’t smoke kids!) out on Bill’s apartment balcony at night and dreaming about the future. It feels like football games (which I attended for the marching band and the beer letsberuhl) and stomping leaves. It feels like new beginnings and endless possibilities.

Fall feels like a new year. Way more than New Years ever did.

And I get to wear my sexy leather jacket that makes me feel like a total badass.

I look a lot like this. But with more red hair and without those weird goggle things.

I look a lot like this. But with more red hair and without those weird goggle things.

Anyway.

I’m a commuter now, I commute. To a Job. On a train. And thus I have been reading A LOT lately. And all this Back to School stuff has made me realize how remiss I’ve been in reviewing those books and they keep stacking up and stressing me out and like… why? I do what I want.

So I’mma review a whole bunch of them here in shorter form than usual but with equally as much wit and charm I assure you. I’ve also been reading a higher than average number of queer books. Because obviously. And these three just happen to all be queer books. Which is even better.

Stay tuned for another round up review coming soon.

Guardian Guardian by Alex London is the sequel to his book Proxy which was so bloody amazing I literally suggest it to everyone I meet. I’m like… hey, you like to read at all? *shoves book down throat.* But Proxy left us cliffhanging with the world basically imploding as all the data was erased and Syd was still alive. Guardian shows us the crazy shit that followed. I love books that show how revolution, history teaches us, is pretty much only guaranteed to breed more revolution, and that while drastic change is sometimes necessary, the clean up is pretty awful. Thousands of people are dying. The people in charge are arguably just as corrupt as the last batch. They are regularly annoyed by Syd’s teenageryness but he’s the reason they were able to erase the debt in the first place. We follow Syd as the Powers that Be want him to be a mascot but not actually have any opinions, catch up with Marie who learns that just maybe things aren’t as black and white as she thought, and meet Liam who is an all around badass with a big ol’ crush on Syd. So I’m a fan. And have I mentioned that Syd is gay and black? 4.5 Stars on this one. Read it. Now.

everything leads to you Everything Leads to You by Nina Lacour is the most ADORABLE lesbian love story. Emi is a film buff and working part time in sets on films. She stumbles on this letter that leads her to Ava who is the granddaughter of a John Wayne esque fictional film star recently deceased because PLOT. Ava comes from a messy past and Emi is trying to get over GIRL and of course they end up IN LOVE because book. It’s your favorite romantic comedy in novel form. In LA. With lesbians and movies and coming of age angst. I love the sweetness of the story. Coming out stories are important, but equally important are love stories that reflect the lives of us ladies who love ladies. Yes there is a certain amount of suspending of disblief, but LaCour caught that essence of what it is to be just graduated and trying to find your way in life. When you still believe in true love and the world holds all the possibilities. Emi’s BFF is equally awesome and the surrounding cast enjoyable. Did you like Stephanie Perkins “Anna and the French Kiss” books? This is just as lovely. But gay. (In the best of all possible meanings of the word.)  4 Stars.

far from youFar From You by Tess Sharpe was like a kick in the stomach … in a good way. Sophie is just getting back from rehab because her parents think she had a drug relapse, but she didn’t. She was set up by the murderer of her BFFE Mina. So Sophie tries to uncover the mystery. Who killed Mina and why. But the REAL story is Sophie and Mina. BFFs +. Plus FEELINGS that is. We slowly learn that Sophie and Mina were completely in love. But homophobia. That’s the real story. And it’s beautiful and amazing and she described everything I felt for the girl I loved growing up, except that Mina loved Sophie back. This book made me cry my freaking face off (though, admittedly that’s not the rarest thing in the world) in the best of ways. It’s one of those books where you look up from the last page and everyone around you is just carrying on and you’re like DON’T YOU UNDERSTAND THAT SOPHIE LOVED MINA AND NOTHING WILL EVER BE THE SAME? Add to this awesomeness that Sophie is legit bisexual which is sadly lacking in literature, and also disabled which again is super hard to find. So like, yay for diverse representation!!!! ALSO it’s a really good window into drug addiction as well as everything else going on, and Sophie has a great aunt that I wish would have hung around longer. 4.5 stars. Put it at the top of your to read list. For Realz.

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Why I don’t have internet at home

**I want to preface this by stating that I know the importance of regular access to internet for living in this modernize world. The digital divide is real and is a major problem and if I had a magic wand I would FIX THAT SHIT immediately. I am NOT saying that home internet access is a luxury for EVERYONE. For many, and especially for the working class and poor that can’t get access to the internet other places, home internet access is a NECESSITY. The point I am making is that I discovered that home internet access is not something I need to survive. Me, personally, and not anyone else. But that maybe others in a similar situation to mine don’t need it as much as they think they do.**

Now, don’t get me wrong.

I am a big fan of living in a world where I can google questions like “how big are Monopoly squares” and learn the answer immediately.

I am a big fan of paying minimal amounts of money for access to huge amounts of entertainment.

Oh, and there’s that other thing…

(you know)

But after moving into my new apartment and being in between paychecks and not having the money for all those start up costs and so just going without having high speed internet at home for a while… I discovered

I kind of like not having internet in my apartment.

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INORITE?!!

Here’s the thing.

I spend between 2-6 hours a day sitting at a computer, depending on what day it is, how busy we are and how much non-computery stuff I have to do. And even then I have a lot of flexibility. So I can check Facebook every hour or so.  I can spend a while in the morning reading articles.  I can watch an episode of something over my lunch break.

(I will reiterate that I am aware how fortunate I am that this is the case. When I was waiting tables I had no time to do anything but run shit all over that damn restaurant. I am very lucky now.)

And when I have days off (because again I am fortunate to have days off) I can walk a few blocks to my local public library branch, or to the neighborhood cafe if I’m feeling fancy, and sit and watch OITNB or pay my bills through a handy bill payer thing on my bank website so it takes 3 minutes, or download books on my ereader or WHATEVER while I sip my white chocolate mocha with whipped cream (because, seriously if you’re going to get a drink that is pure calories and caffeine at least COMMIT to it amirite?).

And I have an iPhone (another luxury, I know) and so if I have the IRRESISTIBLE URGE at 3am to know why that witness on NCIS that I’m rewatching on the DVD’s I own bc I have a huge crush on Pauley Perrette  looks so familiar, I can IMDB it on my phone and satisfy my curiosity.

And I can check twitter to keep up with the latest time warp fuckery that is currently consuming our nation. (Seriously, did I accidentally get sent back to 1945?)

AND I’m not in school anymore and therefore don’t have homework. It’s impossible to do school without internet access anymore. For anyone. I swear Pre-Schoolers have online requirements.

So what am I really missing out on by not having internet in my apartment?

  1. A tiny bit of convenience
  2. A continuous stream of television

Seriously. That’s it.

For me. That’s it.

And it’s amazing the shit you can get done when you don’t spend 18 hours a day watching netflix and scrolling down tumblr and watching stupid Youtube videos or reading articles that you know will make you mad but what the fuck else do you have to do and the urge to click is just SO DAMN STRONG.

Seriously. It’s amazing.

I make my bed. I do yoga videos. (mental note, buy new yoga video.) I cook actual meals. I even occasionally BAKE y’all.

WHO THE FUCK AM I??

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It’s crazy! I have all this time!

I read even more books than I used to. I started working on a cross stitch project I hadn’t touched in years. I’m learning more about photography. I take walks in the park. I

I just got a book on fonts from the library.

My journal and I are getting reacquainted.

And I’m starting to run again.

It’s amazing. Seriously. I had no idea how much time I spent falling down the rabbit hole of the internet until I had to go without it.

Now instead of getting sucked into clicking on everything, I walk into the library/coffee shop with a list of things I need to do: pay bills, order that book, google this question, email so and so. And when it’s done I go home. I’m much more focused now when I’m online, instead of jumping from one thing to another. (Unless it’s slow at work and I have 20 tabs open like right now)

Yeah sometimes I feel like I miss things, but if I don’t remember it the next day to look at it IT’S PROBABLY NOT THAT IMPORTANT!!!

So that’s #1.

And as for #2, it turns out that not having endless access to television is good for me. Emotionally. Spiritually. Grammatically.

Seriously.

Maybe this sounds like the weirdest thing ever, but when I watch a show for too long it really alters my mental state. Especially dramas– which is what I tend to watch most. I go to this melancholy ‘what does it all mean’ ‘nothing means anything’ ‘everything is SO DRAMATIC’ place and it can take me a while to snap out of it. When I get into a show I will ignore the entire rest of the world, and not in a ‘that’s kind of quirky’ way, in a ‘seriously kind of unhealthy way.’

I’m not saying tv is bad. I love tv. I am saying that I am a happier, more mentally stable person when I have limitations on my tv consumption. I am bad at limiting myself. I am bad at actually turning it off after 5 hours and going and doing something else. So only being able to watch 1 episode a few times during the week over my lunch break is good for me.

I have to DECIDE to watch a movie and what movie I want to watch, which is actually kind of refreshing alternative to the vastness of indecision I usually feel. And if I decide that I don’t to watch any movie enough to go down to the Redbox and get it, then I decide to do something else instead of spending 5 hours online looking for a movie to watch.

And instead of spending 2 hours finding that perfect gif I spend 20 minutes and CALL IT GOOD.

It’s this making a decision thing that is the biggest change. Instead of just taking the first thing that pops up on my screen I make conscious choices about how I spend my time.

The other thing is that being away from social media is actually really good for me. I love me some social media. I find it useful and interesting and amazing the way it connects people. But I can only be angry at the state of the world for so long before I just have to go gather some rosebuds while I may. I can only take so many reminders of the rape culture/patriarchy that we live in, so many frustrations at social injustice, so many voices tweeting in my ear before I have to get away and clear my head and remember that not EVERYTHING is going to hell in an actual handbasket.

Sometimes you gotta disconnect, y’all.

When I tell people that I am choosing not to have internet at home they look at me like

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It’s actually a relief.

Turn off your internet, friends.

There IS life, it turns out, outside your apartment.

Go experience some of it.

 

 

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Teens and Tough Love

I had to kick out my first teen last week (well, my first in this particular job). And not just for the day. From the Teen Space, pretty much forever. He’s allowed in the rest of the library and he can come in and check out books quickly and then leave, but he can’t hang out in the space during Teen hours and he can’t check out any of our equipment.

Because he stole something from us.

He actually stole something from a different YOUmedia site, but after two days of emails between myself and the other YOUmedia staff we concluded that since we are a network, consequences should be enforced network wide. And we don’t want kids to think that they can steal something from one site and then just start going to another with no consequences. It’s a privilege to have the tech we do and it needs to be treated accordingly. We need them to get that, and the vast majority of them do with no problems. But this one thought he could take advantage of us, and that just doesn’t fly.

I know it’s the right thing to do. But still, it was hard to sit down and tell him this.

Because he is, in general, a pretty good kid. He clearly has some issues going on at home. He’s super needy, and not good at interacting with other teens. And part of me wanted to give him a second chance. I want the teens to always know I have their back. But in this case, having his back meant making sure he understands that actions come with consequences.

And what made it harder was sitting him down and confronting him, watching him continue to try to lie to me. He didn’t get volatile, or violent or anything. But he kept lying to my face, even though I had proof of the truth. I can enforce rules and consequences, but I can’t make him learn that owning up to our mistakes is the best thing we can do. Some people never learn that… too many. I hope he isn’t one of them.

I work in an area where crime is almost a given, a way of life. These kids face violence, dodge gang recruiters, deal with home situations that I can barely imagine. And they’re teens, so they think they’re invincible.

Sometimes it’s my job to give second chances. To be understanding. To be forgiving. But sometimes its my job to say “this is the line, and when you cross it there are consequences you can’t talk your way out of.” Hopefully he won’t steal things anymore. Hopefully he’ll learn his lesson. Hopefully this behavior won’t escalate.

Hopefully.

The hardest part about my job, the hardest part about working with teens, is letting them make their own mistakes and learn their own lessons. Better here, now, with me than somewhere and when with life altering repercussions. The hardest part is knowing why they do what they do and not being able to pour what I’ve learned into their heads. They have to learn it themselves.

My favorite Dumbledore quote is from The Order of the Pheonix, “Youth cannot know how age thinks and feels. But old men are guilty if they forget what it was to be young.”

It’s because I understand, because I remember that I chose tp work with teens.

But that doesn’t always make it easy.

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A New Journey Begins

I haven’t written much about my professional life since graduating Library School because it’s been pretty fucking depressing. It took me 6 months to find a  very part time job as a Library Associate– a position for which I was over qualified and underpaid. But I had to take something… anything so I accepted it and got a second job waiting tables to pay the bills… mostly. I am extraordinarily lucky that I have parents who financially supported me during the last year with no questions asked, no guilt trips given, only love and empathy. Not everyone is as lucky as I. I worked hard, I kept my eye on other positions. I kept applying.

And I am happy to announce (a little after the fact)

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I’ve recently started my new position as a YOUmedia Teen Librarian with Chicago Public Library.

It’s basically the best thing ever.

We are focused on building skills in digital media and digital literacy with the teens. I have a boatload of kick ass technology (macbooks, vinyl cutter, PlayStation 4, video camera, music and photo and video editing software) and professional support from above.

And I’m living in the city I want to live in. And have friends. And health benefits.

I have an office, y’all.

I HAVE AN OFFICE!!!

So I’m kind of having a “is this real life?” moment here.

I started this blog with no clear goal in mind of what I wanted it to be. I just wanted to put my thoughts out there and see if anyone noticed or cared. But now that I have a much clearer picture of my future, I have a much clearer picture of what I want for this blog.

So I’ll be writing more about libraries, library issues and in particular teen librarianship. In particular being a teen librarian in an urban library. A big sprawling urban library. Because… well… that’s where I work now. I’ll be sharing some insight into what I do as a YOUmedia librarian and as a Teen Librarian which are the same but different in that all the YOUmedias are teen focused, but not all teen focused library activities are part of YOUmedia. (It’s a square/rectangle type thing). As well as continuing with the book reviews. I now have a long commute, so I have plenty of time to read.

I’ll also be writing occasionally about my journey learning how to adult. I don’t feel like I remotely have my shit together but I’m taking steps. I have a new shelf full of cookbooks and financial planning books. I bought a mattress topper and a nice set of sheets. I’m learning not to put cheese on everything I eat.

I’m also, as always, navigating a heterocentric world as a queer person, which presents its own challenges. Already I am facing dilemmas about how open about my personal life to be with my teens. I want them to know that I’m gay without having to make a big deal about it. It’s a delicate balance I think I will always be learning.

I’d also like to make this blog more interactive, so if you have questions or things you’d like me to write about please feel free to leave them in comments or contact me directly and I’ll do what I can!

Glad to be starting this new chapter of my life, and thanks to everyone who is coming along with me.

Today is a great day to be alive!

 

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Book Review: Shadowplay by Laura Lam

Shadow-Play-

Title: Shadow play

Author: Laura Lam

Published: January 7th 2014 by Strange Chemistry, 400 pages

Series: The Micah Grey Series Book 2

Recommended if you like: fantasy, steampunk, LGBTQ characters, magic shows,

Rating: 5 out of 5 Glowing Penglass Domes

Mini Review: I do magic now. Magic is cool.

**Warning: Spoilers for the end of Pantomime**

Summary

The circus lies behind Micah Grey in dust and ashes.

He and the white clown, Drystan, take refuge with the once-great magician, Jasper Maske. When Maske agrees to teach them his trade, his embittered rival challenges them to a duel that will decide all of their fates. People also hunt both Micah and the person he was before the circus—the runaway daughter of a noble family. And Micah discovers there is magic and power in the world, far beyond the card tricks and illusions he’s perfecting.

A tale of phantom wings, a clockwork hand and the delicate unfurling of new love, Shadowplay continues Micah’s journey and produces more questions than answers.

The Good

The performance aspect shifts in this book from the circus to the magic show. As we learned about life in a circus and experienced the thrills of performing along with Micah in Pantomime, now we see the inner workings of the life of a magician. We learn about the art of misdirection, the importance of performance in the execution of illusion. It’s a glimpse behind the curtain of glamor and mystery. In the midst of a fantasy world we don’t fully understand Lam gives us a smaller, magical, one that is far more accessible. Somehow by including performance magic in a world full of what seems increasingly like real magic, it makes Micah’s growing abilities seem even more fantastic.

As we go, we continue to learn more about the politics at work in this world and find that there is unrest and rebellion growing among the lower class. We see through Micah’s sheltered eyes as he comes to see their point of view, and as he’s exposed to the racism that discriminates against foreigners like Cyan, the young woman hired to be an assistant in the magic shows who quickly becomes entangled in the larger elements of the plot. The conflicts are enough of an echo of our own to hit home, but there is never a feeling of “DO YOU SEE THIS ANALOGY I’M MAKING HERE” which always drives me nuts.

The Great

Micah and Drystan have clearly been attracted to each other for quite a while, but here we get to see them fall in love. Lam does a fantastic job of differentiating their relationship from Micah’s feelings for Aenea, but not making any judgments about ether being more or less, better or worse. Every relationship is different. For Micah there are simply a few extra elements at play. We get to know Drystan better and learn more of his past. He has a dark side to him and I love characters with gritty history. He loves Micah not as either a male or a female, but completely for who Micah is. And that is 100% awesome.

Micah also has an almost-encounter with his mother when she attends a séance they perform. Micah’s role is behind the scenes and so he doesn’t come face to face with her, but to be so close to her brings up his very real and complicated feelings. I love how when she could easily be painted as a villain, Lam continues to show her as a real person with complex emotions, motivations and responses. I suspect we all have complicated relationships with our mothers, and seeing that struggle reflected in Shadowplay made me love it all the more.

The Completely Awesome

I. Love. This. World.

I love the history. I love the mystery. I love not really knowing who to trust. Is Dr. Pozzi a good guy or a bad guy? And what about Anisa—the Phantom Damselfly? She clearly has her own agenda and has no problem manipulating Micah and Cyan in its pursuit. Why can Micah make the Penglass glow? How are Cyan’s abilities linked to Vestige?

WHAT IS GOING ON!!!

I love books that make me ask questions. Books that keep me guessing. I’m not sure how long this series is going to be, but Lam is clearly sowing seeds to be reaped later, slowly revealing pieces of the mystery that don’t seem to fit together. There is a very fine line between keeping the reader guessing to motivate her to turn the pages and confusing the reader so much that she gives up. It’s a very fine line and Lam walks it beautifully. This world feels both utterly familiar and totally new.

In Shadowplay we learn much more about the history of the world, the pattern of the struggle that seems to be repeating itself. (Maybe? We still aren’t really sure.) It seems more and more children are being born with “birth defects” but are they really chimaera somehow returning to the world? There are so many layers to the mystery. We learn about the past along with Micah and as he gains an understanding of the politics surrounding him we also begin to see the web of hidden agendas and secret knowledge among the people in the government and medical community.

Conclusion

Seriously one of my new favorite series. It is clear that the whole series was planned out and little things are planted through out both the first two books that will (omg they BETTER!) come to fruition by the end. Wonderful intrigue and outstanding character development in a world I want to visit.

The ending once again had me screaming for the next book but apparently Lam hasn’t finished writing it yet (RUDE!) so we have to wait.

Basically

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no one needs to know

Book Review: No One Needs to Know by Amanda Grace

no one needs to knowTitle: No One Needs to Know

Author: Amanda Grace

Expected publication: September 8th 2014 by Flux, 240 pages

Recommended if you like: Sarah Dessen, LGBTQ stories, twins, realistic fiction, non traditional love triangles

Rating: 3.75 out of 5 smuggled xanax pills

Mini Review: Sometimes the cliché of opposites attracting has more to do with differences in socioeconomic structure than in attitude, life goals or gender.

ARC provided through Netgalley

Summary

Olivia and her twin brother Joey have been BFFs their whole life. Their rich parents have never spent much time with them, and now that they’re old enough, they’ve been left basically alone in a fancy condo with an ocean view. They’ve only ever had each other (and a lot of money), and that’s always been enough. But now they’re juniors in high school and Olivia can feel Joey pulling away from her. New interests, new friends… they don’t seem to have anything in common anymore.

Until  Zoey.

Zoey is the girl from the other side of the tracks. She attends Olivia’s private all girls high school on scholarship and is mercilessly bullied by Olivia’s best friend. When the two girls are partnered together on a project, Zoey finds herself spending time with Olivia… and with Joey. Olivia doesn’t expect it to last—Joey’s flings never do—but just as Joey admits to deeper feelings for Zoey, Olivia starts to realize how much she cares for Zoey as well. Olivia must decide whose happiness is more important: her brother’s or her own.

The Good

Lesbians!! Who doesn’t like queer women falling in adorable love amirite? This is a good example of a coming out novel that’s not a coming out novel. The main conflict arises from Olivia’s not wanting to hurt her brother, not from self-loathing or angst about being queer. In fact there is almost no discussion of labels at all. Zoey and Olivia simply find themselves falling in love. And while we certainly need stories that explore the “coming out” journey because those stories are still TOTALLY RELEVANT it is also nice to see books where falling for a girl isn’t that big a deal.

Olivia’s best friend Ava is a bitch and it takes her a while, but Olivia finally stands up to her. How many of us – beautiful, smart, talented people—spent high school feeling like we weren’t quite worthy to hang out with someone in our friend circle? How many of us kept our mouth shut when our BFF said something mean about someone else? How many of us have had to break up with a toxic friend? Watching Olivia finally say “enough is enough” was super gratifying for the seventeen year old girl inside me who was too afraid to do that in high school.

The Great

This book does an excellent job of showing the stark divide between the haves and the have nots. Olivia has a new car; Zoey works double shifts at the local fast food joint to help her mom pay rent. Olivia has a beautiful condo; Zoey lives in a small, run down rental house. Also Zoey’s mom works hard. Yes its important to have books that spotlight the poor where drugs and/or abuse play a factor because it is so common (read Eleanor & Park if you haven’t for a brilliant example) but I love the presentation of life where there doesn’t have to be drug addiction or an abusive step-father in order for the poor family to be poor. They’re simply poor due to all the myriad of factors that make a significant portion of our country’s population poor. And they’re all honestly working as hard as they can to make better lives for themselves but ITS SO DAMN HARD.

Olivia isn’t inherently greedy or mean spirited, it’s just never occurred to her that not everyone has what she has. And because she’s a teenager that is not entirely her fault. The key thing about Olivia is that when it does occur to her that life has dealt her and Zoey different cards she starts to unpack her privilege rather than getting angry and defensive. I mean she does get a little defensive, but she gets over it.

Okay, I realize I’ve barely talked about the main plot of the story which is the love triangle when Olivia and Joey both fall for the same girl, but honestly that – while well written—was less interesting to me than the social justice stuff surrounding it… cuz I’m like that. But I will say that I loved Joey’s reaction when he finds out about Olivia and Joey. He’s not mad or shocked or betrayed. He doesn’t feel like less of a man because Zoey picked his sister over him. He’s just like “I love you and I want you to be happy and if you’ll be happy with her than… dude… go for it.”

The Mildly Trite

There is a bit of the cliché of the poor little rich girl whose parents don’t understand her, and while I am sure it is based in fact I feel this could have been handled more complexly. The thing that ALWAYS gets me is the epilogue where the couple is still together 2 years later. Moving into an apartment together and going to the same college. I know that a teen reader wants to imagine that happening and I know that optimistically happy endings are here for a reason I know I know I know. But seriously almost NO ONE stayed with their high school Significant Other. And that’s REALLY OKAY!! We grow and change as people. The end of high school isn’t the end of the journey– it’s just the beginning. I get it, that’s another book and stories have to have an ending I get it I really do. But that doesn’t stop me from rolling my eyes.

Conclusion

A good read and a good addition to the slowly growing collection of LGBTQ literature. I’d recommend it to any teen looking for a romancey book.

server problems

18 Ways to Make Your Restaurant Server Seriously Contemplate Spitting in your Food

As someone who up until very recently worked as a restaurant server to supplement my PT library job, I can honestly say that I’ve seen pretty much the worst humanity has to offer.

So if you want to be the world’s biggest D-bag, here are some handy tips.

  1. Demand that your party of 11 people be seated immediately even though only 2 of those people have arrived and you have no idea when the other 9 will show up.  Make sure that the rest of the party show up no more than 2 at a time in 15-20 min increments. Each time a new person shows up be vocally irritated that your server doesn’t appear within 2.5 seconds. Periodically order appetizers while you’re waiting. Order half the entrees at one point and the other half a hour later once the rest of the party has finally showed up. Your server has nothing better to do than make 27 trips to your table and has no problem with you camping out in their big top for the entire night.
  2. When your server introduces his/her/their self, cut them off and/or talk over them. It’s not like they’re a human with a name or anything.
  3. Never say please. Or thank you. Obviously.
  4. If you have children with you, let them push their chair in and out while your server is walking by and run around the restaurant. Then get super pissed when anyone else comments that your kids should really stay in their seat.
  5. Everyone on the table should be on their phone or tablet. Don’t look at your server when speaking. Alternately, be talking on the phone when your server approaches and then get super annoyed that they are interrupting your conversation.
  6. Order water first. Then about 50 seconds after you’ve ordered your food, decide you want wine. Ask for the menu back. Take 6 minutes deciding and then order a cheap Moscato because you actually don’t know anything about wine. Be vocally annoyed when your wine doesn’t immediately appear.
  7. Order coffee with your meal anywhere other than a breakfast restaurant.
  8. When provided with a free carbohydrate such as chips or breadsticks, continually ask for more and complain when you have to wait 5 seconds.
  9. Stop your server when they are walking by you with an obviously heavy tray. Have extended conversation.
  10. Never ask for more than one thing at a time. When one person asks for a different drink, wait until your server brings it to the table to ask for another bowl of soup, then wait for the server to bring it to ask for more napkins. Repeat throughout the meal.
  11. Order something without really knowing what it is. Then complain that what you got isn’t what you wanted after eating over half of it. Send it back so you can get a free meal of something different and half your bill comped because you were too lazy to read the fucking menu.
  12. Order something and then modify everything on the plate until it in no way resembles the dish described on the menu. Be really pissed it takes longer than other food.
  13. Be sure to speak to your server in the most condescending way possible. Either call them “honey” in a tone that makes their skin crawl or just snap your fingers until they notice you. When they ask you clarifying questions like “that dish is very spicy, is that okay?” reply as if they’ve just asked you “what color is the sky?” because they’ve definitely never had a guest go completely apeshit because the dish is too spicy and they just want to make sure everyone is going into this with their eyes open. They’re clearly trying to be an asshole because they want to deliberately ruin your night.
  14. Make some inappropriate comment about your server’s appearance. You’re currently in a position of power, what with the deciding how much money they’ll make off you today and that whole “the customer is always right” horse shit, so take advantage of the situation by making them as uncomfortable as possible.
  15. Ask for boxes. Watch server carefully box up your food. Leave boxes at the table.
  16. When your server tries to check in on you send all kinds of signals that you want to be LEFT ALONE, stay and talk for 30 minutes after you’re done eating, then get really pissed your server doesn’t psychically know the instant you want your check.
  17. Speaking of checks, definitely put your server in the middle of your argument about who is going to pay the bill. Each of you try to hand them a credit card and say “No take mine,” “No mine!” because that’s a total win-win situation.
  18. Choose one or more of the following:
    • Don’t tip
    • Tip 10% or lower
    • Tip exactly 15% to the cent
    • Leave a note saying you don’t believe in tipping
    • Leave a note welcoming the server to come and meet Jesus
    • Make not a single complaint during the meal and then leave no tip along with a note about how terrible the service was now that it’s too late to do anything to correct it
    • Pay in cash, ask for exact change, leave coin change the server carefully counted out for you as part of the tip

Any others you want to add?

Frenemy of the People

Book Review: Frenemy of the People by Nora Olsen

Stats

Frenemy of the PeopleTitle: Frenemy of the People

Author: Nora Olsen

First Sentences: “We didn’t meet cute. That’s the Hollywood phrase for how a couple meets for the first time in a romantic comedy. You now the kind of thing. He’s walking out of the library with a pile of books; she’s walking in with a pile of books; they bump into each other and the books go everywhere. You know, cute. It wasn’t like that with me and Clarissa. We just always hated each other.”

Publisher:  May 13, 2014 Bold Strokes Books 264 pages

Rating: 3 out of 5 Desi for Homecoming Queen Pizza Specials

* This ARC provided by Bold Strokes Books via Netgalley*

Mini Review: Great in conception, just on the better side of okay in execution

Review

I really wanted to love this book.

I did.

There are things I really like ABOUT this book, but I don’t love the actual book that much. Probably because the writing was a much lower reading level than I tend to enjoy in YA books. But while it wasn’t my cup of tea, it’s obviously important to have diverse books of all reading levels. Because– duh.

The Good

  • The concept is good. Clarissa is a goody-goody whose favorite thing is her horse Sassy, who realizes that she is bisexual and ends up falling for Lexie – a lesbian with blue hair who rages against the man and is vegan. I’d be upset that both Lexie and Clarissa are such stereotypes except I know about 15 people exactly like both of them. It’s the classic start out hating each other and end up in love story. But with queer people.
  • Clarissa is a real bisexual who isn’t a plot device and there are conversations like this:

    “I don’t trust bisexuals,” Lexie said. “If I was dating a bisexual, what would stop her from deciding to date a boy instead?”

    “I can’t believe you,” [Clarissa] said, “What’s to stop anyone from deciding to date someone else instead? Bisexual doesn’t mean sleeps around. It doesn’t mean you have to date a boy and a girl at the same time.”

    Biphobia is one of those bullshit things I just have absolutely no fucking time for. So I’m really pleased to see a bi character presented as a person who is not confused in any way.

  • Desi, Clarissa’s sister who has Down Syndrome. She’s also not used as a plot device, but as a real person who is a part of Clarissa’s life. This shouldn’t be rare or remarkable, but it is and so yay.
  • One of the subplots is Clarissa’s family’s struggle with their house going into foreclosure. With so  many teens living with this issue it seems odd to me that this is the first book I’ve read that really addresses it. It talks about the ninja loan Clarissa’s dad took out and how they got themselves in the situation of living in a house they absolutely can’t afford.
  • Little Things like Lexie reading “Ammonite” by Nicola Griffith and arguing with her teacher about the use of the word “man” to mean “human” which in light of all the #yesallwomen stuff going on seems particularly topical.

The Bad

  • Clarissa just sort of decides one day that she’s bisexual. Now I’m all for stories where the coming out is not the point. And I’m all for stories where coming out is not a long angsty drawn out process. But she just is literally like “…I think I’m bisexual. Yup. Bisexual. Cool.” And then starts announcing it to people without any kind of emotional processing. And even in the most straightforward of comings out there are feelings involved.
  • The writing. OMG y’all the writing. It’s just so simplistic. A prime example of someone who tells and doesn’t show. The dialogue is stilted and utterly without nuance. No one talks like that. No one. I recognize that 1st person narratives are tricky because they have to advance plot and describe what’s going on in the characters head when our real stream of thoughts are totally jumbled. But no one’s inner monologue goes, “it was so unfair and I was resentful and angry.” I mean… seriously. Nope.
  • Also Lexie and Clarissa say “I love you” after being together for approximately 11 seconds. Which might not bother me if it felt real, but the narrative was so stiff and unemotional I just rolled my eyes.

The Ugly

  • At one point, Lexie, Clarissa and Desi do something illegal. I had the following reaction:
    That could totally happen. Except-- no.

    That could totally happen. Except– no.

    It was just… I can’t even.

Summary

The writing is overly simplistic and a bit disconnected, but the diversity of the characters compensates, and the writing is good for teens with a lower reading level. I will highlight it as an example of a well constructed bisexual character and a disabled character who isn’t a plot device. I would recommend it to teens and order it for my library, but it’s not a title I’m going to gush about.

Faking It

In Which MTV’s “Faking It” Wins Me Over

Some Background

So a while ago  I saw a blurb about MTV’s new show called “Faking it” which was about two high school girls who get outed as a lesbian couple — except they’re not gay. But since they go to the world’s most liberal high school, being gay makes them popular and they decide to keep faking it to stay popular.

That’s as much information as I had at the time.

And I had a lot of feelings about that.

My first reaction was to agree with many I saw on the interwebz –angry that we can’t have a real live lesbian couple on tv. Angry that in a world where coming out is so hard and so dangerous for so many, that tv was basically mocking that by showing a couple who have to pretend to be gay in order to win some dumb ass popularity contest. Angry because it’s hard enough trying to convince people I’m a “real” lesbian and a show like this wouldn’t help. Angry because so many people still think you can just decide not to be gay.

But

I wanted to wait and watch it before coming to any kind of real (or public) judgment, mostly because I know that sometimes shows that are predicted to be  “controversial” have to back door their way in so they can just get the fuck onto the airwaves. “It’s not really about lesbians, it’s about fake lesbians… (except it is about real lesbians and people love it so now you have to keep it on haha we fooled you and also remember how you said no one would watch shows about queer folk well they do so there)”

And I’m really glad that I did because I FUCKING LOVE THIS SHOW!!!

If you are interested in in-depth plot summary I highly suggest reading Autostraddle’s recaps because they are rad as shit: Pilot and Episode 2.

 In which I address all your concerns that were also mine trust me

“No high school on earth is that liberal/It’s not cool to make coming out seem like an easy fun thing to do when it is so hard and unsafe for so many people”

So I had this friend in high school who transferred junior year to this school in Minneapolis, MN and he came back to visit and told us of this magical place where the leads in the fall musical were considered the coolest kids in school and it was totally hip to be in theater and no one cared about sports at all and they had a huge thriving GSA and coming out was totally supported. Seriously. This was a real place. An actual high school. And this was over ten years ago.

So– is it common? Fuck no! Is it possible? Fuck yes!

And my question to you… oh hypothetical skeptical reader… is it any less plausible than a middle of nowhere high school that goes from having no music/dance/showchoir program to winning national glee club competitions in a single year especially when none of the students in said club take voice lessons or have dance backgrounds and apparently one or several of them go on to be on broadway immediately after graduation (I guess? I totally stopped watching that train wreck of a show like 5 episodes in)?? Cuz, no it is not any less plausible. In fact it’s much more plausible.

And also– while it is important to acknowledge that yes coming out is super hard and dangerous for too many kids, isn’t it equally as important to show examples of it NOT being super hard and dangerous?! Showing situations where being gay is totally fine is really important — not just to give young gay kids hope for a happy future but also to show straight kids that they don’t have to freak the fuck out because look here these totally well adjusted (though yes yes YES they are soooooooo way too white especially in Texas there should be fucking WAY more ethnic diversity I totally cede that point absolutely get on that MTV like yesterday) kids who are cool with the queers so how about all the rest of you get on board. Cool? Cool.

Also, the show is not without coming out drama. More on that later.

“But, ew gross the whole pretending to be a lesbian to impress some guy is so lame and plays right into the patriarchy and men thinking all lesbians secretly want the D and that whole thing is just yuck.”

Okay, yeah. True. There is a huge problem with dudes thinking all lesbians were hurt or whatever and that’s why they “turned gay” (gag) and with dudes thinking that lesbians just need to find the right dick and then they’ll be straight and all the patriarchal bullshit. Yes. Truth. HUGE FUCKING PROBLEMS.

But!

Story:

When I was a teenager I was at this restaurant/bar thing with some friends (we weren’t drinking) doing karaoke and some dude offered me and my friend Kayte $20 if we would kiss.

So we did.

Because. $20.

And yeah– gross playing into the patriarchy and all that. But I had never even heard the word patriarchy at that point in my life. I didn’t know anything about fucking anything. And maybe there are girls watching this show that don’t know anything about feminism and have never taken a gender studies class and who are just misguidedly like…

i-kissed-a-girl

It’s not my fault I’ve never had the chance to deconstruct my societally programmed impulses

But after watching Amy come out and (hopefully) tell Karma how lame she is being by buying into all this shit we hate maybe  these same girls will be all…

I like girls a lot

*swoon* me too

So again, I’m not saying that pretending to be lesbians to impress some straight guy is cool in ANY WAY– I’m just saying that it happens.

And the show does a good job of pointing out how lame and gross that whole thing is. We are SUPER annoyed with Karma for using this pretend-except-not-really-pretend-but-she-doesn’t-know-that lesbian relationship with Amy to get with Liam aka mr-annoying-straight-dude to go out with her. Another character literally says “Typical man– trying to prove your virility by turning a lesbian” so we totes get the signal that dude is a prick and Karma is  being a ruhl moron trying to get with him at all.

The show says “this is a thing that happens and it’s not cool on any level for any of the players so lets just examine how dumb this shit is mmmkay?”

And I’m alright with that.

And, back to my story, I didn’t know that I would one day use words like “heteronormativity” in a sentence that day I kissed my best friend. But I did know that I really liked kissing her. I liked it a lot.  A lot more than I was supposed too (that’s for the SG fans) My memory of that event is all kind of one big haze of THE FEELZ, but when we got done kissing I’m pretty sure she was like this:

wink

This is Karma who just thinks this is a fun game that will win attention from others. She is winking to indicate her general playful and not serious attitude about this kiss that just happened.

And I’m pretty sure I was the one whose face looked like this:

whoah

This is Amy. After kissing her best friend Karma for literally 40 seconds on tv so that is a total win (suck it Glee!). She’s just realized that she is probably in love with Karma and has a lot of feelings about this. She will go on to secretly pine over Karma for at least 5 episodes. This fate could have been avoided if she had a sassy gay friend. (And by sassy I mean fantastically sapphic and into Tegan and Sara.)

My point? Basically just that the plot line is not about fake lesbians. It’s about two best friends. One of whom is straight and the other of whom is ACTUALLY a lesbian.

fantastic news

And yes tropes of the baby dyke falling for her best friend… but

SERIOUSLY WHAT BABY DYKE DIDN’T FALL IN LOVE WITH HER BEST FRIEND PLEASE TELL ME BECAUSE I DON’T KNOW IF YOU EXIST!

But why does there have to be a gimmick? Why can’t they just be lesbians?

Because stories need conflict and since the school itself is supportive and not a source of conflict (and once again can I get a HELL YEAH! to that!) there needs to be another source of conflict.

Two best friends and a weird circumstance makes one realize she is in love with the other while the not gay one spends her time trying to get with douchey dude-bro that no one likes.

That’s some pretty good conflict.

And, like I said, from the first two episodes and the previews for the rest of the season its totally clear that Amy is super gay and completely into Karma. Amy whose Mom is a total Texas Red Republican and will not be psyched to have a dyke in the house.

THIS IS A STORY LINE I CAN RELATE TO AND GET BEHIND.

I like the combo of supportive and obstacles. Because I think that is the reality for many of us. It’s not all black and white. And also it would be even more awesome if Karma could realize that she is also totally into Amy and be GENUINELY BISEXUAL or SEXUALLY FLUID because that is also completely a thing that exists and what if we could talk about it on tv!!

And I like that with Amy the signs are all there, (like her always wearing pants and not spending tons of time on her hair and for real this was me in high school)  and clearly her mom was a little worried cuz she makes a big deal about Amy having a (fake) date with a BOY to Homecoming, but that Amy is not a walking stereotype. She’s just a person. Cuz we are all people.

In episode 2 Amy comes out all proud and rebel like to her mom and it’s basically the best coming out ever in the history of ever.  And we’re all– but she’s not really coming out because she’s not totally out to herself yet, but she still came out to her mom and that is awesome so it still totally counts.

Also Shane (the male gay friend) makes fun of Glee. So that’s a win in my book.

In the interest of full disclosure– Three things I didn’t like:

  1. A super SUPER fucking ignorant ass comment that Amy makes about a deaf kid who transferred into their school the year previously and the whole school learned sign language “but then he got a coclear implant and now it’s like he was never there.” CUZ FOR REALZ THAT IS SUPER FUCKING IGNORANT MTV. They clearly don’t understand how coclear implants work and didn’t take the time to research anything about deaf culture before writing that line. I didn’t like it. I didn’t like it I DIDN’T LIKE IT. Cut that Shit Out MTV!
  2. Shane totally outs Karma and Amy and that is like something you should never do ever. You don’t know what people are going through or where they are and just announcing at a party that someone is queer is ABSOLUTELY NOT OKAY. I get that it had to go down that way as a plot point… but just so you know DON’T DO THAT
  3. Also aforementioned lack of diversity in the student body come on hello wtf?

That said. I’m looking forward to seeing where this all goes. I have high hopes.

I mean, the writers are all about satire and irony clearly since this happened:

Shane the gay bff: “This year in support of our queens, the homecoming theme is Homecoming Out, bring a same-sex date and you get in free. Everyone else, fifty bucks.”
Lauren the evil soon to be stepsister: “That’s so not fair, it’s like a heterosexual tax!”
Shane: *nods knowingly* “Feels icky, doesn’t it?”

I mean… come on. Who doesn’t love that shit?

I just hope we don’t have to wait too long before Amy starts announcing

but-im-a-cheerleader

 

I need feminism because-01

I Need Feminism Because: I Got Harassed at my Own Workplace

New column/series/type thing:

I need Feminism Because

In which I will recount stories that illustrate why feminism is still fucking important.

So today I was working at the reference desk when a young(ish) guy came over and took a long hard look at my nametag tits. Then he asked me, by name just to prove he really had been looking at my name tag, to help him find something.

So I went with him to the catalog computers, showed him how to do a search, walked him over to the DVDs and helped him find The Wire season 5 on dvd. He then launched into a long story about how he volunteers at the juvenile correction facility with the youth who are there. Clearly trying to impress me.

summerjenaniston1

I had sort of zoned out when I realized he was telling me what beautiful eyes I have. I said thanks and took a step toward the reference desk because this conversation needed to be over.

He stepped in front of me, blocking my path. And went on to say that he’d been in several times and I “always look really great and put together,” and he “really appreciates that I take such pride in my appearance.” Because Clearly I am there for him to look at and either approve or disapprove.

jennifer-lawrence-10

Except– no. I don’t dress for you, increasingly creepy dude, I dress for me. I know you think that was some kind of compliment but it wasn’t so now we’re done.

I nodded to indicate the end of the conversation and took another step to leave.

He blocked my path again and started asking if I have a boyfriend or am I married.

I should have said, “I’m not interested” and left it at that. I know this. I don’t have to justify myself or explain myself or feel bad in any way to be turning this dude down.

But that instinct to be accommodating and not create any conflict is TRAINED SO COMPLETELY INTO WOMEN IT IS REALLY HARD TO RESIST.

And he kept pressing the issue, so I played the card that I hate playing and I don’t even know why it came out of my mouth.

I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHY IT CAME OUT OF MY MOUTH.

“I’m a lesbian.”

He grinned.

1583648_orig

Gross right? He fucking GRINNED.

I turned to leave and he starts immediately backtracking. “Oh no, not like that, I was just thinking of my friend’s sister cuz she’s a lesbian and she’s really great and at first….” and he launches into this elaborate story about his friend’s sister who is a lesbian and how she wears great suits  because she’s “the man” in her relationship [insert totally separate rant here] and how her family didn’t accept her at first but they came around and he is totally cool with me being a lesbian

tumblr_lpngwl9QfP1qi97guo1_r1_500

Well THAT’S a relief

as if I should be… what… flattered? Appreciative? As if I should give him a cookie for being a decent fucking human being?

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Also as if this erases the fact that I TOTALLY KNOW WHERE HIS BRAIN WENT WHEN I SAID THE WORD LESBIAN.

And he ends the conversation as I’m just flat out walking away by saying “Well if you ever change your mind…*wink*

EXCUSE ME I HAVE TO GO SHOWER NOW!

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After my blood pressure had gone back to normal I got really frustrated with myself because I FUCKING KNOW I need to shut down those conversations. I KNOW that I don’t owe him any justification that I’m not interested in him at all. I KNOW that slowly amping up the creepy is how they get women to continue engaging because it sneaks up on you and you don’t realize he’s being a giant creepster until after he’s reached creeptastic levels. But in the moment I felt bad that I’d let it get this far..like since I didn’t totally shut him down the second he complimented my eyes I had given him permission to continue harassing me.

Even after the fact I found myself thinking… “I mean, he wasn’t that bad, I don’t need to, like, report him or anything” When ANY INTERACTION THAT MAKES ME FEEL UNCOMFORTABLE IS WORTH REPORTING. I don’t have to justify it. There isn’t some level of “it has to be this bad before you are allowed to feel uncomfortable.

I know all these things. I KNOW ALL THESE THINGS. And I still fell into the trap.

I still fell into the trap of putting his feelings above my own, of feeling like I wasn’t allowed to end the interaction. Of thinking since he complimented me that gave him permission to continue making me uncomfortable.

And THIS IS WHY I NEED FEMINISM.

Because dudes still think this kind of behavior is acceptable. And because there will be dudes who read this who think “he was just trying to pay her a compliment, jesus why does she have to get all defensive and bitchy? She should be flattered.”

centerstagewalkout

His behavior wasn’t complimentary. It was condescending. It was insulting. It was offensive.

It’s not the first time I’ve dealt with this type of thing and it won’t be the last. And that is almost the worst part. That we live in a world were women being harassed is so common that it’s considered an expected normal part of life. That the main reaction of women to a story like this is, “yeah been there.” That some dudes seriously honestly don’t understand how offensive this kind of shit is. That MOST dudes don’t understand how often women have to deal with this kind of harassment.

This is why I need feminism, bitches. This.