The Habitation of the Blessed (A Dirge for Prester John, #1)The Habi­ta­tion of the Blessed by Cath­erynne M. Valente

My rat­ing: 5 of 5 stars

Gor­geous. A beau­ti­ful mythos, inter­est­ing and com­pelling nar­ra­tive. The book is filled with won­der and joy. Through the lyric prose, Valente shares with the reader her obvi­ous love of lan­guage, phi­los­o­phy, his­tory, the­ol­ogy, and mythol­ogy. Inter­twined sto­ries of Pen­tex­ore, a land of cre­ativ­ity, humor, love, sen­su­al­ity, and immor­tal­ity, con­trast with an ascetic mind­set. It’s chal­leng­ing and lay­ered, and writ­ing this review freshly after read­ing it is dif­fi­cult because I want to give the book its due but I’m still in awe and joy at what I just read.

Some peo­ple will prob­a­bly dis­like this story intensely. It’s not for peo­ple with lit­tle patience for poetic, lyric lan­guage, or for those who don’t enjoy trippy, dream-sequence style cre­ativ­ity. If you like direct, to the point, straight­for­ward plots, be warned. This book mean­ders and dal­lies and teases the reader, play­fully invit­ing you to sus­pend your dis­be­lief to an extreme. It’s not for skim­ming, either; even though it’s a short read, it’s not a quick one because your whole atten­tion needs to be focused to truly get the most out of this book.

The story and ref­er­ences will make much more sense to some­one famil­iar with Chris­tian­ity. I did a fair amount of research on the crea­tures in the book as I read, but I think any­one could roll with the descrip­tions in the story and be fine with­out that. Valente does a fine job of fill­ing in those details you don’t under­stand, but it does help to have some of that knowl­edge, and might serve to frus­trate those who don’t want to wait.

I enjoyed it so much. I can’t wait to read more.



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Dun­can and I had a blast help­ing with this. Ian Cun­ning­ham is an awe­some per­son and tal­ent, and we’re proud to sup­port him and our city. We’re at roughly 3:15 or so, and a few other times here and there. It was filmed on Inter­na­tional Hap­pi­ness Day, and will be a mem­ory we’ll always have. “Happy” was just start­ing to get on my nerves, too. This renewed my love of the tune.

We’re at Rail­road Park. Lots of friends par­tic­i­pated in this film. It makes me happy.

 

Can some­one tell me how I’m sup­posed to gen­uinely reduce stress while still being alive?

I mean, I get it, feel­ing like I am always about to either pass out or hyped up enough to sky­dive a gen­uine health issue. I com­pletely con­cede that I need to slow the eff down, chill out, all of those things.

But seri­ously and truly — how am I sup­posed to just dial it down when life keeps on tick­ing away with its myr­iad messes? Tak­ing deep breaths and mak­ing sure I go to bed on time is great and all, until your granny cries about how your kids are going to hell because they aren’t going to a church build­ing with a Church of Christ sign on the door over the one-day Thanks­giv­ing that you drove 6 hours round trip for, and the cat goes miss­ing twice in 4 days? And plus run around deliv­er­ing green­ery for Boy Scouts and cook­ing sup­per and ghost­writ­ing a book and just even remem­ber­ing to feed myself. Hon­estly, some of that wouldn’t be that bad except it’s an exam­ple of even taking-it-easy life being stress­ful. The cat and granny — how do I just NOT CARE? Or, not Not Care, but take it in stride I guess? How do I drink anti-stress tea until I just sud­denly have this happy zen que sera, sera attitude?

I just don’t have any freak­ing CLUE how to do it. I yoga and twinge some­thing or start berat­ing myself. I even try to not rumi­nate on stu­pid crap and the Spousal Unit picks up on the fact that I was think­ing some­thing stress­ful and then I get to hash it out, out­loud. I have talked to him, and he’s try­ing to help, I’m just SAYING. I can’t freak­ing seem to get a damn grip on anything.

And watch the smug ass lit­tle cat traipse in here and my heart lift com­pletely and it’ll be alright. Except it’s not.

I am read­ing books. I’m alter­ing my chem­istry. I am doing every­thing I know how to do and then some. I am nap­ping. Sleep­ing in. Eat­ing like a starved per­son. It’s got to get bet­ter some­time. I just can’t hardly deal or think or any­thing lately.

I feel so very frus­trated. Is it just me?

 

Tired of Being TiredTired of Being Tired by Jesse Lynn Han­ley

My rat­ing: 4 of 5 stars

This book is chal­leng­ing, par­tic­u­larly to some­one who qual­i­fies by all her met­rics as a Dri­ven Per­fec­tion­ist. How­ever, it’s what I needed to read right now.

Some of the review­ers have said that this book is basic com­mon sense, but I beg to dif­fer. These “small changes” are not small at all, they’re enor­mous and dif­fi­cult shifts in think­ing for me. I’m adren­a­line addicted (I could have told you this before the book) and LOVE pres­sure. I set up projects specif­i­cally antic­i­pat­ing the time crunch, late nights, caf­feine and exhil­a­ra­tion of mak­ing it by dead­line. I started read­ing this book at the same time I decided to do a huge project (NaNoW­riMo) and real­ized I was doing it again, despite my lip ser­vice to cut­ting back on stress. I’ve got to acknowl­edge I’m in recovery.

The “10 Sim­ple Solu­tions” aren’t sim­ple, espe­cially for some­one who has reached the “Burned Out” stage. The authors under­stand what they’re ask­ing is going against the very nature of the peo­ple they’re writ­ing to, thank­fully. The book encour­ages us to imple­ment what we can. In the past two weeks, I’ve been eat­ing like crazy, while cut­ting out cof­fee and any­thing else stim­u­lat­ing. I’ve slept in when I could, and gone to bed by 10:30 most nights. I have been tak­ing naps or at least spend­ing 30 min­utes med­i­tat­ing every day. This may sound relax­ing and enjoy­able to some, but to me, it’s TORTURE. On top of all that I need to chillax about the fact that it’s tor­tur­ous and just relax and enjoy it. I sus­pect the same is true of any­one who truly needs this book. It’s more than chang­ing diet and activ­ity. It’s exam­in­ing your very way of life. It HURTS to read that with all of your efforts to be the best you pos­si­ble, you’re actu­ally tear­ing your­self down. Just be pre­pared for that sting when you look at your­self from this perspective.

The sup­ple­ment chap­ter is espe­cially com­pli­cated, and it is partly out­dated already. Also, I’m sup­posed to cut back on work hours, but some­how find the $$ for all of this? Sure, okay. Some of the sug­ges­tions aren’t read­ily avail­able. The book is fairly repet­i­tive and talks down to the reader some­times (I wasn’t fond of the pro­nun­ci­a­tion guides, espe­cially), but these are minor quib­bles. On the whole, a need­ful book for me.



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This week­end is my high school’s 20 year reunion, and I’m not going.

Yep. That’s how I feel.

The irony is that I’m prob­a­bly the rea­son they’re going to have a reunion in the first place. For a long time, I thought my class had a 10 year reunion and just didn’t invite me. I asked around on Face­book about any plans, and I was assured that we just didn’t have a 10 year because class lead­er­ship flaked. Part of me really wants to believe that, but the way peo­ple have treated me dur­ing plan­ning makes me think that maybe she’s just being nice.

I loved school, but the social side of it always sucked for me. I didn’t have a con­cen­tra­tion camp or star­va­tion child­hood, but it wasn’t great either. I hate going back to that town in gen­eral. Too many mem­o­ries. I spent most of this week in a very dark place, think­ing about my brother and lots of painful stuff that I tried to block out but just kept loop­ing in my head. That might be the tip­ping point, because this week I just don’t know that I’d be good com­pany hav­ing to go back to that ter­ri­ble town.

I was the class Vale­dic­to­rian, and hated and vil­i­fied the way nerds some­times are. I was socially and phys­i­cally bul­lied from Kinder­garten through 12th Grade. I didn’t go to prom because I wasn’t allowed. I drove by in my Lit­tle Caesar’s uni­form to say hey to my friends in their pretty dresses and pine for the one chance I’d have to wear a for­mal gown to a spiffy party. (Wed­dings don’t count, and I never have and prob­a­bly never will get to wear a for­mal gown any­where ever.) I had very lit­tle free­dom before I was 16, and since I skipped a grade, that was really only a year of hav­ing any kind of abil­ity to social­ize even remotely, not that any­one but my boyfriend ever wanted me around.

I know for a fact (because it’s been hinted at in not very sub­tle fash­ion) that there are a few peo­ple can’t wait to see me and gloat over what a fail­ure I am. I’m so not a fail­ure, but I am also not about that Romy and Michelle crap, either. I have a good friend who felt it imper­a­tive that she be the “hottest” per­son at her reunion, and I think that’s a typ­i­cal reac­tion to these types of events and I’m try­ing to cut stress and tox­i­c­ity out of my life. I have very lit­tle rela­tion­ship with most of these peo­ple, and don’t really want to try and recre­ate con­nec­tions that I’m pretty sure never existed. I’ve already blocked quite a few on Face­book due to some real nastiness.

Maybe all of this sounds like Poor Me, but I really don’t feel sorry for myself at all. I did have some friends, but most of them in Band, and not in my grade. (If it were a Band reunion, I’d be there in a heart­beat.) There are a few peo­ple from my class I’d really like to see, but mostly those peo­ple aren’t going, either.

Maybe it sounds bit­ter. That is prob­a­bly closer to accu­rate, but I don’t get peo­ple who want to relive those days. If school was your life’s glory time, then I really feel like you might be liv­ing life wrong. Or maybe I’m just unkind and high school can be a won­der­ful place and John Hughes’ The Break­fast Club is actu­ally a good movie.

On Sat­ur­day, I’m going to enjoy a much bet­ter option. I won’t sit at home and mope or rumi­nate about how I made the wrong choice. I’m going to an Inklings meet­ing with peo­ple I do know and love, and maybe some peo­ple I don’t know yet, but even there, we’ll be talk­ing about top­ics I relate to (lit­er­a­ture, gam­ing, par­ent­ing, music, sci­ence!) rather than dick-sizing about who is most suc­cess­ful. Plus, I really loved The Lies of Locke Lam­ora and can’t wait to talk to other peo­ple who did, too!