Welcome to the Room…Sara

Christmas Eve, a lovely Saturday morning. It’s supposed to reach a high of seventy-seven degrees today; maybe if I get as much work done as I want to I can take the time out to clean the windows, which are, as always, filthy. I didn’t get as much done yesterday as I wanted–I’m not sure why, but every word yesterday was a struggle and a fight, like drawing blood, but I really have to get moving on this today. I think I’ll be able to get pretty far along today, and another productive day tomorrow can get me back on schedule to finish. I really don’t know why this has been such a struggle, frankly. But if I could learn why I struggle so hard to do something I love, I could rule the world.

I finished watching Season 2 of The Man in the High Castle last night (enjoyed it) and the first season of Eyewitness, which I felt was really high quality and good right up until the last two episodes, when it went off the rails and became completely unbelievable (but I applaud it for its clever plot and for making a pair of gay teens the center of the story, and showing them actually being intimate–kissing and so forth; I also think their sexuality was handled sensitively and honestly; which was really nice. Too too bad about the last two episodes, though). I also finished reading Exit Pursued by a Bear last night.

“I swear to God, Leo, if you throw one more sock, I am going to throw you in the lake myself!” I shout, knees sticking to the vinyl as I turn to face the back of the bus. The boys have claimed the back when we boarded, and since it smelled weird (well, more weird) we were happy to let them have it. I hadn’t expected a constant barrage of hosiery, though.

“Like you could, Winters,” he shouts back. The other boys hoot in laughter.

“I may be small,” I reply, “but I’m crafty.”

“Don’t I know it,” Leo leers, and the hooting devolves into outright catcalls.

I fire back with a wadded sock, barely missing Leo but managing to nail Clarence, who looks properly chastened. I glare at the rest and then turn sharply to face the front, but by the time I’m in my seat again, I’m smiling. The other girls lean in towards me, ribboned braids dropping over shoulders like the least-threatening snake pile in the world. Of course, that’s what the snakes probably want you to think.

E. K. Johnston is a phenomenally successful Canadian young adult writer–her The Story of Owen series looks quite clever (and I am adding it to my list)–and Exit Pursued by a Bear is a very good book, and not only a very good read but a thought-provoking one. The story is told from the point of view of cheerleading co-captain Hermione Winters, and she is telling the story of her senior year, beginning with the trip to cheerleading camp with her team. Unfortunately, at a camp dance one night Hermione is roofied, and she is found the next morning half-naked in the lake. The water has pretty much ruined any chance of forensic evidence, and she herself has little or no memory of what happened to her–the last thing she remembers is trying to find the recycling bin to throw away her empty cup as things start to get foggy.

The book is very well-written and compelling; Hermione’s struggle to deal with being ‘the girl who was raped’ and trying to get her life back together is hard to put down; the way people now react to her and how that makes her feel is painful and sad–how do you deal with people when you’ve been through something horrible and they are sympathetic but don’t know what to do, what to say, to you? But Hermione is a strong young woman with a very great support system which enables her to put her life back together, and that’s the primary focus of the book. And that’s an important story to tell.

If I had a quibble with the book, though, it would be that; Hermione has so much love and support as she puts her life back together, and she doesn’t remember anything that happened to her that night–as she says, “it feels like it happened to someone I know instead of to me”–and she avoids social media so she can’t see what people are posting and saying about her, and for the most part, her friends and the other cheerleaders gather around her to create a protective shell…which kind of seemed a bit too good to be true to me, if that makes sense? I just felt that–don’t get me wrong, I liked the book a lot and recommend it–she should have had to face some of what most girls in her position have to in the real world.

Rape culture is a very real thing, no matter how much some people may want to pretend that it isn’t. I, like so many others, was horrified by the two primary cases illustrating this sort of thing–the Steubenville and Marysville cases a few years back–and of course, the ones detailed in Jon Krakauer’s Missoula. I recently watched the heartbreaking documentary Audrie and Daisy (Daisy is the girl from Marysville) on Netflix (I urge everyone to watch it, especially if you have daughters–and watch it with your daughters), so after seeing how these kinds of stories actually play out in the real world made the written-for-young-adult-audience sense of this one seem almost like a cop-out.

But that doesn’t lessen the impact of this book by any means. It’s also heartbreaking, even if to a lesser degree than the true stories, which I suspect motivated Johnston to write the book in the first place.

Although I would love to see what Megan Abbott could do with the same kind of story.

And now, back to the spice mines.

Family Man

Good morning, four day weekend!

I was sleepy again last night, even dozing off before Paul got home (he’s been working late every night this week) so we could watch the end of the first season of Yuri on Ice (which was wonderful)and so it wasn’t difficult for me to get a good night’s sleep, which was also absolutely lovely. I have to run some errands today, but other than that I am going to spend the day writing and cleaning the house. I absolutely must get back on schedule with it. Last night I finished a difficult chapter, and then did some planning on what needs to be done. As always, this helped, and probably should have done that before I hit the homestretch; that might have helped me through the last few weeks.

One day I will learn, no doubt. (As if!)

I also hope to finish reading Exit Pursued by a Bear today. I’m not sure what the next book I’m going to select from the TBR pile will be; I am thinking maybe something horror, or maybe a reread, or a classic. I’m not certain, but I shall make that decision once I get through this one. It’s a riveting and incredibly poignant read; I am definitely going to write about it when I am finished.

I also watched a couple of episodes of The Man in the High Castle last night, which I am still enjoying–it has some interesting things to say about choices–but there’s also a bit of Oh, really? sometimes–which is fine; that happens sometimes with shows (books, movies, etc., but doesn’t stop me from enjoying them; I just had to work harder to suspend belief).

I did do a pretty good job yesterday on the kitchen; there’s just a few final touches it needs–there are always some little odds and ends I don’t have a place for, which is incredibly annoying as you can imagine.

All right, I should get back to the spice mines. Here’s a hunk for today:

Tango in the Night

It was thirty one degrees outside when I woke up this morning. I know that seems balmy, even spring-like, compared to the temperatures I am seeing being posted on Social Media everywhere, but it’s cold for New Orleans–and those temperatures in the north and midwest I am seeing is the best explanation I have for why I do not live up there. JFC, I joke about never living north of I-10, but I cannot fathom or wrap my mind around below zero temperatures.

It’s hard to believe it’s Christmas this weekend already; December certainly slipped by rather quickly, and I am going to really have to buckle down to get this book done. I didn’t get nearly as much writing done as I wanted to this weekend–I am not caught up by any means–so I am going to really have to work my ass off in the meantime to get it done. I did, however, manage to get some good thinking and planning done this weekend about the book, and what I need to do to get it together. I’m hopeful this will help with the flow and get me really into a writing groove.

Here’s hoping, anyway.

Finally, this morning I felt better as well–I have trouble working when I don’t feel well–and so, again, am very hopeful about how much I can get done this week.

I am really enjoying Exit Pursued by a Bear, and I did manage to finish watching Medici: Masters of Florence this weekend, and also got pretty far along in The Man In The High Castle, season two. It asks some very interesting and pointed questions about survival; and given the times in which we live, questions we should be asking ourselves. I am also all caught up on Yuri On Ice, which I’ve become ridiculously attached to. I am going to see if Paul wants to watch it–he arrived home this morning as I was leaving–because I think he’ll like it a lot as well. At any rate, I am looking forward to the next episode which will drop this Wednesday.

And I suppose I should get back to the spice mines.

Here’s a hunk for you, CR.

Caroline

It is grim and dreary and windy outside this morning; gray and kind of nasty–the kind of day where you are grateful to stay inside and not ever leave (as of right now, my plan for the day is to stay inside and only go outside to take out the trash if I have to). I got all of my Christmas shopping done Friday and mailed the gifts that needed to go yesterday after I saw (drum roll please) Rogue One.

I. LOVED. It.

I woke up feeling crappy yesterday; congested and mildly feverish. In fact, had I not already bought the ticket on-line I would have probably changed my mind and stayed home. But I needed to mail my presents and stop at the grocery store, and had already paid for the ticket…so I went. (It did occur to me that if I was contagious, I could possibly Typhoid Mary the entire theater; but I wasn’t coughing or sneezing, and I didn’t have to turn over money or make physical contact with anyone. It wasn’t crowded, either–it was a ten a.m. show; so I made sure I sat by myself where no one else was sitting. So there.)

I will admit I was incredibly disappointed at the beginning when the big STAR WARS logo didn’t appear nor did they play the theme music; and I will readily admit I was a bit pouty about it. It kind of, for me, got off to a bit of a slow start which was necessary in order to provide back story, but once it got going, it was great fun. I’ll see it again, undoubtedly (Paul is seeing it with his mother this weekend, so I didn’t go see it without him; his mom suggested it last week when he talked to her, and so that was when I bought my ticket.)

Although after running my errands, I felt much worse than I did when I woke up. I tried to write but couldn’t, and finally abandoned the effort, retiring to my easy chair and my book. I finished reading it, then watched the last few episodes of Medici: Masters of Florence, another couple of episodes of The Man in the High Castle (season two started out kind of slowly but has definitely picked up steam), and another show I’ve been watching on-line: Yuri On Ice.

Yuri On Ice is a Japanese anime television series about Yuri Katsuki, a Japanese male figure skater. The show opens with him finishing last at the Grand Prix final, and questioning whether he should just retire. He is considered to be Japan’s best male skater, but he also is shy and introverted, with very little self-confidence, and also suffers from crushing self-doubt and anxiety, which is why he performs poorly. After graduating from college in Detroit, he returns home to his small home town in Japan, and while visiting the ice rink, is recorded perfectly mimicking a routine by five time world champion Viktor Nikiforov. The video goes viral, and Viktor, also questioning his own future in the sport, comes to Japan to be Yuri’s coach–Yuri has always idolized Viktor, and decides to give the sport one more year.

I’m really enjoying the show, quite frankly. I’ve never watched Anime before, so I don’t know if the weird lapses into over-the-top emotion from the characters is normal for Anime, but it’s the only thing that bothers me about the show. The character of Yuri is so incredibly well developed; and the skating sequences are absolutely amazing. As a long time figure skating fan, it’s only natural that I would enjoy the show, I suppose. I’ve long been wanting to write a noir about figure skating, and watching this show has really intensified that desire–plus, I’m writing something else, which always makes me want to write other things.

I started reading Exit, Pursued by A Bear by E. K. Johnston last night, and am enjoying it thus far.

All right, I need to make up for lost time today, so it’s off to the spice mines I go.