Sunday, March 29, 2015
When I picked up Jacqueline Woodson's BROWN GIRL DREAMING at the library I was apprehensive. I don't always love the things that the larger book world loves including many National Book Award winners. I decided to give it a go anyway and I'm so glad I did.
Woodson uses stunning free verse to take us on a journey, to help us bear witness to a life. I don't think of this book as a story in the traditional sense. It is an experience. The milestones, the family, the religion, the race, the time period. All these things so vivid in her poetry that I feel as though I know her neighborhood, her family, her friends. I could feel the heat of south and hear the rush of the NYC.
When I read a book, I generally walk away with a few big ideas or themes. For this book, that idea was identity. What makes us who we are, and how people, ideas, and places shape our development. I finished the book and I felt more attuned to the world around me and to myself.
My only complaint about this book was that I could'e kept reading. I wanted more of the story. I wanted the next chapter of Woodson's life told in aching poetry that awakes my head and heart together.
If you haven't read this book yet, DO IT NOW! Happy Reading!
Monday, March 23, 2015
It's #aboutthegirls week and that gives me an excellent excuse to share this ranty post with you. Because while we're sharing the trials and horrors of our childhood, we need to remember that it doesn't always get easier when you grow up. This happened to me LAST WEEK.
In an recent attempt to be social, I went to a bar to see a friend's band play. Also in attendance were several people I went to high school with but who I haven't seen or conversed with in several years. Recently I've been struggling with being socially awkward and very self-conscious about making sure my behavior is socially acceptable. (This is actually an issue I've struggled with off and on for quite some time.) So when one of these guys from high school causally asked for my phone number, I felt too awkward to decline his request even though I had no desire to speak with him outside of chance social encounters.
A few days later, this guy texted me. Very casual, very friendly. I didn't want to respond but I felt like I had to or I was being rude, like I didn't have the right to not talk to him.
He invited me to a social gathering I was already planning to attend with other friends. I noncommittally said I might be there. At the event we chatted briefly, he asked if I was attending again the following week. I said maybe. I managed to be evasive without being rude. I followed established social rules of conversation. I didn't offend anyone.
The next day he texted me randomly to ask if I'd ever played Settlers of Catan then tried to get me to come over to play right then. I was just leaving grad school so I had a reason not to go but I felt like I would have had to lie if I hadn't been. He then pushed on to ask me to go out for drinks on the weekend. I had plans and said I could not come. Circumstances conspired to provide me with viable excuses.
The weekend rolled around and he texted me asking about my show, like he was interested but he quickly shifted to ask me to join him for drinks, even though I'd already declined. I explained I was out with family. He pushed me to come anyway, saying he'd hoped I'd join his group for video games after and be on his team. I told him I was not a team player and he finally stopped texting me.
I talked to a mutual friend about how annoyed I was that he completely disregarded what I was saying when he wanted me to have a different answer. She agreed that he was being overly persistent. I thought he was being disrespectful and selfish.
I saw him again on Sunday at a social event and he walked right up like it was no big deal. I was cordial but cold. He asked if all my musicals were done and if I'd be free more often. I gave a short answer, purposefully not engaging. He walked away rather awkwardly, finally getting the point. The mutual friend said giving him the cold shoulder was harsh because he's harmless and he had been drunk anyway.
I was taken aback. Being polite but not overly friendly with someone I have no interest in being serious friends let alone anything more with is harsh but his persistence and disrespect is fine because he was drunk? The raging, opinionated 16 year-old self was so outraged she was threatening to explode out of me in completely socially unacceptable ways.
I thought back to the entire exchange with this guy and I was disgusted by the amount of times I played nice, I didn't say what I actually wanted to, or adapted my answers so as not to come off like a bitch. Seriously, where is my agency?
Am I supposed to sleep with the guy, too, just because it's "rude" to say no? Just because he's "harmless"?
I got a guy's number at that bar too and when he said he was busy, I left him alone. If I hadn't, I'd have probably been called a stalker or a creep or a clinger. By this guy is "persistent" and they say it like it's a good thing, like I should be glad someone is willing to put up my silly protestations. Why isn't he a creep and a stalker and a clinger? Why is he harmless? Why am I a bitch for not wanting to associate with him?
I'm seething over here. Still. If this what being social will be like in 2015, screw it. I'll just sit over here and write books about girls who can say no, in societies that let them, with friends who back then up. Because this is bullshit.
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