Do you really read THAT much? (March 2015 Edition)

Here’s the thing. My current job allows for quite a bit of time to read between helping one customer and the next. Between this, and the 30 minute commute to and from work each day, I end up reading and listening to a lot of books.

With this in mind, I decided I would move my reviews I had been doing on GoodReads.com to my blog. This way, I could do a monthly round up of what I had read and what I thought about it. I am also using Instagram (cats_caffeine_chapters) to post photos and one to two sentence reviews on these for a more weekly update.

I’ve currently read 40 books this year, and have a goal of reading 100 by this year’s end. Although I have about 120 books on my to-read list on < https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8597152.Erica_Tuggle > , I welcome more suggestions. Because…books.

All the books below, have pretty high ratings, but I attribute that to just having a good reading selection on my shelf. The books I have there now are pretty likely to be ones I want to read. I’ll be branching out and trying suggested reads outside my typical genres soon though.


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Billy Budd, Sailor by Herman Melville 


Oh Melville, we’ve had a history haven’t we? I initially tried reading this classic author back in high school with his most notable work: Moby Dick. That went down like a row boat with a hole in it.

Melville is descriptive. Very descriptive. And “Billy Budd, Sailor” is no exception. This slim volume that I listened to via Hoopla Digital’s audio book service had a listen time of 4 hours for a story that could have been told in about 30 minutes.

The story itself wasn’t shocking. A handsome youth at sea, young Billy Budd, is beloved by all except the churlish Master at Arms. Master at Arms sets Billy Budd up for dishonor, Billy Budd retaliates, and the plot thickens (a little).

If you are looking to read Melville and find yourself seasick at the thought of tackling the tomb of the White Whale, give Billy Budd,Sailor a try. The view painted by Melville is nice if nothing else.

#3StarRead


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The Books of Magic by Neil Gaiman


Gaiman is one of my favorite authors. When I heard he had a graphic novel, published years prior to the release of Harry Potter, that detailed the story of a bespectacled boy and his owl beginning the journey of the call to magic, I knew I had to read and compare.

Fortunately, The Books of Magic series (only the first written by Gaiman) is more an ode to Joesph Campbell’s “The Hero’s Journey.” And for the record, Gaiman defended J.K. Rowling and the Harry Potter series by saying they both drew from standard story archetypes but were both stories of different measure.

The artwork in books of magic is beautiful. The story was dark, intriguing, and full of Easter egg nods to Gaiman’s highly excellent Sandman graphic novel series. Read Sandman first, and then cleanse the palate with this gem.

#5StarRead


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A Virtuous Woman by Kaye Gibbons


This is a short volume that details, quite succinctly, what one marriage was like. The story is told in alternating chapters by the husband and wife, and stays true to a delightful, simple Southern tone throughout. There’s drama, passion, sadness, and truth. It smacks a bit of required school reading, but that isn’t a ding against its performance. It’s a Oprah book club selection, so you know it’s good.

For a more in depth description, see here: http://www.amazon.com/Virtuous-Woman-Oprahs-Book-Club/dp/0375703063

#5StarRead


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Slapstick by Kurt Vonnegut


I’m a Vonnegut junkie. I am making it my goal to read one of his works each month until I’ve run through the whole lot. Although this one is not my favorite overall, (that honor goes to Cat’s Cradle) I enjoyed the puns and wit that Vonnegut always brings to the table.

Like many of his works, Slapstick deals with an alternate future in which an apocalypse has already commenced. The President of New York, aged and possibly senile, is recounting his life from strange birth to strange now. Light on the satire and heavy on the ridiculous imagery, this one was another pleasant read.

#4StarRead


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Shotgun Lovesongs by Nicholas Butler


This one took a long time to get through. This was not because it was a bad read, but rather it was one that I listened to via audio book on my daily commute. Yet, this story is perfect for car stereo and views of the open road. “Shotgun Lovesongs” details the story of a small town and the tight knit group that belongs to it. There is a loose character based on the musician Bon Iver in the form of the fictional character of Leeland, which may mean more to true fans than it did to me.

As it is, the novel is a solid work. The characters are vivid and lovable, even with all of their faults on display. The ending felt a bit cobbled together, but the story probably could have gone on forever, so it’s as good an ending as any. I recommend the audio book for the variety in voice actors you get that bring the story more to life.

#4StarRead


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Yes Please by Amy Poehler


Amy Poehler reminds me of a good friend I had in high school that would come by my lunch table everyday, reach over my shoulder, and pick off one of my croutons from my homemade salad. She’d tell me if the croutons were good or if my parents needed to switch brands back to the cheesy garlic kind.

Quaint, although perhaps pointless to the rest of the world, stories like these is what you are going to get in “Yes Please.” Amy Poehler wrote this book mid-career and with little enthusiasm for the idea of completing a book. I don’t blame her. Between just finishing up Parks and Recreation, raising two sons, occasional movie roles, and strong remaining ties to SNL she seems to have better things to do than to tell us her history that compares pretty closely to her Wikipedia page.

Granted, the book isn’t bad. It’s full of positive affirmations and real-talk to the 20 somethings that I imagine she primarily envisioned reading this book. She’s clever and determined and her bio-thus-far shows all this. Instead though, you’d probably benefit more from just seeing what Poehler has done with a few episodes of Parks or rifling the archives of SNL. Hell, if you’re feeling brave, rent Baby Momma.

#3StarRead


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The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot


I love single science subject books. Goodreads has gotten wise to this and started to recommend all in this book genre to me. The best thing about the single science subject books is that you get the knowledge of the science subject matter as well as a dollop of the humanity behind the concept and how it came to be.

Henrietta Lacks, forever known to the world for her HeLa cell contribution, was just another name before this book was published. Afterwards though, the recognition and fame that her contribution deserved was brought to light. Her life itself is a fascinating slice of Americana, her struggles are tragic, and she (like her cells that live on today) was an indomitable force. Even if you aren’t “science-y,” the story is worth knowing.

#5StarRead


FragileThings

Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders by Neil Gaiman


Another Gaiman? Yes, another Gaiman. Always another Gaiman.

This Gaiman work is a collection of his short stories. These bite-sized snippets were fun, but always left me hungry for more. Each of his short stories could easily become longer works.

I listened to this on audio book as read by the author, and that’s the best way to encounter Gaiman and his delightful accent. My favorite poem by Gaiman “The Day the Saucers Came” is included in this selection, and there’s enough of a mix of horror, fantasy, fiction based stories to please almost any reader.

#4StarRead


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What if? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe


Have you ever wanted to know what would happen if the Earth all of a sudden stopped spinning? Have you wondered what a periodic table composed of the actual elements would look like? How long would it take for the last artificial light source to go out if all humans were gone? If you have asked yourself these questions, you are a strange one. But you are in good company, because apparently many others are asking just as strange and unsettling questions that can be answered with a little stretch of the imagination and a  whole lotta science know-how.

Former NASA engineer, Randall Munroe, answers these questions and about 50 more in this book. Some of it went way over my head, but all of it was intriguing. If you like weird science or have a thing for factual apocalypse trivia, this is a book for you. My favorite part was the “Questions from the Weird and Worrying File” segments that Munroe would do in-between chapters. (Bonus: The audio book is read by Will Wheaton who has the perfect voice for this kind of stuff)

#4StarRead


Darkness

Darkness Casts No Shadow by Arnost Lustig


This is a book about the Holocaust, and so saying that I enjoyed this book has room for misinterpretation.

Everyone has heard of Elie Wiesel, but he’s only one of many who have Holocaust survivor stories to tell. Arnost Lustig’s novel, based on his own experiences, is different from Wiesel’s “Night” though in that most of the action occurs between two boys who have escaped a transport train car and are walking the woods to their new life. The portraits of their time in the concentration camps is told by way of dream and flashback sequences.

The ending is as perfect as it gets for this subject matter. The story is just long enough to resonate and stick with you for a long time. This is a classic that slipped through the cracks somehow. For teachers and students looking for something different to remember the Holocaust, this is a must read.

#5StarRead


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Room by Emma Donoghue


Told from a child’s perspective, Room is a portrait of a boy and his mother who have been locked away in a garden shed for years. Our narrator Jack knows nothing of the world outside Room, does not even believe there is an Outside. The writing is masterful in its manipulation of the language to tell the story from his view. Room tells the story of Jack and his mother’s captivity, their escape, and what life is like Outside.

Room kept me in its thrall quite easily. It is a definite page turner that has easily earned its place on best-seller lists.

#4StarRead


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It’s a Slippery Slope by Spalding Gray


Slippery Slope is a narrative by the late Spalding Gray. The work is meant to be read aloud in an auditorium during one of Gray’s traveling tours. As such, the print version lacks what an author reading would give to it.

The story is about Gray’s attempts to learn to ski coupled with the rocky time he is having as one end of a love triangle between a long-time girlfriend and a mistress. When the mistress becomes pregnant, the real-world shenanigans ensue. Gray was having health problems as he wrote this one, and concludes the work with hopes for his health to be on the upswing. Unfortunately, this was not the case and this is one of the last things he wrote.

The work didn’t do much for me, but it may appeal to an older age range or maybe just those into skiing?

#2StarRead


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Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai by Yamamoto Tsunetomo


This book goes way back…like approximately the year 1709 back. As such, it has some proverbial wisdom and some really dated crazy stuff.

The book involves sayings from Tsunetomo who was a Samurai to a Lord who looked down on the practice of Seppuku (disemboweling yourself with a sword) and therefore forbid his warriors to do so upon his death. This led to Tsunetomo becoming a monk and spewing his good ole days story to anyone who would listen.

These stories in Hagakure mainly involve who Seppuku’ed who. Living with honor and not fearing death is a central theme. There are some nuggets of wisdom about living a good life, but there’s also some hate speech against women and talk of how best to behead a man. All advice may not be applicable to your life, but do what you will with it. For my part, my rating is on its usefulness to present day and readability (very easy).

#3StarRead


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God Shaped Hole by Tiffanie DeBartolo


Ugh. This book was a workout. First off, its cover is misleading. The front talks about how a gypsy predicted main character’s true love would die young and leave her alone. Spoiler Alert: This happens. Yet, the gypsy and all that is more like an after thought that gets brought up in prologue and last chapter as a sort of deus ex machina.

The work is an obvious first novel from DeBartolo, who is trying to channel the struggling writer story and rocky love life into a novelized version. Her main character Beatrice and her love interest Jacob are vain, selfish, boring people who have kinky sex at almost every opportunity. Jacob has some misogynistic tendencies that come into the light in a disturbing “sexy rape” scene that still makes me shudder. Beatrice is a poor, basic white girl who makes a great living selling her uncomplicated jewelry. She gets her kicks making fun of everyone who isn’t as deep as she is, and she hates her doting and supportive parents almost as much as she hates when Jacob supports her.

This book…(shakes head sadly, knows she must go on just a little further to spread the truth)

Plus, there’s enough subplots within one-half of the book to sink it. There’s a dead dad, and a missing dad, and a new life plot, and a relationship, and another death, and ex boyfriends and girlfriends all over the damn place.

Painfully, I admit, that I wrote something similarly emo when I was in college. At least, I self published and kept the majority of the world from my diary-esque ramblings.

#2StarRead


That’s it for March. Hope everyone has a happy April, and look for my next book round up then. In the meantime, I’ve got a movie review podcast called Movie Vs Film that my friend Bentley Little and I are doing. Check out episode 1 at : movievsfilmpodcast.bandcamp.com

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Creativity in the Boundless World

I’ve run out of intelligent things to talk about. Becuase, let’s face it, I’ve got an opinion that’s no better, no more valid, and probably no more interesting than any other college grad. But, Ken says, people like to hear other people’s thoughts for just the sake of relating their own world view to these or against them. We all just keep saying the same things, hoping to stumble on some truth. Truth reveals itself to those only truly ready or legitimately unassuming. I seem to only get a look at it in a strobe light type of staccato reveal. I’m sure there is a bigger picture, but I see only snap shots. Oh, woe, another white girl complaining about being young and ignorant. 

Therefore, today, while I wait on adventure time that may be happening this evening, I will use the words of another to convey my opinions. While I wait to meet Rachelle to try on a blue blue dress that I’ll wear in her wedding, as I stand beside her and wish her so much happiness on her day, a happiness I have compassion for but that I do not envy in my own pursuit of freedom from all desire, fear and even self. While I wait to meet the much better man who befriends my demons, who shares art and poetry and brightness with the casual exposition of a bit part player. While I wait..here are the philosophising musings of Joesph Campbell about the life I CAN’T wait to reflect upon. I hope the snippets, read one after the next, make sense in the whole scope of things. It’s all a little metaphorical, so take it for what it’s worth.

“As soon as you have refused the suitors, you have elevated yourself out of the local field and put yourself in the field of higher power, higher danger.  The question is, are you going to be able to handle it? …You can’t have creativity unless you leave behind the bounded, the fixed, all the rules…The heart is not in the body, so the magician cannot be killed. You have to find and destroy the heart…The adventure is its own reward–but it’s necessarily dangerous, having both negative and positive possibilities, all of them beyond control…Love thine enemies because they are the instruments of your destiny…Escape from sorrow to Nirvana, which is not a place, but a psychological state of mind in which you are released from desire and fear…The word compassion literally means “suffering with.” …There is an important idea in Nietzsche, of Amor fati, the “love of your fate,” which is in fact your life…Your life is the fruit of your own doing. You have no one to blame but yourself…..The best advice is to take it all as if it had been of your intention–with that, you envoke the participation of your will…The place to find is within yourself…There’s a center of quietness within, which has to be known and held. If you lose that center, you are in tension and begin to fall apart…It is the state you find when you are no longer driven to life by compelling desires, fears, and social commitments, when you find your center of freedom and can act by choice out of that…And the sixth, finally, is of the hungry ghosts, the souls of those in whose love of others there was attachment, clinging, and expectation…It’s important to live life with the experience, and therefore the knowledge, of its mystery and of your own mystery. This gives life a new radiance, a new harmony, a new splendor. Thinking in mythological terms helps to put you in accord with the inevitables of this vale of tears. You learn to recognize the positive values in what appear to be the negative moments and aspects of your life. The big question is whether you are going to be able to say a hearty yes to your adventure…the adventure of being alive.” 

I know all that may be a lot to take in, and is a bit of a heady mish-mash. But reading it made an impact. Reading ideass that I relate so much to and agree with every part is refreshing and gives me perspective to continue on my way. Loving my enemies, because they shape who I am. Freeing myself of desire and fear and attachment and insecurity as a daily undertaking. Not being afraid to accept my own personal adventure time, as many thorns are in the roses as there may be, because it will put me on a plain of existence that is above the “normal” uncelebratory life. Suffering will come to us all, but we can temper this with our own compassion, our own willingness to share in the pain of others, to reach our respective ends. Whatever comes our way in life is our own fault. True, we didn’t ask to be born but the things that happen to us are all our own doing and as such our own responsibility. We would do best if we acted that everything that happens, every curve, every loop, was our intention all along. Essentially, making the best of what we have.Say yes to life, and accept your fate gladly. And most importantly for the artist and the lover in us is to remember that creativity comes only when the life is unbound, free as free can be from the noose of society and the rules of who you should be as a person, as a woman, as a man, as a lover, as a friend. It comes back almost always to me as finding the definition of self through the utilization of freedom. 

It’s an endless adventure in itself, and easy enough to get sidetracked on merely existing while waiting for clarity. It’s good to retouch the path we are trying to stick to when our mind can be free enough to ponder such. As always, I know the only 100% truth for me is that I’d be lost without my writing. 

And now…for something completely different. I’m watching Out of Africa and a female character is talking to Meryl Streep. She says: “I want men to like me, but also, I want to be let alone.” I agree completely, sister. That’s its own adventure to be sure. The struggle is real. Please do tell, how do I enjoy the company and be my own, completely separate, identity intact, connoisseur of the world? The plot thickens. Answers forthcoming.

-Anna R. Kotopple

 

How to Drive a Mate Running and Screaming for the Hills in 120 Days

Divine intervention or coincidence? Who’s to say. All I know is that, although not all my problems got solved yesterday, there was definite movement on the front and in positive directions. On the vehicle issue, my father bought a new car for my mother to drive (that’s the story, I believe he just likes buying cars…either way) and so I am going to be getting my mother’s 2012 Honda CRV. It’s a fine mode of transportation, and I should be able to make the payments with a little parental assistantance (heart be not proud) at the beginning of this year. Also, I recieved an email from one of my job websites about an open position at the local television station as a technician for the sound and equipment and whatnot. I’ve had a bit of experience at a different TV station and my communication degree in tow, and so this part-time gig might be something quite nice. If I add it to the job at the used bookstore that’s been offered, then perhaps I’ll make a similar sort of pay AND be less stressed. Oh, man, it’s a lot of what-ifs at this point but they are some good ones. 

Lanks came by during the madness that was Saturday night at the only cofffee shop in the mall during the holiday season, and confirmed a nagging suspicion I had that I’d seen one of his sisters in a tattoo magazine I randomly picked up. I don’t usually peruse the tattoo magazines, but I’ve been toying with the idea of getting a tattoo more and more seriously over the past year and so about a month ago I picked up two. I was flipping through one and I stopped, looked closer, and thought…”Hmm…I’m going crazy, certainly, but I do believe that that is one of Lank’s sisters.” He’s got 7 sisters. I can’t even imagine how growing up in that house must have been. And all these sisters are gorgeous. A favorable gene pool if I’ve ever seen one. He also said, very offhandedly as he does on just about everything, that his other sister has professional tattoo work done and they model all the time. When you’re livingi n the gilded spotlight, I suppose it doesn’t seem like that big of a deal, does it? Maybe it’s just the Lanks personality, because upon reflecting on his demeaonr the other day, I realized I’ve never heard him laugh out loud. Oh sure, he smiles, and does this open mouth intake of breath smile thing when he’s waiting to speak about a topic that excites him. But he’s never laughed out loud in front of me. It’s just a strange thing to me. Probably because I laugh easily and often. And when I’m really getting into a laugh…I actually cackle. Cackle. It’s about as attractrive as you can imagine a cackle sounding. 

It is a very dismal day here. It’s cold and rainy and overcast and Sunday. A day to sleep and stay indoors, but we gotta use these 24 hours we have, remember? It’s amazing to think that, although some share drive and ambition like I humbly claim to, I think some people are just wrapped up in existing. It’s a struggle, for sure. And I can see how the fight to just have food and shelter and a moment’s peace is a battle that you can devote every waking hour to. I think it’s always going to be a war against the world to rise above these neccessities and go above and beyond. Some days it’s hard to feel up to the superhero struggle. And even then you’ve got the naysayers and purveyors of false information. 

True, some are harmless or at least not malicious in spreading speech that has no backing, but that’s its own kind of callousness too. Those who write articles such as “He’s not into you if…” or “Things to Do to Drive Your Man Wild” are building to the base of shallow articles that really don’t offer much truth. Ok…so he didn’t call you after the first day of the first date…well, obviously you should write him off. No. I know we are all looking for some direction in the dating world and especially in the deciphering of male behavior that is apparently so puzzling, but c’mon, if you ask him out instead of the other way around, that doesn’t mean anything really except that you’ve got enough emotional secruity to go out on a limb. (Oh, and readers, I’m telling you, limb life ain’t all it’s cracked up to be). Further point I’d like to make, why is it that there are all these article about how to tell if guys are interested or how to please them, but there’s so very few articles on how to tell if a lady likes you or things that she likes? Is it because guys don’t care to read these Tiger Beat type articles or is it that it’s obvious when a women is interested or guys don’t analyze every facial expression their date makes? I’m betting on a combination of all of the above. 

I’m just saying if there is such discrepancy of articles in one area and an abundance in the other, it could be that the whole “how to tell” articles are a lot of baloney. Because everyone is different and we are all a little different in how we show someone they have meaning to us. As long as they show it to some degree…a smile or a nice text or a visit at work, then I’m saying, don’t worry about it. 

Lanks and I have known each other for four months now. It’s a drop in the bucket compared to the long-term monogamy I’m used to. But it’s still something. We’ve traveled together, we’ve gone to sleep beside each other, woken up together, shared a drink, held hands while one of us was having a blood sugar episode (no names here), shared secrets, whispered literal sweet nothings, been offended over Doctor Who, mistakenly diagnosed each other for mental disorders, and not touched the Facebook relationship status update. I don’t feel we have done anything in the style of traditional daters, but I’ve had a lot of fun so far, and I’ve laughed aloud quite a bit too. And, so, though I doubt that Lanks will read this or perhaps anything I’ve written, I say, thanks for the memories, dear. You’ve pushed my pen for the past 120 days in a way that only a sappy high school relationship can, but never has for me, and so if for nothing other than that, I give you a shout out. Yo, boy, this one’s for you. 

Here’s a vignette from a day when Lanks let me down. 

LXIV Nostalgia: Dissatisfaction results from unmet expectations (9/19/13)

Every time you stand me up, another puzzle piece snaps into place into the picture of who I am. Each and all phone calls you choose to not make, every text you read and ignore allows me to realize the irony-mass in my gut and how it steels me against bullets, bombs and nuclear warfare. Of all the times i’ve allowed myself to hit the ground, to taste dirt when its offered among magic mushrooms, they exist to prepare me for that one who is going to stride in, dismantle me, and set my bones among the stars.

Biting my tongue this long, I’m shocked any blood is left therein to boil, let alone offer conduits for the synapses of this brain mass to fire, however intermittingly it happens. They lied about the cake. It was never really going to appear, no matter how many fire encrusted hoops you managed to lay waste to.

The dream was that, according to plan, she died and reginerated as a child of three instead of a child of two decades. this soft, sweet smelling thing shied from me at first, her tawny pigtails careening around her baby skull. But into my arms she came and when you arrived in the tow-truck cab, you offered the little one a toy double-decker bus and said, “This is only the first attack. It’s been coming for some time. The Doctor sends his regards.” And we all vanished into the dry curtain folds of time.

*******

Why am I so emo today? Well, let’s take a section from the Joesph Campbell “The Powerof Myth” to flush it all out. Campbell says that the writer must tell the truth and this means speaking as much to the imperfections of the person we admire as much to what we love about them. And that the person we are meant to be with is not just a love affair, but rather a joining of our self with our other self we’ve been separated for. He compares it to the Chinese image of the Tao, with the dark and the light interacting, the relationship of yang and yin, male and female. I’ve always felt an affinity for this idea of a dark that belongs to the light and vice versa, of two halves of a person within themselves even. If I were to get a tattoo, it would be incorporating the idea of the yang and yin, duality and the Pisces fish that represent my horiscope as well as my internal self.   

I’m not trying to connect this idea too readily to Lanks or myself, but I’m saying it’s a nice bit of imagery to strive for. Having a theme to attach to a paper you are writing can give it direction, thats all. At any rate, this book is an interesting read so far and I’ll probably reference it quite a bit before it’s all said and done. Bring on the gloom of the rainy day, and let’s hope for some better writing material for next time. 

-Anna R. Kotopple

 

The Evil Tick of the Clock

It is almost impossible for me to write anything longer than a page or more substantial than a resume when I’m working at home. Even typing out that sentence was brutal. Not counting the fact that I pay $50 a month for an internet service that works only when the planets align and I make an offering to the digital router, it’s just so difficult to get out writing that seems to flow when I’m by myself, at home, with a definite absense of good coffee. The biggest irony may be that, although I’m a barista with often praised drink making skills, I can’t make a decent cup of plain coffee at home. I blame my ancient, cheap coffee machine. Alas, every attempt I’ve made at homemade coffee on this dollarstore equipment has ended in a hot pot of disappointment

Absolute proof of that is that that one paragraph was all I could manage to do while sitting at home. I have taken to the coffee shop, and the presence of the cup of brew at my side alone as well as this wood table and the others that are here type type typing away is helping this blog entry along. I can already tell this post is going to not come easy, kicking and screaming, into this world. The first paragraph alone had the word “imporrible” in it that I didn’t even notice until now, almost two hours from putting it on screen.

Perhaps, this is all because at the back of my mind I don’t feel like I should be here at the coffee shop blogging, nor should I be blogging at all, even if it is part of an obligation of sorts I’ve locked myself into with this NaBloPoMo thing. Here’s what I mean. I’ve got some guilt at this self-serving behavior I’ve been indulging in for 16 days. I’ve been literally dropping all the problems in my world, the to-do lists that now have to-do lists of their own, and everything that is not related to getting at least 1,500 words out of the ether and into your life. It’s a selfish thing, I think, even if it is supposedly building my habit to write everyday and/or/nor making me a better, more developed writer by proxy. Even now, I’ve got Rachaele asking me to lunch and I am going to have to put the blog on the shelf when she gets to this side of town because I don’t want to blow off my human connections for a darn rambling session of philosphy I feel I may be embarking on.

It could be that because I’m reading Joesph Campbell’s 24-hour interview with Bill Moyers in book form, that I feel I am running out of time to make my mark and to fill my life with the experiences that make the life mean something. Ken says it’s a common feeling among everyone, this feeling that I’m a terrible manager of time and it’s slipping away from me before I can put the things I need for it to have to move forward in my life in it. Take for instance my need to buy a new car or a reliable used car. I know I have this need, but I can’t seem to devote the day hours to getting it accomplished. Add in the fact that I also don’t really have the salary to add a car payment to my monthly budget and the fact that my car is an object that is quickly moving towards its expiration date.  How does one balence the missing funds, the need, and the lack of time outside of work, eating, sleeping and remaining sane? My word, I’m never allowed to complain about boredom again. Because I think the car is the least of the list of must-do’s. 

There’s also the ever present desire to send my writing off to publishing houses, which itself might be an exercise in futility without the services of a publishing agent. And how does one employ an agent without funds? The cycle continues. As the Internet says: The struggle is real. Oh, what else is on this bitch list? There’s the job situation that is on there that begs a chunk of my non-existent time as well. I need a REAL job that utilizes at least one of my degrees and a bit more of my brain, and yet, I need time to network and go to non-profit charity events to find said sweet job. And to get invited to these parties of potential jobs I need to have an internship (and be a college student again somehow) or to be volunteering (more time) or to have more experience in the field (duh, I need a job people). I’m thwacking myself in the head upon remembering the networking seminars I attended as an intern for the chamber of commerce and how boring I thought these were as I snacked on mini cheese cubes. Will my moments of indifference to life be my downfall? Or should I just give up on sleeping and get all this nonsense knocked out this week? (…7 day later, life is completed! I’ll send everyone invites to the wedding! Ha)

It’s funny that I’ve heard Lanks lament all these issues before but I thought he was exaggerating and didn’t really see the scope of the problem when he said things like “I have no time. I have no money. I have no future.” I kind of brushed this off as melodrama, and again touched it with the sin of indifference. Now, I’m seeing things from his point of view, which is very similar to my own at this point  and I’m wondering what does one do in this situation? I feel as though we are trying as hard as we can to get out of our individual ruts, but we can’t move, and we are constantly placated by people telling us “it’s not that bad, everyone is going through it, keep at it.” To those people, no offense (I was one of these not too long ago), what other choice do we really have than to “keep going” ? I mean, we can lay down in the road or accept the retail job in electronics, but I’m balking at both of these so hard. I think that those of us blessed with intelligence and a means to communicate it owe ourselves the struggle, the weight on our chests of continually hitting the wall, constantly trying to accomplish massive tasks and completing 0 to 1% of our struggle per day.

If anyone has any advice for us to find our job, our place, our center in the universe and it’s different than the motivational poster of a frog’s arms choking the neck of bird that’s trying to consume it, please pass that along. Colleges and Universities send all these motivational speakers to campus to try and give students a reason to keep struggling, but I think the real need in the community these days is for motivational people (who perhaps have actually attained a level of success we can admire) to be out speaking to 20 somethings who are struggling to make sense of it all AFTER the school years have ended. It’s a bad thing to feel lost in a world that has seemingly undergone no real change other than your perspective. Could it be any wonder that people “give up” or give in to depression or drugs or alcohol or any other means of coping? I can’t judge that too harshly, honestly. Whatever gets you through the night. The Beatles always know what to say.  

Well, it looks like the coffee shop has stimulated the writer in me again, at least. If nothing else, this experiment in writing publicly and at great length on the daily is allowing me to delve a little deeper each day into my own thoughts. These are thoughts that remain hidden from even me most of the time, and I only really realize I am thinking them when they spill onto the page like an overturned ink well. Messy. But maybe you’ll learn not to fill your well so full in the future before you dip into that and spread some out into open air. 

Speaking of the subconscious, it was yet another night for a remembered dream. Again, I was back in high school. (Do I keep utilizing this setting as a means of starting over? ) I was sitting at one of the long lunch tables with my assigned class, perched upon those hard blue circular seats with a tray of rice and chicken. I’d chastised a fellow student for taking too large of a portion, and not leaving enough for the rest behind them. I’m not sitting alone, but I don’t know anyone at my table. I look across to the table opposite, and there sits the beautiful and cooly reclining Lanks, making those cafeteria torture furniture looking like fine upholstry. He smiles at me, the nervous and supportive one he sometimes gives. Then he comes over and sits beside me, and I put an arm around him in uncharacteristic PDA as he leans into me. As he cuddles into me in silence, I don’t want to take my attention from this warm body against me. I’m hungry, but I don’t want to even move my mouth for fear of disturbing his cheek against mine. As we stare off into space, a silent musical interpretation band is setting up. We listen to their silent music and tap our feet to the beat. 

With dreams like these and thoughts like these being brought into the open and into my throught plane now, I’m begining to get the feeling that there’s only a small percentage of people who are actually crazy. I think we are all just a little confused, searching for some kind of clarity with the hours that aren’t even real, the time that exists only in our head, all of us working towards these goals that seem impossible until they lay completed before us: a closed book with our name on it, hundreds of pages of our struggle tucked within. 

-Anna R. Kotopple