Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Dear Dr. Psychiatrist

Hi. Look, I like you, okay? I actually trust you to do your job. That's why I won't roll up my sleeves. I'm not going back to The Hospital. No, I won't submit myself to a nurse so she can look. I don't care how discrete she is. We both know what she's going to find. I won't lie, I'm under a lot of pressure here, but if you try to send me back to The Hospital, it absolutely WILL be over my dead body. Literally.

Thanks for your understanding in this matter.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Yo tengo que hacer quimica...

So, I'm trying to get a good grade in Algebra. It's not working. Last night, I got my first B on a test. I've gotten D's on the last two. I'm pulling a strong C in the class, but I just can't deal with that. I'm too much of a perfectionist. I want that B.

Anyway, next semester I need to take intro to Chemistry and Biology. The good news is that Biology ought to be a breeze for me. I'm good at Biology. I've never taken Chemistry, though, and I'm worried that my D's in math are going to creep in there.

I think this might be good for me. I'm used to not studying much and just winging it. I write essays the night before they're due, research and all. I just hate not being inherently good at something.

The first person to call me Hermione Grainger gets punched in the neck. Besides, she was good at everything.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Atheist's Daughter: Review

When I was growing up, the best word to describe me was "precocious," though I think that was a misnomer. I was smart, yes, and older in maturity than I should have been, but I don't think there was anything inherently cute about me. I was a disturbed kid. I started reading Poe when I was in grade-school, and he spoke to me in a way that other authors just couldn't. When the rest of my class was having fun with cute comics and CS Lewis serials, I was memorizing "Annabel Lee" and being both repulsed and drawn to "The Black Cat."

I found that I loved Sci-Fi, and ate up Madeline L'Engel and Susan Cooper. I slowly but surely made my way towards Margaret Atwood and Isaac Asimov. I was onto Poul Andersen by my freshman year of high school, and the librarian introduced me to the Riftwar Saga by Raymond Feist, knowing I would love it.

My brother was really into Terry Brooks, and I snuck his "Magic Kingdom For Sale: Sold!" series one book at a time until he realized I was reading it, and openly allowed me to borrow any book I liked. It was actually a huge part of our relationship, because we hadn't grown closer as we grew older, and these books gave us something to talk about.

I found that I couldn't make myself like an author, such as Heinlein or Asimov. I just couldn't get into their books. I also found that just because a book was well-liked, such as Le Petite Prince or The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, that didn't automatically mean it was bad. It just meant that it appealed to more mainstream readers as well as Sci-Fi fans. I also learned to judge a book by its cover, or more specifically what the cover says about the book.

Now that I'm older, I'm branching out a lot more with my book selections, though I tend to stay close to Sci-Fi/Fantasy (or SF/F) genres, and I still find that YA fiction is better than just about anything else, George RR Martin notwithstanding. There seems to be a niche in the YA SF/F genre, though, that is becoming disturbing, and it encompasses the "Girl Hero" aspect. There are so few books in this category that are actually worth reading, and "The Hunger Games" trilogy pretty much makes up all of the books worth reading.

I don't have to expound on what's wrong with Twilight, since there are so many other people who have done just that, but even the Wicked Lovely saga by Melissa Marr is missing a lot of actual empowerment by substituting boyfriends for actual self-worth, though it is a good set of books so far.

The Atheist's Daughter, however, is sort of...bigger than these other books. It's different. The premise is Twilighty, only without the heroine finding mindless killing machines sexy. The idea is Wicked Lovely-ish, only without the heroine joining the ranks of the "other world" in order to change things from within. Instead, the heroine, Kristin, is her own stand-up self much like Katniss Everdeen, and she is not interested in becoming friends with much of anyone, let alone monsters.

Kristin has a special power much like all heroines in these sorts of stories. She is able to see when someone lies. Their mouths literally disappear, and it scares the crap out of her to the point that she was actually put in a mental institution for a while. The mental institution made Kristin somewhat of an outcast, but what was funny to me is that when her friend Gideon tells his father, the town pastor, that he's going to the prom with Kristin, Pastor objects with, "the atheist's daughter?" because that's so much worse than a mental issue. I really love it.

When I reviewed this book on my facebook page, the authors actually commented, and I have to say that they're pretty cool people (yes, Renee Harrell is a nom de plume). Some of the issues of note were: lying. Lying and not lying has a lot of mythological and historical significance. In times before literacy was widespread, a man's word was literally his bond. In Scotland, deals are still made binding by a handshake. Kristin can tell when someone lies, and if she lies herself, her mouth also disappears. The creatures she's up against...I suppose they're vampires after a fashion, but they're also sort of not. They worship deities of chaos and even make sacrifices to them, and the deities respond. I think there's this idea that if something is evil (and evil can totally be subjective in this book, depending on whose side you're seeing) that lying and cheating are just inherent in their nature, but lying is so important to not do for these creatures. Lying is bad. They feel and see the effects that Kristin feels and sees. The truth is that in lots of old religions, and even into new religions such as Wicca and neo-Paganism, lying is taboo. It robs you of your power. If you are a witch and you say you aren't, then you risk losing your power.

Next, I noted that this book is not without religion. The creatures talk to and are responded to by deities. Kristin has a physical reaction to religion, she can't even walk into a church because the church itself will repel her from its premises. The creatures note that most people like Kristin (so we know there are more like her!) don't survive in society as long as Kristin has, which makes me wonder if her mother's atheism is somehow connected to Kristin's continued survival and presence outside of psych wards. And while we're on the subject of Kristin's mother's unbelief, let's just say that she has very good reason for not believing in any God or god or greater power of any kind.

Lastly, I just have to say that this is perhaps the book that my reading journey has brought me to. There are two more in the works, and I absolutely cannot wait to read the heck out of them. Kristin is on her way to the top of the list, and I hope that people can get past the title which has that taboo word "atheist" in it, and really get into this saga.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Rain, rain

Well, we're having the first real rain of the season. It's rained a few times off and on, but today was the proverbial blustery day.

This hawk keeps flying by my window, and it's so big that it makes everything just a little bit darker. It finally feels like fall. I love it.

Next month, I'm going to finally meet my newest niece, and I'm so excited. She was born in July, and my mom went back to be with the family, but I couldn't go since she was going to be gone for the first week of school. I'm so excited about meeting her.

My older niece was just so amazing when I first saw her. She was so small and fragile-looking, but she had such a big personality. Even at six weeks old, she was talking and reaching for her mobile that hung over the changing table. She slept a lot too, but I just knew she was going to be an amazing human being, and she is. And now there's another one.

The jacaranda tree in the apartment complex across from my office is so green right now, and the dogwood tree that grows just outside my window has lost all its white flowers. Sometimes little sparrows perch on the top branches and sway with the breeze. I haven't seen or heard any of the wild parrots that roam around here. They must have all gone down south to Mexico.

My cat is getting his really thick winter coat. I brush him a lot more often now. Russian Blues have very short hair, but he tends to lose his glossy silver-blue tones if I don't brush him every other day right now. The guinea pigs used to get thick winter coats too. It was so funny, especially the little one would just look like a puff-ball.

Reflections in the water like shadows in my mind
Speak to me of passing days and nights, and passing time.
The falling leaves are whispering winter's on its way
I close my eyes remembering the warmth of yesterday

It seems a shame to see September swallowed by the wind
And more than that, it's oh so sad to see the summer end
And though the changing colors are a lovely thing to see
If it were mine ot make a change, I think I'd let it be

But I don't remember hearing anybody asking me...

-John Denver

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Family Ties

So, I was going to write an amusing observation about the current baby boom going on, but I need to work something else out first.

This weekend, I went down to San Diego to see my uncle and auntie. My uncle wanted to talk to my mom and auntie about selling my grandparent's house, as he's dying and he would like the money to go on vacations and see the world before he dies.

I'm not sure exactly what he has. I heard "congestive longword longword cardiopulmonary longword disease." I can tell you that his breathing is really laboured, and his coughs sound very deep-chested, like someone with bronchitis or pneumonia.

My uncle has alway been a part of my life. My dad was obviously not so great. He was an alcoholic, and abusive, and he clearly thinks that my worth is tied to my uterus. My uncle, on the other hand, has always loved me and been accepting of me. He doesn't have any grandchildren, but he takes my cousin's little girl out fishing, and his neighbor's grandsons, too. He's not perfect, but he's also not mean or cruel in any way and for a long time he was the only man I knew like that. He also totally loves his wife, and for a long time he was the only man I knew like that.

I don't know what else to say, or even how to end this. I hope he's okay. I hope he has more than just a few years left. I hope he sees the world.