Cinnia Reviews The Fever King by Victoria Lee

4/5 stars

I dedicate this review to the woman on Amazon who took stars off of her review solely because this book has queer characters. *blows raspberry*

By reading this book, I most definitely messed up my reading schedule for the next month (I was supposed to be reading nonfiction + a couple short stories, whoops!), but a) I wanted to support the author’s big debut week and b) it was engrossing and I found it very hard to put this book down once I started and I don’t think I even set this book down once after I hit the 60% mark.

But I implore all y’all to give this book a try, especially those of you who are begging for YA novels, especially sci-fi/dystopia novels with a decent plot, diverse characters + a romantic YA relationship that isn’t garbage, and unabashedly nerdy elements.

Things I really liked

  • Noam Álvaro. Noam Álvaro. Noam Álvaro. He is one of my favorite characters of this year so far, and that’s a huge compliment, considering all the other good writing that has blessed me this past month. I’m glad he exists to be stubbornly brave and trying to do the right thing because I think he’s a good role model for the age group YA typically caters to. (He’s also a 10/10 bisexual mess and I hope by the end of the series he finally gets to feel happy and safe, knowing that his people are thriving.)
  • Other reviewers said they hated the middle of the book, which is basically all about magical military school/training montages/worldbuilding. Idk if it’s just me or something, but I enjoyed that part of the book, especially because of all the thought that went into the sciencey part of the worldbuilding, especially re: magic. Also, there was still enough intrigue during the middle section to build up the overarching plot. The other reviewers are right when they say that the bulk of the superfast action really hits around 60% of the way through, but I liked the slower-paced science stuff, too!
  • This author really did not hold back on the political satire/social commentary, etc. and I really admired her for it. This book may be set in the future, but it’s a wake up call for anyone who is reading the book in the present-day, too. This book says that we, too, can do something to make a change rather than sit back and watch the injustices in the world play out, and I think this was a really important aspect of this book.
  • Also, this author set out to write about characters who aren’t white, straight, or Christian and who call out classism and as far as I can tell, she didn’t give a shit if that impacted her reviews or the willingness of people to read her books. Hell yes. We need to encourage more of this attitude in authors, especially YA and middle-grade authors, who tend to have younger audiences. (We should also uplift authors of color, but I think Lee’s book is an example of a good step for white authors to take, at least. Of course, I may not be realizing many/any missteps this book took because of my own biases and whiteness, so if anyone has anything to say on the matter, please comment!)
  • Admittedly, I kinda picked up on the Big Reveals and plot twists well before Noam did (mostly because he’s kinda oblivious lol), but I still thought they were well done, storytelling-wise. And the intensity of the plot/storytelling had me on the edge of my seat and flailing quite a lot while reading this book.
  • The romantic relationship in this book was surprisingly pretty healthy for a YA novel, meaning that it wasn’t romanticized abuse and cruelty. I mean, they did hurt each other and were petty at times (mostly by not being fully honest with each other and also doing immature things, which you can put down to their ages, if anything), but they seemed to truly care about each others’ well-being and tried to make amends.
  • I also liked the background info in the forms of letters and transcripts etc. that added to the mystery/intrigue and filled in the reader on things that Noam didn’t know. I liked that it added to both worldbuilding and background of certain important characters.

Things I was iffy about

  • Okay y’all, so this book is very obviously written by an academic, so there are a lot of concepts and things (e.g. literary references) that might fly over some people’s heads. But I don’t want to discount her audience’s background. I just wanted to note that down for y’all since academia/academic elements in a novel isn’t everyone’s cup of tea and some readers might even find it pretentious. YMMV.
  • I do think the switch in pacing midway was a bit jarring, too, especially the stuff in the last 10% of the book or so, where it kinda got confusing at times (though with good reason). We’re reading this book entirely from Noam’s 3rd person POV, so we only know as much as he does (sorta). So the ending in particular is a bit confusing, though not exactly a cliffhanger, either.
    I was glad for the tiny bits of info we got about the other Level IV witchings (and witchings in general), but I wanted to know more! I hope this isn’t the last we see of Ames, Bethany, and Taye.
  • Okay, I’m deliberately being vague to avoid spoilers, but I have mixed feelings about that consent discussion during the book. I think most readers can agree that the person at the focal point of the consent issue is deeply traumatized and probably not willing to accept what happened to them. However: in case you were creeped out by certain characters for reasons that were only revealed much later in the book and weren’t entirely satisfied with how it was resolved, you’re not alone!
  • Some readers may also have been disturbed by the large amount of characters who self-medicated with drugs and alcohol, especially the teenaged characters. I don’t necessarily think readers will think this is a romanticization of unhealthy coping mechanisms, but I was a bit discomforted by it. These characters are not okay and could use a lot of therapy.
  • Also, this is something I must mention as a mentally ill person who has a lot of mentally ill friends and family members, as well as disabled friends and family members, but Noam uses A LOT of ableist words to describe/talk about things. Maybe we could put that down as one of his character flaws and so on, since disability isn’t a focus of this book, but it is pretty rampant and people who are easily bothered by that might wanna take it into account. I personally just put it down to “Noam being Noam”, but thought to mention it here.

TL;DR: I highly recommend this book!

P.S. Here’s the author’s list of content warnings on her blog, for the curious: http://victorialeewrites.com/2018/09/18/the-fever-king-content-warnings

(Crosspost from my goodreads)

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Reflecting on 2018

This year didn’t really start out with a bang as much as a slow series of stumbles that turned into a good sprint to the finish line.

I’ll admit that I really wasn’t in a good space in the first part of the year, especially after my friend died from alcohol poisoning and I spiraled downwards in escapism until I finally called student mental health services in late May. I’m still not okay, but I’m better than I was yesterday and so much better than I was last month, and that’s really all that matters tbh.

I was so inspired by the creative accomplishments of so many people this year, from writers to musicians to artists. Y’all really do breathe life and light into this world. Please never stop believing in the good works you do!

I am also very grateful for the support and encouragement I’ve received from so many different corners. From certain family members to new and old friends to complete internet strangers, I feel encouraged to give each new day another chance to improve myself and keep going.

2018 ultimately wasn’t what I expected at all, but I learned a lot from it and I plan to carry the good vibes and life lessons over into 2019.

Favorite Books Read in 2018

This year taught me that when I give myself a reading challenge of 20 or so books, I should really have those exact 20 or so books carefully pre-selected, lest I end up reading almost 70 books, many of which end up being DNFs or impulse-reads, and then having to spend 48 hours of my ridiculous existence clearing out 200 books from my tbr that I can already tell aren’t gonna be my cup of tea. *throws confetti*

In no particular order, the good shit:

Fantasy Books and Novellas:

  • Thornfruit by Felicia Davin (Adult Fantasy): Reading this book in the tail-end of the year made up for the crappy books that started this year off, I tell ya. It basically walked up and punched me in the jaw with how good it was and before I knew it, I was on the last page of the third book and scratching at the bit to yell about it to everyone. I’m fully planning to reread this series next year, so if you’re in the mood for a snappy plot and WLWOC, I invite you to give this a shot.
  • Our Bloody Pearl by D.N. Bryn (Young Adult Fantasy): Do you like pirates? Do you like mermaids? Do you like stories that are both horrifying and adorable? Do you know the gender binary is a load of crock? Boy howdy, do I have the book for you!
  • Circe by Madeline Miller (Adult Fantasy): This book starts out as a Greek Mythology retelling and then slowly becomes a love note to humanity and I loved it.
  • The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner (Young Adult Fantasy): I waited far too long to read these books with their beautiful political intrigue. Also wanting to either yell at Gen or ruffle his hair affectionately is a big mood.
  • More Than Enough by Elizabeth Wambheim (Young Adult Fairy Tales): This novella was all sorts of soft, warm-hearted and adorable and I fell in love before the end of the first chapter. If you need a cute and shortish Beauty and the Beast retelling, this is the one.
  • Deadline by Stephanie Ahn (Adult Urban Fantasy): Idk what I was expecting from this book but Harry is such an entertaining and funny character and I enjoyed her POV so much.
  • Valor by Isabelle Melançon (Mostly Young Adult-ish Fantasy): So this is actually an anthology of short stories, comics, and graphic novel-type stories that are mostly centered on female protagonists. Also there’s a lot of wlw rep thanks to the artists and writers who contributed. You have to special order it from a specific website, but it’s worth it imho.

Misc. Genres and Nonfiction:

  • Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee (Medical Nonfiction): You’re probably wondering why in all seven hells I’d recommend a 500-page book on the history of human cancers and their medical advancements but Mukherjee writes beautifully and I fully plan to read more of his books in the future.
  • Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell (Adult Science Fiction, Philosophical): I suspected this book would be better than the very flawed movie and hey, I WAS RIGHT. The different stories interweave into something that is so much more. I also recommend listening to the movie soundtrack for maximum feels. And yeah, this is a Bury Your Gays book, but it’s really more of a Bury All Your POV Characters book, to the point that I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised when any of them actually survive.
  • Elements of Eloquence by Mark Forsyth (Nonfiction, Writing Reference): If you’ve been looking for a book that explains the elements of creative writing without putting you back in your worst memories of grade school, this is it. Read from front to back or peruse as needed, whatever works.
  • Poppy Jenkins by Clare Ashton (Adult Queer Romance): You have no idea how relieved I was when I realized that this wasn’t a YA romance. Yeah, this book uses a lot of romance tropes, but I didn’t mind so much because it was so entertaining. Imagine if Pollyanna was a Welsh lesbian in her 30s running a coffee shop and you’ve got this book in a nutshell.

Short Stories

  • The City of Dreams by Hailey Griffiths (Young Adult Fantasy): I expected nothing from this story, but it turned out to be really, really good and the ONLY book in this series so far so now I pass on those “I need more” fangirl feels to y’all. You’re welcome.
  • A Faire Encounter by A.M. Valenza (Young Adult Urban Fantasy): I think this is gonna be released on its own next year, but for now it’s part of an anthology and it’s just such a super cute short story.
  • Wolves in the Fold by Elizabeth Wambheim (Historical Fiction): Similar to More Than Enough, this story is short yet adorable.

Honorable Mentions (that I got too lazy to ramble about, mea culpa, so nudge me in the comments to ramble about them if you so desire):

  • Maple Street by A.M. Dorhauer
  • A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
  • The Low King by Kristofer Nivens
  • I Hate Everyone But You by Gaby Dunn
  • Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
  • Before She Ignites by Joni Meadows
  • The Dead Earl by Elliott Junkyard
  • Sunblind by Ramona Meisel
  • The Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel
  • Wrede on Writing by Patricia C. Wrede
  • Tales of Nevèrÿon by Samuel R. Delany
  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story by Alexander Freed
  • The Governess Affair by Courtney Milan
  • The Bones of the Earth by Scott Hale
  • Nightblade by Garrett Robinson
  • Nine Tomorrows by Isaac Asimov

Not All Writing Advice Is Generalizable

And one of the biggest examples of why this is true is humor.

Ever since someone said to my face that women aren’t and never will be funny (blatant lies!), I’ve been mildly obsessed with studying humor—especially humorous storytelling—because dammit, I will be a funny woman out of spite if nothing else. And after reading rather a lot of funny books and writing advice, I’m forced to conclude that most of the advice about writing humor can’t be generalized to all writers.

Yes, there are some basics that will be useful for most people, such as learning about different types of humor and how to implement them in writing and comedy. For example, making readers laugh out loud often requires a combination of different humor techniques (e.g. see the Discworld books).

However, at the end of the day, humor is very much a YMMV thing and anyone who says they can single-handedly teach you to be a master of comedy is probably very over-confident or only trying to train you to know how to do their exact humor style, which may not even be what your target audience enjoys.

Case in point: John McNally’s writing advice book, Vivid and Continuous, has an entire chapter devoted to the art of writing humor. The first part of his chapter is okay, as it discusses different theories of humor with a personal anecdote for examples. But then, McNally ends the chapter with his “Sure-Fire Formula For Becoming Funnier in Thirty Days!” And he proclaims that if you don’t laugh at all while following his formula, you simply aren’t a funny person.

Hmmm, yeah. How about no???

My dear fellow writers, if you look up his formula and try to follow it and don’t laugh at all, it’s not because you aren’t funny, but because his advice just doesn’t apply to you. Not only is his list very Straight White Baby Boomer American-centric, but also he disses any sort of humor that relates to popular media and as Millennials and Gen Z folks will attest, humor based on popular media (i.e. memes), can still be extremely funny and audience-friendly. Lord of the Rings jokes and memes made back when my parents were reading the books (i.e. “Frodo Lives”) still exist in the humorous posts and fanfics posted to social media or fiction posted to WordPress. And even if pop culture humor is temporary, then so what? It was enjoyable in the moment, and that’s really what matters in the end.

Anyway, this is just a friendly reminder to take writing advice with a grain of salt, especially writing advice on humor. And if you’re already making people laugh at your jokes, you’re doing just fine, even if you fall outside of someone’s fancy writing formula. 🙂

Happy First Day of Autumn (September 2018 Personal Updates)

It’s September 22nd and officially autumn so I’m currently decorating for Halloween, weighing different costume options, and realizing that next month is gonna go by like a whirlwind. Ah, well. At least I finally finished my Goodreads reading challenge!

Some brief updates on my life:

  • Grad school is busy, busy, busy, and even more so with student org obligations and work, but I’m gonna make it through this year if it kills me, dammit.
  • I’m getting better at giving vaccinations!
  • I think I mentioned this in a previous post, but I’ve been working with a new therapist since before summer started on some mental health things I’ve referenced on this blog in the past, and it’s helping loads with managing grad school + life stress and setting healthy boundaries. I just need to be better about the “homework” I’ve been assigned to do. (Mental health apps are a literal lifesaver.)
  • I did read way more books this year than expected (granted, a fair few were poetry books, short stories, graphic novels, and DNFs that I dropped like a hot tamale), but I’ve been better about slowing down with my reading now that classes have begun. It doesn’t feel that way sometimes, but I’m in a much better place than I was last semester.
  • I’m still not sure how I feel about alcohol since people generally assume that if you’re going to college and you’re in your 20s, you should be drinking like a fish in your free time. But since I have family members who have since passed on from their chemical addictions and because I lost a friend earlier this year to alcohol poisoning, I’m rather wary of it nowadays. I’ve been better about setting boundaries on how much I drink and when I drink and overall I’ve become that mythical person who can stop after one drink at social outings. I prefer myself much better this way, especially because it means I can still think, function, and get work done. Anyone who doesn’t respect my drinking choices probably isn’t healthy for me to be around, anyway.
  • Since I had a blood test about a year and a half ago that indicated I was pre-diabetic, it’s been a wakeup call to make healthier eating choices (even on the most stressful days) and to exercise more. Hence the renewed interest in cooking and the recipes I’ve been posting here. Many Americans are pre-diabetic and don’t know it, so I’m considering it a gift to have this knowledge early so that I can protect my good health as long as possible.
  • Word of advice: If you know you have diabetic or pre-diabetic family members, try to get your A1C checked at some point because it never hurts to know and lifestyle changes are so much cheaper than dealing with the cost of diabetic healthcare in the USA. I deal with diabetic patients every day at my job and the costs (and stress on my patients because of the costs) are horrifying.
  • Mormonism and leaving Mormonism has been on my mind lately with the Protect LDS Children initiative (and Sam Young’s subsequent excommunication over it), plus the various abuse scandals with missionaries and so on. I try not to let being an ExMormon take over my identity too much, but when a lot is on my mind, it feels like a shield, if that makes sense. Plus, I’m now more involved with the local queer/LGBTQ+ community, so I’m reminded of it since my sexuality (and gender) was a major factor in wanting to get out when I was 13/14. Someday I hope the baggage I carry will feel less heavy and the PTSD will be easier to manage.
  • Related to this blog is the writing blog I started when I was not in a good place in my life and then carried on with as a way to document my writing hobby and the recovery process. I haven’t been writing too much in the past month aside from things related to school and book reviews (mea culpa), but it’s one of the things I’m hoping to do more of instead of wasting time on social media.
  • Goals for next month/autumn (since I may not have time to post again until November): be better about socializing and keeping in touch with people because grad school makes it far too easy to become a recluse, keep my living space as organized and as clean as possible so that it doesn’t become hot chaos, and then less time on social media (I say as I refresh social media yet again lol) and more time on physical exercise and writing as much healthier coping mechanisms for anxiety.

Good luck to y’all with your goals and plans and have a lovely autumn!

 

 

A brief word of advice to editors and readers

Normally, this is the sort of thing I’d post to the more casual blog, but I’d probably receive the third degree there for what I’m about to say.

As a hobbyist writer, I’ve been involved with online writing communities for nearly 15 years now and have experienced dozens of different kinds of writer cultures. I think I can safely say that I’ve seen most of the usual writing-and-book-publishing dramas that eventually crop up in such creative circles. I’ve also been the odd beta reader, a casual editor, and a frequent reviewer.

If there’s one bit of advice that I highly recommend to both readers and editors, it’s that in online circles where writers post more personal stuff or post more casually written things (not officially published works), one must bear in mind that many writers have egos that are as fragile as glass. 

Now, I’m not saying that you need to protect their fragile egos from criticism or rejection. Hell no. That’s unhealthy and unrealistic and quite frankly some of us writers actually prefer to hear honest critiques or to know when we make a typo in our creative writing (we exist!). Writers/artistic people can and should be responsible for managing their own emotions, reactions, mental health, and so on. But, uh, in close-knit writing groups on social media, fandom culture, etc etc it might be better for you to take a moment to think before you say something to them there because I’ve seen many folks make an off-hand comment or note something with the intention to be helpful and then immediately regret it because social media can breed such nasty backlash. You can go full Leeroy Jenkins if you want, but also be smart and protect yourself in this screwed up age of internet harassment culture, mmkay?

Also, certain writing circles can turn into toxic echo chambers of the same old advice, same old rules of etiquette, and other toxic behaviors such that folks who think differently will eventually leave (usually to form their own groups). Sometimes it’s better to gracefully bow out or otherwise stop expending so much energy rather than try to force a change on something that refuses to be changed. Because it bears repeating: Don’t set yourselves on fire to keep others warm.

Updates and August 2018 Happenings

Summer is almost over and per the usual, my plans have been more ambitious than what I was feasibly able to do in reality. Normally I’d write one of these posts at the start of next month, but because I will be very busy next month (and even busier until the winter holidays) I thought I’d jot down what passes for a blog update now.

First off, blog updates: I do intend to keep posting little recipes or cooking advice here and there, though I’ll be making more of an effort to do that at least monthly. I’ll also try to write posts like this one at least quarterly, maybe some book recs and creative writing on my writing blog. Over the past year, I’ve realized that I MUST increasingly waste less time on my other social media accounts since while the folks on there can be super friendly, the websites have been far more of a distraction to me than studying, writing, and cooking motivation. For the sake of my precious free time and mental health, I need to devote more time to quieter, less distracting tasks. WordPress is pretty nice about that, as long as I limit how often I post and edit things.

August 2018 Happenings:

  • My new job and a renewed interest in my own mental and physical well-being has pushed me to change some things about my living space and habits et. al., even if it means things like spending money on a backpack that isn’t broken, a small book I’ve wanted to read for years, or the copay for health care services.
  • To that end, my new job is fast-paced and can be quite stressful, but I’m learning from my (many) newbie mistakes and managing and it’ll help me through school and make me feel less anxious about money.
  • I don’t mention it much, but I’m reading a lot of books atm and have had to push forward my Goodreads reading goal for the year far more times than planned. I expect that to dry up by the end of next month since I’ll need to focus more on textbooks and less on fiction reads. Perhaps I’ll still have time to read and review indie short stories here and there, but I’m not making any promises.
  • Speaking of which, I’m trying to build up better study habits, but it has very much been a work in progress since I tend to get distracted very easily, especially during the summer. I’m actually digging out old calendar-type systems again since neglecting to do that since the start of May has led me to brush up against deadlines far more than I’d like.
  • August 1st marks Lughnasadh and that foreboding feeling right before the end of summer (and for me that means school, flu vaccine season, and putting up Halloween decorations). I’m not sure how I feel about this summer, strange as it has been, but I hope all of you are doing well despite the continued heat wave and forest fires and that you can have some time to enjoy the beach or swimming pool and helados for me as I will be too busy then to partake.

May you all have a nice August and hopefully my time away from this blog won’t be as long as my hiatus earlier in the year.

Fruit and Yogurt Popsicles

Another recipe post because why not? (I’ve been reading books, working , and badgering myself back into “good student who is conscientious and knows how to study” mode before next month so not much excitement has been happening in my life lately.) This recipe is how I’ve been surviving the heat wave without melting or spending all my money on overpriced store-bought popsicles, though I’ll admit to buying a few tubs of cheap soy ice cream and fruity sorbets. (Alas, I have yet to see any genuine water ice sold in bulk where I live and the gelato and froyo are both ridiculously expensive relative to the quality. The east coast spoiled me.)

Ingredients

  • 1 & ½ cup of plain yogurt (or Greek yogurt if you prefer)
  • ¼ cup jam, jelly, or other preserves
  • ½ cup powdered sugar (or more or less to taste, but it’s essential to have it powdered so that the popsicles are creamy instead of gritty)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract or flavoring
  • ½ cup frozen fruit of choice (I try to match it up with the preserves so e.g. a berry preserve would pair well with frozen blueberries)

Directions

There’s really not much to this one because it’s so easy, but basically mix everything up in a medium bowl and pour or spoon the mix into popsicle molds and freeze at least 3-4 hours or so, depending on your freezer’s temperature.

Flavor combos in case you need ideas (not cross-posted elsewhere and partly based on The Flavor Bible):

  • Strawberry, blueberry, or blackberry preserves/jam + frozen blueberries or raspberries (since strawberries and blackberries tend to be too large for popsicles unless there’s some way to cut them while frozen without turning it into a smoothie)
  • Frozen peach slices + orange marmalade + 1/2 tsp cinnamon mixed into everything else
  • Frozen peach slices + blueberry or raspberry jam/jelly + 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • Frozen peach slices + apricot ginger preserve
  • Frozen banana slices + basically any of the above since it’s so versatile
  • Frozen mango pieces + 4 Tbsp lime juice in place of the vanilla and jam and add 1/2 – 1 tsp of chili powder to the mix or more if desired

 

 

Summer Mozzarella Quesadillas

I’m back again with another recipe because this season seems to be the time when I experiment a little more (and my most recent “everything but the kitchen sink” vegetarian soup would probably be too tricky to write down since I basically just tossed shit from the fridge + freezer in a pan and the slow cooker and then combined them lol).

Ingredients (for 1 serving)*:

  • 1 flour tortilla (I made this with the fajita size ones so you’ll need to scale up the other ingredients by about double if you use the super large ones)
  • 1 Tbsp red pepper spread (I get mine from Trader Joe’s)
  • 1 slice of fresh mozzarella from a mozzarella ball, approximately ¼ inch thick OR use about ¼-1/3 cup shredded mozzarella OR non-dairy mozzarella substitute of choice like Daiya
  • ¼ cup fresh basil leaves (or a mix of basil and parsley, but the basil is a must for best flavor results)

*Technically you could make these into margherita quesadillas (in the loosest interpretation of the latter word) if you used pizza sauce and oregano instead of the red pepper spread and drizzled some olive oil on top, followed by sprinkled salt and black pepper, but you do you. Also if you want to make it a little more veg-heavy, you could add cooked spinach and red onion to the fillings or maybe a bit of thinly sliced tomato and change up the type of tortilla or wrap you use.

Directions:

  1. Heat a medium or large nonstick pan or electric griddle to medium-high heat (this recipe is fairly quick so just keep an eye on things and the bottom of your tortilla won’t burn).
  2. Use a butter knife to apply a thin layer of pepper spread to the tortilla and place it on the pan, pepper spread side facing up.
  3. Add the mozzarella slice dead center or sprinkle the shredded cheese around the tortilla, keeping about ½-1 inch away from the edges.
  4. Sprinkle the basil + other herbs on top and cover the pan/griddle with a lid or a heat-safe plate.
  5. Cook until cheese is melted and basil leaves have wilted, about 3-5 minutes (so watch it like a hawk).
  6. Fold tortilla in half and use a spatula to remove it from the pan to a plate so that you can dig in!

July 2018 Updates

It’s been quite a while since I posted anything to this blog beyond the irregular shared post on personal or writing advice (or both!), so I thought I’d make a post today instead of continuing to overthink my unplanned hiatus.

So, here are some personal happenings over the past year or so (well, since this blog was more active):

  • I’ve made new blogs and writing accounts elsewhere, which are a lot more free-spirited and good for making casual friends or acquaintances who share a lot of my interests. I won’t say where or link them (but those of you who can guess enough to know how to PM me are welcome to ask me privately). There are definite downsides to juggling different styles of blogging, but I’m not giving up on WordPress because even though the writing community here is smaller and less active, I do enjoy its simplicity and peacefulness that is relatively free of drama compared to other places.
  • I’m also writing 3 WIPs: two novel-length ones that have been stuck in my head for at least a couple years (if not much longer) and one short story just because. They’re hobbies for the time being; I’m not seriously planning to publish them within the next few years, but instead study the process of writing and have a place to creatively vent with words.
  • I’ve started grad school in the past year which, for multiple professional, financial, and personal reasons, has felt somewhat like throwing myself repeatedly into an MMA ring after having only a week of beginner’s boxing lessons. And then sometimes I manage to win a match and I go, “Huh, I guess I know more than I feel like I do.”
  • Some parts of grad school have been rather difficult because I was rather starry-eyed about being surrounded by lots of grad school friends and dropped the ball a bit on the work needed to make friendship happen. I’ll have to do better. While I have dozens of nice enough classmate acquaintances, I’ll need to think more about how I might be a better friend to them, as well as choose my friends more wisely.
  • I’ve started a new part-time job after a year of doing odd jobs and mostly having too much time for a brain as anxious as mine is. The work can be stressful, but I like that it challenges my brain and keeps me moving and focused on my schoolwork and adulting skills. I hope I can stay on with this one, no matter how busy I get, at least until I earn my degree in a few years if not longer. It’s not the sort of work I planned to be doing 6 months ago, but I’ve changed my mind about what I’m interested in since then.
  • On that note, I started up one-on-one therapy again. It’s not perfect (therapists who have expertise in spiritual abuse and cults are unfortunately rare), but my therapist does know a fair bit about PTSD and so I have hopes that I can improve my patterns of thinking and make them healthier, since now I’m not only responsible for my own health, but also the patients I encounter when working or volunteering. I often have this image of myself as having to be strong and capable for the others who rely on me, but that’s not possible if any aspect of my health (mental or physical) is teetering off a cliff.
  • I’ve also started doing my own spiritual practices again. Last year, I was expecting to have joined a UU congregation by now, but I’ve concluded that going to a church building every Sunday might be more triggering than I originally thought. So, I can do my own thing instead, something I do for myself and keep fairly private, and can return to on my own terms and whenever I have time, considering how chaotic my schedule can be.
  • I would also be lying if I didn’t mention here that I am very worried for the future of my country and trying to do what I can to preserve the interests of future generations while picking my battles wisely and trying not to fight all of them alone, given that allies and potential allies are everywhere. There are many ways I can help, more than what one might see on the nightly news. I’ve always wielded my sense of politeness (even reservation) and easy ability to get on with those much older than me like armor, as if to protect myself from the things I experienced in my childhood and prevent them from ever harming me again. However, it occurs to me that the things I’m learning and the skills I’ve developed over the years can extend that armor to others, and I really ought to do that when I have the spoons.

Anyway, that’s it for now. I hope everyone is having a nice start to their July so far, and if not, I hope you have easier days soon.

If you’re currently working on a summer project or anything, I’d be happy to hear about that, too!