Books, bitch! (Round 2013)

Another year gone, another mountain of books added to the floor of my bedroom like literary lava, forcing me to Frogger-hop my way to the bathroom in the middle of the night every time I have to get up to go pee. In 2102 I had a thing for dystopian teen fiction and in 2013 my life revolved around Harry Potter. I realize I’m over a DECADE late on this and I’m not sorry at all about it. I will take this moment to publicly acknowledge the fact that K. has long been ranting and raving about the magical world of Hogwarts and not only did I not take her seriously, I’m pretty sure I openly mocked her for it on more than one occasion. Still not sorry. But in 2013 I moved in with a new roommate, thereby gaining access to an entire new library of possibilities and thus, my journey at Hogwarts began. I didn’t read all seven books in a row, though. I mean… c’mon. I’m an adult.

Anyways, here’s a recap of everything I read (in order) in 2013 and whether or not YOU should do the same:

Black Swan Green – David Mitchell 

David Mitchell is a popular and critically acclaimed author and yet I haven’t read either one of his most famous novels (Cloud Atlas and number9dream). Up until this point, the only book of his I had read was The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet and I loved it so much I will probably read it again this year. Black Swan Green was recommended to me by a friend and I really owe him a high five for it. It’s a beautiful (semi-autobiographical) story about a young boy with a stammer coming of age in England during the early 1980s and even though I have zero in common with that, it stole my heart nonetheless.

Ghostwritten – David Mitchell 

I bought this book at the same time as Black Swan Green because when I decide to do something, I fucking COMMIT to it. And I’m happy I did, because this is a stunning book. It has nine narrators (NINE!) from across the globe whose stories and lives all intersect in some way. If that doesn’t hook you right there, then I have absolutely no way of connecting with you as a human. Goodbye.

Bone Black – bell hooks 

Every human being should read bell hooks. That’s all I have the capacity to say about her and this book.

The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through The Madness Industry – Jon Ronson

I’ve always been fascinated (obsessed?) with the fine line between genius and madness and this book just fuelled that fire. This was by no means an academic read and it obviously trivialized some really complex issues of mental health and the societal institutions surrounding it, but I’m no scientist and I found it pretty interesting. I also became convinced that 90% of the people around me are psychopaths which then made me question whether or not it’s ME who is actually the psychopath and then I didn’t leave my house for a few days, so COOL STORY, BRO.

Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn 

Meh. I mean, it was interesting. There aren’t many books like this out there. If you like plot twists and suspense and sexy times – pick this one up. It’s entertaining. But I didn’t seem to like it as much as I feel I was supposed to. They’re making this into a movie with Ben Affleck, and I’m already prepared for it to be fucking terrible.

Harry Potter + The Philosopher’s Stone – J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter + The Chamber of Secrets – J.K. Rowling 

ALL HAIL HARRY POTTER. These first two books were written for 11 year olds and they’re fucking great. I read them both in one weekend which made me feel a lot better about the fact that they’re books for 11 year olds.

When You Are Engulfed in Flames – David Sedaris 

Sometimes you need to take a break from Hogwarts and when you need to take a break from anything in life, reading David Sedaris is undoubtedly the perfect way to do that. He’s a pretty funny dude and his writing is razor-sharp. If you like authors like Chuck Klosterman, or Dave Eggers and you haven’t read any Sedaris, don’t even finish reading this blog post and go start.

Harry Potter + The Prisoner of Azkaban – J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter + The Goblet of Fire – J.K. Rowling 

I read these on an overnight Greyhound bus ride to New York City. WORST DECISION EVER. Great books, though. 

Eating Animals – Jonathan Safran Foer 

Whether you eat meat or not – read this book. Period.

On Writing – Stephen King 

This book changed my life. It’s also the first book I’ve ever read by Stephen King.

Harry Potter + The Order of the Phoenix – J.K. Rowling 

Yo, shit starts to get REAL in this book. First of all, it’s like 800 pages. That means it was way too big for me to carry around in my purse and whip out on the subway.

Bag of Bones – Stephen King 

The second book I’ve ever read by Stephen King, and I fucking FLEW through it. So good, in that Stephen King kinda way.

Downtown Owl – Chuck Klosterman 

Klosterman, man. He’s hit or miss for me but this one was a hit, folks. I read it in one sitting.

The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold 

This is one of those books that people who don’t read a lot of books consistently bring up in conversation when they’re trying to bond with you and I figured I should read it so that I can be better in social situations. It’s also the only book my mom has read in like 8 years. It’s a good book, though.

Harry Potter + The Half Blood Prince – J.K. Rowling 

This is the point at which Harry Potter begins to give me nightmares. WHY IS HARRY POTTER GIVING ME NIGHTMARES.

This Is How You Lose Her – Junot Díaz 

This was my favourite read of 2013 (sorry Harry) and it has been sitting in a deep and hidden corner of my heart ever since.

Harry Potter + The Deathly Hallows – J.K. Rowling 

After reading every other Harry Potter book, reading this one is like a family reunion, a going away party and graduation all wrapped into one. And if you thought that a children’s fiction series couldn’t have a long-lasting impact on you as a fully grown adult with her shit together than BOY WERE YOU EVER WRONG. I’m now that person who drops Harry Potter references into everyday conversation and what makes it even more annoying is that I’m SEVEN YEARS LATE in doing it. I’m a really big hit at parties.

That’s it for 2013. Now it’s time for you to tell me what to read in 2014.

GO.

S.

An Open Letter to Men Who Don’t Believe Women Belong in Fantasy Sports Pools, or, “A Violation of the Bro Code”

To Whom It Concerns (aka to all the douchebag dudes out there):

So you don’t think a lady belongs in your sports pool. Congratulations! You’ve just mastered the art of time travel. Theoretical physicists have been toying with this concept for decades, and yet you’ve managed to do it with only your machismo and outdated sexist notions to help you. If it weren’t so incredibly offensive, it would actually be amazing!

All jokes aside, I suppose an apology is in order. You brave, masculine souls have reportedly had to watch what you say around my delicate female ears, lest I faint from overexertion at trying to understand you, or, throw my hand up to my brow and shudder at your – what I’m sure would be lame at best – attempts at beaking the other players in the pool. FYI, as a proud owner of one, I say the word ‘cunt’ more than anybody I know. Also, brace yourselves here… I’ve heard smack talk before. I blame my father for allowing me out of the house without a chaperone for this (shame on him). Frankly, I’m disappointed that I was never given the chance to school you with my words the same way I did with my teams. Perhaps you were scared?

Regardless, I’m going to lay some things out here for you:

  • It’s 2013. 2-0-1-3. Gender equality is actually a thing now, you guys.
  • I, and many other women, love sports. And we don’t just belong on the sidelines dressed up like show poodles on caffeine pills, either. Believe it or not, we’re more than just our bodies! (Or, do you know that, and that’s what you’re so scared of?)
  • If I entered the pool anonymously, would you have a problem with that? Or is it the fact that I have (great) breasts that offends you so much? If so… I’m sorry? They’re kind of unavoidable secondary sex characteristics given to roughly 51% of the human population to sustain human life or whatever. They don’t reduce my intelligence, make me less able to handle myself in a group of oh-so-manly-men, or give me the ability to fly. Just not sure if you knew that as they seem to really confuse and intimidate you.

In conclusion, I suppose I want to say a grandiose FUCK YOU to all of the men who are still intent on holding me and my gender back, even in little ways like this (it takes a lot of drops to fill a bucket, folks). But perhaps I should put this in the terms you felt you were unable to say around me: suck my proverbial dick. I look forward to being not only better in pools than you are, but also an overall better person. Should you one day come to your senses and join the rest of us in the present day and time, I will welcome you with open arms. Just don’t expect me to take it easy on you with the smack talk. ; )

Sincerely Yours,

One Pissed Off Female

This Is What Girls Talk About

Image

We all email our friends at work. Every day. Multiple times a day. I think it may be our small way of getting back to those glorious wonder years of school where we got to hang out with our friends five days a week like it was our goddamned job, mostly because, until we turned old enough to want $300 pairs of jeans and a means of our own transportation, it really was our only job.

Anyways, it got me to wondering what men email about. Which made me think that perhaps they have no idea what we email about. Well, gentlemen, here it is. The following are actual excerpts from emails I get from my friends randomly throughout the day. This, is what girls talk about:

“Hour meeting has turned into day meeting. Ate spicy Thai for lunch. Have heart burn and gas.”

“I just looked down to put my head in my hands after a nasty work-related email and noticed that I have a huge glob of crusty toothpaste on my left boob (the top of it, mostly just chest area, work-appropriate … but still, it’s resting on the hump).”

“I had to Google “can females pull their groin?” this morning, I think from showing off cartwheeling. Fact of the day: female groin is called an adductor.”

“If you need some muscle to back you up Kelsey I can pay some homeless men to stare at him.”

And links like this: How To Make An Ewok Hat For Your Cat

Ewok-Hat-e1358288908421

(Sidenote: I will actually be trying this; and likely die trying it, too.)

I’d love to see what types of links and stories PGPT readers share with their friends during the daily email catch-ups, so spill ‘em. Treat us like you do your friends at work when you’re in need of looking like you’re seriously working and typing unbelievably fast. When, really,  you’re just deciding if it only sounded like Steve farted on Saturday at Megan’s, or if he really farted Saturday at Megan’s, because there was some speculation that there was a smell. Discuss.

K.

PETITION: Ban These Office Behaviours

To the Honourable Lawmaker and Regulator of Office-Appropriate Food and Beverage Choices and Actions, Esquire.

We, the Union of Diligent Office Workers with Normal, Socially Acceptable Behaviour Patterns, send you this petition to ban the following from offices worldwide:

  • Chewing gum at any audible level other than DEAD SILENT 
  • Regaling co-workers with details of the ~cRaZy~ dream you had last night
  • Interrupting people by waving your hand in their face while they have headphones on
  • Leaving pee on the toilet seat (Note: Joint proposal, in collaboration with Petition #852C5 – “Petition for Things to Be Banned Everywhere, You Savages”)
  • Eating any of the following foods outside of a common area intended for food consumption: Fish, apples, carrots, celery, kettle chips, hard boiled eggs, et al.
  • Taking personal phone calls in your open-concept office and whispering at that annoying level where we can hear every other word of your stupidity
  • Talking about your family/boyfriend/girlfriend/best friend drama to anybody, at any time
  • Adding people on an email trail who don’t need to be on the email trail
  • Removing people on an email trail who need to be on the email trail
  • Eating food from the fridge that you did not put in the fridge
  • Complaining constantly about how busy you are because HI, EVERYONE HAS THINGS TO DO. WE ARE AT WORK. THAT IS WHAT WORK IS. ACCUMULATING THINGS TO DO AND THEN FIGURING OUT HOW TO DO THE THINGS IN EXCHANGE FOR LEGAL TENDER.

Regards,
S.
Easily Irritated Union Representative

 

 

Books, bitch!

Sweet, sweet books. People often see me reading a different one every few weeks and ask me for recommendations. Well, you’re all in luck! It just so happens that I keep a detailed list of every book I read because I am insane. Here is a list of what I read in 2012 and whether or not YOU should read it.

A Clash of Kings – George R.R. Martin
A Storm of Swords – George R.R. Martin
A Feast for Crows – George R.R. Martin

These are books 2 through 4, respectively, in the series “A Song of Fire and Ice” – the first one being (of course) Game of Thrones. I’ve had to physically stop myself from buying the fifth one, A Dance With Dragons, until it comes out on paperback because, hi, these books are all over 1000 pages. Fuck a hardcover. Read these if you a) really love the Game of Thrones television series and can’t wait to see what happens next and b) you really love reading. You have to invest a serious amount of time and energy into the narrative but gawd DAMMIT it is worth every second.

The Gargoyle – Andrew Davidson

This was an entertaining read. Two souls traveling over different time periods, finding each other again and again. If you don’t believe in that kinda shit, then maybe it isn’t for you. But hey, the main character is a crude atheist and a former porn star who gets badly burned in a car crash. He didn’t believe either. I’m just saying.

Just Kids – Patti Smith

ALL HAIL QUEEN PATTI. This memoir details her early life and subsequent relationship with the renowned photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. If you are drawn to photography, art, New York, the 60s/70s, good music or ALL OF THEM, COMBINED, ALWAYS  – then this is a book for you.

Innocent Erendira: And Other Stories – Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Gabo is my favourite author, period. He does the most delicious things with language and touches my heart in ways no one else ever has. That is all.

Strange Pilgrims – Gabriel Garcia Marquez

See above.

The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins
Catching Fire – Suzanne Collins

I wish I had read these books before I saw the movie. They actually weren’t too bad, considering they’re “teen fiction.” Not good enough for me to pick up the third one, but still. I really like dystopian science-fiction, even ESPECIALLY when it involves children fighting to the death.

The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald

Classic. I read this back in school but had a whole new appreciation for it upon reading again, decades later. I thoroughly suggest you do the same. (Also, could I be more excited for the movie coming out this Christmas? Leonardo DiCaprio as Gatsby? Jay-Z doing the musical score? SEE YA.)

This Side of Paradise – F. Scott Fitzgerald

Also a classic. I enjoyed this one in a very different way than I did Gatsby. There were some paragraphs I just read over and over. Recommended especially if you’re into the mentalities of post-war generations.

Imagine – Jonah Lehrer

This fucking guy. Okay. So Jonah Lehrer has written more than a few books and contributes regularly to my favourite podcast of all time, Radiolab. So imagine my delight upon realizing he has published a book about ~CrEaTiViTy~ right? The book itself was  great, repetitive in some places, but overall it really got me thinking about my own creative process and work environment, blah blah. Super. TURNS OUT… this guy fabricated more than one quote from Bob Dylan in the book. Fabricated, as in, faked. Quotes. From BOB. DYLAN. The book was taken off shelves (I wonder if mine will one day be worth anything??) and resigned from his post at The New Yorker. Not cool, Jonah. You were my hero! How could you do this to me?! Still though, if you feel like you’re in a creative slump, it might be worth reading. If you can find a copy. You can’t borrow mine, sorry.

When She Woke – Hillary Jordan

More dystopian teen science-fiction. Criminals have their entire bodies dyed a certain colour to reflect their crime. This girl gets dyed completely red, from head to toe, for having an abortion (aka “murder” which is funny because SO MANY PLACES ACTUALLY THINK THIS RIGHT NOW, LIKE IN 2013). One of those books you can’t put down, even if you want to. Worth it.

The Unbearable Lightness of Being – Milan Kundera

Amazing. Heart warming. Heartbreaking. Will probably read it again this year.

How Should a Person Be? – Sheila Heti

So good. Almost a painfully relevant book for me at this point in my life. I read this book ignorant to the fact that the narrator (aka the author) and her best friend/muse Margaux ARE REAL PEOPLE WHO EXIST IN LIFE and not only that, they’re from the city I live in. Mind blown. I must stop myself from stalking them on a regular basis. Although I totally read a blog that Margaux contributes to on a regular basis. That’s not stalking, right? If it is… you are all in so much trouble right now.

Bossypants – Tina Fey

I don’t even need to write anything here. Tina is funnier than you will ever be. Deal with it.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) – Mindy Kaling

Not as good as Tina’s book, but totally worth it.

Nymphs of the Valley – Khalil Gibran

If you’re a fan of The Prophet by Khalil Gibran, I highly recommend you read this as well. It’s short and sweet, but filled with more spirit and soul than probably anything else on my bookshelf.

The Marriage Plot – Jeffrey Eugenides

Author of The Virgin Suicides and Middlesex (both amazing, go read right now) Jeffrey Eugenides is really turning out to be one of my favourites. I really enjoy the way he writes and the way he puts a plot together. This novel deals with love and manic depressive disorder and it is equal parts fascinating and heartbreaking.

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius – Dave Eggers

I don’t even know where to begin with this one. Dave Eggers, man. I read McSweeney’s Internet Tendency all the time (McSweeney’s is the publishing house that Dave Eggers founded)  and I can’t believe it took me this long to begin diving into his novels. This one, though… shit. This is a memoir of his childhood and adolescence and let’s just put it out there — Dave Eggers had a REALLY fucked up childhood and adolescence.  It’s a bit of a tough read, if you’re not used to his style… but it’s gut-wrenching and hilarious and so good.

THAT’S IT! Go! Be merry! Read books! Tell me what you think! (And just for curiosity’s sake, right now I’m reading Black Swan Green by David Mitchell who wrote one of my favourite books of 2010, The Thousand Autums of Jacob de Zoet. I even bought that bitch in hardcover.)

S.

The Jealous Girl

Jealousy: A wretched feeling of insignificance mingled with fear and embarrassment. I hate it. Most of all, I hate the fact that I succumb to it every now and again.

Everybody gets jealous sometimes. It can be simple envy over an advantageous position a friend may have just sort of fallen into, like … winning the lottery (to use an extreme example). However, more often than not (and for women especially) it’s a fixation on somebody else’s appearance and/or their concurrent influence over the opposite sex (or the same sex, depending on what you’re into). No matter what kind of jealousy you’re feeling, it sucks. At least for me it does. I get more angry at the fact that I’m feeling this way than upset over what I’m jealous of in the first place. It shakes my self-confidence. It goes against everything I consciously believe in, and it makes me look, and feel, WEAK.

First of all, this brings to light the troubling fact that there is still so much value placed on our gender’s ability to seduce. Better looking women get paid more, both in dollars and in attention. This is a well-documented fact, and something we just have to live with as women (add this to my list of grievances over what our gender is forced to deal with in today’s “equal” age where we still make 75 cents to every dollar a man makes, where CEOs are still 95% male and where the only place for women in any major sports arena is to be dressed as a total slut and waving sparkly balls around like cracked-up idiots for men to look at like total goons … however I digress). And in an era where all you need to do is pick the six selfies out of the 72 you just spent an hour taking in your bathroom, face leaned at just the right angle, hair falling just so, your hip cocked to make your thighs look just a titch “tighter” (and this is before all the REALLY intense chicks process their faces and bodies in Photoshop), our appearance is almost more important than ever when it comes to confidence and validation. Basically, we live in a world where we are now connected to BILLIONS of our competitors for attention – as are the people whose attention we crave – and many of them don’t fight fair.

With the ability to be connected to people (strangers, friends, exes, ALL the people) all of the time, and on various different platforms (Twitter, Facebook etc.), comes the ability to be tempted by people all the time – and to be jealous all the time. Who hasn’t cringed when the person they admire friends or chats with a good-looking girl or guy whose backstory they don’t know? Knowing that the object of your admiration now has 24/7 access to his/her beach pictures, club pictures, all the best shots at the best angles showing the best of them … and knowing that person has seen you barfing for hours, naked, over the side of their bed, all folded over and sweaty at one point? (not that this ever happened to me … .. . okay it totally did, so sue me) It’s hard to not feel that little twinge of panic.

So what do you do when that happens? When you know it’s real and can’t be ignored – you’re jealous of that person. You wish they would just go away forever and leave you in peace. Well, I’m not quite sure what to do, as I still struggle with this problem from time-to-time. I can, however, tell you what NOT to do:

Stalk them. Please, I beg of you, do NOT let yourself get into a creep-mode where all of a sudden you’re Sherlock fucking Holmes and you now know more about their life than the people you work with every single day. This will do nothing but focus your attention on them, make you feel like crap, and worst of all, completely waste your time. No good can come of this. So just stop it. Stop it RIGHT NOW.

Change yourself. Unless this is for the positive and it’s something you want to do for YOU, not something you want to do to be more like the person you think you should be more like, don’t go changing yourself. Imitations are obvious. Being yourself may feel like it’s the worst when you are feeling that lowly low and hating every choice you’ve ever made when it comes to your hair, what you eat and what you do, but I promise you, it’s the best look on you. Much better than that other person’s.

Now, seeing as I’d almost rather barf up razor blades than admit that I get jealous, I usually just keep busy to avoid dealing with it. However, something I’ve found that actually helps me (and hopefully you) after talking to various women about this issue is that you need to:

Recognize that they too get jealous. Let’s say you’re stressing over some girl your boyfriend knows. Well guess what – chances are she wishes she had what you had and can’t imagine that you would ever be jealous of her. And I don’t mean that in a “bitch is gon’ steal your man so you best get on that” way, I mean it in a “take a look at yourself and what you’ve got to be jealous of” kind of way. Consider this – you’ve probably been stalked (see point #1) yourself. Somebody has probably been tempted to be more like YOU. Are you really amazingly good at drawing? Or super funny? Have hair that grows REAL FAST? Get random PDAs from your guy or girl? Somebody has been jealous of that, at some point. Guaranteed. So sit down and pick out three things that are really cool about you and focus on THAT, not on THEM. It’s proven that what we pay attention to comes our way, so if you’re focusing on how awesome you are, and feeling positive about it, good things will come your way and others will also see you like that. If you just focus on how awesome that OTHER person is, then that other person will just take up more and more of your life, and not in a good way – negative thoughts bring negative consequences. So forget them. And if you can’t forget them (if they’re in your circle of friends or a co-worker), stop idolizing them. Because that’s what you’re doing by being so jealous of them. And what you think comes true. That’s the third time I’ve said it now so I hope it’s in your noggin at this point.

Most importantly, don’t beat yourself up when you feel the green-eyed monster looming. We live in an age where jealousy is more rampant than ever, and it’s not necessarily our fault. We are constantly being compared and reviewed and barraged with so many images and profiles of other women and men that it’s practically impossible not to be at one point or another. Just don’t let it consume your life. Recognize it, accept it … and try to move on. Because besides maintaining open lines of communication and trust with the people in your life that you may get jealous over and recognizing that you have lots to be jealous of, too … that is honestly the only thing CAN do. Also always remember that what you think comes true! So think positive! The most beautiful girls are the happy ones, anyways.

K.