The Open Mic

Ten feet away, an idol stands at a microphone in front of her.

The idol announces that her turn is up in 3, and she isn’t sure

whether she’s ready.

She’s never been one to be so real

in front of strangers, and she doesn’t want to steal

the spotlight from people

whose stories matter more than hers.

Not that she thinks she’s any good.

It’s the opposite. She supposes she could

decide to leave or withdraw, but she sticks it out.

She practically blacks out during the next two sets,

but she tries to focus.

The man before her is powerful

with a message that empowers.

Will her message empower?

No.

But it’s her turn.

The idol returns and announces that she’s up.

Is that really her name? It sounds unnatural, and she wants to throw up.

But she stands up

and faces the open mic.

18528024_10212829200907499_2685136805552932061_n.jpg

I did my very first open mic the other night. I read Stubborn and Enough. I think it went well, but it was terrifying. Thanks to everyone who supported me that night, and special thanks to Kristine for taking me.

A Journey to Tiny Hands

A lone bag slouches on a shelf.A bunny bag sits on a shelf. Others sit below it.

Filled with books, all ready for tiny hands.

It sits.

And sits.

And waits.

A lone being approaches the bag, smiling.

It lifts the bag and brings it to a cart.

It’s filled with other, bigger bags.

A day passes.

The bags wait.

The being returns and moves the cart to a vehicle

Where it loads the bags and cart.

The vehicle moves for what seems like ages.

It stops.

The being is back, and it lifts the bag and carries it into a house.

After some time, the tiny hands appear.

Two, four, six, eight, ten, twelve, too many to count.

They empty the bag.

Waiting to be refilled, it sits on the floor, satisfied that it has brought the books to the tiny hands.

A month passes.

The being returns.

The bag is refilled,

Reset in the vehicle,

Transported home,

Cleaned, and set on the shelf

Where it will wait for the next being who will transport it to new sets of tiny hands.

Why Young Adult Fiction is NOT a Dangerous Fantasy

Out there in the interwebs somewhere exists a person with the name Joe Nutt.

Mr. Nutt has published an article that I will not link to here, as to not give his ridiculous idea more attention by way of web traffic. This article argues that Young Adult fiction is a dangerous fantasy.

Now, I do not read YA fiction regularly. I have read it in the past, and I have enjoyed what I’ve read in the past.

I am not an avid YA reader, nor can I name the top YA novels out today.

However, I am against people criticizing anyone for reading anything, .

All reading (even reading his article) is, by nature, reading. And reading is good.

No matter whether that takes the form of a graphic novel, comic strip, back of a cereal box, Shakespearean play, or YA novel.

In the paragraphs below, I will examine some of the points Mr. Nutt makes and attempt to counter them.

Be ready. This article is much more… blunt… than my typical works.


His first paragraph is probably the worst paragraph I’ve read in quite awhile, and that includes the many outrageous things Mr. Trump says.

What he describes is his idea for a YA novel, and it implies that being a transgender school dropout with autism and being a self-harmer is a bad thing. Excuse me. I’m sorry that people are transgender. I’m sorry they have autism. I’m sorry they drop out. I’m sorry they self harm.

Actually, no I’m not.

Because there are people who are transgender. There are people who are on the autism spectrum. There are people who self harm. There are people who have dropped out.

We need books that relate to their readers.

I’m sorry that your classic novels don’t relate to their readers. Not everything can relate. And that’s okay. Not everything has to relate. However, when the goal is to get people reading, having stories that they can relate to is a good thing.

Additionally, having stories with diverse characters and situations is good for everyone who reads them, even people who can’t directly relate. Because empathy is important, and spending time in a story with someone who is experiencing those things can teach us about their situation and open our minds to things we never would have seen otherwise.

As a side note, I don’t believe that embarking “on a magical quest to find an ancient crystal with the power to render all weapons useless” really is a plot line that you would find in a YA novel, anyway. That would fit better in other genres. But I digress.


Next, Mr. Nutt describes his life as a teacher of English. He describes his painstaking efforts to create “genuinely literate adults” as if “literate adults” are somehow not genuine.

Do tell me what the difference is.

Let’s take a look at what our dear friend, the dictionary, has to say on being literate:

Literate.JPG

Do you see anywhere in there where it says that a literate person has to be genuine or only read a specific type of writing? I don’t.

I see that they need to have the ability to read and write. I also see that they can be versed in literature and/or creative writing. Now, before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s take a look at the definition of “literature” as well.

literature.JPG

Hmmm. Mr. Nutt appears to be implying that YA novels are not “considered to be very good” or that they might “have lasting importance.” Now, we wouldn’t want to attempt to assume that we know what will be deemed as “very good” and important to future generations, would we?

If we look at the second and third points, we see a much broader definition of literature. Now, unless you can prove to me that a YA novel is not a book, I believe YA fits into this definition.


Next, he states that teenagers don’t like books that proselytize. No, they probably don’t. Then, he insinuates that YA novels are attempting to proselytize teenagers to something he doesn’t clearly define.

He argues that YA is “nothing more than gossip fodder” and is like reading a novelized form of a gossip/celebrity magazine.

I don’t believe so, but even if they were.

So?

So what?

People are reading. People are empathizing. People are learning.

Does it matter what form that it takes?


Next he goes on to describe that school libraries (in the UK) are emptying their shelves of nonfiction.

I can’t speak to situations in the UK, but in learning about the state of school libraries at my university here in the US, I see that budgets are being cut. When budgets are cut, libraries take a hit. Nonfiction isn’t always cheap.

Personally, I love nonfiction, and I love reading it. I see the importance of allowing our youth to read nonfiction. I will take the stance of one who encourages people to read nonfiction… just like Mr. Nutt should encourage people to read novels he deems appropriate.

However, neither of us should criticize anyone for reading what they enjoy reading. That’s not our jobs. Our job is to encourage reading in all forms and to allow them the chance to branch out. If they do, great. If they don’t, great.


After that, he goes on a tangent about how we as a society should look at how we’ve starved these poor children from a proper “literary inheritance.”

He says, “There is a world of difference between being able to decode symbols on a page and engaging with the thoughts and ideas of intelligent men and women who have important things to say, things which may even make that adult life, still some years off, a richer and a happier experience.”

Really?

It appears, again, that Mr. Nutt has placed judgement on something he shouldn’t be judging.

Are YA authors not intelligent? Do they not have important things to say? Can their novels not make adult life a richer and happier experience?


He then poses several questions to publishers.

Are YA novels culturally valid and something we should value? Do they introduce teenagers to the adult world?

He then goes on to judge publishers for patronizing teenagers and turning them off to reading “with books they think are good for them, instead of helping them seek out and enjoy books that matter.”

Tell me this is satire.

Mr. Nutt is doing the same thing he accuses them of doing. He believes he knows what is best for young readers, and YA isn’t it.

He believes he knows what books matter and what books don’t matter.

That is not okay.

I’m sorry that you can’t see the value in YA, but don’t try and shut off an entire group of books from people who enjoy them because you don’t believe they matter.


Lastly, YA is often read by adults more than teenagers, so everything he’s arguing is nearly invalid anyway.


Thanks for sticking through that with me!


Works Cited

“Literate.” Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 22 Aug. 2016. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/literate

“Literature.” Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 22 Aug. 2016. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/literature

On Youth

via Daily Prompt: Youth

Youth is a strange topic for me.

I am currently considered to be young, youthful, a “youth.” However, I’m also not young enough anymore.

The other day, I was out with a friend and I realized that the store “Forever 21” no longer applies to me.

For years, as a college student who was much younger than her peers, I struggled with being too young. I waited years in agony, wishing I was eighteen. Then, once I’d turned eighteen, the wait to turn twenty-one was agonizing.

My husband is almost four years older than me, but we match each other intellectually. When he got a job at a 21+ restaurant,  I couldn’t go and support him by eating there.

Sometimes friends would forget my age, and they would invite me out places that I wasn’t able to get into. I would appreciate the invites, but it was always awkward having to remind them I’m so young.

Recently, I was out at that same restaurant when a friend came in with a group. As their group was leaving, we caught up while walking back to my car. He remarked that he frequently forgot how young I was. He’s about seven years older than me.

To counter that, I often forget how “old” he is.

In other areas of my life, I am often the youngest person around. Square dancing has very few members in our area who are under the age of forty. Clogging has more younger members, but we’re still a minority.

In my sorority’s local alumnae chapter, I am one of a few young women who participate.

My hobbies and interests draw me to older folk. Even my profession is full of people who are typically more than ten years my senior.

While working at my university recently, I realized that most of the people there are now younger than me. For years, they were all older than me, and I saw them as way more smart and capable.

Now (for the most part), I see them as younger than me and find myself trying to take on a mentor role for them.

All of that considered, I can’t seem to find my “home.” People my age don’t often have the same interests that I do, but people who are older but who have the same interests seem to not want to include me because I’m so young and inexperienced compared to them.

I have a few close friends (who are close to my age) who I see typically once a week on non-busy weeks. Other than that, I don’t have a “squad.”

I suppose I will be stuck in this stage until my peers catch up to me in interests. I will forever be the awkward, weird one with strange hobbies, but I suppose I will be the master of those by the time the rest catch up 😉

Three Cheers for Two Years

When I got the notification that I’ve been on WordPress for two years, I was kind of surprised. It feels like I’ve been blogging forever, and it’s weird to think that I used to hate blogs.WP Anniversary.JPG

Looking back at the blogging goals I set for myself this time last year, I can definitely tell the effect starting grad school has had on this blog.

I did really well for the first half of the year, in my opinion, but as school started, my writings faded down to maybe once a month.

Over the course of the year, I’ve created series, added more pictures and media, and for a while, I did have a regular schedule.

The goals are still good ones I would like to keep in mind as I move forward, but I still might not post to this blog as consistently as I want to while I’m still a grad student.

Hopefully I will still update this blog somewhat regularly, but I am quite busy now that school is in full swing.

I hope you have enjoyed the past two years with me, and I hope you continue checking in with me every now and then.

For now, you can follow me at Earth Lib Perspectives, a fun blog I’ve created to fulfill a requirement for a class. I will be updating that blog weekly throughout the spring semester with postings for assignments, book reviews, and more.

Happy Reading!

Goals for 2015 Wrap-Up

2015 has been a good year for me, and I really kept my goals in mind as I made decisions throughout the year. In this post, I’ll go over how I think everything went!

You can find my original post with my goals for 2015 here, and you can find my mid-year check-in here.


One // Build a healthier lifestyle

I’m not focused on weight as much as overall well-being and satisfaction with where I’m at and what I look like. I’m not super happy with what I look like, but I do feel a lot better ending the year than starting it.

Here’s some of what I’ve been doing to work towards this goal:

Walking nearly everywhere.

I have / I’ve been:

-walking whenever/wherever I can

-walking 20 minutes or more to meet my mom for lunch once a week

-walking to meet my husband when he gets off work and I’m free (about two miles)

-walking whenever we eat out downtown

-walked two miles for the 4th of July rather than driving to watch the fireworks

-walked over five miles with my mom for Mother’s Day

-walked a mile and a half to work and back a few times

-hiked with my parents on a few photography adventures

-completed a walking challenge at my workplace!

-walked several miles through caves for our anniversary

-walked to and from Gen Con, and walked a bunch around the convention

Drinking more water.

In the month of December, I have drank at least one 8oz bottle of water a day (with a slice or two of lemon in it), and most days, I have drank over 40 ounces a day! I hardly ever drink water, so this is a small success for me, and I hope to keep it up.

Clogging.

My mom, husband, and I started clogging lessons in September. They were once a week, and they ended a couple of weeks ago. They’ll pick back up in February, and in the mean time, I’ll be going to a donation yoga class in that time slot.

Square Dancing.903604_10208121542618984_4338893230900242138_o

Square dancing has slowed down for me since the summer, but I still dance at least once a month!

Biking.

I’ve only biked to work once this year, but I’m gearing up to bike more in 2016!

Journal-writing.

I have somewhat kept up with my journal, though not as much as I would like to. I have started a five-year journal, and I’ll be changing up how I journal regularly once I finish my current”Italy” journal.

Meditation.

I still haven’t re-read 8-Minute Meditation, but I do meditate once every now and then. I have been practicing mindfulness lately, and that is taking over my urge to sit and meditate.

Not Eating Fast Food.

This saves money and is healthy. I have limited myself to Arby’s (occasionally Popeye’s) and the occasional stop while travelling.

Loom Knitting.photo 3 (2)

My friend, Erica, taught me how to knit using a loom in November. Since then, I have knitted over 10 scarves and one baby blanket. This is an activity I use to keep my mind and hands occupied, and it’s a way to decompress after doing schoolwork.

Reading.

Like knitting, this is a peaceful activity I have tried to do more of lately. It’s much better than sitting on the computer or in front of the TV. I’ve read 50 books this year. 🙂

Two //  Spend less money on things I don’t truly need

Daniel didn’t really like the cash system, so we’ve switched back to using our debit cards. The second half of the year saw a lot of birthdays, celebrations, weddings, and holidays, but we are still doing really well and saving a lot.

I haven’t used my budget Google Doc much lately because Daniel didn’t want me to spoil my birthday and Christmas gifts before they arrived. I will go back to it in January.

Daniel and I have been doing a good job of cooking from home, and we hardly ever spend money on going out to eat anymore.

Whenever I feel the urge to shop, I do try to stick to Goodwill, and I try to purchase clothing I know is sustainable and versatile.

Three // Read A Song of Ice and Fire series (AKA Game of Thrones) by George R. R. Martin

Still not going to happen this year (or for a very long time?) 😦

Four // Finish writing my novel from National Novel Writing Month

This didn’t happen, either, but I did participate in NaNoWriMo in November.

Five // Participate in National Novel Writing Month again

NaNoWriMo Widget

After one day of writing, my word count was 2181

I did it! I didn’t meet my goal for sure, but I did write, which counts! I really love the novel I’ve started, and I hope to participate next year.

You can read about my experiences this year by clicking here.

Six // Volunteer at least once a month

I’ve kept a Google Doc titled “Volunteer Tracker,” and I update it every time I volunteer. I sort of forgot to update it a few times with details, but I have tried to keep a general tally.

I have also started keeping track of ongoing commitments. So far, I have five commitments, which I don’t necessarily count towards my monthly goal. Those don’t all have “events” where I volunteer, so I don’t count them.

Here’s how many times I volunteered each month in 2015:

January: 4

February: 3

March: 7

April: 4photo

May: 4

June: 3

July: 3

August: 2

September: 4

October: 3

November: 6

December: 4


I think that I did a good job trying to stick to my goals. I made necessary adaptations, and I accepted the goals I didn’t meet.

Overall, it’s been a great year, and these goals guided me throughout the year.

Now, on to 2016!

The End of NaNoWriMo 2015

During November, I embarked on the impossible task to attempt to write 50,000 words towards a novel in 30 days as part of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).

Punned Down by Stefany Boleyn novel cover

“Punned Down” by Stefany Boleyn

I say impossible because I knew I wouldn’t get to 50,000 words, but it isn’t because I didn’t think I could; I say it because I had planned on starting the story, which I did, and then taking time to complete my finals for grad school, one of which was due November 16th.

I am proud of the amount I completed, and I’m excited to continue writing! I really love the idea this year!!!

Though I’m sad I didn’t fully complete it, I’m happy to have achieved so much in my classes, which is my main priority at this time 🙂

Additionally,  participating this year means that I have completed one of my Goals for 2015!

Looking forward to NaNoWriMo 2016…