The “Book It” List

I love reading, and I love books, so much that I have the habit of trying to read too many books at the same time–the highest I’ve counted was over a dozen.

While this does allow me to indulge many interests simultaneously, it also prevents me from making significant progress toward finishing any of these books–which, in the grand scheme of things, I feel holds me back from achieving and experiencing everything I want to read.

So today I’m going to look back at my reading list for the year and try to map out my next steps–to possibly, hopefully, just maybe reach my goal of reading 40 books in 2020. (You know, because it’s 2020, and 20 + 20 = 40, I mean, that’s valid, right?)

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Something something anxiety and control maybe

If I had known having a therapist would provide so much writing material, I’d have gotten one years ago.

That’s my weak attempt at starting writing something I don’t know what I’m writing. I was left a little…unsettled? after our last session on Monday, and writing is the best way I know how to process my own thinking. So I’m hopeful inspiration will strike, separate the clouds, and grant some clarity amid the beautiful mess that is my mind.

And maybe you’ll find a spark of inspiration for yourself amidst my chaos.

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In Search of Inspiration

READ ME, I wrote at the bottom of the page, knowing if I didn’t remind myself to look at this again, I would forget this late-night, right-before-bed thought that felt worthwhile.

I’ve gotten so lost in knowing that I’ve forgotten feeling, I had written in dark fuchsia ink. I read too much nonfiction and not enough fiction. I need to be outside more. I need to move more. I need to look past the words and feel the wonder. I need to wander.

I had been thinking of how to get back to my mythology around the same time. I’ve been trying to explore ways to write the story and ways to return to it; in particular, the last time I touched it in November, I felt like I had run into a wall. So I continued: Maybe I should also revisit the cultures of my world — flesh out the religions, the creeds of the gods, each tribe’s histories. Perhaps then I can keep writing. But are these things I need to know, or will they help me feel?

I finished with one last line of scrawling scarlet ink. God, I’m just so numb inside.

And I realized, I was right–I have grown numb. But is the numbness the cause of my lack of inspiration, or is my lack of inspiration causing me to feel numb?

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Muse Misplaced

Spoiler warning (for a novel not yet published).

My first full-length book was an unintentional experiment in proving the fact that quantity does not imply quality: At the time I believed that “real books” had to be a certain length, and based upon a non-representative sample (the Lord of the Rings), I believed I needed to write a novel at least 150,000 words long for it to ever have a chance of getting published.

The year was 2006 and I was a first-time NaNoWriMo participant. The challenge of National Novel Writing Month is to write 50,000 words–which while shorter than the average novel today (which is between 80,000 and 100,000 words), was a lot closer to the ideal length of a breakout novel than I realized: turns out most publishers won’t even touch something bigger than 150k if an author hasn’t already been deemed profitable because of before-published book sales.

Anyways. I digress. I want to talk about story, not statistics.

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Identity Politics

This last week in class we covered sequences and series. This is a strange unit: It looks little like anything else students have seen, yet mathematically it resonates not only with many things we’ve learned, but with many things we could only dream of ever teaching in a high school class bounded by deadlines and curricular standards.

If you’ve ever counted or made a to-do list or put things in order, you know innately what a sequence is: it is merely a list of numbers, with a specific order: 1 2 3 is a different sequence than 1 3 2. Some sequences seem patternless (sunshine Monday, snowstorm Wednesday, downpours Thursday, a blizzard today) while others are so set in stone we hardly take notice: Sunday always precedes Monday, and April follows March.

Now suppose you look at that to-do list you made and count all the things you’ve got to do (that infinite list that seems to always grow two more items when you knock off the first–how hydraen life tends to be!) then you know, too, how a series differs from a sequence: simply take all the things and add them together. No more complex than that.

But what does any of this have to do with identity or politics?

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Never Enough

Remember when I posted about reading that book about vulnerability? I stopped reading it the next day. Yup. You read that right: It was too much and I gave up.

Well, at least for a little while. I needed time to mull over what I had read and let it sink in. If I want to attain lifelong growth from reading this book, I can’t read it in one sitting and expect my life to change immediately. No, it takes more time than that.

So after that first excursion, I decided that two of the nonfiction books I’m reading this year I’m going to read often in small bursts: First is the Sefer Yetzirah, which I’ve been reading one verse at a time, because unpacking each verse when it’s literally steeped in thousands of years of mystical philosophy demands a slow yet attentive reading schedule, and second is Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly. The vulnerability book.

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I am fond of wit and wordplay, and I find it the greatest irony in the fact that “doping” and “dopamine” are similar only as a matter of coincidence.

I am also a fan of synecdoche, both for its sound and for its meaning and usage: the reversal of a part and its whole. (As a tangential whim, I’ve always wanted to write an adventure novel in which our young protagonists must recover the lost “Synecdo Key” to progress in their journey, but upon finding it, the key is broken, and only a single part remains…but fret not, because it can still unlock the door as though it were whole.)

So, colloquially with a hint of synecdoche, I’d like to talk about a form of dope we all do.

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A Shot of Stress

As part of my Year of Re-creation, I’m embarking on a journey to reclaim stress and change how I respond to it at a physiological level. This sounds like a daunting task–I mean, seriously, changing physiology?–but it’s actually an application of the age-old adage “mind over matter”: By adopting a new stress mindset, my body will learn to react to stress in a new, more empowering manner.

So if this isn’t alchemy, I don’t know what is.

But magic or not, the first step begins now.

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A Return to Happiness

Polarity is an interesting animal. We think we know opposites–day and night, sun and moon, light and shadow–but then we’re faced with nuanced categories that defy perfect dualism–male and female, black and white, good and bad. Here there isn’t so much a binary system as much as a continuum, and it’s easy to get lost in the grey matter.

So lately I’ve been longing, lingering, languishing…and I’ve been fighting against it, feeling frothy and shameful, and it hasn’t gotten me anywhere. So I’ve been perusing TED Talks, because they’re awesome, and sometimes a little awesome makes you awesome, too.

And in a way, somewhere in this mess of chaos, a new story began.

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