Everything is The Worst.

Thursday, August 17th, 2017

2002-06-30 - KCTrip-Day08 - Stop01-Nelson-AtkinsGrounds-016 - Kelly&Shane [kim]

Oh, to be twenty-something again.

Just a few days into the new year, my husband, partner, and best friend Shane P. Brady passed away of natural causes. I’m tempted to add scare quotes because there doesn’t seem anything natural about being struck down by a heart attack at 41. It feels pretty got-damn unnatural to me. I went to bed worried about our foster dog, B., who had been vomiting off and on all day; by the time I woke up, Shane was already gone.

To say that the last two hundred-odd days have been difficult … well, “difficult” doesn’t even begin to cover it. In less than four years, I’ve lost four dogs, a grandmother, and now my husband. My life – my heart – is in tatters.

I knew that 2017 was going to be terrible, but I had no idea. We had Trump to look forward to, of course; the guy who blundered his way into the White House, buoyed by a swell of white nationalism and misogyny, and was all but guaranteed to fuck everyone’s shit up. (I had to give up on the news for awhile; it was just too much for me to bear, on top of everything else.)

On a more personal note, I expected continuing dog drama into 2017 and beyond: my youngest remaining dog is Finnick, who will soon turn twelve; he’s followed by O-Ren (13) and Mags (13 going on 14). It’s not unreasonably fatalistic to think that I’ll lose one or more of them this year; sooner rather than later, certainly. And there have been some health scares, though thankfully nothing fatal thus far; most notably, O-Ren’s heart murmur worsened to the point that she had a rather alarming fainting spell in June. Now I have to monitor her resting respiratory rate on the daily, which focuses my attention on her health issues even more, thus feeding into an awful, gut-churning cycle of stress and anxiety. I’m also pretty sure that Mags is going blind (though I can no longer afford to take her to the ophthalmologist for something as frivolous as confirmation), and probably deaf too, but that at least is manageable. It just breaks my heart to watch their old bodies start to fail them, you know?

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Book Review: The 100 Year Miracle: A Novel, Ashley Ream (2016)

Wednesday, June 1st, 2016

Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t after you…

four out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free electronic ARC for review through NetGalley. Trigger warning for suicide and child abuse.)

It did things to people, this miracle. Strange and not wholly wonderful things.

“Do you know what it’s like to be terrified of a shower?” Harry asked. Rachel did know. Unfamiliar showers sometimes had abrupt changes in temperature, which hurt her back terribly, but she did not say this to Harry, who had continued talking without her. […]

Most people, Rachel knew, didn’t want you to talk about your pain, not unless it was temporary like a twisted ankle or hitting your thumb with a hammer. If you did not hold up your end of the bargain and get better, things fell apart quickly. People would avoid you. It was easier to keep hidden, and she felt sorry for Harry because he could not hide.

Every hundred years, the Artemia lucis – tiny, eight millimeter long arthropods – come alive. They hatch from ancient eggs and spend the next six days mating, or trying to, before laying the next generation of eggs and dying. During the nighttime, they emit a neon green glow, turning the whole of Olloo’et Bay – their only known habitat – into a wondrous light show. The phenomenon is known as The 100 Year Miracle.

Yet, despite the colloquialism, few people are aware of the insects’ more miraculous properties. The (fictional) Olloo’et – southern Northwest Coast peoples who resided on (the fictional) Olloo’et Island until they were forcibly relocated in the 1920s – believed the (fictional) Artemia lucis sacred. During their infrequent periods of activity, the Olloo’et men partook in a ceremony: accompanied by a shaman and tribal leader, the men spent six days and nights drinking the bay’s water (complete with insects), which had hallucinogenic effects. The men reported having visions, slipped into trances, experienced great physical pleasure – and even claimed that the bugs cured their physical illnesses. Occasionally someone died; “usually by walking out into the water and never coming back.”

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Book Review: The Half Life of Molly Pierce, Katrina Leno (2014)

Monday, October 6th, 2014

An Unexpectedly Heartfelt Look at Mental Illness

five out of five stars

(Trigger warning for depression and suicide. Also, this review is of an ARC. Any mistakes are mine and not the author’s or publisher’s.)

Seventeen-year-old Molly Pierce is blacking out. Losing time. Sometimes it’s just a few minutes; other times, hours or even most of a day passes before she comes to. One afternoon, the Massachusetts native was halfway to New York before she woke up behind the wheel of her car.

Though this has been going on for a year, Molly can’t tell anyone: Not her parents, who already walk on eggshells around her as it is; not her sister Hazel or brother Clancy; not her best friends Erie and Luka; not even her psychiatrist Alex. She’s too afraid of what might happen. She’ll be labeled “crazy,” shipped off to a “loony bin,” perhaps. Plus, talking about it? Giving voice to her problems? Makes them real. If she can just pretend to be normal, maybe she will be. Eventually.

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Book Review: The Chance You Won’t Return, Annie Cardi (2014)

Saturday, October 4th, 2014

Interesting Concept, Unlikable Narrator

three out of five stars

(Full disclosure: This review is of an ARC. Any mistakes are my own.)

It must have been like this for Mom – the longer you go without talking about something, the harder it is to start, until eventually you don’t know how to.

A junior at Oak Ridge High, Alex Winchester has tried to stay under the radar; until this year, it’s mostly worked. She’s failing driver’s ed., which is understandable given her phobia of driving – but since she’s too embarrassed to explain her fears to the adults in her life, they keep pushing her to get behind the wheel of a car. That is, until she drives the school’s Volvo right through the end zone, incurring the wrath of the football team and its newly rabid fans. As if this humiliation isn’t bad enough, her mom suffers a nervous breakdown during the meeting with her driving instructor Mr. Kane. The weird idiosyncrasies Alex has observed in her mother during the past few weeks fall into place: Janet Winchester is convinced that she’s Amelia Earhart.

A battery of tests and a brief stay in a psychiatric hospital are of little help; whatever Janet’s problem, it has no physical cause. And with insurance refusing to cover extended care, Alex and her family – father David, sister Katy, and brother Teddy – must care for Janet at home. Each member of the family deals with Janet’s illness in her own way: David is patient to a fault; Katy loses herself in her schoolwork; Teddy takes advantage of Mom/Earhart whenever possible; and Alex alternates between hostility, despair, and camaraderie. Before the illness, her relationship with her mom was rocky at best; now, she often stays up late at night, confiding in this new, not-quite-Mom. (Though the relationship isn’t as idyllic as the book’s synopsis would have you believe.)

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