To My Friends and Family

Since I was a young teen I would read about the west coast and dream of living here… I made it my goal and worked really hard at it and here I am. I dreamed of working for a really special (specific) bookstore (but I won’t write my place of employment here) , and I made it my goal and worked really hard at it… and here I am. Since I began working at [bookstore], I made it my goal to move up and become the Level 3 of the kids department. You can guess… I worked really hard at it and here I am.
 
I have been in school since the day I got to Oregon, working on my Master’s in Literature. I have worked full time the entire time, through multiple holiday seasons and there were days where I was hanging by a thread but I made school a priority equal to work and I not only passed but I passed every semester with a 4.0 – my last semester begins in a few days and I am confident I will finish with a bang when I present my Thesis on Charlotte and Emily Bronte, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and V.C. Andrews. 
And then in May, life will change when I graduate, and for the first time in 23 years I will be out of school and “out in the world” completely. So naturally, everyone will have questions… what do I plan to “do”? What do I plan to “be”? What do I plan to…
I plan to take a deep breath. I plan to take the summer vacation I earned all year by working full time and completing a master’s program. It’s no easy feat. I am going on a cruise with my family and my love in August. And during the summer, leading up to the cruise… I plan to take walks, read books, lay out in the sun, drink wine, read tarot cards, journal… I plan to relearn French. Real French. I plan to write my ass off because my aspiration is to be a writer…
And after seeing how hard I have worked over the past few years to achieve my goals… the blood, sweat, and tears that went into these goals… I know I can do it. I know I can write and eventually, after submitting to places, someone will pick up my writing. Someone somewhere will believe in me and see my potential. It has happened before, and it will happen again. I will write until my hands fall off from writing and typing. And then I will get robotic hands and write some more.
And then, while I rest from my hand surgery, I will travel. I plan to travel everywhere I can with my love… at first locally, then nationwide, and eventually world wide. I see myself in Japan, France, England, Hungary, … I can write from anywhere.
Will I ever become a Professor? I hope so. I hope to teach in France, and in America… but it’s not my only love or goal. I have this new job, and I’m going to be there for quite a while. And I will build my writing career over time, doing both because if I’ve proven anything to myself it’s that I thrive when I have multiple balls in the air.
Thanks for reading.
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The 18 Habits of Mentally Strong People

Amy Morin’s article for Inc.com, “The 18 Habits of Mentally Strong People,” really put a few things into perspective for me so I felt like sharing it.

As every human being has at some point, I have been struggling with my self-esteem and self-worth recently. I had gotten to a really wonderful place a few years ago where I actually felt totally confident and gorgeous inside and out (which is rare and I was very grateful during that time) but somehow that confident feeling slipped away. Between moving across the country, working at a job that really made me feel small, being a full-time grad student on top of  full time work (leaving no time to myself, let alone to form very many meaningful friendships), … I could go on and on. Basically every problem that normal people have on a daily basis I was having all at once. And then things got even worse, and I was constantly afraid of life. I was afraid to disappoint my job (that had treated me terribly) so I lied about the new job I had taken. I was afraid to disappoint my family, so I didn’t tell them some of the (not-mentioned-above) things that were going on in my life. Ditto for any close friends. I closed myself off and I am still very much closed off.

But obviously, I don’t like feeling like garbage. Not because it’s the “new year,” but just because this is when everything falls, I will be taking care of a lot of things that have been piling up in my life. The reason I shared this article is because during these hard times I have literally went to the internet to look for “self-esteem tips” and the like. I am not proud of these moments. I have been spending so much time being ashamed of myself. It feels like there are two of me, always. The rational side and the side that is always behaving erratically. I hate when the latter side wins. The rational side is saying, “You’re smart, you’re beautiful, you’re deserving, you’re kind,…” The erratic side says, “BUT! BUT ! BUT!”

Ms. Morin’s list is a list of “do’s” that at various times, I have done. Sometimes even all at once. But as I went down the list yesterday, my face fell. I don’t practice any of these and that’s really sad because with practice, these are all simple and can be done. So it’s not a resolution or anything like that, but I did write down these 18 tips in my journal and plan to go back to them at any time I need a reminder.

To see what’s going on in my journal (I do a lot of art journaling and post pages there…) or just to catch up with me and what I’m reading, my instagram (bookstagram)  is also maryjanereads. See you there I hope!

2018

Hi, 2018.

I came to post about the upcoming year. I am graduating school in May, and with the gift of graduation comes a thesis. These next few months I will be reading and writing a LOT for school which is amazing because one of my goals is read for one hour a day, write for one hour a day. I haven’t decided yet how much school will factor in, but as my thesis will take precedence, it must count until May. Then I will focus on my own writing projects for the rest of the year and beyond.

We have a family vacation in August, after everything. I am so happy to have spotify to save new albums as they come out so I can listen all summer. I plan to relax outside with my pens and books and notebooks and lighten my hair and tan my skin and enjoy the vitamin D (with sunscreen, of course!)

This upcoming month will be VERY busy but I am looking forward to using the time after to enjoy life and plan for travel, more writing and reading, and finally healing.

Welcome, new year!

 

Here are the books I plan to read in 2018, but notably missing are the books I will use for research for my thesis since I have only just started preliminary research on what I will use. But the list does include my thesis books, some rereads, mostly new reads, some zines, …

 

  1. Always and Forever, Lara Jean – Jenny Han
  2. The Portrait of a Lady – Henry James
  3. Devotion – Patti Smith
  4. M Train – Patti Smith
  5. You Know Me Well – Nina Lacour and David Levithan
  6. The Extra Woman – Joanna Scutts
  7. A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares – Krystal Sutherland
  8. The Yellow Wallpaper – Charlotte Perkins Gilman
  9. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
  10. Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
  11. My Sweet Audrina – VC Andrews
  12. Flowers in the Attic – VC Andrews
  13. Brainscan #33 (zine) – Alex Wrekk
  14. Radical Nuns (zine) – Cait Olds
  15. Anyone Can Paint Their Nails Because… (zine) –  Jamie Mortara
  16. The Witch Cake – E. Dwen Douglas
  17. Beneath the Sugar Sky – Seanan McGuire
  18. The Elizas – Sara Shepard
  19. The Origins of Creativity – Edward O. Wilson
  20. ** watch this first** Empire of Storms – Sarah J Maas
  21. Tower of Dawn – Sarah J Maas
  22. Harry Potter: A Journey Through a History of Magic
  23. Her smoke rose up forever – Alice Sheldon
  24. The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
  25. A Little Princess – Frances Hodgson Burnett
  26. Fierce Femmes and Notorious Liars – i Cheng Thom
  27. Tash Hearts Tolstoy – Kathryn Ormsbee
  28. I believe in a thing called love – Maureen Goo
  29. Pisces – Melissa Broder
  30. Leah on the offbeat – Becky Albertalli
  31. Catwoman: Soul Stealer – Sarah J Maas
  32. A Court of Frost and Starlight – Sarah J Maas
  33. Feeling Good – David Burns
  34. The Immortalists – Chloe Benjamin
  35. So You Want to Talk About Race –  Ijeoma Oluo
  36. Feel Free: Essays – Zadie Smith
  37. Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture – Roxanne Gay
  38. Diversifying Diplomacy: My Journey from Roxbury to Dakar –  Harriet L. Elam-Thomas
  39. Grass Roots: The Rise and Fall of Marijuana in America – Emily Dufton
  40. A Darker Shade of Magic – VE Schwab
  41. Exit, Pursued by a Bear – EK Johnston
  42. The Hate You Give – Angie Thomas
  43. Americanah – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  44. Chocolates for Breakfast – Pamela Moore
  45. Tender is the Night – F. Scott Fitzgerald
  46. Jazz – Toni Morrison
  47. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe – Benjamin Alire Saenz
  48. Still Life with Tornado – AS King
  49. Sunday’s on the phone to Monday – Christine Reilly
  50. The Feminine Mystique  Betty Friedan
  51. Bonjour Tristesse – Francoise Sagan
  52. Down and Out in Paris and London – George Orwell
  53. Zelda – Nancy Milford
  54. More Happy than Not – Adam Silvera
  55. Furthermore – Tahereh Mafi
  56. Half of a Yellow Sun – Adichie
  57. Labyrinth Lost – Zoraida Cordova
  58. Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
  59. I’d die for you – F. Scott Fitzgerald
  60. Middlesex – Jeffrey Eugenides
  61. I’ll give you the sun – Jandi Nelson
  62. Frida: A Biography Of Frida Kahlo- Herrera
  63. The Beautiful and the Damned – F. SCott Fitzgerald
  64. My Brilliant Friend – Elena Ferrante
  65. Nights at the Circus –  Angela Carter
  66. Palace of Desire – Naguib Mahfouz
  67. Frankenstein – Mary Shelley
  68. Romantic Outlaws – Charlotte Gordon
  69. Eureka by Poe (short story below)
  70. A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
  71. Althea and Oliver – Christina Moracho
  72. Homegoing – Yaa Gyasi

2017 Year in Reading & 2018 Plans

How another year has gone by I am not sure!

I began the year with Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights and Cat Marnell’s How to Murder Your Life. Then Nina LaCour’s We Are Okay and Alana Massey’s All the Lives I Want.  I was enthralled by Big Little Lies and This Raging Light. I devoured both books (so far) in The Amatuers series by Sara Shepard. I reread Margaret Atwood’s first novel The Edible Woman which EVERYONE should read. Tess Sharpe’s Far From YouBecky Albertali‘s The Upside of Unrequited

When Dimple Met Rishi, Moxie, Kill the Boy Band, Eliza and her Monsters, The Nowhere Girls,Far From the Tree, To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before and PS I Still Love You were all amazing YA novels that deserve every bit of love as they receive if not MORE.

I Love Dick, and Made for Love made me delightfully uncomfortable. We’re Going to Need More Wine is just triumphant. Juliet Takes a Breath – Gabby Rivera impressed me with her talent on her first coming of age queer novel. Surpassing Certainty made me fall in love with Janet Mock even more.

I read 70+ books out of a goal of 50.

This upcoming semester will be my last.

I will start 2018 as I did in 2017 – with Wuthering Heights. Why? Because I am writing my thesis on it, along with Jane EyreFlowers in the Attic, My Sweet Audrina, and The Yellow Wallpaper.

 

I have a lot of reading and writing plans for 2018… here’s hoping.

 

 

 

Lonely at the top, Hugh?

Hugh Hefner will be buried in the crypt next to Marilyn Monroe’s, a crypt he purchased for $75,000. Marilyn Monroe was the first Playmate, but she never posed for Playboy. When she was a young model and actress trying to make enough money to eat even one meal a day, she posed for nude photos. The intent was to purchase the rights to those photos when she had made some money, but the photographer would not sell her, the person whose body was displayed in the photos, the rights. Hugh Hefner purchased them, and used the starlet’s fame to launch his magazine. She was never paid for appearing in Playboy. She never gained the rights to her own image.  Now Hefner will be buried next to her for all of eternity. They don’t even know each other. They weren’t friends or colleagues, and she certainly never hung on his arm at the mansion. It is very sad to me that a man with money, power, fame would choose to be buried next to an unrequited crush over any of the many people he has known and loved in his life. Seems very lonely.

Writing Your Autobiography to Understand Your Inner World

note: I had written this originally for Introvert, Dear, but I don’t believe they plan to publish it. In any case, I felt it was still worthy of being out in the world.

When I declare myself an introvert, people are shocked. “You?!” In their interrobang, I hear but you’re so opinionated/loud/funny/good with customers. What they don’t know is that once I go home from work, I can barely speak, or move, or even think, from all of the overstimulation of the day. I have anxiety. I have depression. I have introversion.

And while I don’t think so much of those things as diseases or “bad,” I do spend many days wishing I was “normal”, or an extrovert. How great would it be if that coworker I’ve been talking to for weeks about books asked me to hang out, and I could say “Yes! I’d love to!” instead of “Yes, I’d love to, but I’m so ‘busy’ this week!” If I didn’t have to cancel established plans with established friends who I love, or didn’t have to be afraid of seeing people I know at the grocery store or the library. Thank god I moved across the country!I think often. Now there are much fewer people to run into!

Introversion is being on low battery no matter how much I charge up. It’s being happy during experiences, but being nervous and having self-esteem attacks before and after. It’s clinging on to my boyfriend so tight, that even I wonder how he can breathe. It’s being afraid to explore the endless possibilities in life that would be open to me if I could only unfurl and uncurl myself a little looser. It’s pushing my own boundaries so hard, I don’t have time or patience for those who ask me to push harder. It’s not speaking up for myself at work or school or in life. It’s taking a toll on my relationships with family. Taking a toll on my health. Taking a toll on me.

Recently i started journaling more heavily. I have been writing or journaling in some form or another since childhood – for twenty years I have been an examiner of the universe through writing. And recently, I have turned the examination lens inward.Who am I? Why am I? How can I change, how can I grow, and how can I stay true to my introverted needs while simultaneously letting the sun shine on my face?

For starters, I must continue to look inward every day. It might seem counterproductive for an introvert to look further inward, but here me out here. One of the questions I asked above was, Why am i? In order to figure out the answer to this question, I went back. Way back to 27 years ago, to be exact. I began journaling not just about the present, but about the past. I have been journaling my autobiography, and I really must insist that you do this too, if you have any inkling that it might work for you.

  1. Write down your date of birth, and then number the page with the ages you have lived through. 1, 2, 3, 4, and so on. Make sure to leave enough space to write a paragraph for each age.
  2. Obviously, the first few years of your life (and maybe others) won’t be available for recollection. That’s okay. Just write down “the facts.” For example, I know I was born blue, with a heart condition, and had to be moved to another hospital for life-saving surgery. My parents were very young. I was their first child. And so on. As you get into ages 5, 6, and beyond, you will find that the very act of writing jogs your memory. This space is just for bullet points, or the bare bones. You will remember even more eventually.
  3. Once you have your outline, go back to age one (though I guess you could start from anywhere, I personally think it best to go in chronological order). Now write your life not in bullet points or half sentences, but in full sentences, maybe paragraphs and paragraphs. Let it all out on the page.
  4. Repeat  this for every age. Take breaks. Split up the ages between days and weeks. Don’t burn yourself out. Also you will probably find yourself remembering new piece to the puzzle at random. This is great. Your brain is unblocking itself and allowing itself to open up, even if it is only to you.
  5. Eventually you will start to see a pattern about what excites you, what scares you, what has happened to you, and what has happened that was in your control. You must examine your own mistakes as well as the mistakes of others. It may not be pretty, but it will change the way you see certain things.
  6. Write about other things too. Just journal every day, no matter what about. It is really, really healthy and good.
  7. Once you are caught up to the age you are now (I still have not caught up and I’ve been doing this for months), make it your mission to keep your journal up to date with new happenings and examinations. You don’t want to have to play catch-up again when you are 100 (if you are blessed or cursed to live that long).

Through journaling this way I have learned so much about myself, my friends, and especially my family. It has encouraged me to think more deeply about people’s actions and words, as well as choose my own more carefully. And I have begun to form a plan to follow after I graduate with my Masters degree in May. A plan to live my best life, introversion be damned. I intend to achieve my dreams, or die trying. But don’t take this the wrong way – I don’t desire or expect to give up the introversion that has made me, me (nor do I think there is or should be a “cure”). I only desire to continue to use introversion to see inside myself and learn what I must do in order to thrive.