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.

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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.

Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu

… is a really precious book I wish I had in high school. I am not even going to review it, because I want you to read it yourself. All I will say is it is not perfect but even its flaws make it worth reading. if you read the book, I have had a similar experience to Claudia and it really struck a chord with me. If I read this as a teenager, I would have identified as a feminist earlier in life.

As a bookseller, I will be recommending this book to all kids of all genders, and parents and aunts and uncles and people who like YA and people who don’t. I think this is a really quick, but important read that could justify or change your perspective. I would love to hear your thoughts, and hope you might purchase this book upon its release.

A Bookseller’s Disappointment

If you’ve been in one Barnes and Noble, you’ve been in them all. The layout may change, but their displays are preplanned by corporate and so therefore the stores end up displaying the same books in relatively the same place for better or worse. It is my understanding that publishers pay for these spots, sometimes, and other times, the company just thinks the book meshes well with the display*. The one display that (hopefully) is not predetermined is the Best Seller display. Rather than go by the “Times,” the display is based on BN’s own sales throughout the previous week.

At the end of  2016, towards the election, the displays turned political for obvious reasons. What piqued my interest about it was that most of the books displayed were somewhat-to-definitely pro-Trump, while definitely anti-Hillary. As the company touted its pro-diverse, pro-democracy on Barnes and Noble Inside, the employee news hub, they lament that the “election was causing poor sales,” because “people want to stay inside and save their money in these troubling times.”

As a person, I wanted nothing to do with these books. They were making a joke out of a very trying time in the lives of so many Americans. None of the books were objective, and it seemed as if more and more Conservatives walked through our doors every day, either by coincidence or design. I sold gun magazines, Michael Savage books, and Guilty as Sin. There was not a single time I rang up Stronger Together, but Make America Great Again and Crisis of Character were often top sellers. There was even a graphic novel version of Clinton Cash.  I actually rung up more than one person who told me, a salesperson they did not know from Eve, that I did not deserve to make a living wage, because I didn’t have a real job.

After the election was over, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders’ books were off the charts popular in our store. Our customers, it turns out, were not only made up of old conservative men and elderly women, but the pre-election sales and post-election sales touted shockingly different values. BN Inside published a lachrymose letter from our CEO, stating that we would move forward positively despite the setback the election caused, and hopefully we could settle now into a better sales climate.  Now, Barnes and Noble promotional emails suggest that we buy What Happened, Hillary Clinton’s memoir about her election experience.

Yes, Barnes and Noble is a store. Yes, they have sales to drive, and quite frankly, they are a sinking ship with too many holes and not enough plugs. But I feel this is taking advantage of people so blatantly, almost outright stating that all they want is our money. As a bookseller, I understand the need for a store to have sales, but as a customer, I feel betrayed and lied to and like just another number. Just like I felt as an employee. But that’s a post for a different day.

*I cringe at the use of “display” so many times, but it is actually called a “display” and there was no other way to word it that would convey what I meant.

are you a mother fucker?

Music often moves me to tears, as do books, movies, memories, all of it. I am a sentimental bitch. I am (and I recognize this is not something to be entirely proud of) eternally reaching out toward’s Gatsby’s green light, coveting moments that did not exist, except in my own sentimentality. I have always been sensitive, always bearing the burden of emotions both micro and macro. It is something I have come to accept as my cross to bear – what is often perceived as weakness is actually a huge strength called empathy, and the desire to make a change. I truly believe the more we stand up, the less we can get knocked down. Little people can make a big difference, there is strength in numbers, and things can change.

Kesha’s strength in what has had to have been the hardest moments in her own life, moments that seemed like they would never end, moments of despair that no doubt have inspired in her a dark alleyway of thoughts – she has come through, still fighting, only harder. She has come through and turned darkness into the most beautiful light of color, a Rainbow.

Buffy Summers once said, “I may be dead, but I’m still pretty,” after rising back from the grave to  defeat those who called themselves the victors prematurely. Kesha is her own slayer, telling the world it ain’t over… and I am so proud.

losing my shit :)

So recently there was a death in my life… the death of my laptop, with which i have had a love/hate relationship with over the years. My laptop was a mac, my second mac to be exact. I never truly needed a mac. I basically read, and write, and browse the internet on it.

When I went away to school (you’ll read about that in my memoirs) it was suggested that students get a Mac (which the software needed for my classes wasn’t even compatible with but I guess SUNY had a deal with Apple. Yay capitalism). After my first mac crapped out and I sold it to amazon, I was so used to mac that I got a second one, which put me in a lot of extra debt for no reason. It was just convenient that the mac and my iphone and my ipod synced up. I used this mac to get through my Bachelor’s, including writing my senior thesis on Sylvia Plath. But now it is completely dead. In the garbage. Death by coffee fatality.

Now I am using my boyfriend’s old windows laptop. But because of the sudden death of said mac, i never got to rescue any files from it. I now use google docs and therefore am able to always access my shit. But previously, I was an idiot and didn’t back up. Also my ipod is mac formatted so now i cannot add any music to it. It’s a classic so it’s not fancy with wifi or anything.

Anyways.

you get so sick sometimes

you get so sick sometimes, it all comes crawling back. the angst, the pain. you lie to even yourself. i am going to read, going to write, going to smile. but you look in the mirror and your hair is driving you crazy and you want to slap your own cheeks, because to bruise yourself would show that you are alive. crying in a grocery parking lot because you want to slice your skin open over a day gone rotten, too many little things adding up until the scale tipped and the tears fell and you lost your grip on reality. real tea, spilled.

individually, none of your circumstances are so dire. but added up one by one over twenty seven years, twenty seven years of pain and anguish and you feel two thousand years old. is it over yet? if i woke up in hell tomorrow, the world having ended in my sleep, i would not be surprised.

you feel guilty, but then you remember that love and hate are twins, not opposites. and your motto is: keep moving forward. it’s all you can do.