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.

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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.

Saying Goodbye

I’m not good with goodbyes. In fact, I avoid them at all costs. I always run away right before the end. This is going to sound dramatic. But Pretty Little Liars changed my life. When I first saw the books in my local Target, I avoided them, The premise seemed interesting but in the moment I was turned off by the covers with the dolls (which I now have grown to love). I couldn’t tell who they were meant for. But when I was nineteen, life got derailed a little bit. I came home from college after being severely bullied to the point of suicidal thoughts. My parents were divorcing, I quit my job but it felt like I lost it, and I was lonely and bitter and tired. I bought the first book, even though I was trying to stretch my money. The books was impossible to put down. The narration was impeccable, fast paced, hooking. The characters were like celebrities. They truly came alive on the page. I went back to the store and bought the rest of the available books in the series. After that , I preordered every book as they came out.

My grandmother was also my savior at that time (and always). I stayed with her for days and weeks, and at night I would turn in early to read my beloved books. Not since Harry Potter had I been so enthralled with a series. I am a lover of all books, not a chooser of favorites. When I found out PLL was going to be a show I was worried. How would they manage to convey these characters I loved so much, and the plot I held so dear? I tuned into the pilot and I haven’t tuned out since.

The show has been equally paradise and hell for me. One thing they certainly did get right was keeping the essence of the characters while adapting and growing them for the show. The TV plots weaved between from-the-book and brand new, the twists and turns were shocking. Could they do this on ABC Family? Could they do that?

Characters lived longer on the show than in the books. New characters were introduced. It all felt canon. It all felt right.

And then there were the disappointments. Sometimes the show dangled too many questions and gave no answers. The mystery, having been extended over more than 100 episodes, was getting more tangled and harder to figure out. Plot holes were around every corner. Yet so many of us stuck with it.

I discovered the tumblr community. The theories, the youtube videos. I had discussions with friends, taking notes as I watched each episode for future talking points.

2 weeks from today it is all over. There are 3 hours left, and one special. I am ready. I am not ready. I am ready to cry. In fact, I cried twice this morning. I’m an emotional gal. I cannot wait for the end. But mostly I am grateful for netflix and hulu – as long as they host the show, I can rewatch it, over and over. To comfort me when I’m in pain,

the autobiography project

It might seem silly when I tell you to “write your autobiography.” You’re not famous, you don’t feel worthy, you don’t think anyone would care, or just plain simply, you don’t think you need to or even want to for yourself. But you should! One day your memories won’t be so sharp. They’re already starting to fade. As it is, we make up so much of our memories anyway. It’s better to get the ones you remember out now rather than keep them inside until they shape-shift, warp, and disappear.

I keep a diary, but I’m not always “good” at it. It’s not organized. It’s not about my day or even about significant life events. There are redundant entries and lists and notes about lectures or events on reading and writing. Just a place really for me to dump my thoughts. But a few years back, when I had some free time on my hands after college, I decided to write it all out, chronologically, by age/grade, starting with birth.  I want to remember my life, both the agony and the ecstasy.  What started out as a few bullet points per year now has all of my memories racing at me at once. i can barely write down the outline before the next bullet is hitting, and as i write each sentence from the bullet point, things get clearer and clearer, until i am facing the past and moving forward wth my future at the same time. handwriting it is making it more personal, and now it will be in my diary forever. I also now have the opportunity to see patterns, and learn from the past, as well as see the direction I am heading in the future.

I never want anyone to read my diaries. They showcase the good, the bad, and especially the ugly. They are all mine, but they are sacred to me, no matter how messy or muted my life is, I have a place to explore it, and I want to put it to good use. In addition, I freewrite, use journal prompts… etc. I spend hours exploring the internet looking at diaries and bullet journals and art journals and planners, and I will probably never share more than a page or two once every few years of mine. But that’s okay. I like my journal the way she is. Unpredictable, like me.