Friday, July 8, 2016

Can't Sleep, Too Much Crap In the World

The World needs to change. The U.S. needs to change NOW. No one needs an assault weapon. Give me one reason why. No one needs permission to carry a gun on the street for any reason if you're a civilian. We're the only country that does this shit and says we're proud of it. Racism has to end. We are no different from each other. The culture/race/religion you disagree with probably disagrees with your culture/race/religion too. What makes yours the right one? Why does there HAVE to be a right one and the disagreement have to be be there to begin with? Why can we not celebrate and embrace differences? And why do we have to hate and kill and be violent? 

Prayers do not solve problems. If you pray and feel it helps, keep doing it. That positive energy will help move you forward but it's a time of action. The words you say in your prayers? Your actions have to match up with them. You can't pray for peace in the world and then call someone a nigger. You are not a Christian or a Muslim or a Buddhist, etc if that is your thought process. That stems from nothing but hatred and division and tell me....please tell me, honestly, one positive thing that stems from that. One thing that betters the world and is not negative and hateful from using that kind of language and demoralizing someone like that. Tell me one thing that's not intended to have negativity associated with it and is intended to move things forward. Tell me why that's a good thing to do. And if you can't answer those questions then why do it? And if your answer is "it's fun or funny or I feel good or they deserve it" you need to look a lot deeper than you're looking and see if you're a bigger part of the problem than you think. Same if you think it's ok to call a gay person a fag, a lesbian a dyke, a woman a slut, a Muslim a terrorist....this goes on for days. 

Because someone is different than you, it does not make them any worse than you. There are many people in this world that are extremely different than you who have made this a better world for you to live in. Are there those who are different who have made it a worse world? Yes. But so have people of your own gender, class and race. You were born the gender, class and race you were by chance. You could have just as easily never had the ability to read this post because you could've been born into an underprivileged background with a completely different set of circumstances where the Internet would not be something you'd even have access to if you were even privileged enough to be literate. And your view of the world would be very different. You could have been the person being shot because of the color of your skin. Or you could have been the mentally ill person who could not get care but COULD get access to assault weapons and act out on his issues inspired by hatred and division that our society just feeds like a never ending circle. 

Please let's change this finally. It doesn't happen with just a prayer or saying "I'm sick of it" or "when's it going to stop". We can't rely on politicians to do it for us. They have not. Things are getting worse. That has to be said. We have to own that and say "no more". And that doesn't have to be a scary thing. It can be an exciting change. Just start talking. Stand up for what you believe in. Share the positive instead of the hatred. Make that the new norm. Go out of your way and make yourself a little uncomfortable. Have a conversation with someone that you normally wouldn't and see that we're all essentially alike despite different beliefs or cultures. We're all human and want happiness. And we have so many fascinating things we can learn from each other. Imagine what an exciting world that could be where the guard that we put up ourselves could be dropped and instead we can come together without judgement and instead find common ground and learn from one another. What sounds better? That or assault rifles, blood, name calling, division, hatred, disrespect and violence? Because that's where we are right now. It's not where we have to be though. Make the change. 

I buried my father today. At his funeral, which was officiated by a childhood friend of his who was a deacon, we were able to have a singer sing his favorite song, John Lennon's, Imagine, at the end of his ceremony. The deacon said that he didn't think there was a better song to sum up my dads life and the way he lived it. It's a beautiful song and I think it became an instant classic because it does resonate with so many of us. Obviously it moved us all to tears at his funeral, but it's a song that has the power to do that outside of funerals as well because I do believe we all so desperately want that and it is attainable. Stop imagining now and embrace it as a reality. 

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Stepping Into A New Beginning

I've been feeling that old familiar pull to come back to blogging for awhile now. I've resisted about as long as I can, so here I am! I have to say up front though that this isn't a full jump back into where I used to be when it comes to an online presence. I wish I could say that it were, but I know what making promises like that ends up doing. I've done that far too many times. I'm taking my time this time and just doing what feels right. I'm not going to spill everything that's gone on in the last 6 months in this post :p I'd end up with a novel and this post is already going to be short story sized :p But, I'll say that I've learned some lessons over these last six months and one of those is the importance of self care and knowing your limits. So will I try to post more and comment more and read more blogs and respond to emails? Yes. Will I beat myself up and disappear completely online like I usually do if I don't do those things? No. I've just really missed writing and blogging and having a place to record my thoughts on whatever and share things with other people, so that's what I'm doing.

This blog is going to look a little different in it's content than it did before too, though not drastically different. I'm still me and sorry guys, but I can't help but give you me :p But my focuses have changed a lot recently partially out of necessity and partially from the things I've found that have brought me comfort over the last few months. So books will still be a part of this blog, absolutely, but I really see this blog becoming more of a personal, reflective, lifestyle type blog.

With that in mind, I thought that a good thing to come back on would be a gardening post! One of the biggest changes in the last six months is that I moved!! I moved for a number of reasons...I was tired of having a 45 minute drive home from work every night, I wanted to be closer to my family and friends, I needed to be closer to my dad as he's gotten sicker, and my landlord who's a family friend had a house open up in New Orleans that is sort of a dream house with a HUGE back yard that is a bit of a dream come true for me!! He's given me the ok to do whatever the hell I want with the back yard too :D The people who lived here before me were big hippies and had vegetables and fruit and herbs growing all over the place! So I already had a nice frame. I actually pulled up a lot of what they had done because it was so chaotic. But more on that in a second.

It's so exciting to have a HOUSE! This is the first time I've ever lived in a house of my own (even though I'm renting). Even though I had a really nice apartment, a house is so much nicer. I have goals for this garden guys. I've been really inspired by a girl I found on instagram. Her username is hopieannc. She's actually a friend of a friend of mine and I didn't know this until after I had been following her account for a few days, but her and her husband have made a documentary that's really beautiful called Hope For Steve. You should check it out! Her husband was diagnosed with ALS in 2001 and they got married right after his diagnosis. They've since transformed their back and front yard into "Steve's Healing Garden" and it's just beautiful and so full of joy and life and hope. While my garden might never look like theirs, I want theirs to be an inspiration for mine. So I'm keeping this in mind while I create this garden.

I'm making this garden with intention. It will be a healing garden for myself, for my dad, and for anyone else who might need it :) Everything that goes in there is going in for a reason which will make it that much more special and that much more fun and rewarding to keep up with. I'm about to bring you on a guided tour of what I've done so far, but future plans involve a wildflower bed so I can have fresh cut flowers for me and my family and to bring bees and butterflies and birds. I'm planning on growing all sorts of veggies and fruits and herbs that the whole family loves to eat and stuff that I can can and preserve. I'm also planning on planting things that I know might help my dad or me with medical problems. This garden is going to be a way for me to get in shape...both by eating healthier and by getting exercise from working in it! It'll bring me peace just by the beauty of it. I plan on creating areas in the yard where you can sit and enjoy the space either alone or with friends :) Sunflowers are going to go in for ultimate smiles! I'm planting things like birdhouse gourds so that I can do other things with what I grow like make birdhouses :D Eventually I'd like to set up a birdbath and maybe get a koi pond...that's way down the road though. You get the point though. This will truly be a healing place and I plan on doing it all myself and as cheaply as possible too! Luckily, my landlord is a pack rat and has piles of PVC pipe, wood, lattice, netting, cinder blocks, bricks and more and has told me I can use it all! So I have all of the free supplies I could want. Seriously, it's like I walked into an urban gardener's dream.

Here's the before pic. Actually, this is after I did some cleaning and weeding. When I first saw the house, the yard took my breath away but it was disastrous too! The people who lived here before just threw seeds everywhere! I didn't think I was ever going to get the back yard looking somewhat neat, lol. There was lettuce, swiss chard, herbs, blackberries, zinnias, carrots, and nasturtiums just growing EVERYWHERE!! As in, just as much of all of the above as their was grass :/ Which is kind of neat, but not really. The raised beds were a disaster too. They had chickens so maybe the chickens were just spreading seed. Here are some of the things that I left:

They have tons of bulbs planted and I still don't know what all of them are yet, but I know that some of them are gladiolas now and I'm so glad I didn't pull them up because they're so beautiful!!!! I've never had gladiolas before, but I could love these :) I'm debating on whether or not to pull all of these nasturtiums up. I really like nasturtiums just for the colors of them. I've never eaten a nasturtium before just because I can't imagine any flower tasting good regardless of how edible they are :p But they are pretty! I'm thinking I may pull these up though. There's just SO many of them and they're all just out in the middle of the lawn. The last picture is this incredibly cool flower called Rudbeckia Maxima! They are the most odd flower in the world but so cool! They have these cones in the middle that get huge! Like about 3 inches tall and then they grow these fuzzy seeds around them. The flowers then get to be about 8 feet tall! The birds love to come and eat their seeds and they give a garden a really neat cottage feel in my opinion :)

 One of the first things I fell in love with when I saw this back yard were the morning glories!!! I've since learned that they are all over the whole neighborhood!! My guess is they all stem from the same place :p The vines grow like crazy. I'm letting them cover this one piece of my shed because they just look so pretty against the white there. I just can't bring myself to pull them down and they're not doing any damage. The picture next to that is my back fence! Yep, they give me privacy from my back neighbors :p And this is what all of the fences look like in the neighborhood! The back fence is so pretty. It's about 20 feet across and 10 feet tall of just a wall of morning glories :)
The house also came with a GIANT and gorgeous fig tree!!! I love figs so much too and they're extremely popular in New Orleans cooking. I'm am going to have figs coming out of my ears when all of these ripen. I see lots of preserves and fig cookies and fig vinaigrette and fig salads, etc etc etc in my future :p 

The last thing that the neighbors left that I've since pulled were the carrots! They left two raised beds planted in complete chaos. And when I say chaos, that doesn't even do it justice. I finally finished clearing them out yesterday and ended up with probably about 50 carrots!! And thanks to some instagram friends, I now have great ideas for what to do with them :D

Now we get on to what I've added so far. I've added a lot more than what I'm about to show, but these are just the big additions. The first thing I was excited about was to have a compost bin again!! One of the things you miss when you're in an apartment is simple things like being able to compost and having access to recycling. It's so nice to have those things back again!

The first garden bed I made was this little herb garden/kitchen garden right outside my back door. I don't know if I like it or not...I may re-do it. When I dug it, I discovered that about 5-6 inches underneath the dirt is a slab of cement :/ So it's not very deep. It may need to be mounded up with more dirt and replanted without the cinderblocks in a more permanent bed. But I thought the cinderblocks would keep the herbs confined and stop them from going wild. Especially things like mints!! We'll see how they all do. But there is parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme (like that? :p), lemon thyme, greek and italian oregano, sweet mint, peppermint and chocolate mint, chives, nasturtiums, pineapple sage, catnip, and then aloe vera, chamomile and pentas in the middle :)

Here's the first of the two raised beds, cleaned up and fixed up! I tore out everything except for a bunch of cucumber plants that they had in there and a tomato bush that's producing well!. The cucumbers were not doing so well because they were so cluttered and covered. So I took some of the PVC pipe and cut it and secured it into the ground and then gave it extra support with a cinder block and then put a 6 foot piece of lattice laying against each piece of PVC pipe with a nail in it to stop it from sliding down. Now I have something for the cucumbers to climb up with bonus room underneath the lattice to plant more stuff :D I'm thinking I'll plant watermelons or something that climbs along the ground here.

Here's the main garden bed that's about 10 feet long. I should've left space to plant more stuff, but with all of the room I have in the yard, I'm fine. If anything, I'll get a better yield since the plants have so much room now! I have two bell peppers there, two eggplant and 6 more tomatoes. I'd like to get more of all of these!

And finally, here's ONE little peek inside the house to show you a couple of my indoor plants :p On the console table is my indoor lemon tree that was just about dead at my apartment. Though it does have two lemons on it! It is going to LOVE this room!!! It has four windows in this little tiny bonus room that will be a sort of study. And my fiddle leaf fig is back there in the corner though I don't know if it's going to stay there. It needs to be repotted too!

Ok...that's it for today! That's enough, sheesh!! I'm sure I put everyone to sleep :p It felt really good to write this though and to be gardening again and getting back to things I love. This year has been one of, if not THE, most testing years of my life, yet it's also been the most rewarding, fulfilling, and personally gratifying years of my life as well. When my dad was diagnosed with cancer, I didn't see anything but a giant black cloud on the horizon. Oddly enough, despite the many dark days that have been involved, I've been able to find more opportunities for personal growth during this than at any other point in my life. I think my dad has too. I think I'm finally ready to start talking about that and sharing it now :) I missed you guys! Hope you are all well and look forward to catching up!

Sunday, January 3, 2016

This Is Going To Be THAT Post...

Hey everyone...I wanted to take the time to wish everyone a happy new year! I started this blog on this date in 2007. So I'm turning 9 today and starting my 10th year of blogging which is a bit mind boggling and overwhelming when I think of all that blogging has given me over the past 9 years and all of the ways that it's changed my life and continues to do so. I've made the absolute most amazing friends that I will forever cherish. That's certainly the number one way blogging has affected me and it's something that I NEVER expected when I started book blogging. It's also allowed me to read differently, become even more passionate about books than I already was (which I didn't think was possible :p), read outside of my comfort zone, and discover things I would've never discovered.

This goes beyond books though. Books have evolved into relationships with people where I've gotten music recommendations that have changed my life. TV recommendations that have changed my life. And then going back to those friends I've made....without them, there are personal accomplishments I've made and hurdles that I've jumped over that I don't know that I would have had it not been for the people that I've met. It's been amazing.

Somewhere along the way, something changed here. This is the classic "it's not you, it's me" :p That's so cliche, but sadly, the truth here and something that I thought it was only fair to write about here. For right now, I most likely won't be around on this blog for awhile. That's no surprise to anyone, I'm sure. I haven't posted here in months! I keep in touch with a lot of people from this blog on instagram, twitter or email (though I've sucked even at email lately!), though I know there are others who have read this blog that I don't talk to as often, and I just wanted to say A. I'm ok and B. I'll probably be back here eventually, I'm just not sure how long that eventually will be.

What it boils down to is that this blog started to get associated with commitments and responsibility to me and though that was completely SELF IMPOSED, it was still there. And for some reason or another, I couldn't separate the two. Reading, talking with my friends...that should never feel like a commitment or a responsibility. I knew I needed some time away and it's made a big difference. This past year has been a rough one and it looks like that will continue through this coming year. Without going into detail, my dad was diagnosed with cancer this year and I've become one of his main caretakers. It's opened my eyes quite a bit to focusing on the things that are most important to you and I've had to redefine my online presence a little bit.

I am still writing's at a different place and in a different way. It's VERY sporadic. I may write multiple days in a row and then not at all for a month or so. And it's much more personal, intentionally. I created it as a place mainly for myself. But if you want to know where it is if you haven't found it already, you're more than welcome to email me at chrisa511(at)gmail(dot)com and I'll send you the link.

So I guess this is not a goodbye from this blog, it's just a temporary resting place for a little while until it feels right to come back to it again. Right now, I'm sort of happy with how things have been lately. I'm not disappearing completely! I'm actually hoping to start making the rounds again on blogs this year, though I'm not setting myself up to disappoint myself...I'm always on instagram and occasionally on twitter. I don't think I could ever leave the internet :p Could any of us? I'll leave this here for now. It's been a fantastic 9 years and we'll see where things pick up again :)

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

What I've Been Up To 6/3

The blog has been calling my name, so I'm finally answering it. I wanted to thank everyone for the wonderful responses to my last post. It wasn't just the comments and the emails of support that I got that made me happy, but just knowing that there are amazing people like all of you out there makes the world a much better place to be in. A world of acceptance is a wonderful thing and I think the more we're verbal about our acceptance of others for who they are, that can only be a good thing. It lets others know that it's ok to be you, brush those insecurities aside. The few negative people and the negative media out there casts enough judgement...I like that we counteract that by accepting and creating an environment of acceptance to balance the internalizing fear of the negativity.

Ok....catch up time! Here's what I've been up to:

What I've been reading: I don't have enough room here to tell you ALL of what I've been reading, but I'll tell you about a few things that I've especially loved. This has been the year of comics for me. I don't know what's come over me but I've been a comics reading machine lately! And thanks to Marvel Unlimited I've been reading a lot of Marvel Stuff! My two latest Marvel obsessions are Nova and Young Avengers. Young Avengers you can read in one sitting...and you'll want to because it's SO GOOD!! The whole series run (by Gillen) consists of 15 issues and it's AMAZING. Not only does it have one of the best teenage gay couples I've read in ages, but it also features a bisexual character which sadly is so rarely represented in literature, much less, comics. Also KATE BISHOP for the Hawkeye lovers. I went into this series expecting to really enjoy it, but didn't know how head over heels in love I'd fall for it. Thanks Debs, Memory and Ana for recommending this one!

Nova is SO GOOD!!! I've really come to love Marvel's cosmic universe...I've never read any Nova prior to this, but after reading Guardians of the Galaxy, Legendary Star Lord and Rocket Raccoon, I was all caught up with Marvel's current stuff and going through cosmic withdrawals...which left me with Nova. I'm so glad I read it because it's my favorite now of all of the cosmic stuff. Once again, it comes down to the characters and the story. It's more than just a superhero story, it's a story with heart and I love Sam Alexander so much. I love how this series ties into so many other Marvel series as well without you having to know much about other Marvel series, yet still makes those tie ins that much more enjoyable if you do follow them.

Right now I'm reading Bone Gap by Laura Ruby and I instantly fell for this book from page 1. I knew I'd love this one just from Ana's review of it and from the cover :p Yes, I do judge books by the cover. The fact that it's magical realism is something that doesn't hurt either. I've had a special place in my heart for all things magical realism ever since reading The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender years ago, which made me fall in love with the style. Ruby's writing is beautiful and wistful and she paints scenes that just etch themselves into your mind and momentarily take your breath away. I love it when an author is able to do that and too few authors do it. I'm looking forward to where this book goes, though I'm fearful of where it's going as well.

I'm also listening to the audio of Dreamland by Sam Quinones. This book is about the opiate epidemic in the US and it's something that I see entirely too much of at the hospital I work at. We have a detox unit and I do admissions for the hospital. We probably admit about 6-7 heroin addicts a day and get at least 40 calls/day for people looking for heroin detox. Heroin has become such a rampant drug. People use it like I remember people using pot when I was a teenager. It's cheap, it's easily accessible apparently, and highly addictive. This book so far is an excellent expose on how the epidemic became what it is and I'm learning a lot from it.

What I'm listening to - The new Sufjan Stevens album!! Carrie and Lowell. Wow it's amazing. I think I say this with every new Sufjan album, but I truly think it's the best thing he's put out so far. I love the quietness of this album, the way it has these little swells in the instrumentation, the intimacy of the lyrics that had to be brutal to write and share. It's impossible to listen to this album and not have an emotional reaction to it. You can feel that he poured his entirety into it and it's beautiful. I'm not listening to it yet, but I'm REALLY excited to get the new Jamie XX album! I have the vinyl on it's way to me. I've always loved the XX and I've loved the solo stuff he's put out so far. It's very house-y and reminds me of late 90's house music. Looking forward to that one!

What I'm growing - Sadly not too much :/ I don't know what's going on with my garden this year. There's lots of green but not many flowers and vegetables. Maybe I need to fertilize. I think my vegetables have gotten too much rain this year and not enough sun. It's been raining like crazy. So I think they've just been waterlogged and the plants just drop their flowers. My eggplant is putting out beautiful little purple flowers but no eggplants. Same with the tomatoes. My coneflowers however are coming up gorgeously!! And my roses are growing well too! And I have pomegranates on my pomegranate tree :)

What I'm watching - So you think you can dance just started! I'm a total sucker for that show!!! My brother's girlfriend auditioned this season but didn't make it onto the show. I hope she auditions again because she's a beautiful dancer. I've been watching Wayward Pines and I'm still on the fence about it. I think I was just SO excited about that show that there was bound to be a little let down. I think I expected it to be M. Knight Shyamalan presents Twin Peaks which it kind of is but I don't's missing something for me. I just discovered Agents of Shield on Netflix so I'm binge watching that right now!! And we'll have new Orange is the New Black soon YAY! Oh and Halt and Catch Fire started again! Does anyone else watch that? I haven't heard anyone talk about that show but I think it's a pretty decent AMC show!

What I'm cooking - I haven't had ANY time to cook lately :( I've been wanting to cook. I did discover a renewed love of french toast though! Easy and quick and SO GOOD! I hadn't had french toast in literally like 10 years and wanted something sweet the other night....egg, milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, bread, pan...AMAZINGNESS. I could eat that with some bacon every night.

So that's what I've been up to! Hopefully it won't be another month until I talk to you again ;)

Saturday, April 25, 2015

On Living Your Truth

I just watched Bruce Jenner's interview with Diane Sawyer in which he came out to the world as a transgendered woman and wow, was it ever powerful and inspiring to see someone accepting their truth and to watch the transformation in him in those two hours as he started the interview in tears and in a bundle of nerves and ended it with hope in his eyes and weight lifted off of his shoulders. It made me want to keep the conversation going. This is what the lgbt community needs. Encouragement. Interviews like this. Campaigns like the It Gets Better Campaign. Acceptance.

I saw so much of my own past in what Jenner talked about during the interview that it felt uncanny at times. I'm not transgendered. I've always been very comfortable in my born gender as a male, and have felt very lucky for that. I'm gay and struggled with that for years before coming out and I can imagine that coming out in today's society as transgendered is so much harder than coming out as gay. They're two completely different things, yet both deal with identity to an extent, gender much more so than one's sexual orientation. One thing is certain, you can't choose either. I'll put that myth to rest for anyone who thinks otherwise, you can NOT choose your sexual orientation. I have never had a choice in the matter when it comes to that.

I'm quite comfortable with who I am now, but were I given the option growing up I would've chosen to be straight in a heartbeat. If I could snap my fingers and make the gay go away, I would've given anything to make that happen. This is why I'm writing this post. Because it shouldn't have been that miserable for me growing up. Bruce Jenner shouldn't be 65 years old and just coming out now as transgendered because he can't stand to be in the closet for one more day. He said in the interview that at one point he contemplated suicide. The suicide rates among the lgbt community, the murder rates towards the lgbt community are disgusting, sad and tragic.

Though I'm not transgendered I related quite a bit to what Jenner spoke about when he talked about waiting so long to come out. When he talked about living his whole life with a constant battle and struggle within his own mind, never fully being happy or living his life. I remember many sleepless nights going over and over in my head how I would plan my life to just pretend to be straight for my whole life and justify how I could be ok with that and furthermore try to convince myself that it could somehow become the truth.

Here's where this post stops becoming depressing (it does, I promise :p). I finally came out when I was 29. Really came out. I had come out to a very VERY tiny handful of people in my life before that, mostly as bisexual, but there was nothing bisexual about me...I was gay. At 29, I told myself I wasn't going to turn 30 and still be in the closet. That's a decision everyone has to make for themselves as far as when it's right...for me it was then. I wish it were earlier. When I say that my life changed instantly for the better and it felt like a million pounds was lifted off of my shoulders, I'm not exaggerating in the least bit. My only regret is that I didn't do that earlier. I feel like I started living my most authentic life at 30.

My fear was that the world that had been judgmental for so long would attack me. I'm privileged and I know that and I'm thankful for that. I have an amazing mom and sister and brother that are the most accepting and loving people in the world that embraced me for the person I am from the moment I came out and would've done so no matter when I did. I have the absolute MOST amazing friends in the world who do the exact same and one friend in particular who has been the recipient of countless emails that allowed me to get to the place where I could face myself. I can't ever repay her for that. But there's still the world we live in. There's the bullying that I grew up with because I wasn't very masculine. There's the expectations of traditional straight male roles that *I* felt I wasn't living up to even if that social construct wasn't set up specifically by my parents. It's still something I grew up seeing in the community, on tv, in the media, in the neighborhood.

I hope and I see that we're moving to a place where those barriers are slowly being broken down. Break down those barriers whenever you can. Let the children and teens (and adults) in your life know, even in an indirect way, that the "norms" are self defined. We each make our own normal. That uniqueness is what makes each of us beautiful. Know that there is NOTHING WRONG with you if you feel different than the people around you and that those people around you? They may feel the same way as you too for all you know. Try to live a life that lets the people around you know that they're welcomed in this world just as they are. Every time I was bullied, every time something was pointed out about me that was "girly" or "faggy"...that pushed me back into the closet for a couple more years. Every time I was called "gay" in a derogatory way or a "fag", it did the same. Don't rob someone of their freedom to be themselves with harsh words. Think of how much you can change someones life...think of the life you can give someone by doing the opposite...just by letting them know in little ways that you fully love and embrace and accept them just for who they are. What a gift that is. It broke my heart to see clips they played in the interview with Bruce Jenner tonight of stand up comedians and paparazzi making jokes about him switching gender and hounding him with these horrendously cruel questions just for the sake of a cruel laugh while he was struggling with something very real.

Lastly, and my most important point in writing this post and the reason to keep the conversation going, LIVE YOUR TRUTH. I know it is NOT easy to come out. It's the hardest thing I've ever had to do in my life, quickly followed by the most relieving and fulfilling feeling I've ever had in my life. Like I said, I know I'm privileged to have that experience. Not everyone gets a positive response when they come out. Some people are more privileged than me and don't even have to come out. They're just embraced and accepted for who they are and I am SO thankful that there are families and communities out there that embrace children and teens that way. Taking all of those scenarios into account, live your truth. You will be a happier person for it. That's why I'm writing maybe someone will see it and know my experience. Come out to one person that you know will accept you for who you are and then work from there if you're unsure how things will play out. That's what I did. It doesn't get better in the closet. I promise you that. It gets worse the longer you're in there. But it gets so much better outside of it because you get to live completely as yourself for the first time.

There are supports out there if you need them. It's not safe for everyone to come out TO everyone all the time, I know that. Unfortunately we still live in a world where there is prejudice and hate, though we've come leaps and bounds from where we were even 10 years ago.

There's the GLBT National Help Center with talk lines, youth support and online chat support
PFLAG is an amazing organization with chapters all over the country.
The Human Rights Campaign is one of the biggest LGBT advocacy groups with tons of information.
The It Gets Better Project is one of the best projects I've ever seen and will give you tons of examples of life after coming out and stories of coming out from all aspects of the lgbt community.
The Trevor Project is one of my favorite organizations. They're dedicated to lgbt youth, provide a suicide hotline and a "safe and judgement-free place to talk" 24-7

You can also look for local counselors to talk to who specialize in treating people in the lgbt community. Just remember, there's hope out there when things feel hopeless. There are people who will and already do accept you and love you for who you are. Take a deep breath, trust yourself, trust in those people and know that they exist and go live your life. Live it authentically and happily and proudly and how you deserve to live it and be loved.

Friday, April 17, 2015

What's Growing On

Things are coming alive in the garden right now! Though nothing is too exciting at the moment. W'ere at that phase right now where there's plenty of green but no flowers or fruit really yet. But I thought I'd track the garden progress so I could have a record of what's working and what's not this year. Here's what's going on right now on my little patio.

The star of the garden right now is my rose bush! It has 5 blossoms on it right now and the first opened today. This is my third year with it and it still takes my breath away like it did when I first got it. I absolutely love the color of the roses and the smell is so intoxicating! I've been surprised by how easy it's been to grow too! I have it planted in a fairly big and deep pot and I prune it often and dead head the roses once they die, but aside from that, I don't do much!

My blueberries on the other hand have been less than stellar. This is my second year with the bush and I was hoping to have a big harvest this year, but alas, I only have about 30 berries on the whole bush :( It may be my own fault. I pruned it back really heavily last year and I don't know if I should've done that. Does anyone know if you're supposed to prune blueberry bushes? I think maybe it focused on regrowing it's branches rather than putting out berries this year? Oh well, that just means I'll get to go berry picking this year :)

Next up are my sunflowers! I love these. They're actually some type of sunflower bulb. They come back every year! And they put out these little mini sunflowers :) It'll be a couple of months before they start putting out flowers. I'll train them up that trellis once they start reaching up there. I got them from Gurneys three years ago. They have some really cool plants!

My little succulent garden is doing really good except for the centerpiece which you can barely make out in the picture :( It used to be a cactus with a big red top but it got killed during a freeze when I forgot to bring it in. Apparently the bottom of it is still alive though so I'm leaving it in there in the hopes that maybe it will put out a new top? Who knows. The rest of it is beautiful as ever though and continuing to grow well!!

The mums and the echinacea or coneflowers continue to just keep coming back every year on their own!! I love plants that reseed themselves :) I can't wait until the two of these plants flower because they're both some of my favorite flowers! Especially the coneflowers!!! I absolutely adore coneflowers. In fact, I may go get myself some more this year in some different colors. I really like the white/pale yellow ones too. The ones in the picture above will be the classic purple coneflowers once they come up.

On the right is my vegetable garden which I swear has doubled it's size in just two days with all of the rain we've had down here!!! I know I just posted this the other day, but I have a japanese eggplant, which is the long skinny eggplant; a mammoth jalapeño (hooray giant jalapeños!); a big bertha bell pepper because bell peppers should be giant :p; and a better boy tomato because my pawpaw always swore that better boys were the best tomatoes :p So that's the kind that I always buy.

My citrus trees.....*sigh* I have a love hate relationship with them. Last year I just wanted to cry. They were ALL attacked by grasshoppers and I thought they were dead. The grasshoppers literally ate ALL of the leaves off of all of my citrus trees T_T I'd pick them off whenever I'd find them but they'd always come back. And I don't like using pesticides on my plants, so I was at a loss aside from just battling them by hand. My orange tree which is the one in the big pot closest to the camera was the tree that was attacked the worst and it actually looks beautiful this year!! Lots of new foliage but of course, it didn't put out any fruit blossoms :( It had to put all it's energy into just regrowing. I'm just thankful it came back!! It would've put out so much fruit this year too!! It's about 5 years old now. The other trees look pretty bad. There's four of them in the back all in pots. The leaves look really really pale. Two are from seed that I've grown myself and two I bought from Gurney's. I think they all need to be repotted with better soil and probably fertilized as well. Anyone have any advice on growing citrus?

The only herb I've planted so far this year is mint! But I need to remedy that. I had to have some mint though :) I use it for so much....iced tea, hot tea, salads, just to smell! If you want a plant that you can be guaranteed to NOT kill and that you can use the hell out of, get yourself some mint! It grows like a weed and it's so useful! Just don't plant it in the ground or you will have a lawn full of mint. Unless you want that of course which wouldn't be so bad :p

After my roses, the other stars of my garden are the tiger lilies I think!! That's them on the left! I also got these from Gurney's. These are so damn beautiful and they take my breath away when they bloom. They only last about a week once they bloom and they grow for about 5-6 months before they bloom, but the wait and the energy is so worth it!! And they are literally care free. I do nothing with these two pots. I don't water them, I don't feed them, and they're planted under a tree so they don't get much sun...just rain water and partial sun! You need these in your garden :p

And finally, some surprise volunteer marigolds!! I pulled up my marigolds last year when they died and these just started coming they must have reseeded themselves as well :) I love marigolds. The color makes me smile. I know a lot of people hate them, but they've always been happy plants to me!!

What's going on in your garden right now?

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Checking In 4/15

Part of what keeps me from blogging sometimes is just not knowing what to blog about...I feel like blogging, but my brain has been on burn out mode lately. I read, but don't really feel like putting together an actual review and I'm learning that that's ok. So I'm going back to the basics. Blogging how I started blogging even before book blogging. A personal journal and if you want to join me for the ride, please do! I've always liked doing these type of "checking in" posts, where you write about what you're feeling, reading, watching, cooking, etc. So I think I might do these more regularly and make up my own format. Anyways, here's my first "Checking in".

What I'm feeling - This is something I've avoided writing about for the last couple of weeks because it's the hardest thing I've been through in awhile. But lately I've been feeling a big mix of emotions. I had to give up Burch, my puppy. It's a long story, but in the end, having him here at my apartment by myself wasn't fair to him. I work about 45 minutes from my apartment and have a private practice too outside of work so he was home by himself for a minimum of 10 hours a day and when I'd get home, I'd only get to spend 2 or 3 hours with him before I had to go to bed. That was no kind of life for him and it was causing huge amounts of anxiety for me worrying about him. My sister has a friend that he went to who lives right down the street from my mom so we'll still get to see him whenever we want. She's home all day with him and she has another dog that he's already made friends with AND he has a yard now. So he ended up in the best place possible. But damn it was hard :( I had grown so attached to that little guy so quickly, and the apartment has felt really lonely without him now that he's gone. I had so much guilt moving his home again but in the end I know that he's happy now and that that guilt had more to do with my own sadness of not having him in my life that I was putting on him. I'm getting to see him again this Sunday though!! I know it's going to be hard to say goodbye again but I need my Burch fix.

What I'm reading - My reading was nonexistent for awhile. During the weeks that I had Burch I literally read nothing and then for a few days after he left I didn't read either just from being down. But my reading has finally picked up! I listened to the audio of I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson and holy shit that's one AMAZING book! I can so see why it won the Printz. Has anyone else read this book? It's about twins who have a bond that creates a world of it's own and the hardships they face navigating that world as it's shook to it's core when tragedy strikes their family. I don't want to say much more about the plot. But damn I loved Jude and Noah and the humanity and uniqueness of this book. Definitely a favorite of the year! Right now I'm reading We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves which has been incredible from page one and I just read Volume 8 of Morning Glories last night which continues to be as fucked up as possible. I bought the next two issues of it on Comixology and I'm all caught up with the series now and there's still no sign of figuring anything out 44 issues in :p On audio, I'm listening to Something Like Spring by Jay Bell, his fourth book in the Seasons of Love series which has become a favorite.

What I'm listening to - Music...I could write a whole post about music and I've actually been thinking about blogging more about music. It's something that I've thought never fits into this blog, but that's sort of what I was talking about in that first paragraph. I want to stop worrying about what fits into this blog and just write about whatever I want. Purity Ring's new album! It's called Another Eternity and damn it's good. Here's their website and it has a link where you can stream the album on a platform of your choosing! Their first album was one that grew on me with time and eventually became a favorite. This one, I just instantly loved. If you like electro-synth pop (that's not as specific as it sounds...) you will love this. Great beats, catchy as hell and Megan James' vocals are sweet as candy yet haunting at times. You can't help but feel good when you're listening to their music. My most anticipated album of the year right now is Grimes' new one. I REALLY hope she can put out new music this year. I've loved the song she put out with Bleachers for HBO's Girls, Entropy. If it's a sign of things to come, we're in for a treat! In other music news, I got tickets to see Smashing Pumpkins and Marilyn Manson together in July! Hello 1996 :p I've seen them both multiple times and cannot wait for that show. I may pull my old zero shirt out of storage for it that I got from my first Pumpkins show in 95 :p

What I'm growing - I FINALLY planted my vegetables for the year today!! In an old whiskey barrel! I think they'll do ok in there. It's deep and pretty wide so they should have enough room I hope. I'm going pretty small this year because my patio is getting pretty crowded. Just four plants, but it's just me, so that should be plenty...a tomato, a bell pepper, a jalapeño and an eggplant :) And I planted some mint because you can never have enough mint! My blueberries are already starting to ripen on the bush! I LOVE fresh blueberries right off the bush. And my roses are starting to bloom too! Should have plenty of pictures of the garden coming up  in the next few weeks :) I apologize in advance :p

What I'm watching - I've been binging on House of Cards season 3 and should be finished that today and then I'm going to start Daredevil on Netflix! Memory seemed to like it so I have high hopes on that one ;) As for regular's sort of a lull right now, huh? I think I'm one of the few people who still watches Revenge, though that's about to end and lets face it, it's time that show comes to a close. Still watching Grey's Anatomy though that show has been less than stellar this season too. I just want The Walking Dead back!!! At least we have the spinoff starting this summer!!! What should I be watching guys?? My DVR is lonely right now!

What I'm cooking - I haven't been cooking much either lately! But I'm fixing that today!! I'm making a batch of my favorite scones in the world...Debi's recipe! That I don't know if it's ok to share or not. I'll ask her and if it is, I'll update the post! I'm making them with cranberries and white chocolate though you can substitute that with anything. Seriously guys these are AMAZING. know what...I think I have to hit publish and go make those now :p

Saturday, March 28, 2015

What I've Been Up To

What's that sound? Oh that's the sound of crickets chirping....I'm surprised the crickets haven't died since this space has been dead for so long :p I didn't want the whole month of March to pass without a single post on the blog, so I thought I'd write up a post mostly for myself just documenting life. I have a feeling that's what this blog is going to start evolving into. I think the reason I've shied away from blogging recently is that I just feel overwhelmed lately when it comes to writing about books. I've read almost nothing but comics this year with a few other books mixed in, but my reading has taken a turn more towards "I just want to READ and not write about it." But then there are the books that I do want to share with the world too. I just need to start giving myself permission to do just that and find the right balance of doing it.

My reading has really been awful lately because I have a new baby!! Those of you who follow me on instagram surely know about this already due to the flood of pictures :p My sister got the most adorable and sweet little puppy (though he can be a little shit at times) about a month ago, but he wasn't working out for her. After I met him I could NOT let him go anywhere outside of our family and I've been wanting a little fur baby for awhile now, so I'm now the oh so proud and oh so tired owner of little Burch. He was named by my sister after her favorite designer, Tory Burch *rolls eyes* but I think his name is adorable and fits his personality, so I'm keeping it. Here, look at his cuteness!

He's a little Shorkie! A mix between a Shih Tzu and a Yorkie. He's extremely playful and affectionate, thinks he's about 10 times the size that he is and oh so smart! He plays fetch like a pro already, has learned how to sit and give me his paw, is almost completely house trained and sleeps all through the night at 10 weeks old. I really couldn't have asked for a better puppy! We're still working on biting, which I remember all too well from the last puppy I had in my life....I can't wait until I have that under control and he's still learning the places in the house that he can't go and there are still a few potty issues. And today I had a wonderful surprise...I keep him in my kitchen during the day with gates up on the entrances. Well I normally wait outside to see how long he barks once I leave and he normally calms down after about a minute. Well today after about 30 seconds I hear him scratching at the front door! I have no clue how he got out...the gate was still in place. The only thing I can think of is he got so excited he was able to jump up and pull himself over the gate....he IS a high jumper. So I'm dreading what I'm going to come home to if he got over the gate again :/

Needless to say, Cesar Millan has become my best friend lately :p Aside from life with a dog, I've been putting my energy into starting to look for another job and another place to live. Both are things that are long overdue. I live about 45 minutes away from my family and job right now and I want to move back to the city I think and somewhere where I can have a yard for Burch too. I think I'm going to focus on moving first and then start the job hunt. I'm LONG overdue for a new job. I could talk about that for days.

As for reading, like I said, it's been pretty awful since getting Burch. He gets all of my spare time these days. But I've been listening to Jandy Nelson's I'll Give You the Sun on audio, which won the Printz and OMG it's such an amazing book!! And the audio is really great. Such a special and unique book and so deserving of the Printz it won. And I'm reading Cesar Millan's How to Raise the Perfect Dog :p Which isn't just practical, but actually quite good!

So that's it for me! What's going on with everyone else?

Monday, February 9, 2015

Mostly #ComicsFebruary Reviews

It's one of my absolute favorite months of the year right now and it's all thanks to my very dear friend, Debi!! It's a favorite month for two reasons...1. It celebrates the month in which said friend was brought into this world and 2. It's the month that she has dubbed #comicsfebrurary :D A few years back, me and Debi started doing themed reading months which has always been fun and February just sort of became the month that we indulged in comics all month. This year, neither one of us really wanted to stick with themed reading months, but neither of us could pass up a whole month devoted to comics :p After the way this month has started, I'm tempted to just make this a year of graphic novels :p I thought I'd talk to you about what I've read since my last update which is almost all graphic novels aside from one regular old novel. Here we go!

  • The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (Graphic Novel) by Eric Shanower, illustrated by Skottie Young - I'm ashamed to admit this, but I've never read the Oz books!!! I've wanted to for years though and when Marvel released these incredibly beautiful graphic novel versions, I knew I wanted to get my hands on them. Shanower writes in the introduction about his love for all things Oz and you know right away that you're in good hands here. I loved this story SO much, I loved Young's take on the characters and it's one that I just got completely lost in. Great for all ages. Can't wait to read the next which is sitting right next to me!
  • Alex + Ada by Jonathan Luna - Holy Shit this book was so good. I don't know if I'm going to be able to wait for volume 2 to be published...I may just end up buying all of the individual issues on Comixology (which I'll talk about in a second). This story takes place in the near future and immediately draws you in with it's beautiful artwork and advances in technology that seem not so science-fiction-y with the technology overload of a world that we live in. Alex is given an android for his birthday by his grandmother that looks just like a human woman and is quickly disturbed that she can't make choices for herself...or is it that he craves more from the technology around him as we become more and more attached to our devices. There are a LOT of undertones to this story and dammit I'm in love with it!
  • Something Like Autumn by Jay Bell - This is the only non graphic novel that I've read this month so far. It's the third book in Jay Bell's Seasons series and I knew going into this story that it would leave me a mess and *sigh* it did :( But damn was it good. I know I've pushed this series on people like crazy with my last two reviews, but seriously...READ IT!!! Such an amazing lgbt coming of age series...I haven't been so invested in fictional characters in ages.
  • The Wicked + The Divine Vol. 1 by Kieron Gillen - Well this one sounded good in theory and I loved the cover art. It's the story of 12 gods that manifest themselves on Earth every 90 years as popular culture icons for 2 years and then disappear again. They cause general mayhem during those years...I was all about this story...until I read it. It just didn't work for me sadly :( It was too disorganized and too all over the place. HOWEVER, I did get something good out of it! It was my first time reading a comic digitally through the Comixology app and I am now TOTALLY sold on digital comics!! I've never been a big ereader until now but I just love the way comics look on an ereader screen!! The colors are amazing and crisp, Comixology has a guided display where you can read panel by panel if you want and you can even subscribe to series which reminds me of the old days of having a folder in the comic book shops where my subscriptions would be waiting for me :) Love it!
  • The Sculptor by Scott McCloud - WOW. This book was so damn good. I haven't loved a graphic novel this much since Blankets by Craig Thompson. It's about a young sculptor who's first and only love is his art and quite literally gives his life for it. He makes a deal with death to be able to create art from anything he touches but in doing so, he has only months to live. Through a cruel twist of fate, he falls in love during those last few days that he has and this is the story of those last few days. Heart breaking, inspiring, beautiful. I just never wanted it to end. So so good. Everyone should read this!!!
  • Captain Marvel Vol. 1 by Kelly Sue DeConnick - I am really loving what Marvel is doing for women in comics these days and I'm loving that they have so many women writers in comics right now too!! This is the reboot of the Avenger, Captain Marvel's story as she teams up in volume 1 with The Guardians of the Galaxy to help save an alien planet from defeat. It was also my first time reading anything with The Guardians of the Galaxy! Once again, I love that Marvel created a strong female character that isn't overly sexualized, is intelligent and doesn't rely on a million other people to handle a situation. I read this one on Comixology too and just downloaded the rest of the series and subscribed to it so I can keep up :)
So how's #comicsfebruary going for everyone else?? Haven't read any comics yet this month? It's not to late to start! This isn't a challenge, there are no sign ups, none of's just reading for fun :) And Debi is doing round ups and recaps on her blog if you're looking for some suggestions of things to read! You can follow the hashtag on social media sites too. Ok...back to the books! Have a good week everyone!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Really Short Reviews

I've read 5 books since my last post and I REALLY want to write about them all but it's getting to the point now where if I don't just do really short reviews, I'm not going to write about them at that's exactly what you're gonna get....really short reviews. Here's why you should read all of these books!

Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed - I fell head over heels in love with Cheryl Strayed after reading Wild and now, after reading Tiny Beautiful Things, I'll just call her my own personal life coach. This book collects some of her columns from her advice column, Dear Sugar, and it's heart-achingly beautiful and wise. You could have never experienced anything that she writes about in this book and come away with a new set of eyes to see the world, but chances are some of this will hit home. To say that nearly every page is quotable feels a little cliche, but that's how beautiful her writing is. This is a book I'll carry with me for a long, long time.

Something Like Winter by Jay Bell - I am so obsessed with this series!!! It really took me by surprise how much I'm loving it. Something Like Winter tells the events of Something Like Summer from the viewpoint of Tim, while also giving us Tim's story outside of the first book. What I love most about Bell's writing is the authenticity of navigating the world as a gay teen, trying to figure out your place in it and transitioning into the world of adulthood becoming comfortable in your skin...or trying to at least. These books are a gift to teens and adults alike.
The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly by Sun-mi Hwang - Oh this little story. So sweet, so gentle, so heartwarming and heartbreaking. The tale of a laying hen who dreams of hatching her own eggs and becoming a mother and getting that wish under very unusual circumstances. I've never been a parent, but I've been on the opposite side of that equation and this story just pulled at my heartstrings. I love stories that use the lives of other animals as a metaphor for something greater and this one does it beautifully with gorgeous illustrations throughout.

Honoring Grief by Alexandra Kennedy - I wanted a good book on grief for
work. I work as a counselor and I'm always looking to learn more myself. I took quite a bit for myself in this little book. This book isn't written just for those who have experienced death, but those grieving any sort of loss...a relationship, a job ending, a major life change...anything that leaves you suddenly having to redefine your world. She gives wonderful, quiet advice on how to truly honor the grief we feel when we have to redefine our worlds instead of rushing through it and leaving business undealt with. It's a book I'll use and recommend quite often!

Ms. Marvel Vol. 1 by G. Willow Wilson - OMG thank you Marvel for publishing this!!!!! What a refreshing comic this was coming from one of the big comic publishing houses. So often our heroines are white, tall, scantily clad, big breasted, long haired women whose looks precede their intelligence and abilities...the latter half of that sentence being the troublesome part. There's nothing inherently wrong with being white, tall, big breasted, long haired or scantily clad....but it's when writers choose to combine those things and make that the feature story of a character that it truly becomes a problem. I am so proud of Marvel, first of all for giving this story to G. Willow Wilson, a Muslim woman, to write; and secondly, for making Ms. Marvel a young Muslim woman herself who ultimately rejects those stereotypes and chooses to embrace herself as Ms. Marvel. And no, it's not just gimmicky...the story itself is fantastic and I cannot WAIT for volume 2 in March!!