a little magic

I must admit, rather than trawling lists of novels on GoodReads or Romance.io, I actually came upon Emily Tesh’s Greenhallow Duology on purpose. I’d interacted with her prose before on other forums and found her storytelling masterful and use of language deft and incisive and these books did not at all disappoint.

The Duology is comprised of Silver in the Wood and The Drowned Country, which follow the lives of Henry Silver and Tobias Finch. Their romance is not central to the plot but a delightful and compelling background onto which Tesh paints an ever-widening sphere of fae influence. And, really, this book has everything I might ask for in a fantasy: liches, dryads, sentient forests, faerie queens, vampires, intrepid (or maybe foolhardy) adventuresses. I would hate to spoil anything, as these books are short and sweet and could be read in an evening by a determined bibliophile, but suffice it to say that these magical elements in conjunction with Tesh’s sparkling prose leaves me wanting to delve deeper into the history of the universe she’s writing in. The Greenhallow Duology is a tantalizing taste of, I hope, more things to come from her in the future.

A Breath of Fresh Air

Typically I hate-read romance novels because I have a strong natural inclination toward arguing that needs to be channeled somewhere.

I came to Susan Trombley’s Iriduan Test Subjects series with the expectation of being able to vent my typical spleen: weak worldbuilding, boring character arcs, uninspiring humanoids that everyone pretended were somehow horrible monstrosities.

What I’ve found instead has been a shock and an utter delight.

TL;DR 4/5 would recommend to anyone looking for romance novels with a bit more substance and realism.

Continue reading “A Breath of Fresh Air”

Here We Go Again

I return to Laura Thalassa’s Four Horsemen series with a sense of dread and trepidation because I know now what I’m in for and it isn’t some fantastical erotic horror compendium. But, dear readers, I am loyal to my mission and so we’re going to dive into Thalassa’s War and see how the Apocalypse continues to unfold.

TL;DR 1/5 stars if I am being forced to give it a star. Pestilence was better but that ain’t sayin’ much.

CW: discussions of textual islamophobia, threats of sexual assault

Continue reading “Here We Go Again”

mourning is a process

Dear,

I’ve been trying to write this for a year and am not likely to succeed in saying what I want to say with this attempt, either, but you know me: I’ve never been able to leave well enough alone. I’ve never known when to stop talking. I have never rebuilt a bridge burnt, no matter who struck the first match. I have a tendency to dump kerosene on fires because it’s less risky to stand on the opposite shore alone.

I suppose I might like to know when you made the decision that you would have nothing more to do with me. Between that winter when you told me I was one of the best things in your life to that summer when you stopped talking to me completely there wasn’t so much time. I can’t remember fighting. I can’t remember being cruel. I remember trying to get my feet under me. I remember inviting you over often; too often, in retrospect, because I remember your answering silence. I remember asking you what was wrong and I remember that you would not talk to me.

What happened that spring? 

I suppose I failed you in some monumental way. That much is clear. Whatever I did, surely it was inhumane because you’ve said something to our mutual friends that’s encouraged them to shut me out, too. (A good parting shot you made with that one. Bravo, sir. I hope my loneliness makes you feel proud.) But, in this pretend conversation, I’m compelled to ask: what did I do?

I wish you had told me what I’d done wrong. Without knowing how I failed you I have no way to improve for others.

I don’t know why I’m so torn up about this; I know you aren’t. 

I don’t know why I miss you.

You are content in my absence.

I wanted to be a friend to you. That has been true from my first impression of you: kind, quiet, smart, skilled, killer fashion sense. Those perceptions never changed, although they grew nuance and depth. You made it clear, over the decade that we knew each other, that your first impressions never relented, either: you thought I was arrogant, rude, not particularly pleasant to know. Of course, this was interspersed with compliments and fond affection and late-night conversations about the nature of love and literary analysis … so I let it slide. I thought you changed your mind about me. 

This is, maybe, a prolonged period of mourning which I am experiencing. I have never lost a friend I loved so profoundly for no apparent reason before, even if that friend did not love me back. In theory, I know to expect myself to grieve, to give myself space to do so. In practice, I feel like you pulled something out of me and kept it and now I will never get it back and I am reminded every single day of this new void in my body where something vital once sat. I am distraught for that lack. 

Are you satisfied?

 

re: 2019

We may only look back to be sure we have not come this way before.

(This is the Groundhog Day of years.)

If you keep telling stories you can survive anything.

(You’re not special. Work harder.)

The closest you may ever get to another human being is sitting on a plane and that’s probably for the best.

(Carry Clorox wipes whenever you travel.)

You’ve done this alone before and this is no different; repeat that statement until it becomes true.

(You will need more boxes in more sizes than you think.)

Healing begins by scrubbing the floorboards of a house that doesn’t belong to you until your knuckles are raw and your lungs ache and every inch of laminate sparkles.

(You can survive anything— you’ll prove it when your best friend dies.)

The only cure for fear is anger.

 

 

a quick update

Hi y’all,

I’ve been pretty scarce lately, even for this sporadically-updated and quiet blog, so I thought I’d clue you in as to why.

Remember that one ex I wrote a lot of poetry about a couple years ago? Well, this blog is public and they found it at the end of the summer and decided to use it to contact me. They made this decision and chose to inform me that they’d been watching my house and had thought about me every single day since they broke up with me– but that this blog was clearly my safe space and they didn’t want to threaten it.

Right.

I did the thing you’re supposed to do when you find out you have a stalker and told them point-blank to never contact me again– from a burner email on a public computer that wasn’t where I worked. They know where I work but I haven’t seen them– although there have been a few scares as there are some people on campus who resemble them strongly. As far as I’m aware they haven’t tried to reach me again which is just as well. I’ve changed my phone number in the intervening months. I’m reasonably confident they don’t know where I live now and certainly won’t know once I move again. I refuse to change any of my usernames on principle and, fortunately, I haven’t been forced to.

But their oh-so-gracious reaching out had the intended effect: it scared me and got me to feel avoidant of the spaces I knew they’d see. I think I’m going to back up and remove the poetry that’s more-obviously about them since I don’t want to retroactively reinforce any bad ideas they’ve gotten, as much as it pains me for my feeble blog statistics.

Anyway, that’s what’s been going on.

fall

every year i approach fall with this feeling of a gathering damp. i can feel myself getting sadder by the day, first around the edges then closer. even when i do the things i enjoy most, even when i have stretches of weeks at a time where all is well, and it becomes apparent, usually by the end of october, that there’s nothing i can do to waylay what’s coming for me. then i spend a week, sometimes two, furious. snapping at everything i can get my jaws around because i’m just so goddamn angry that i have no control over the winter. then i pass the tipping point. and everything becomes very still. and all i can think of day in and day out, until spring comes, is how better off this earth would be with me cold underneath it. and some years not even the sun coming back does the trick. not even august out on the hardpan salt gets hot enough to burn off the fog. and then before i know it, it’s fall again.

healthy

Five months ago someone told me– gently, as politely as she possibly could, purely in the interest of helping because she wants me to get out and meet people and find a datemate– that I needed to adjust the angle of my head in a photo– one that I made the mistake of thinking made my fat look sexy– to better hide my double chin. I haven’t taken a picture of myself alone since. 

Last week another friend asked me if I’ve been sick because she hasn’t seen me in months and apparently I look like I’ve lost weight. She followed this up telling me that I looked fantastic, healthy even.

I’m not saying these things are related but I haven’t been looking at myself in the mirror. 

Then my boss changed my hours and I discovered that coffee is better than lunch. Thirty minutes isn’t enough time to eat a full meal. And lately instead of dinner I’ll drink hot chocolate with extra whiskey because that keeps me from being too anxious to sleep because I live alone, my best friend decided he hated me, and my cat died, and I’m convinced my life has no meaning.

I guess it’s supposed to be consolation that existential terror looks good on me.

my life has stood

Dear,

Contrary to the jokes I crack on the internet about being a double Taurus I am slow to anger and you’re not so much toeing the line as you have pole-vaulted over it. I don’t want to rehash the one-sided conversation I’ve been having, I just want to point something out:

In January 2017 I had a stroke. I was bed-ridden for two months after. There’s a solid two years of that must have happened to someone else even though all the pictures are of me. Recovery was a graying string of medications that left me too weak to move.

But a friend I’d not seen since middle school brought their new spouse to play card games with me to re-teach me math and memory. A girl I’d met in a coffee shop who barely knew my name brought me flowers and books to read when the edema let up. My sorority sisters took me to plays when I could walk again and made sure I had food that suited my new dietary needs. My best friend in Denver made me call her every day to talk even when I dropped words because language itself was newly the Gordian knot I still grapple with.  

Do you remember what you did, those grueling months after I crawled my way back from my date with Death?

You didn’t write, you didn’t call.

You didn’t bother to like the tweet I made about being bored at discharge.

If you try to tell anyone you did anything at all? You’re a liar.