I don’t know if I’ll be able to keep it up but I’m trying to WRITE MORE and what better way to do that than recommend things I LIKE. Short things, long things, and in between things, here are 5 things I was very enthusiastic about in August that I think you might also like:
- WATCH: N.K. Jemisin’s Hugo Acceptance Speech (and then read all of her books!)
I read N.K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth Trilogy in a frenzy this year. It seemed that every word of these huge, world-building, perspective-shifting, earth-shattering (literally) books was perfect. N.K. Jemisin is the first author EVER to win THREE BEST NOVEL HUGOS BACK-TO-BACK: one for each book in her amazing, AMAZING trilogy. And her acceptance speech is also incredible. If her speech doesn’t encourage you to pick up the books, I don’t know what will. You can tell that she has an incredible power with words. In five minutes, she made me laugh, cry, shake my fists with anger, and look up with hope. She is one of the best authors of ALL TIME Y’ALL. What a time to be alive with such a force of nature.
2. READ: The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
This book has been described to me as a queer feminist Star Trek and I was on board IMMEDIATELY. The biggest complaint I’ve heard about this book is that there’s not enough conflict. The characters like each other too damn much! But, I actually found that refreshing. Why not have a delightful romp through space with your besties?! Wouldn’t that be incredible?! It is incredible and the memorable crew of the Wayfarer made the whole book a blast. There are two more books in the series and I will definitely be picking them up.
3. LISTEN to: My Dad Wrote a Porno
I am admittedly WAY behind on this one but I finally starting listening to this award-winning British comedy podcast and my commutes have never been more hilarious. What would you do if you found out your 60 year-old father decided to write an erotic fiction book called “Belinda Blinked.”? If you’re Jamie, you gather your besties and create a podcast in which you read said book aloud over drinks and tear it apart, having a good laugh. The porn itself is so unsexy as to be rendered hilarious and they don’t miss a thing with their commentary and silly asides. It’s hard to hold myself together in order to drive safely because I’m laughing so hard! I started this month and I’m already on season 2. Luckily, Belinda Blinked 4 is out now and there’s so much more to come. Jump on this ship as soon as possible!
4. GO TO: A Seattle Women’s Sports Game
Did you know women were athletes too??? Did you know they are incredible??? I knew this somewhere deep in my feminist heart and YET the only sports games I had been to were the Seahawks and the Mariners. That changed this year when I attended my first Seattle Storm and Seattle Reign FC games. SEATTLE WOMEN’S SPORTS TEAMS ARE AMAZING. Both team made it to playoffs this year and the Storm is in the finals! There’s never been a better time to be a fan of women’s sports in Seattle. I will probably be that annoying person wearing her Storm and Reign jerseys on Blue Friday when football season begins. Forget the boys because the girls are taking the trophies home this year.
5. WATCH: John Green is a Fortnite Pacifist
“Hello! My name is John Green and I do not shoot first.” So begins award-winning author and vlogger John Green on his gaming series in which he tries to win Fortnite as a pacifist. Fortnite is an extremely popular Battle Royale video game. Essentially, 100 players begin the game together and the game does not end until there is one player left. You can imagine how violent that would become. But, John Green does not believe in violence. Can he win the game by peacefully hiding in bushes and enjoying the view of the flowers? Well, he hasn’t …yet. But for whatever reason watching someone play a shooting game in which they never shoot and spend the majority of the time hiding is incredibly endearing and entertaining. This series won’t end until he wins and I can’t decide if I want him to win or if I want the series to last forever.
I did it! I survived another trip around the sun! Being 23 was wonderful. I had a lot of successes in my career this year and I feel more comfortable in my personal life than ever before. Last year my goal was to pursue balance between all the different parts of myself: the right balance of me time and friend time, creative work time and relaxing with a book time, family time and independent time, mental health time and fighting with the resistance time. I kept a facebook photo diary of my year called “I am not a star. I’m the whole galaxy.” It’s from a Girl Blue song. I have star qualities but I also have darknesses and empty spaces that make up the whole of me. Ultimately, the galaxy is way cooler than a single star. It’s our brightness and our darkness that make us human, that make us strong, that make us uniquely us. Well, I did okay with my goal. My balance still feels totally off and funky. Every time I’m like “my career is going AWESOME” I simultaneously think “what happened to my social life?”. And when I think “Daaang, this book is so good” I also think “Crap, I could have used that time to write a curriculum!” And when I think “gosh, rehearsals are so fun and fulfilling” I also think “the Avengers movie came out 2 weeks ago and I haven’t seen it!” I’m incredibly busy and incredibly lucky. I have a bright future but the path towards it feels dark and muddied. That’s why I’ve named my new photo album “Getting lost in the dark is my favorite part” -It’s from a Janelle Monae song (LOVE HER) and I’m using it to inspire me this year. The journey towards my future often feels like being lost in the dark but each year I feel better, closer to my dreams, more fulfilled, and happier. So I’m going to try to enjoy this lost feeling as best as I can this year. Here are some epic things that happened to 23 year-old me:
- I spent my 24th birthday in Disneyland and met TIANA!
- I taught TONS of classes at Studio East, YTN, ACT, and STG and became Studio East’s Education Associate.
- I hiked the BEAUTIFUL Ozette loop, a 3-day backpacking trip, with family & Devin.
- I spent a week in Boston, saw some amazing sites, and visited some great friends.
- I saw the ECLIPSE.
- I celebrated my 2 year anniversary with Devin!
- I went to the Washington State Brewers Festival with my dad for Father’s Day.
- I had a blast at Gay Day at Wild Waves
- I played Lear 1 in Lear(s) with Shakspeariment
- I went to PAX West and cosplayed as Jigglypuff and Tubbs.
- I saw Leslie Odom Jr. live in concert!
- I went to the Legend of Zelda Symphony.
- I cosplayed as Indiana Jones at Geek Girl Con.
- I went pumpkin patching.
- I helped carve some DOPE jacko-lanterns.
- I made children scream for a very happy Halloween.
- I read some amazing books!
- I directed my first mainstage play: Rikki Tikki Tavi at Youth Theatre Northwest.
- I went to Seaside, Oregon for a beautiful holiday getaway.
- I celebrated a white Christmas with the fam.
- I picked up knitting and crocheting again (I didn’t make the penguin hat but I made the other 2)
- I marched in the Seattle Women’s March.
- I went to a Saint Vincent concert.
- I saw Hamilton!!!!!!!!!!!!
- I cosplayed as Kate Bishop at Emerald City Comic Con
- I played Catfish in Tortoise and the Hare with Storybook Theater
- I saw lots of great theater (some featuring super talented friends!!)
- I threw the first pitch at a Mariners game at Safeco Field on May the 4th.
- I drank lots of craft beer.
- I ran a few 5k’s with my mom (including the Mardi Gras 5k!)
- I directed The Jungle Book with STG’s Disney Musicals in Schools Program
- My cat and my girlfriend moved in with me.
- I played Grumio in Taming of the Shrew at SecondStory Rep
- I celebrated Mother’s Day by going to a Pierogi Fest and hanging with the family.
I read 4 books in February that were all across different genres. Be sure to follow my adorable book model on Instagram: @tonksreads
Bingo Love by Tee Franklin
finished February 3rd, 2018
First Sentence: “My parents found out I liked girls, and they kicked me out.”
My take: Bingo Love tells the story of two young women falling in love in a place and time that was not accepting of queer relationships. The story follows their lives as they grow apart and then back together again. The art in this story is stunning. I loved that the main characters were both queer women of color. The story had a ton of heart, but it also felt rushed, simplified, and void of nuance and layers. I wanted their story and their personalities to be flushed out and deep and instead what I got was a predictable plot line. I think maybe if the writer and artists had told this story over a series of books it could have been more effective. There is so much potential here and I enjoyed reading it but I wished for more.
Pages read: 92 pages
My rating: 3/5 stars
If At Birth You Don’t Succeed by Zach Anner
finished February 3rd, 2018
First Sentence: “It’s 8 a.m. on a Sunday morning and I’m bouncing on a trampoline surrounded by a film crew, shouting jokes into a camera.”
My take: Zach is freaking FUNNY. I audibly laughed a lot during this book. At the same time, I felt bogged down with so many details. It often felt that Anner was sharing the the names of every person he’s ever worked him, the names every show he has written and acted in, and the names of every woman he has ever had a conversation with. I felt the book could have been edited and condensed into a more effective, hilarious, and uplifting package. That being said, I am a bigger fan of Anner’s after reading this and I am charmed and uplifted by his message. I’m realizing I’m done with the “celebrity essay” genre unless something particularly remarkable and new comes around.
Pages read: 338 pages
My rating: 3/5 stars
The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle
finished February 13th, 2018
First Sentence: “People who move to New York always make the same mistake”
My take: WHAT?! For a book that was so unknown and so short I’m thoroughly horrified and thoroughly impressed. This novella is dark, gritty, mysterious, gory, unforgiving and unforgettable. A retelling of a racist Lovecraft “The Horror at Red Hook”, this book is told with lens on past and modern racism and brutality This is a mythical horror fantasy (or weird fiction) for our age. It begs the questions: “What makes someone a monster?” and “Who should we really be afraid of?” Chills everywhere.
Pages read: 149
My rating: 5/5 stars
MaddAddam by Margaret Atwood
finished February 22nd
First Sentence: “In the beginning, you lived inside the Egg”
My take: MaddAddam is the third and final book in the MaddAddam trilogy. The first book, Oryx and Crake, totally shook me up and made me want to read more. The second book was not as good but still interesting. MaddAddam, to me, was the least interesting of the three books but Atwood is such an incredible writer that I couldn’t hate it. It reads as another expansion pack to the first and most interesting book. In the story the God’s Gardeners and the Crakers rebuild society together and tell the stories of the past, passing them down to future generations. It still had very fascinating and well-written sections but ultimately did not live up to the excellence of the first book. I would highly recommend Oryx and Crake to other readers but I hesitate to recommend the whole series
Pages read: 394
My rating: 3/5 stars