When I started thinking about my goals for 2019, I was initially at a loss. I did a lot in 2018 and feel good about it. I don’t necessarily need to do anything differently. However, after letting my thoughts percolate for a while, I realized that, even if I want to continue making progress on existing projects, I still have goals for 2019. I also have some things that are not necessarily goals, but things I want to do this year.
Self-Sufficiency and Resourcefulness Something I’ve started thinking about is how to make better use of what I have and not be wasteful—to be a citizen and not a consumer. This is driven by wanting to leave a smaller impact on the environment and by the belief that we are what we do, not what we consume. I have been taking small steps to be more resourceful and conscientious, but this year I want to make a point of behaving responsibly.
In 2018, I learned how to roast a whole chicken and make broth from its carcass, I started sewing again, and I’ve gotten a lot better at knitting. In the coming year, I want to:
Knit myself a pair of socks and an item of clothing. I knit my first pair of socks this year, but I didn’t keep them for myself.
Sew a cool item of clothing for myself.
Consume less, in a broad sense. I want to spend less time on social media (especially facebook), and be less wasteful by not letting food go to waste and by mending clothes. I’ve been inspired by visible mending and the concept of repairing clothing in a way that makes it more beautiful. I also plan to consume less meat and eat more plant-based foods, and eat less sugar.
Be informed. Something I was really proud of in 2018 was writing a voter guide and encouraging friends to vote. This year, I want to keep reading (news and books) and stay as engaged as I can without wearing myself out.
Cook from scratch using local ingredients as much as is possible and reasonable for me. I’ve really enjoyed going to the farmers market with friends in the last few weeks and making food out of the things I’ve found there.
Buy from local or small, woman-owned business, if I do buy things. I want to buy fewer things this year. I don’t really need anything.
Athleticism I have embraced athlete life. This year, I want to get stronger and better at my sports and take better care of my body (not that I did a shabby job last year!). My goals are to:
Compete in weightlifting and mas wrestling. I tied for second place in a competition I did last fall. I’d love to get a first place medal!
Keep playing roller derby and defend our title of home team champions!
Stretch regularly. Seriously, I need to make this a daily thing or I’m going to be miserable.
Cool Stuffand Hobbies I’m not really sure how to categorize everything else I want to do this year. But all of it’s cool to me, so let’s call it cool stuff.
Announce at least two roller derby tournaments, including a WFTDA Cup or post-season tournament (and visit a new place while doing it, hopefully).
Teach derby announcing again. I enjoyed the class we put on, but I think I can improve, plus I know there are more people who want to learn.
Take a trip to a national park with my husband.
Keep studying Icelandic and maybe start reading Harry Potter in Icelandic.
Keep studying Spanish and take the C1 exam. I wanted to take the test last year, but did not get the opportunity to do so. I’ve realized that I want to do it just to prove to myself I can so, in some ways, it’s hard to muster a sense of urgency for it.
Read at least 52 books and read more of the books I’ve already bought! I tend to get distracted by new books instead of the books I already have (insert meme of distracted boyfriend looking towards new books). One goal this year is to read through my backlog.
Try cooking new recipes.
Improve my baking skills and techniques. I had fun learning how to braid a loaf of bread and I want to master more skills like this.
So, that’s it. Just a few simple goals for 2019! This is a lot of things, but the year is long and it’s possible to get quite a lot done when you’re not exhausted (thanks, modern technology, for my cpap) and when you can tear yourself away from the internet.
It feels anti-climactic to post the books of the year after being able to post the books of the decade at the beginning of 2018. But, decades consist of years. We’re into the second decade of book tracking. Here’s to many more!
This year I read 58 books, which is quite close to last year’s total of 62, and more than my annual average (52). Other vital reading stats:
Page count: 22,154, based on what LibraryThing lists. I am sure I didn’t exactly read this many pages, once you count appendices and notes, but it’s the best number I have.
Library use: 19 library books (mostly ebooks), 2 borrowed from friends. This year I read more books that I owned. I can’t say if this is because I was working on the backlog or buying more books. We may never know.
Female/male authors: 49 by female authors, 9 by male authors. When it’s right, it’s right.
Digital and analog: 40 digital, 18 paper.
Fiction and non-fiction: 39 fiction, 19 nonfiction.
Books in other languages: 4 books in Spanish. I really meant to read more Spanish books this year. I started out strong, but I got bogged down later in the year with exhaustion. I’ve since been diagnosed with sleep apnea and obtained a cpap. I’m hoping next year it will be easier to focus.
Favorites: This question always stumps be a little because I love everything I read. The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty was a definite favorite, so was Cat Valente’s Space Opera. I enjoyed Kate Elliot’s women-focused stories in the Jaran series and Spiritwalker Trilogy (which I’m still reading). All the books I got from Powell’s Indiespensible were stunning and made me reflect. This includes Red Clocks, There There, and The Mars Room. As for non-fiction, I think the books that have most stayed with me are Prairie Fires, which I did not expect to like that much, but the history involved was fascinating, and Bodies Out of Bounds. Rage Becomes Her and Text Me When You Get Home both distilled a mood around being a woman and getting along in this world.
And now for the list!
The City of Brass
S. A. Chakraborty
The Girl in the Tower
Mary Robinette Kowal
The Ruin of Angeles
Freedom Is a Constant Struggle
The Will to Battle
Nina Marie Martinez
The Jewel and Her Lapidary
How We Get Free: Black Feminism and the Combahee River Collective
The Unwomanly Face of War
Como agua para chocolate
A Wrinkle in Time
The Dorito Effect: The Surprising New Truth about Food and Flavor
Republic of Thieves
Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City
La Maravillosa Historia de Español
Francisco Moreno Fernández
The Dream-Quest of Vellit Boe
Invisible: How Young Women with Serious Health Issues Navigate Work, Relationships, and the Pressure to Seem Just Fine
Michele Lent Hirsch
US Politics in an Age of Uncertainty
Doing Harm: the Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick
An Earthly Crown
His Conquering Sword
Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture
Learning Together: Children and Adults in a School Community
Barbara Rogoff, Carolyn Goodman Turkanis, Leslee Bartlett
The Law of Becoming
Prarie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder
Tierra de Brumas
Cristina López Barrio
The Calculating Stars
Mary Robinette Kowal
The Invisible Library
The Masked City
The Mere Wife
Maria Dahvana Headley
The Burning Page
The Fated Sky
Mary Robinette Kowal
Bodies Out of Bounds: Fatness and Transgression
Jana Evans Braziel, Kathleen LeBesco
A Study in Honor
The Lost plot
The View From Flyover Country: Dispatches from the Forgotten America
[Un]framing the “Bad Woman”: Sor Juana, Malinche, Coyolxauhqui, and Other Rebels with a Cause
Alicia Gaspar de Alba
Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion
The All New Don’t Think of an Elephant: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate
This year has, by all accounts, been a real trash fire. Despite the prevailing national mood, my own life has been pretty good. It’s a strange dissonance, having a great life while so much horrible shit is happening. In the spirit of enjoying it while I have it, this post is dedicated to the good stuff of my year. Presented in no particular order, this year I:
Knitted my first pair of socks
Read over 50 books
Competed in three weightlifting competitions and got medals from two of them
Deadlifted 380 pounds
Pulled a truck!
Made caramel for the first time and didn’t even burn it
Got a new job that treats me way better and that gives me more money
Announced at two roller derby tournaments: Clover Cup and the WFTDA Continental Cup in Omaha
Visited two states I’d never been to before (Texas and Nebraska)
Played a lot of roller derby and got voted best blocker in four games
Captained my home team and won Sacramento Roller Derby’s first home team championship
Started a cookbook club
Went to Yosemite for the first time
Planned and ran a workshop teach derby announcing
Hosted Thanksgiving dinner and made a turkey and everything
Attended several political protests/demonstrations
Made a voting guide and encouraged friends to vote
Went to RollerCon and did everything
Learned to skate the banked track and played a banked track game
Started Icelandic lessons again
Met with my Spanish tutor for 48 lessons
I am still contemplating what I want to accomplish next year, but if 2019 is anything like 2018, I can’t be mad about that.
I’ve started listening to Gaslit Nation, an excellent podcast by two journalists who are experts in authoritarianism. The hosts have been emphasizing the importance of voting in the midterm elections this year and have said this could really be our last chance to make the democratic process work before autocracy tightens its hold on the country. It got me thinking about how I could encourage others to vote and maybe make the process less intimidating.
This post is to explain how I researched what’s on the ballot for the 2018 midterms and how I came to my decisions. I am not at all trying to tell anyone how they should vote. You can vote like me if that is what you want to do, but what I really want is to show you how to figure out how to vote and my thought process.
I am not an expert in politics. I work as a technical writer and I have a master’s degree in library science. This means I work with language and know how to interpret complex information. It also means I know how to find information. I am providing my process, but feel free to contact me if you have other questions.
My vote: Gavin Newsom
Although my grandma told me that I better not vote for Gavin Newsom, I’m doing it anyway. The California General Election Official Voter Information Guide (which you should get in the mail, but you can find online) does not provide a statement from Newsom, which I think is kind of a dick move on his part. I looked up Newsom’s website to see what he says about the issues. His stances are all ones I agree with. So, while he can’t be bothered to put out a statement, and someone I know told me she met him and he wouldn’t stop ogling her chest, I guess I’m still voting for him.
The Republican candidate, John Cox, provides a statement that is coded to rile up the Republican base, mentioning a that politicians have “rigged the game” and talking about repealing taxes on gas, among other things. It also says that California has the “highest poverty rate in the country.” I thought this was probably a lie so I went to look it up—operating on the theory that a politician lying about something means they’re willing to lie about anything. I discovered it’s actually true, but only when adjusted for the cost of living. I’m glad it’s not a blatant lie, but I’m still not voting Republican.
My vote: Eleni Kounalakis
Both candidates, Eleni Kounalakis and Ed Hernandez are with the Democratic party and, based on their statements, neither of them sound like a bad choice. My highly un-rigorous method of breaking a tie when two candidates sound good to me is to choose a woman or person of color. In this case, Kounalakis is a woman and Hernandez is a person of color, so this metric is not very helpful. I checked each candidate’s website and looked at what they said about the issues. Although they were fairly similar, I liked that Kounalakis supports universal broadband internet (that is, wi-fi as infrastructure) and building more housing, among other things.
Secretary of State
My vote: Alex Padilla
The Secretary of State is an important job in these times because this person safeguards our elections. Considering that Russia meddles in our elections, both directly and through targeted propaganda, we need a Secretary of State that will protect them.
Is Alex Padilla a person who can do that? I don’t know, but I am pretty sure Mark Meuser, the Republican candidate is not. His statement talks about “bloated voter rolls” and says that we need to remove “those who have died, have moved, non-citizens, duplicate and fictitious registrations.” This is a dog whistle. Voter fraud is actually a very small problem. When candidates bring this up, they usually mean that only the right sort of people should be voting, you know, white people and not pesky black people and immigrants with opinions.
My vote: Betty Yee
The Controller “serves as the state’s account and bookkeeper of all public funds,” according to the voter information guide. State of California employees see the controller’s signature on all their paychecks.
Betty Yee is the democratic candidate and the incumbent in this position, and a woman. These are the main reasons I am voting for her. These candidates don’t publish statements about how to tackle various issues because it isn’t really part of their job. However, Yee is endorsed by tons of groups, including a lot of women’s groups, which I think is important. Roditis, the Republican candidate, has a site that is focused on things like defunding the high-speed rail and repealing the gas tax. In general, I support paying higher taxes that pay for services so I disagree with Roditis on these issues.
My vote: Fiona Ma
Based once again on my metric of voting for women of color, I’m choosing Fiona Ma. This is also based on not voting for Republicans. Ma’s statement says she supports “accessible and affordable healthcare” and wants to work to “alleviate student loan debt,” which are things I also support. Republican candidate Greg Conlon is an old white man. In general, I do not vote for old white men if there are other, qualified candidates. Old white men have been running this country for too long and I want to see more women have the opportunity to lead. Also, Conlon’s statement says that public employees have pensions that are too “generous.” The pension is the main perk of public sector employment (as anyone who has gotten a paycheck for a public job knows). Screw this guy.
This is an interesting one this year. The Democratic candidate, Tom Hallinan, is running for the Board of Equalization (BoE) on the platform that the BoE is no longer necessary and that he will try to shut it down. I had to do some research to figure out what the BoE actually does. Per its website:
“Established in 1879 by a constitutional amendment, the BOE was initially charged with responsibility for ensuring that county property tax assessment practices were equal and uniform throughout the state. Over the years, the legislature expanded the BOE’s subject matter to include many taxes and fees. In 2017 and 2018, the legislature created two new tax administration and appeals agencies, reassigning some of the BOE’s tax functions. As a result, the BOE has rededicated itself to focusing on its historical responsibility of property tax oversight and its constitutional responsibilities.”
That does sound a bit like the BoE is no longer relevant. Also, I don’t trust the Republican party at all. I’m voting for Hallinan.
United States Senator
My vote: Kevin De Leon
Again we have two Democratic candidates on the ballot. Diane Feinstein is the incumbent and a ranking member on a few Senate committees. However, I am voting for Kevin De Leon. I am hoping that De Leon will push back harder against Trump and autocracy and Republican foolishness more than Feinstein does. I think Feinstein and Democrats should be doing more not just to say no to Republicans but also in setting an agenda and giving us something to hope for. Democrats are doing the minimum to keep our rights from eroding too quickly. I’m hoping De Leon will do more than that.
United States Representative: District 17
My vote: Ami Bera
My options are Ami Bera (D), Andrew Grant (R) here in Elk Grove. Bera is the incumbent and I am certainly not voting to put any more Republicans in congress, so I’m voting for Bera. I think he is a good congressperson, but I would like to see him be more progressive. His website has a lot about protecting the Affordable Care Act, which is great. However, I don’t see anything about pushing for single-payer or universal healthcare. Conclusion: could be better, could be way worse.
State Senator: District 6
My vote: Richard Pan
The options for district 6 are Richard Pan (D) and Eric Frame (independent). I actually met Eric Frame at a Sacramento Labor-Community Coalition Meeting in August. He has a good sense of the class struggle we are facing and I thought him very genuine. However, I recently saw this article in which he says he is against mandatory vaccinations. It makes me wonder if he has any other unconventional beliefs that I should be concerned about.
Member of the State Assembly: District 9
My vote: Jim Cooper
The options for district 9 are Harry He (D) and the incumbent, Jim Cooper (D). Based on Jim Cooper’s website, he has been involved in a lot of legislation that supports labor and women. I wanted to see what Harry He had to say for himself, however, he did not provide a statement in the county voter guide and I couldn’t find a website for him. If you can’t even get a website online, how are you going to be an assembly member?
For judicial candidates, you get the option to say yes or no. These are hard because you have to be really into law and politics to follow individual judges’ careers. I mostly used ballotpedia and some explainers I found, like this one, which suggests who to approve based on whether a Republican or Democratic governor appointed them. I am not an expert at any of this, but especially not at judicial issues. I encourage everyone to research and listen to voices they trust.
Associate Justice, Supreme Court
Carol Corrigan: No
According to Ballotpedia, Justice Corrigan has served on the California Supreme Court since 2005, when she was appointed by Governor Schwarzenegger. Being appointed by a Republican governor suggests she is a more conservative judge. From what I can tell, she’s also a big Trump supporter.
Associate Justice, Court of Appeal, Third District
Cole Blease: Yes
This judge is an old white man, but I think his resume sounds like he has the people’s best interests in mind:
“Justice Blease received his undergraduate (1952) and law degrees (1955) from the University of California at Berkeley where he later taught undergraduate courses in freedom of speech and the logic of argument. Before appointment to the bench he represented civil rights organizations and had a varied practice in public law. His clients included the California Teachers Association, the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, the County of Placer, the League to Save Lake Tahoe and public employee organizations.”
Louis Mauro: No
According to Ballotpedia, Mauro (also an old white man) was appointed by Schwarzenegger. When I searched Mauro online, I found a bunch of attack ads against Justice Blease, which did not seem very professional for someone who “serves on the Executive Committee of the Anthony M. Kennedy Inn of Court, working to promote ethics, civility and professionalism in the legal profession.” I am sure that Mauro didn’t personally create these images, but why is anyone creating propaganda about a judicial candidate? Who is backing that?
Propositions are tricky, but I find that if there’s general agreement from organizations that you agree with, you’re probably on the right track. I referred a lot to this voter guide that was circulating on facebook. It consolidates guides from organizations like the ACLU, Sierra Club, and Democratic and Republican parties. You can also refer to the California Voter Guide for analysis and arguments for and against each proposition. I like to read the arguments for and against because it shows what kind of logic people are using to justify their choices. It is usually pretty clear to see what kind of perspective the writer approaches the argument with.
My vote: Yes
This proposition helps fund housing programs for veterans. The funding for this proposition comes from the State selling bonds, which means they are not planning to increase taxes to provide more affordable housing.
Oh, the Republican Party is against it. What else do you need to know?
My vote: Yes
Basically everyone supports this measure, which provides funding for existing housing programs for people with mental illness. It seems like the humane thing to vote for.
My vote: Yes
I read the title of this one and immediately thought “yes” because our water infrastructure needs help, especially with the increasingly extreme weather events we are experiencing due to climate change. I did notice, however, that the Sierra Club does not support this proposition. I wanted to know why. Here’s what their voter guide says:
“The flaws in the bond will enable certain dams and other infrastructure we have opposed. It also directs to unspecified water projects a specific category of funds collected through the state’s cap-and-trade program that should be used to efficiently cut climate emissions.”
The League of Women Voters rejects this proposition for an entirely different reason, stating that it “shift[s] the cost for water from the end users to California taxpayers”
That said, I still think it’s a good idea to shore up our infrastructure for water. Two of the organizations I am inclined to side with are against this proposition for different reasons. For me, this does not override why I want to vote for it.
My vote: Yes
Proposition 4 authorizes bonds to fundraise for children’s hospitals. I do find it a little questionable that public money is going to private institutions. I did some quick searching and it does seem that most children’s hospitals are private institutions, so maybe it is less weird than it sounds. In general, I want to see better healthcare so I am voting for this.
My vote: No
From what I can tell, this proposal would benefit rich people who buy multiple properties. The State also estimates that it “probably would lose over $100 million in annual property tax revenue in the first few years, growing over time to about $1 billion per year.” Property taxes fund schools. The voter guide says one of the benefits is it “allows the purchase of a more expensive home.” This seems like a bad plan.
My vote: No
The only group supporting this is the Republican Party. This proposition would repeal a tax passed by the State Legislature last year and reduce state revenue by over $5 billion. The tax we pay on gas goes directly to supporting roads and similar infrastructure. If you’re driving on roads, you should help pay for them.
My vote: Yes
I thought this proposition was to end our bi-annual time change, but it’s actually giving the legislature the power to make changes to daylight saving time. I personally think daylight saving time is dumb and we should get rid of it. Plus, the time change results in increased traffic accidents and pedestrian deaths.
My vote: Yes
The money tells the story of proposition 8. Dialysis companies are spending like crazy to prevent this from being passed because they know they will lose money if they are more heavily regulated. Regulate those bastards.
(note: I didn’t skip a number. There is no prop 9)
My vote: Yes
This proposition basically establishes rent control by repealing a state law that currently restricts rent control policies. This allows local governments to set rent control policies. We live in California. We see the rents. Is any more explanation required?
My vote: No
This one confused me because I don’t understand why we would vote to make emergency employees work their breaks. I thought I was missing something. According to the Peace and Freedom Party’s Workers’ Vote Guide (I’m a registered Peace and Freedom Party member, by the way), it really is an attempt to “deny breaks to private ambulance workers.”
My vote: Yes
The voter guide says this “establishes new minimum space requirements” for farm animals and “prohibits certain commercial sales” of certain animal food products. To me, this sounds humane. I am a carnivore, but I support treating animals better.
A teammate of mine is an animal rights advocate and expert on this subject, so I checked her page to see what she had to say on this subject. She shared this page, which suggests that the main groups opposed to the proposition are the farmers who would be impacted by the regulation. It sounds a lot like the dialysis companies opposing dialysis regulation.
Did this guide help you? Leave a comment with your thoughts or tips for others. You are welcome to share this all over the internet.
The Power is a story set in a frame. A man, 5,000 years in the future, pitches this book as a way to help readers visualize history and events that occurred before “The Cataclysm.” His publisher is skeptical that any story suggesting men might have once subjugated women will sell or be read as anything but “men’s literature” or smut. However, the text of this “author’s” story is included, leaving the reader to decide for herself.
This book is a glorious revenge fantasy, which I, for one, particularly appreciated on the heels of Judge Kavanaugh’s hearing and, let’s say, the entirety of recorded history. In The Power, women spontaneously develop the ability to wield electrostatic power. It starts with young women, but the young can awaken it by passing a charge to another woman’s skein, the organ governing this sense. Soon, women around the world are exacting righteous retribution and, in the case of one of our protagonists, Mother Eve, starting religions to usher in the new world order.
Narratives Can Change Us
One of my favorite scenes in The Power was when women in Saudi Arabia realized that they were no longer beholden to the cruel, archaic power structures that had long kept them prisoners in their own homes, with fathers, sons, and husbands their wardens. En masse, the women take to the streets. Armed police advance on them, but what gun can stop the fury of thousands of women holding electricity in their fingertips? Soon, the women begin blowing up cars and rioting in earnest, their tone jubilant.
Of course, women make up half the people on the planet. I read this scene and thought, if women truly exercised their solidarity, could we be stopped? If the whole of Riyadh’s female population today, for example, said we refuse to accept this any longer, could they force a change? Could women in the United States, in a surge of power, prevent another rapist and man who believes women shouldn’t be able to decide what to do with their own bodies from becoming a Supreme Court justice? Just maybe.
Reading The Power made me think about the stories we tell ourselves and the way we frame the world. Adlerman is not the first writer to posit that how we see ourselves in the world can change reality. Another book, and a book I love, is Native Tongue by Suzette Haden Elgin. In Native Tongue, women work together to develop their own language, naming new concepts and creating power in doing so. Although the women in the story are palpably oppressed by the men in their family, deploying their new language tips the balance of power. Soon, the men cannot control women and the power they have unleashed.
Similarly, I thought of a part of the Sandman comics in which Dream, in the form of a cat, tells another feline that cats once ruled the world, saying “We were larger then, and this whole world was created for our pleasure. We roamed it as we would, taking what we wanted.” However, a human pet, in a flash of inspiration, dreamed that the world could be different. He shared the dream with others and “They dreamed … and the next day, things changed.” Humans became the dominant species.
The Power is women’s version of that dream. Perhaps if we all dream the same dream, one day we, too, will wake to find everything changed.
But Are Women People?
The second half of the book, for me, was not so much a revenge fantasy as a revenge nightmare. Women, mad with power, start paramilitary camps that train young women to use power as soldiers. A European president institutes laws stipulating that men must have a female guardian at all times, men must carry documentation, and men can be sent to work camps for too much surly backtalk. We even witness the graphic rape of a man. That, is, we witness a gang of women raping a man.
The tale’s atrocities ramp up slowly, so when at last a man is ordered (by a woman in power) to lick up spilled alcohol pooled amid shards of glass, you almost wonder how we got here. Almost. In this scene, older women spur on the terror, shouting that men had done much worse in their time—this is no less than they deserve.
What strikes me is how easy it is to see the horror in male refugees, men’s suffering. Really, it’s the crux of the whole book: how simple it is to empathize with men, how easy it is to identify wrongs committed in the name of power and of the status quo are, indeed, wrongs, when applied to men.
It reminds me that society generally sees men as people and women as some other class of human. You know, like a woman writer, or a woman chef, or a “girl boss.” Maybe even a female doctor. We don’t read woman into these neutral words. Nothing about “boss” is inherently male. Except millennia of patriarchy and male power have taught us that, yes, boss is a male job. Men do it. The Power gives us 5,000 years of the opposite. How foolish, the fictional publisher thinks, to see men running gangs and committing violence against women. Women, in this story, are the ones with the right to humanity.
It’s easy to see the horror in men confined to their homes or in (women) soldiers raping (men) victims. How terrifying! But the reality is that this is how women in the real world live now. Women today are afraid to go out at night. Women today, in some countries, can’t leave the house without a male to escort them. Women today are raped (by men) and are the victims (of men’s) violence.
All this happens today, yet we are either too close to it or too fatigued to be shocked by it.
At the end of The Power, we return to the discussion between “author” and “publisher.” The author states, “Three or four thousand years ago, it was considered normal to cull nine in ten boy babies. Fuck, there are still places today where boy babies are routinely aborted, or have their dicks ‘curbed.’ This can’t have happened to women in the time before the Cataclysm.” He goes on to say that “the world is the way it is now because of five thousand years of ingrained structures of power based on darker times when things were much more violent … but we don’t have to act that way now.”
What if we didn’t act that way now?
What if women seized the power of solidarity? What if we dreamed the world into existence? What if the world changed overnight?
I consider myself extremely fortunate to have never been the victim of sexual assault or abuse. That doesn’t mean I have always felt safe. There have been many times in my life that could have easily escalated into assault or worse. It is hard, in some ways, to talk about these close calls because, I think, well I wasn’t raped. It wasn’t that bad. That said, here’s the scariest story of a time that something bad almost happened.
When I was in ninth grade I lived in London for a year with my (now ex-)step-mom, step-sister, and my actual sister. It was the first and only year I had to wear a uniform for school and I was very naive about how walking around in a city in a school uniform makes girls a target for harassment.
The day that nothing happened, I was walking home after school and, a few feet from my house, a car pulled up to me. There was a man driving the car and two women passengers. The women, both adults, kept giggling. In retrospect, they might have been on drugs but I didn’t know how to identify that at the time. I had never seen any of these people before. The man invited me to get in the car with them. I said no. I don’t remember what else the man said to me, only that was I was scared and upset, and I hurried to the door (but did not run, because running shows weakness). I fumbled with my keys and went into the empty house. I don’t remember if I cried but I remember holing up in my bedroom.
I remember being extremely shaken by this incident and I didn’t know how to tell anyone about it—in part because nothing “happened.” But something did happen. That non-event has stayed with me for 17 years. I don’t know what would have happened to me if I had gotten into that car. I didn’t know if the man was going to get out and overpower me. I am lucky that I got away and I was close to my house.
Even though nothing “happened,” this is one of many things in my life that has taught me that many men see women as objects. Actions like this, or like street harassment, serve to remind women that they are not meant to be in public, that they should not be alone or feel any power or agency in their own lives.
I have spent my morning watching Dr. Christine Blasey-Ford be cross-examined in the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. I believe her. Republican senators brought in a professional prosecutor to interrogate the details of her story, as if she has anything to gain by making this up. No one wants to relieve the most painful parts of their life. To ask her to do so in front of the whole country and then to answer probing questions about any gaps in her story is cruel.
Dr. Blasey-Ford is a civic hero. She understands her place in the national conversation. She didn’t want to come forward. She didn’t want to do this. She has spent her life trying to forget about the time that Brett Kavanaugh almost “accidentally” killed her, as she stated in her testimony today. Yet, here she is, doing all of us the biggest favor by trying to keep another privileged rapist from joining the Supreme Court.
I wonder if, in some way, Dr. Blasey-Ford also thinks that “nothing” happened. She was terribly violated, but she wasn’t raped. Does she downplay her assault in her mind, despite the clear trauma it left her?
Even though “nothing” has happened to me, enough has happened that I, like most women, think through when and where to be outside alone. I look for exits in buildings. I avoid men who give me creepy “vibes.” These are the subtle accommodations women make for men’s incessant predatory behavior.
It’s strange, the imprint that nothing leaves on one’s life.
When I posted my books of the year update for 2017, I realized that I’ve been tracking my reading for 10 years now. My methods have evolved over the decade. The first year was just a list of books and authors, then I started adding the date I finished the book, and eventually added in data about reading books written by men or women, page count and all the rest.
I started this by asking myself “Where does my time go?” I was in college and curious about how I was living my life. Now it’s interesting to see how my tastes and priorities have changed over time. This is a decade of reading that has really defined who I am as an adult.
A few statistics for fun:
Total books from 2008 to 2017: 519
Yearly average: 51.9, or about a book a week for the last decade.
Year of most books: 2014 with 90 books
Year of least books: 2012 with 22 books (also known as the year I was laid off from my first-year teaching job and searched for a new job and started my second teaching job at a new school. How did I survive?)
Spanish: I read 7 books in Spanish in 2010, then didn’t start up again until 2016 when I read Harry Potter. As I wrote in 2011, “I didn’t manage to get through any books in languages other than English this year. Sort of horrifying, but I think this is indicative of how all-consuming it was to finish my credential/get a job/maintain my job/start my masters.” Sounds about right.
Non-fiction trends: It seems like I went from reading about atheism then to feminism, history and now socialism. That’s hugely simplified, but accurate, broadly speaking.
Reading More Women: Almost all the books I read in 2008 were by men. I didn’t start tracking if a book was by a woman or man until 2014, when I read 30 books by women and 59 by men. Last year, I read 15 books by men and 44 by women. I think this is something that will evolve over the next decade, as I consciously select more books by women, and especially by black, native, and latina women.
Without further ado, the list:
1. The End of Faith – Sam Harris
2. Lamb – Christopher Moore
3. The Yacoubian Building – al-Aswany
4. The Republican War on Science – Christopher Moony
5. No God But God: Egypt and the Triumph of Islam – Genivie Abdo
6. A New Introduction to Islam – Daniel Brown
7. What Went Wrong – Bernard Lewis
8. Neuromancer – William Gibson
9. Mirror Mirror – Gregory Maguire
10. Count Zero – William Gibson
11. Shadowplay – Tad Williams
12. Shadowmarch – Tad Williams
13. Bloodsucking Fiends – Christopher Moore
14. The Stupidest Angel – Christopher Moore
15. Mona Lisa Overdrive – William Gibson
16. You Suck – Christopher Moore
17. Stardust – Niel Gaiman
18. Island of the Sequined Love Nun – Christopher Moore
19. Freedom for the Thought that We Hate – Lewis
20. Fluke – Christopher Moore
21. The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove – Christopher Moore
22. Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom – Corey Doctorow
23. Practical Demonkeeping – Christopher Moore
24. A Game of Thrones – George RR Martin
25. A Clash of Kings – George RR Martin
26. A Storm of Swords – George RR Martin
27. The Translator’s Handbook – Sofer
28. A Feast for Crows – George RR Martin
30. Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers – Mary Roach
31. Sock – Penn Jillette
32. Wicked – Gregory Maguire
33. Son of a Witch – Gregory Maguire
34. A Lion Among Men – Gregory Maguire
35. The Age of American Unreason – Susan Jacoby
36. Letter to a Christian Nation – Sam Harris
37. The Professor and the Madman – Simon Winchester
38. The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
39. What’s the Matter with Kansas – Thomas Frank
40. The Dragon in the Sea – Frank Herbert
41. The Eyre Affair – Jasper Fforde
42. Bonk: The curious coupling of science and sex – Mary Roach
2009 (50 books)
Lost in a Good Book – Jasper Fforde
The Well of Lost Plots – Jasper Fforde 1/11
Neverwhere – Neil Gaiman 1/18
Islamic Historiagraphy – Chase Robinson 1/18
Something Rotten – Jasper Fforde 1/30
First Among Sequels – Jasper Fforde 2/9
Coraline – Neil Gaiman 2/11
New Reference Grammar of Modern Spanish 2/26
The Princess Bride – WIlliam Goldman 2/27
The Stepford Wives – Ira Levin3/9
A Room with a View – E.M. Forster 3/14
One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest -Ken Kesey 3/22
The Golden Trade of the Moors – E.W. Bovil 4/5
Oryx and Crake – Margaret Atwood 4/7
The Scandals of Translation: Towards and Ethics of Difference – Lawrence Venuti 4/19
Malinche (Spanish edition) -Laura Esquivel 5/11
Stardust (Spanish edition) -Neil Gaiman 5/27
Empires of the World: a Language History of the World -Nicholas Ostler 5/28
This Side of Paradise -F. Scott Fitzgerald 5/31
The Purity Myth: How America’s Obsession with Virginity is Hurting Young Women -Jessica Valenti 6/1
The Robber Bride – Margaret Atwood 6/7
Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement -Kathyrn Joyce 6/22
Anansi Boys: A novel -Neil Gaimna 6/25
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Ston (Arabic edition) 6/25
American Gods -Neil Gaiman 7/11
Female Chauvinist Pigs -Ariel Levy 7/15
Assassin’s Apprentice -Robin Hobb 7/22
Royal Assassin -Robin Hobb 7/30
Assassin’s Quest -Robin Hob 8/9
The Mystery of Edwin Drood -Charles Dickens 8/13
Ship of Magic -Robin Hobb 8/31
Mad Ship -Robin Hobb 9/16
El Laberinto de la Soledad y Otras Obras -Octavio Paz 9/22
Ship of Destiny -Robin Hobb 9/27
The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power -Jeff Sharlet 10/3
Fool’s Errand -Robin Hobb 10/17
Golden Fool -Robin Hobb 10/24
Fool’s Fate -Robin Hobb 10/27
The Magicians -Lev Grossman 11/16
From Eve to Dawn, a History of Women in the World Volume I: Origins: from Prehistory to the First Millennium -Marilyn French 11/7
Lost Boy -Brent Jeffs 11/8
Favorite Wife -Susan Ray Schmidt 11/14
Interworld -Neil Gaiman 11/16
Year of the Flood: A Novel -Margaret Atwood 11/21
Shattered Dreams -Irene Spencer 11/24
A History of Iran: Empire of the Mind -Michael Axworthy 12/7
The Shia Revival: How Conflicts within Islam Will Shape the Future -Vali Nasr 12/12
Harry Potter and the chamber of Secrets (Arabic Editionh) 12/14
Hidden Iran: Paradox and Power in the Islamic Republic -Ray Takeyh 12/21
The Blind Assassin: A Novel -Margaret Atwood 12/28
2010 (51 books. This year I put a “k” next to books I read on Kindle.)
Nine Princes in Amber by Roger Zelazny 1/2
Guns of Avalon by Roger Zelazny 1/4
Sign of the Unicorn by Roger Zelazny 1/9
The Hand of Oberon by Roger Zelazny 1/11
Wicked: Memorias de una bruja mala by Gregory Maguire 1/15
The Courts of Chaos by Roger Zelazny 1/15
Trumps of Doom by Roger Zelazny 1/22
The Zoroastrian Faith: Tradition and Modern Research by S.A. Nigosian 1/30
Blood of Amber by Roger Zelazny 2/6
Sign of Chaos by Roger Zelazny 2/14
Infoquake by David Louis Edleman 2/22 k
Knight of Shadows by Roger Zelazny 3/1
Prince of Chaos by Roger Zelazny 3/8
Multireal by David Louis Edleman 3/19 k
Geosynchron by David Louis Edleman 4/16 k
Dragon Keeper by Robin Hobb 4/21 k
Fool by Christopher Moore 4/28 k
Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde 5/3 k
Dragon Haven by Robin Hobb 5/25 k
A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore 6/15 k
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by Frank L. Baum 6/15 k
Hijo de bruja by Gregory Maguire 6/19
The Sparrow: a Novelby Maria Russell 7/15 k
Palace Walk by Negeib Mahfouz 7/19
Breve historia de la literature espanola 7/27
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen by Paul Torday 7/29 k
Introduccion a la linguistica hispanica 8/11
Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality by Christopher Ryan 8/21 k
The History of Latin America: Collision of Cultures by Marshall C. Eakin 8/25
Shaman’s Crossing by Robin Hobb 8/25 k
Forest Mage by Robin Hobb 9/1 k
Renegade’s Magic by Robin Hobb 9/16 k
Classroom Management for Middle and High School Teachers by Emmer 9/17
Classroom Instruction that Works by Marzano 9/19
Modern Arabic Literature by Paul Starkey 9/25
How Languages are Learned by Lightbrown and Spada 10/2
Supporting the Literacy Development of English Learners by Young and Hadaway 10/14
Introduccion a la literatura latinoamericana 10/18
The Venture of Islam Volume 1: The Classical Age of Islam by Hodgson 10/24
El Espejo Enterrado by Carlos Fuentes 11/2
Machine of Death by North, et al. 11/3
Shadowmarch by Tad Williams 11/11
Shawodplay by Tad Williams 11/19
Shadowrise by Tad Williams 11/28
La breve y maravillosa vida de Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz 12/4
Shadowheart by Tad Williams 12/10
Perdido Street Station by China Melville 12/15 k
Girl Power: the 90s Revolution in Music by Marisa Meltzer 12/16 k
Bite Me: A Love Story by Christopher Moore 12/21 k
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K Dick 12/25
What-the-Dickens: The Story of a Rogue Tooth Fairy by Gregory Maguire 12/26 k
Children of God, Mary Doria Russel 1/2 (don’t worry, this is a sci-fi novel)
The Rise and Fall of Languages, RMW Dixon 1/5
The Forever Machine, Mark Clifton 1/11
The Art of Teaching Spanish: Second Language Acquisition from Research to Praxis, Salaberry & Lafford 1/14
Double Star, Robert Heinlein 1/16
What to Eat, Marion Nestle 1/26
The Big Time, Fritz Leiber 1/28
Teach Like a Champion, Doug Lemov 2/17
Seedfolks, Paul Fleischman 2/23
The Windup Girl, Paolo Bacigalupi 2/28
Starship Troopers, Robery Heinlein 3/13
Foundation, Isaac Asimov 3/21
Foundation and Empire, Isaac Asimov 3/22
Second Foundation, Isaac Asimov 3/24
Foundation’s Edge, Isaac Asimov 4/2
If I’m so Successful, Why do I Feel like a Fake? Harvey Katz 4/11
Foundation and Earth, Isaac Asimov 4/21
The Complete Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome, Tony Attwood 4/25
Aspergirls, Rudy Simone 4/26
Free: The Future of a Radical Price, Chris Anderson 4/30
Prelude to Foundation, Isaac Asimov 5/18
The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins 5/21
Catching Fire, Suzanne Collins 5/23
Mockingjay, Suzanne Collins 5/26
Asperger’s Syndrome and Anxiety: A Guide to Successful Stress Management, Nick Dubin 5/31
Omnilingual, H. Beam Piper 5/31
Containment, Christian Cantrell 6/3
Gods and Myths of Northern Europe, H.R. Ellis Davidson 6/15
Forward the Foundation, Isaac Asimov 6/17
The Passage, Justin Cronin 6/26
This Book is Overdue! How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All, Marilyn Johnson 7/1
The Wild Things, Dave Eggers 7/2
Glut: Mastering Information through the Ages, Alex Wright 7/14
Everything Is Miscellaneous: The Power of the New Digital Disorder, David Weinberger 7/19
Hyperion, Dan Simmons 7/28
Ambient Findability, Peter Morville 8/9
Crash Course in Public Library Administration, Wayne Disher 8/15
The Killer Angels: The Classic Novel of the Civil War, Michael Shaara 9/17
The Fall of Hyperion, Dan Simmons 11/5
A Fire upon the Deep, Vernor Vinge 11/24
The Lightening Thief, Rick Riordan 11/25
California: A History, Kevin Starr 12/28
The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi 1/27
The Extreme Searcher’s Internet Handbook: A Guide for the Serious Searcher by Randolph Hock 1/30
The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan 2/24
The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts by Maxine Hong Kingston 2/28
The Titan’s Curse by Rick Riordan 3/2
The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan 3/8
The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan 3/13
Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin 4/4
A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin 4/29
The Oxford Guide to Library Research by Thomas Mann 4/29
Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin 5/29
A Feast for Crows by George R. R. Martin 6/16
A Dance with Dragons by George R. R. Martin 6/26
Out of Oz: The final volume in the Wicked Years by Gregory Maguire 7/12
The Craft of Research, 3rd Edition by Booth, Colomb, and Williams 7/22
Bringing It All Together: Language and Literacy in the Multilingual Classroom by Marcia Brechtel 8/30
Endymion by Dan Simmons 9/19
Bringing Words to Life: Robust Vocabulary Instruction by Isabel Beck, et al. 9/26
The Pearl by John Steinbeck 10/30
Rise of Endymion by Dan Simmons 11/11
My Brother Sam is Dead by Collier and Collier 11/ 19
The Magician King by Lev Grossman 11/27
The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan 1/20
The Great Hunt by Robert Jordan 2/14
CompTIA A+ Certification All-in-One Exam Guide, 8th Edition by Michael Meyers 2/18
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain 2/25
Over the Cliff: How Obama’s Election Drove the American Right Insane by John Amato and David Neiwert 3/1
The Dragon Reborn by Robert Jordan 3/7
The Ordinary Acrobat by Duncan Wall 3/10
The Two-Income Trap: Why Middle-Class Mothers & Fathers Are Going Broke by Elizabeth Warren & Amelia Warren Tyagi 3/19
The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr 4/2
Every Day by David Levithan 4/3
Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood and the Prison of Belief by Lawrence Wright 4/9
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander 4/27
Logicomix: An Epic Search for Truth by Apostolos Doxiadis and Christos Papadimitriou 4/29
Adventures of the Artificial Woman: A Novel by Thomas Berger 5/1
The Shadow Rising by Robert Jordan 6/10
Dreams and Shadows: A Novel by C. Robert Cargill 6/16
Makers: The New Industrial Revolution by Chris Anderson 6/28
We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo 7/2
I Fired God: My Life Inside—and Escape from—the Secret World of the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist Cult by Jocelyn Zichterman 7/4
Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan 7/10
The Unlikely Disciplie: A Sinner’s Semester at America’s Holiest University by Kevin Roose 7/24
Oz Reimagined: New Tales from the Emerald City and Beyond edited by John Joseph Adams & Douglas Cohen 7/30
The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes 8/11
Girls of the Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II by Denise Kernan 8/28
Red Shirts: A Novel with Three Codas by John Scalzi 9/3
The Fires of Heaven by Robert Jordan 9/4
Why Have Kids? A New Mom Explores the Truth about Parenting and Happiness by Jessica Valenti 9/10
Asperger’s on the Job: Must-Have Advice for People with Asperger’s or High Functioning Autism, and their Employers, Educators, and Advocates by Rudy Simone 9/11
Lord of Chaos by Robert Jordan 9/17
Crown of Swords by Robert Jordan 10/2
The Girls Who Went Away: The Hidden History of Women Who Surrendered Children for Adoption in the Decades before Roe v. Wade by Ann Fessler 10/11
The Path of Daggers by Robert Jordan 10/18
The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan 10/23
The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan 10/24
The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan 10/25
The House of Hades by Rick Riordan 10/29
Winter’s Heart by Robert Jordan 11/7
Crossroads of Twilight by Robert Jordan 11/24
The New Rules of Lifting for Women: Lift Like a Man, Look Like a Goddess by Lou Schuler, Cassandra Forsthe, Alwyn Cosgrove 11/27
Song of the Vikings: Snorri and the Making of Norse Myths by Nancy Marie Brown 12/2
Just a Geek: Unflinchingly Honest Tales of the Search for Life, Love, and Fulfillment Beyond the Starship Enterprise by Wil Wheaton 12/4
Knife of Dreams by Robert Jordan 12/6
Love Minus Eighty by Will McIntosh 12/8
The Gathering Storm by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson 12/13
Towers of Midnight by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson 12/22
A Memory of Light by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson 12/31
2014 (90 books)
Schooled: How the System Breaks Teachers by Dalton Jackson
The Hobbit by J.R. R. Tolkien
Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now by Douglas Rushkoff
MaddAddam by Margaret Atwood
Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal by Eric Schlosser
2017 was a very full year. It seemed like I had something going on every weekend, which is not my normal way of living, but it worked out. We have my work-from-home job to thank for this. Had I not had the weekdays as my private downtime, I would have surely collapsed by now. I expect 2018 will be similar. I am living my fullest, and in some ways most surprising life. Why stop now? With that, here are some goals on my mind as I start the new year.
I started a “10-year” plan in 2015, which makes 2018 the third year, or as I usually put it, this is now the eight-year plan. The point of the plan is to become fluent in Spanish and start doing a job that I feel passionate about that involves the language. The biggest goal I have this year taking the DELE C1 exam. Passing this exam certifies that I have professional proficiency in the language. That means this year I’m going to try to take in lots of vocabulary, read a lot, and work on expressing myself more precisely and with a wider range of vocabulary. These are some of my plans:
Continue weekly lessons with my Spanish tutor. In the spring, I started working with a tutor via Live Lingua, and she has helped me a lot in getting better at expressing myself.
Read eight books in Spanish, or 100 pages per week, whichever it shakes out to.
Watch a movie or a couple of episodes of a TV show in Spanish each week.
Call a roller derby game in Spanish. I surprised myself by doing a bilingual call for two games at WFTDA Playoffs in Seattle. I would do it again, given the chance.
Oh, Icelandic, you wild and crazy language. Earlier in the year, I felt like I was making some good progress, but things dropped off this summer when my tutor had to take a hiatus and I was left to my own devices. I stopped working on Icelandic for a while and decided to focus my attention on Spanish, but I’m not out of the Icelandic game yet. My goal for this year is to be consistent, even if I only do a little bit every day. I know I’m not going to get too deep since this is going to be a big year for studying Spanish, but I don’t want to lose everything I have learned. I’m planning to keep reviewing vocabulary on Memrise and Clozemaster and I hope I can start taking lessons again before too long.
This year I became an athlete. I competed in my first Strongman competition in Santa Cruz, and I won in the novice women’s category (by defeating one other woman). I played roller derby on our B team, which felt great. I’m hoping for more of all that in 2018. I have plans to compete in another strength competition in April. I’m already prepping for derby tryouts (which are in just three weeks. yikes.) by skating outside and re-adjusting to life on wheels. I expect that it will be harder to make the B team this year because both of Sacramento’s derby leagues are merging, resulting in more skaters. That said, I’m feeling confident. I gained a lot of skill and strength last year.
Also derby related if not specifically athletic, I am planning to continue announcing this year and I’m going to start coaching our C team. Last year I was lucky enough to announce at a tournament, at RollerCon and at WFTDA playoffs. I’m hoping to do all that again this year because it was so fun. I also want to spread the good word of announcing and I’m going to work with my league to try to have some kind of announcing workshop.
Everything Else in This Life
Part of me wants to set specific goals for everything, but past a certain point, it’s better to just think about how I want to live, instead of the numbers I want to live by. One quality I developed this year was my ability to relax. I’m getting better at identifying when to stop doing things and at figuring out how to let myself rest. I want to read books that make me feel things and learn new stuff (this year I learned how to knit!). In short, I’m planning to keep on doing my thing.
I made it throught 62 books in 2017, which feels like a success considering the madness this year wrought. In comparison, I read 41 last year, 71 in 2015 and 90 in 2014.
Page Count: 20,522 pages, based on LibraryThing page numbers
Library Use: This year I had an even split. I read 31 books from the library and 31 books that I own.
Female and Male Authors: I read a lot more books by women this year. Fifteen books were written by men, I read two anthologies with a mix of men and women, and the remaining forty-four books were by women. I read books from 50 distinct authors.
Digital and Analog: Another even split! I read 31 digital and 31 (dead-tree) books this year. I would like to note that I borrow a lot of ebooks from the library so analog and library books are not a total overlap.
Fiction and Non-Fiction: This year I read 27 non-fiction books. This is more than I usually read. I have been very curious about the world this year and committed to understanding what is happening in the world, plus what has happened to bring the world to this point.
Books in Other Languages: I read 4 books in Spanish this year, which was less than my goal but still respectable. I finished up the last Harry Potter book, read two memoirs, and a fantasy novel. Not bad.
Favorites: I read so many good books this year (do I say that every year?), but some favorites include everything by Rebecca Solnit, Dark Orbit by Carolyn Ives Gilman, The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America by Richard Rothstein, The Cooking Gene by Michael Tiwtty, and Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado.
Here’s the list of what I read:
Lies Incorporated: The World of Post-Truth Politics
Bad News: Last Journalists in a Dictatorship
Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right
Arlie Russell Hochschild
The Stars Are Legion
Harry Potter y las reliquias de la muerte
J. K. Rowling
Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities
Crossroads of Canopy
La distancia entre nosotros
Black Against Empire: The History and Politics of the Black Panther Party
Joshua Bloom and Waldo E. Martin
White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide
Another Day in the Death of America: A Chronicle of Ten Short Lives
The Djinn Falls in Love and Other Stories
Jared Shurin, Mahvesh Murad
Carolyn Ives Gilman
Men Explain Things to Me
Carolyn Ives Gilman
Carolyn Ives Gilman
The Ice Owl
Carolyn Ives Gilman
Too Like the Lightning
The Geek Feminist Revolution
Shipley Proposal Guide
El Mañana: Memorias de un éxodo cubano
James S. A. Corey
The End of Men and the Rise of Women
A Field Guide to Getting Lost
Double Bind: Women on Ambition
Inferior: How Science Got Women Wrong — and the New Research that’s Rewriting the Story
Todas las hadas del reino
A Conjuring of Light
V. E. Schwab
The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America
The Refrigerator Monologues
History of Wolves: A Novel
Knitlandia: A Knitter Sees the World
The Bear and the Nightingale
Things We Lost in the Fire
The Stone Sky
N. K, Jemisin
The Radium Girls
Yoon Ha Lee
Trainwreck: The women we love to hate, mock, and fear … and why
Last First Snow
We Were Feminists Once: From Riot Grrrl to Cover Girl, the Buying and Selling of a Political Movement
Two Serpents Rise
Iraq + 100: The First Anthology of Science Fiction to Have Emerged from Iraq
Nasty Women: Feminism, Resistance, and Revolution in Trump’s America
That feels hard to say, but I’ve realized that whether I recognize it or not, it is a fact. Athletes train their bodies. Athletes compete. Athletes adjust their lives to accommodate their athletic goals. I am an athlete.
People have been offering this message to me all year: “You are an athlete.” I’ve shrugged it off, unwilling to reconsider my sense of identity and to carry the responsibility of being An Athlete. I got a massage last month and. The massage therapist reminded me that I am an athelte and should behave accodingly finally got through.
Why resist something so obvious to everyone but me?
I have long thought of myself as a “life of the mind” person. I never liked sports or going outside and being hot and gross. I like reading. I like thinking about stuff. Are these sets of activities mutually exclusive? No. But for me, life has largely been mind over body. Of course, that line of thinking is ruled by the particularly Western notion of dualism. The mind and body aren’t separate entities—the brain is a part of the body, one of the many bits of viscera required to pilot this meat bag through life.
I like lifting weigts and I like playing roller derby, but I still don’t think of myself as someone who likes exercise. I realized it’s because I see myself as a fat person first and an athlete second. Athletes aren’t fat. They aren’t overweight. At least, that’s what years of cultural messages tell me. But it’s not true. Anyone can be an athlete at any size. One of my favorite instagram accounts is that of Olympic weightlifter Sarah Robles. She is a “full-figured” human being, but she got a bronze medal in weightlifting at the last Olympic games. What more proof do I need? What permission am I waiting for to be a chubby badass?
I am starting to treat myself like the athlete I am. Step one was recognizing this for myself, without judgment. I have been living the athlete life in a way already, but mostly focusing on the work and not the care and keeping thereof. My plans in 2018 include eating for my physical needs (that is, eating a lot of healthy protein and vegetables, followed by whatever other food my misguided mind thinks it needs), regular stretching, and more epsom salt baths. I need to rest appropriately and not overtax myself. I’m getting better at listening to my body and learning how to prevent injury (and recently, how to recover from injury). That is what athleticism looks like to me.