Blog Name Change

If you haven’t noticed I’ve changed the blog name!

I had the idea since last summer or fall when I came out as nonbinary to a friend of mine and she responded with “I put you in the trope of non-binary librarian witch.” And I completely feel in love with this idea! Definitely helps that I’m in school to become a librarian. I had already created the blog and while I knew I could change it, I didn’t.

As I work and live in a conservative town, I wasn’t ready to come out to, well….everyone. I came out to my close friends and just recently came out to the family. (I’ve been out as a lesbian since I was 19). Lately, it’s just been….hard, so, so hard to get up everyday and pretend to be someone I’m not. I’m still slightly scared but I’m not posting anymore of my blog on my other social media platforms (for the moment). And yes, while I’m working on my library science degree, I have been looking at jobs elsewhere. But I’m not leaving my current job until I have another one lined up.

I’m hoping that this small coming out will help keep my feelings of despair away 💜

Thank you to all who follow and comment!!

TTT | Goals & Hopes for 2021

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly topic hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. Each week she provide a topic and you are free to use that topic and/or variations of that topic to make your top ten list. A full list of the weekly themes can be found here.

Today’s topic is resolutions or hopes for 2021. As I mention in my Book Resolutions post, I am not a fan of resolutions because most of the time people quit them within a month or so. But I can get behind the idea of having hopes for the coming year.

As 2020 has been a complete shitstorm, hopefully the coming year will be at least slightly better.

2021 may you be just slightly better, I mean I have the bar real low.

  1. Finish grad school

I mean this one is a hope but it’s also going to happen but whatever, I’m including it. So suck it! I started my Masters in Library Science in January of 2019 and will finish the degree in December of 2021. I’m so excited to finish, not only because then I will not have school anymore (for those who know me, no comments about how long it’ll be before I’m back in school for another degree) and for the fact that once I have the degree I can apply for librarian jobs and my pay will increase by a lot (not the point, yes, but I’d like to be able to not live paycheck to paycheck and to start paying on my loans, as well as save more money for retirement, travel, etc, and have some fun money).

2. Decrease my reliance on takeout

I hate cooking! Like absolutely loathe it. I don’t think it’s fun or exciting, but mostly just a waste of time and effort for little reward. I also have body image issues (I mean who doesn’t) and while I know that I need food to live, I just don’t get the point when all that happens is going to the toilet later (I know gross). BUT, while I’m not wanting to focus on health in the coming year (yes, that’s important but not the focus), I’m wanting to just lower my reliance on takeout. I’m going to be using more crockpot meals, mostly ones that I can just dump everything in, not any that requires cooking beforehand (a bit of prep on veggies is okay).

3. Start looking for jobs (and applying)

As I stated above, I’ll finish my degree in library science in December. I want to start looking for jobs in late summer and the fall semester. In the summer, I basically want to narrow down where I want to go. I already know I want to work at a university library (college students are the best), but I’m pretty open to where I want to go. I mainly want to narrow down my focus to universities (and libraries) who are LGBTQ+ supportive and friendly, support and believe in the BLM mission and statements, and strive for diversity and inclusion. Anyway, in the fall I hope to start applying and sending out my resume to universities. I doubt that I’ll get a job right away, but I do want to begin the process.

4. Get vaccinated

This is an easy one, but GET THE COVID VACCINE. Whenever that happens for me, it doesn’t matter, as those who are on the front lines should obviously get it first. But once I’m allowed to, I’m going to get vaccinated.

5. Writing

I already have my book resolutions on my other post here, but I didn’t include anything there about writing. With school, it is hard to keep up with my creative writing, but I’d like to carve out time for writing poetry or stories in general.

6. Budget

Boring, yes, but I want to be better about having a budget and sticking with it.

7. Drink more water

I mean this one is obvious, and I even have a water bottle for this purpose. Yet, these past few months I have been awful at drinking water.

8. Limit Netflix (and other streaming services)

This goes in hand with my reading resolutions. But I want to read more books and spend less time mindlessly watching TV while scrolling on my phone. I am going to give myself a pass this year, as it has been an awful year.

9. Practice mindfulness

I started it this fall, but I want to continue and also use it to control my anger.

10. Don’t be hard on myself

If I don’t read a lot of books or don’t write when I’m supposed to or the numerous other items on this list (or my book resolution list) to not worry about it. I have a bad practice of beating myself up when I don’t finish a resolution or meet a goal, and I want to work on that in 2021.

Book Challenges & Goals for 2021

As we close out the horrendous year that is 2020, I’m planning ahead for the upcoming year and what I plan to read. I usually only have a challenge around the number of books I read in the year, but this year I’m adding a few more from other blogs that I follow.

The Goals

Read 60 books in 2020 – In the past few years, I’ve read around 50 books, more or less. I kept with that for the fact that it’s almost one book a week. It was especially hard to keep up with this in the past due to graduate school. I want to up it just a few in 2021.

Get my TBR Owned pile down to 10 (okay more like 20 or 30) – I don’t buy too many books, I just don’t have enough bookshelves. But really, I have way too many books that I own that I haven’t read.

Read the Lambda Literary Awards from 2020 – I’m stealing the idea of reading a literary award shortlist from Bookish Luna. This year I’m going to read the shortlist of the Lambda Literary Awards. As there are 24 sections, each with about 4-6 books in their shortlist, I’m going to only read the shortlist for the Lesbian Fiction awards this year. I’m excited to add a literary list to my challenges, as I hope this broadens my reading and authors.

Utilize the Library More – As a way to help keep my TBR owned pile, I also want to use the library more. Since I actually work in one, it is easy for me to get books and take them back, so this shouldn’t be difficult.

Read More Poetry – I have quite a few poetry books and a pretty decent poetry collection in general. This year I want to try to read a few poems a day (2-3 depending on the length) and have that be part of my morning or evening routine.

Happy Reading Lovelies and New Year

Can JK Rowling Just Stop?

Can J.K. Rowling just stop? I know that it’s impossible for her to do so, but seriously, can Anonymous not take away her twitter account or something.

Now, I’m not for censorship, by any stretch of the imagination. I do, however, understand the theory of Death of the Author.

For those who didn’t study literature in college, death of the author is the idea/theory presented by French literary critic Roland Barthes. He argues that literary criticism shouldn’t incorporate the intentions and biographical context of the author when interpreting a text. This is a basic explanation, and I’m not going to get into a debate about this. Nor, will I give an overview of the problems with this ideal. Cause nobody cares and nobody got time for that.

For the sake of argument, after this past week, J.K. Rowling is no longer the author of Harry Potter. It belongs to all of us, as this tweet from @RileyJayDennis tells me here.

All jokes aside. Some may be wondering what’s going on with J.K. Rowling or how to handle the recent upset with a favorite book series.

First off, I’m not going to tell you what to think because I can’t. Contrary to popular belief, I have not mastered mind control. I’m also not going to get into the debate about transgender because I think transgender people should be loved and respected and accepted into all aspects of life and if you don’t then I don’t care. The second reason to not get into the debate is because I’m not an expert on gender theory. There are people out there who know more, so I’m going to let them talk instead of me.

Yes, I’m giving homework the horror.

Here are a list of books on gender theory and transgender by people that are way more knowledgeable in this area:

  • Undoing Gender by Judith Butler (really anything by Judith Butler is amazing)!!
  • The History of Sexuality by Michel Foucault
  • Second Skins: the Body Narratives of Transexuality by Jay Prosser
  • Transgender History by Susan Stryker
  • Gaga Feminism: Sex, Gender, and the End of Normal by J. Jack Halberstam

Keeping with being upfront, I totally stole this list from a friend of mine who studies gender theory and knows way more than me.

What I want to talk about is how does this affect Harry Potter? Now, do I completely agree with Barthes death of the author idea. No, I do think that the author’s intentions and biographical details can lead to some insight. However, I do not think that this negates what the reader themselves get from the text as well. Basically, it’s a spectrum. As are all things in life.

I vividly remember when I received the first 4 Harry Potter books. My sister has scoliosis which required surgery to correct. My parents, grandma, sister, and I went to Dallas for her surgery; my grandpa was going to meet us later in the week. It was Wednesday evening, my sister had her surgery the Tuesday before, the Ronald McDonald House that we were staying at just finished bingo night. My grandparents said they had an early Christmas gift for me; my grandma joked that she had to hide it from grandpa so he wouldn’t read them before I did.

The gift was the box set of the first four Harry Potter novels. Mind you, this was 2001, and Harry and his friends were just starting to become household names. Only a few days prior did the first movie came out. I had already read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone but had yet to get my hands on the second book. Who could’ve known the impact this series had on me as I grew up?

Those first lines still bring a smile to my face: “Mr. and Mrs. Dursley of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.” To say I devoured these books would be an understatement.

When anything seemed out of control or I was sad or angry, Harry, Hermione, and Ron were always there for me. I went to all the midnight movie releases and midnight book releases (back when that was a thing, gosh, how times have changed). I had Hogwarts robes, wands, textbooks, any Harry Potter item I could get my hands on, I did.

As I stated before, I don’t want to speak about a topic that I am not as versed in as others are; in that same vein, I don’t want to speak for transgender people or any other minority group. This is my feelings on Rowling’s recent tweets.

Nothing she says can take away my love of those books. Yes, she wrote them and I can be forever grateful to her for that. But I will not stand by and say what she is doing is right or is being an ally because it isn’t. I am of the belief that once art, any creative outlet, is out to the public, the public can take from it what they will. These books belong to me, just as much as they belong to her, or to any of the other millions of fans out in the world. She cannot take away my love of these characters, the nights I stayed up after reading the books trying to figure out what was going to happen, the days on end I went on message boards and discussed and debated the intricate details of these books, or all the times I waited outside the theater with people who I did not know when I walked in but by the end of the night, you couldn’t not be friends. All of these are my memories of joy and love and heartache and a growing imagination. She cannot take my past from me.

I know others have different feelings on the matter. That’s okay. I can tell you that in the future, I will not be supporting her (as much as I can. I do want to see the rest of the Fantastic Beasts movies, but I’ll probably wait either until it won’t go towards their opening weekend or when it’s streaming. My reluctance to see the movie is not just because of this but it did push me over the edge). I will still have my Harry Potter books and my office will still have Harry Potter decorations.

Trans women are women. Even if the creator doesn’t remember one of the most important lessons from Harry Potter, then I sure do: Nobody deserves to live their life in a closet.

Love

I had a different post planned for today, but in the past week, I’m practically broken by what I see and hear. I’m done. To put it simply.

Throughout this whole crisis, I’ve been hesitant to have a post about the coronavirus. I’ve been lucky and privileged by the fact that I still have my job (that I’m actually going to cause we are open), I have health care, and I’m relatively healthy. I haven’t posted anything because I don’t want to drown out the voices of those who do need to be heard. The ones who have lost their jobs, who do have health problems, and anything in between.

What has made me re-think this? Well, I was texting friends and word vomited. This word vomit became a poem (after some artistic changes) that I think needs to be shared, even though it’s rough and I’m completely embarrassed by it.

Empty Words and False Promises

I wish I was more shocked

When people say if you look at the deaths,

it’s mostly elderly and immunocompromised.

With a shrug of the shoulders

As they go about their day.

I wish I wasn’t surprised

When people thought that those people

Were an “acceptable loss”

I’m not shocked.

I know they’re worried about the economy

I am too, but

I thought lives were more important

than a bottom line.

I wish I knew what to say

To anyone at this point,

but I have nothing.

This has created a crack in my heart;

one that I don’t think can ever be fixed.

All of this has

made me not care anymore.

Why?

When I’m judged and ridiculed,

should I care?

It’s never benefitted anyone.

I’m done.

I’m leaving them in ignorance

I will still care eventually-

People can mock me

Say I’m being overly precautious.

Label me.

Send slurs when you think

I’m not paying attention.

I’d rather die with a bleeding heart,

Then someone who only handed out

Empty words and false promises…


Next week, I’ll be back with a regular post. For a while, I’m going to focus on book reviews, movies, or tv. I’m still going to keep myself informed, but I’m no longer going to debate the issue with people who are not going to change their minds. This goes for not just the coronavirus, but with a lot of social issues: LGBTQ+, Black Lives Matter, Women’s equality, etc. I’m still going to donate my time and money (when I can) to organizations that help those who need it. Like I said, I’m not going to stop being a bleeding heart liberal. I’m going to continue to keep myself informed, but as I state in the poem, I am keeping people in ignorance. As Hannah Gadsby says in her Netflix special “I understand I have a responsibility to help lead people out of ignorance at every opportunity I can, but I left him there, people. Safety first.” Sometimes that safety includes yourself.

Jokes aside, I’ve realized this past week, that I’m blowing hot air. Every year for ten years, I’ve been saying it’s “enter the current year here,” why are we still debating “insert social issue here.” I don’t understand. I don’t know how to make others understand. I don’t hate the people who disagree with me. I don’t understand them because they grew up different from me and that’s okay. I guess I don’t understand how people who say they follow Jesus but forgets his new commeandment: “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another” (John 13:34, NRSV).

To all those who I have disagreed with in the past, I hope I approached and discussed issues with you with love and respect and kindness. If I didn’t then I am truly sorry. If you still want to discuss issues with me, I will gladly do so; however, I will be putting my mental health before a discussion. Some days I may tell you, I can’t talk about it at that point. I will not be talking with those who will not treat me with the same kindness, respect, and love that I give them. Along with those who I know will never change their mind and only want to have an argument.

Call me “snowflake” or make fun of me or any other insult you want to throw my way. I’ll keep them up. I will not block you. I don’t believe in censorship and think everyone has the right to say what they believe. Yet, I have the right not to engage, which is what I’ll be doing.

“Hate, it has caused a lot of problems in the world, but has not solved one yet.” -Maya Angelou

It’s All About Choice

Yes, I am one of those people. The childfree *queue villainous music.* I’m sure most people saw the Time magazine cover a few years back:

Photo courtesy of Time Magazine

Giving the impression that people who are childfree are one having it all and don’t have their own responsibilities. All we do is lay around on the beach, soaking up the sun, drinking away our problems. (Sidenote: does anyone else think the man in this photo has weird nipples? No, just me. Cool. Cool.)

Now, I could give people reasons for why I, and others, are childfree. Yet, why do that? Instead, I’m going to respond to some of the most common bingos I have heard. (A bingo is a cliché phrase people say in an effort to convince childfree people that their decision is wrong and that they are shirking their “societal duty” by not reproducing).

First on the block: it’s different when it’s your own.

For many people, I am sure this is the case. Yet, no one knows this for sure. Yes, I know life isn’t a guarantee, but taking a gamble with another person’s life seems foolhardy. Also, the fact that so many children come from abusive homes and/or are in foster care proves that it’s not always different.

A bit related to the above, the second one is “your child could grow up to ‘insert great accomplishment here.'”

Again, no one knows this. The child could also grow up to be the next dictator, serial killer, or what is more likely, an average person. I’m positive no one plans on raising a serial killer (or at least I hope). This statement also can brush off the accomplishments of the woman. She could cure cancer or save the planet from global warming. Why is it she has to have a child who does this? At the end of the day, the fact is that almost everyone who has kids will have grown kids who are relatively average. They go on to have their own jobs and lives and maybe have children. This is not a bad life. In fact, it’s a great one, if it is there choice.

Next up, “who will take care of you when you’re old?”

Ummm, the nursing home I can pay for with the money I saved from not having kids. Also, why do you assume I’ll even retire. Have you forgotten the time period I grew up in? I’ve been planning on working till I die since I was 15, which coincidently, was around the year the 2008-09 financial crisis. Why is it the children’s job to take care of the parents? They never asked to be born and yet, they’re already told that they’ll have to take care of their parents when they are older. Not saying it’s bad if parents do have kids to take care of them. In a lot of cultures, this is commonplace. I just don’t think that’s a good reason for me to have children.

This next reason is, in my views, always clouded in racism and elitism. I’m going to write it (type it) and we’re going to leave it at that. “People like you SHOULD have kids.”

I really roll my eyes at this one: “People who don’t have kids are selfish.”

Yeah, I’m selfish in that I don’t think creating an entire human being to live a life of suffering is a good thing. I’m selfish because I am concerned about our rising temperatures, sea levels, and population. I’m completely selfish in that I’m refusing to pass on my genes of alcoholism, depression, anxiety, cancer, diabetes, and high blood pressure on to another human being. Yup, totally selfish. Everyone should just lock me up right now I’m totally out of control.

Apparently, I am “not a real adult until I have kids.”

Thank you, for being a gatekeeper to what is an adult or not. Also, to be perfectly clear, I have never once thought of myself as an adult. At best, I am a teenager with a drinking license (kidding, I’m 27 and most of the time I forget that). I’ve never truly understood this. How do children make someone an adult? I thought to have a job, maintaining a house/apartment, caring for others whenever I can, and trying to be better than I was yesterday made someone an adult, but what do I know.

“It’s all worth it,” I’m told as both parents are sleep deprived with days-old clothes on, food all over them, and toys on the floor.

I want to make it clear if this is what you want and you do think it’s worth it: GREAT! Go forth and multiply, if it’s what you want. This is coming from my own opinion, which the above doesn’t seem great. I love that I don’t have to worry about what I watch or finding a babysitter when I go out. This doesn’t even get to the point of how a woman’s body changes during pregnancy, the complications involved in pregnancy and labor, and the mental health effects after delivery. It doesn’t help that the United States has one of the worst maternal death rates of the developed world. NPR and Propublica have a great report on it here. Again, if this is what you want I have no problem! My problem is when people assume it’s worth it to all people: it’s not.

This last one goes back to the idea that being a parent is worth it: “you’ll get bored eventually of doing whatever you want. Then you’ll want some meaning in your life.”

How do you know my life doesn’t have meaning? I’m 27, have a job I absolutely love, and am in school getting my second master’s degree. I have plans in the future to travel around the world, make friends in every country. Go and visit friends I haven’t seen in years. Re-learn Arabic. I think my life has meaning. Even if I do somehow end up bored, then I’ll volunteer to work with the homeless. I’ll go sign up to be a Big Sister with Big Brother Big Sisters (which I’m planning on doing soon). I’ll open the university catalog, throw it in the air, and sign up for whatever page it lands on. What I don’t and won’t do is treat the creation of an actual human life as some kind of pastime. I don’t believe children should be brought into the world to occupy someone else’s time. They are not amusement. They are their own person.

Okay, I know, at times, I came off a bit rude or mean. Again, I want to make clear, I have no problem with parents in general. Nor, do I have a problem with children (I love my niece and nephew to bits). I just happen to be of the belief that having children should be a 100% yes! If it isn’t then I think taking a step back before having kids is a better option. If it isn’t then I do think having conversations about this controversial topic is important. The fact that almost 50% of pregnancies are unintended, that there is a rise of women who regret having kids (are then lambasted as even worse monsters than I am), and that it is just assumed that people will have kids shows that we still have a long way to go surrounding this conversation. I’m tired of people who think I’m a monster and selfish and out to destroy the family unit because I don’t want kids. Everyone has choices to make in their life. This is mine, please, just respect it.

Let’s Go Rail Against God!

As I rewatch The West Wing from beginning to end, I’m pulled to different scenes, speeches, and ideas. This happens whenever I rewatch or reread something. Season two of the show ends with President Bartlet coming clean to the public about his multiple sclerosis diagnosis. Yet, that is not the only shock that comes to the characters. The president’s secretary is killed in a car accident. Part of the plot in “Two Cathedrals” is her funeral.

The part that popped out at me this time (okay, it’s one of my favorite scenes, but this time it brought up something else) was after the funeral the president was alone in the National Cathedral. He yelled at God.

Jed begins by talking about how Mrs. Landingham died, by a drunk driver after buying her first car, and wonders if that was supposed to be funny. The line that always makes me cry rivers is “What was Josh Lyman? A warning shot? That was my son. What did I ever do to Yours except praise His glory and praise His name?” He goes on about how much good he has done in his life, most of which we watched throughout these past two seasons of the show.

Then he delves into Latin, as any good Catholic boy would do: “Am I to believe those were the acts of a loving God? A just God? A wise God? To hell with Your punishments! I was Your servant on Earth – I spread Your word and did Your work. To hell with your punishments! To hell with You!” The last statement Jed yells is that He/God gets Hoynes, which means that Jed is not running for reelection due to his multiple sclerosis.

I don’t just like this speech. I love it. It’s probably one of my favorites of Jed Bartlet’s speeches in the entire series. This is for the simple fact that this character is a devout Catholic who goes to church every Sunday and practices what he preaches. Now, he’s here yelling at God.

I was never allowed to do that. Not saying that it was forbidden or that my parents discouraged it. I’m sure my parents would be horrified to learn that I felt this way when I was younger.

Growing up in the bible belt, in small-town Texas, gives you a different perspective than other people when it comes to religion and Christianity. Sometimes it’s not a good perspective. I couldn’t tell you how many people were hypocrites, didn’t practice what they preach, or decided that hate was better than love. I have a difficult time with religion.

Which didn’t help when I was nine years old and my best friend died of leukemia. I didn’t know how to react or what to do. I hated God. I wanted to yell at him. Throw things. I was highly discouraged from doing any of this though from the youth group I attended. Due to this, and the general toxicity of that youth group, I decided leaving the church at 11 years old was better than trying to fit into a mold that felt two sizes two small.

Thankfully, I had pretty great parents who were okay with me not going to church. My father’s only stipulation was that I attend church on Christmas Eve and Easter. I agreed because my dad loves God and church and has never asked me for anything. I could do this one thing for him. I didn’t go back to church until my senior year of high school, and my record of going to church in college was pretty spotty. It didn’t help that I didn’t have a car.

Back on point, about the whole railing against God. I have a problem when people think that you can’t yell, scream, and curse God. They reference the ten commandments, specifically, the third one: “You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name” (NRSV Exodus 20:7).

But does that mean we shouldn’t let God know we’re angry? I think not. One, He already knows we’re angry, as he knows our hearts. Two, if He is an all-powerful and all-mighty God, shouldn’t He be able to handle the anger I throw at him.

A Sober Reality

If you haven’t talked with me lately, then you probably haven’t heard me ramble on and on about the Netflix show One Day at a Time. One, stop reading this IMMEDIATELY and go watch the show, then come back and read this.

I only started watching this show at the beginning of the New Year. I was bored and saw it as an option. I’ve been looking for a comedy show to watch lately and this fit the ticket. I was ecstatic that there was a TV show featuring a Latino family being a regular American family. The shows focus on Penelope Alvarez, who is recently separated from her husband, her two kids, Elena and Alex, and her mother, Lydia (played by the lovely Rita Moreno). There is also Schneider, the overly wealthy, man-child, the landlord who adopted them as his family. They are American-Cuban, and Lydia makes sure nobody forgets the Cuban fact.

Yet, the show is not only about a regular Latino family, it’s also a show that delves into issues that are important and need to be talked about.

Penelope is a veteran dealing with PTSD. Her daughter comes out as gay in the first season. They delve into topics of racism, toxic masculinity, citizenship, deportation, mental health issues, and many other important topics. There is a non-binary character, Syd, Elena’s girlfriend, that comes in in season 2, like this is how progressive the show is. (In season 3, there is an episode where Syd and Elena are trying to come up with a gender-neutral term for Elena to call Syd, since she’s non-binary, and it’s amazing)!!

They don’t shy away from uncomfortable topics that happen in life. And while all of these topics deserve to be talked about, the on that will be the focus of this post one is alcoholism.

Schneider is not the typical trope of a wealthy man-child who doesn’t learn anything. When Elena talks about social justice movements, he listens. He acts like an uncle/father combo with Alex and volunteers to take him to his baseball games. Lydia and Schneider are adorable with their dancing and cooking, as she immediately loves him like a son. Most importantly, Schneider is a shoulder to cry on for Penelope when school, children, and PTSD become too much, and soon becomes her best friend. Yet, one area that season 3 goes into is the fact that Schneider falls off the wagon. He was sober for eight years, but when his dad comes to town to visit, he falls back into old ways. As someone who was raised wealthy, he never had any real parents around, was raised by nannies, and finds peace at the bottom of the bottle. Not justifying his actions of white privilege, but it helps to makes sense. Along with making sense why he adopts the Alvarez’s as his family because he never had one.

Something Penelope tells him after the family finds out he was drinking, is “don’t quit before the miracle happens.” This was something that he told her earlier in the show.

This saying has been in my head for the past couple of days. “Don’t quit before the miracle happens.” When I google search the phrase, the search results pop up with AA sites, alcoholism recovery, etc. For those who don’t know, both of my parents are recovering alcoholics (I don’t know how many years, but I do know they both are over 30 years sober).

I never heard this phrase before. One of the few memories I have of going to AA meetings with my parents was the saying “it works if you work it, so work it” at the end of the Lord’s Prayer, which is a reference to the 12 step program. Thankfully, I don’t have horror stories about alcohol affecting my life growing up. My parents have both been sober way before I came onto the scene, and neither of them fell back into the bottle the whole time I have been alive. Yet, in the past couple of years, since I’ve become older and able to understand, I have heard stories from my parents about alcohol and their time being drunk and going through recovery. It’s not pretty. Nothing picture-perfect about it. I doubt when they first started the road to recovery, they would expect to one day have thirty years sobriety. At the time, it was all just getting through one day and then the next, and the day after that too.

One Day at a Time decides to show how addiction is a lifelong illness and that it doesn’t go away. How it affects you the rest of your life and affects those closest to you.

The beauty they show with Schneider and the family is that while Penelope is furious her son had to see Schneider like that, she still does love him. He knows he messed up, so much so that he goes and takes his sobriety chip out of the Alvarez museum (he placed it in there earlier in the season). He is terrified of losing his family and that is what they are his family, as he states “You’re never gonna trust me again. You know the first time you asked me to take Alex to his baseball games was one of the proudest moments of my life. Nobody ever asks the addict to do that kind of stuff. But you did. You’re the only one who’s ever trusted me, Pen.”

Yet, they don’t let him lose his family or lose Penelope, his best friend! She tells him that she’s not giving up on him, no one in the family is, and that he doesn’t have to do it alone. This is the important part. Trying to go through recovery of any addiction alone is next to impossible. Having the people who love you and care about you around you helps remember why you need to do this. The next scene they show is Penelope with Schneider at an AA meeting.

Don’t quit before the miracle happens. Sometimes those miracles are not spiritual, God-like, life-changing ones. Typically, the miracles are these little moments of love and kindness shown to us by those who know us and still decide to love us.

All the Pages Printed, All the Hours Given

I couldn’t sleep Wednesday night. That is not an unusual phenomenon, but it has been happening less as the months passed after graduating from ACU. I didn’t understand why this was happening because I was exhausted that night. Thursday morning though I woke up, way later than I planned, and my dad was already there to watch my niece and nephew while my sister was at the gym. I remembered that I needed to give him his copy of my thesis.

I think that was when it hit me why I didn’t sleep well that night, why I have been in a funk since Wednesday afternoon. I received my printed and bounded copies of my thesis.

I was ecstatic! I had been waiting patiently (okay, maybe not that patiently) since I submitted my final upload for this to arrive. I was proud of my accomplishment, especially by the fact that I could finally present it to my grandma. I had dedicated my thesis to her and her mom, Joycelyn, who gave the me the inspiration to study this topic.

Yet, actually holding it in my hand, completed felt not as satisfying as I thought it would’ve been. To fully understand what I’m feeling we need to go back in time a touch to 2015.

Once I decided that I would go on to graduate school, I approached one of my professors at Baylor. I asked him if he would be willing to write a recommendation for me (he did) and we discussed graduate school, what it would be like and what to expect. He advised me that if I wanted to go on to PhD, which I did at the time, then he highly advised me to go ahead and do a thesis for my MA degree. The thesis is a shorter project than a dissertation (mine clocks in at 85 pages) while dissertations typically are 200+ pages. Going on to a PhD program could be daunting, especially when the prospect of a dissertation looming over your head like a perpetual Dark Mark following you around. Your always expecting Death Eaters to jump out at you around the corner, or at least, that is what I imagine. I decided then that I was going to complete a thesis for my MA.

Fast-forward a bit to after I graduated from Baylor. Between my meeting with my professor and graduation, I had come way down from the high of school. I had always loved school and learning, but I thought my brain would explode if I had to analyze one more page of Jane Austen or Eudora Welty. I needed a break! I had been applying for jobs starting around November through December almost daily. With zero results. I knew I had past the deadline for most graduate schools; however, I was living with my sister and her husband and they looked up one of the local schools that had an English graduate program. The deadline there had not passed, and surprisingly, the deadline was the August, only a few weeks before the school year started. I applied and a couple months later found myself accepted.

I was excited to start and was quickly disillusioned by almost everything to do with graduate school. I was convinced that I was a masochist or the pod people had invaded my brain. No sane person would willingly do this to themselves. But I persevered. What can I say, stubbornness is definitely a gene that runs in my family and it was alive and well.

Yet, I did start to have doubts about going down the thesis path. And yet again, my stubborn nature reappeared and I decided thesis was the only way to go. I think at the time, I wanted to prove something to myself and maybe even to others. I still don’t know what that is. I don’t think I ever will.

Spring semester of my first year came around and when I had the meeting with the graduate advisor for out department I told him that I decided to do thesis. The process for a thesis is quite annoying. While the school I went to has one of the largest departments on campus, once you specialize yourself enough it starts to remove most of the people from your list of Thesis Chairs. I finally decided to center my thesis on Irish Literature, specifically 20th and 21st century, and to look at the concept of home in three novels when violence and war take over a person’s life and country. With this idea in mind, the list of professors that could chair my thesis narrowed down to 2. One of them became my chair and the other was on my committee.

I submitted the paperwork with the appropriate signatures in late April, early May. Since, I lived in the same town I was going to school in and my entire family lived here too, I saw no reason why I shouldn’t start this project now. I also wanted to start as early as possible so I would not be overwhelmed when school started and I was taking classes, teaching a class, and writing a thesis. What can I say, I like my sleep. I discussed this idea with my dad who agreed to meet up with me once a week at a local coffee shop and to listen me discuss ad nauseam what I read that week, what I was thinking, and when I started writing he was my first reader of my thesis.

School started again in the fall, and I became super busy with school, teaching, thesis, and I even had another job that I started at back in late June of 2017. If I was not doing anything of the above or sleeping, then I was working on my thesis. I practically lived and breathed this Thing for a little over a year. That year included many readings of articles and books, countless re-readings of the same articles and books. I filled an entire 5 inch binder with all the articles I had printed/read. After it was filled, I moved to keeping them on my computer and reading them there (something that I hated but I also couldn’t justify all the killing of trees I did).

In the Spring of 2018, I finished my thesis and prepared to defend it. For those who do not know what this entails, you basically sit in a room with your committee (3 professors) who have already read your thesis and they ask you questions for an hour and a half. I was petrified of this part of the process. Of course, once we began and the first couple of questions where answered I started to relax and it became quite fun (as I said before masochist). As I said, I spent about a year with this material at this point. Even more so, since one of the books I used for my thesis I had read twice before I even decided to use it for this project. When you spend this much time with this much material, and keep in mind that my committee while genius in their own ways where not as well versed in this theory or in Sebastian Barry’s novels, you do become the expert in the room.

Well, that finished, I left the room so they could deliberate. The most stressful 10 minutes of my life. I questioned pretty much every decision I had made that lead me to this point, wondering where I had gone wrong. Everything went well though, and they were impressed by my poise, how I would take a minute to answer a question, and even when I admitted that I couldn’t answer a question. I was given the copies of their notes, they signed the form that needed to be signed, and we were done with the defense.

I then spent the next few weeks re-working certain passages, fixing some grammar errors that made me want to slap myself for making them, and having a huge wait lifted from my shoulders. One of the most frustrating aspects of the whole process actually came in formatting the Thing, as there were specific instructions on formatting we had to follow, and I was so close to throwing my laptop out the window. I didn’t. Barely.

Yet, I finished with all the changes and notes my committee left for me. I fixed what needed to be fixed, and to be perfectly honest, some of the suggestions I didn’t take. I also managed to format the Thing (I asked the Graduate Thesis Coordinator for help and she did it all). I approved the final copy, uploaded it to the Digital Commons, and I waited.

Through this whole process I was still going to my own classes and teaching a class. These took up the rest of my semester. After the Thing was submitted, I was able to devote more time to the things I had neglected in the past year.

When I posted about this on Facebook and Instagram, I wrote that even though I received my diploma in the summer (I think sometime in late June), it had not felt official until now.

I feel a loss now that I can’t fully describe mostly because I would feel like an idiot if I did. Yet, it’s there. I spent countless hours, read tons upon tons of pages, wrote like mad, for this moment and now it is here, I feel sad. As cheesy and idiotic as it sounds, it feels like part of my self, my soul, is gone. It is forever kept within the pages of this book.