Saturday, September 29, 2018

Overcaffeinated Thoughts

It's 1:33am and I'm still up. I'm on my second Monster Energy drink of the day. I'm dog sitting Lily because mom is in the hospital and has been for a few weeks. Dad goes to see her, I take Lily on the weekends. This weekend I'm working on computers for my job, partially because I am stressed, but mostly because it's what I can control. That's my coping mechanism when I'm up against something I can't fight. I take something I think I can control and start wreaking havoc.

I'm also chatting with a friend of mine on Facebook. We talk daily. But with both our lives being a circus lately, we are catching up more frequently just to stay current. He's been having medical issues, and I've been updating him on my mom and mother-in-law, both of which are fighting medical battles of their own.

the meg

He and I were going back and forth on whether or not he wanted to write an article regarding his newest hassle, and it got me thinking. There's this movie that came out recently, The Meg. It will definitely get it's own post, because I can't love this cheesy movie enough. But for now, suffice to say it's a new shark movie starring a carcharadon megladon, and in the spirit of both Deep Blue Sea and JAWS. Anyway, there's this great scene where Li Bingbing and Jason Statham are having a moment. I don't want to give anything away, but basically she judged his efficacy as a hero on an incident in the past that she heard second-hand. Based on a new incident, that she was actually present for, her whole opinion of him changes. Still with me? What's great is the quiet moment where he looks at her and says something to the effect of, "It's not easy. Being the one who survives."

Arguably one of the better lines in the movie overall, but an unexpected truth. You see, I work as a hardware technician for a mental health and addictions counseling agency, and I've been very open lately about my own struggles with mental health. Talking about your own struggles tends to open other people up, with the effect that you wind up sharing battle scars and talking shop survival shop. One truth that I've found is that across the board people tend to say they're different after their struggles. They evaluate their jobs, friendships, and relationships differently. For better or worse, it's an eye opener.

"It's not easy. Being the one who survives." But damn, ain't that the truth? I don't think that we give enough credit to the people who survive every day with bipolar disorder. Schizophrenia. Depression. Anxiety. OCD. ADHD. PTSD. Those are a just a few of the various diagnoses. In fact, there's a whole book just devoted to mental illnesses.

But part of the problem is that the conversation only seems to come to light when we lose a celebrity. When someone high profile loses their battle. But in the meantime the stigma and the shame remains.

 

It's not easy...keeping your illness hidden and holding down a job.

It's not easy...getting out of bed and facing the day.

It's not easy...trying to keep it together when everything is falling apart.

It's not easy...finding the correct medication/therapy/coping mechanism/doctor/hospital/shrink/counselor.

It's not easy...being the one who survives.

But it's always worth it.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Don't Read This Book at Night!

I absolutely love horror and sci-fi - even better when they're mixed in the same movie, book, or experience! You can find me crocheting like a woman possessed while watching scary movies with my dog and cat. (My husband is nearby, gaming on his computer and laughing when I jump or squeak in fear.)

When I found out that Kody Boye was writing a novel about an alien invasion I was giddy with excitement. He's a talented author with solid world-building and character creation skills. I also know from reading his previous works that he's not afraid to kill off a character - no matter how important the reader thinks they are!

kodyI got my paws on When They Came and couldn't wait to start reading. Kody completely bypasses the lead-up to the invasion and instead drops the reader in the aftermath. Humans are trying to rebuild their society and struggling every step of the way.

The story is centered around the experiences of Ana Mia, a girl who is just coming into womanhood as the story begins. She is graduating from school and has to decide how she will contribute to her society. Against her mother's wishes she joins The Midnight Guard, which is tasked with keeping the aliens out of the settlement, and fighting them face-to-face when necessary. It's dangerous work but Ana Mia can't imagine doing anything else. She has too much hatred for the aliens, since her father was harvested. (Harvesting is the terrifying practice of abducting humans. Nobody has ever come back from being harvested.)

Now, as if this isn't all frightening enough, Kody introduces alien foot soldiers straight out of your worst fever dream. They are like werewolves, but more vicious. (No, I didn't know that was a thing either until reading When They Came!) The reader is introduced to them one night when Ana Mia is guarding the wall, and it gets overrun. Suddenly her world is tossed into chaos and she's forced to fight harder than ever for those she loves.

I really really want to go into more detail but I can't. Part of the greatest fun in reading Kody's novels is seeing what happens next. The obstacles that his characters face are never too fantastical as to be unrealistic, and they're always heartbreaking to the extreme.

I read When They Came on my Kindle, in the dark, and with my trusty little Boston terrier. I absolutely couldn't stop reading. Every page brought more depth to the story, more concern for the character's plight, and more excitement. There are two more stories in the series, and I'm spacing them out a little because I know if I fly through them now, I'm going to be blowing up his social media begging for another installment.

Do yourself a solid favor and grab this series NOW. And, if you're courageous enough, go read it in a dark room while wrapped up in a warm blanket. You'll thank me later!

Emma and Leslie are back for more!

Generally speaking, I'm not a girl who reads mysteries. Or, at least, I used to be a girl who didn't read mysteries. Kelley Kaye's Chalkboard Outlines series changed that for me.

poison by punctuationThe two teachers at the center of the series are English teachers Emma and Leslie. Emma is a sweet Southern belle who drips with charm. Leslie is a plucky counterpoint who loves to quote Shakespeare. Their friendship is endearing and realistic, as are their characters. I have to confess that one of the reasons that the series is appealing to me because I used to be a (Spanish) teacher. Kelley's depiction of the school day and the teacher's workloads are extremely real. Often Emma and Leslie have to wait to see each other on lunch in order to share new insights into the murders. They also discuss having to grade papers and plan lessons. I appreciate these touches - it kills the immersion for me when fictional teachers don't seem to actually have to do their job. Watching them juggle the responsibilities of relationships, careers, friendship, and investigating is great. I love strong women characters, and Leslie and Emma are no exception.

Poison by Punctuation finds the girls starting a new school year. Emma is more settled in, since this will be her second year. Leslie is on the prowl for a new beau and being her usual witty perky self while doing it. However, their fun comes to a halt when they find the body of a cheerleader just days after she received an anonymous note. Desperately hoping that the death was accidental, it quickly comes to light that the death was anything but. The clock is ticking, and Emma and Leslie have to figure out who is sending the anonymous notes, why they and others have been targeted, and what it has to do with the murder.

I have to confess that at the time of writing this post, I haven't finished the book. I'm 46% through it, and am planning to go home and curl up with Zelda and do nothing but read. I received an advanced reader copy and have been reading it while trying to settle into a new job. Truth be told, I'm counting down the hours. Kelley Kaye writes the kind of book you can't wait to get home and read, and just knowing there are hours between now and when I get to sit down and read is a special kind of torture.

Poison by Punctuation is every bit as delightful as it's predecessor, Death by Diploma. Kelley gently reminds the reader of the events in the first book, without seeming intrusive or like she's treading old ground for want of something new to say. I am having a blast trying to figure out who killed the cheerleader, and whether or not the notes indicate who the next victim might be.

Whether or not you're into the mystery genre, I highly recommend Kelley Kaye. Pick up Death by Diploma, and then follow it up with Poison by Punctuation. You won't be disappointed!