Book Report April 30th 2018

Tomi Adeyemi’s Children of Blood and Bone is an excellent book I wish I had gotten into it when it first came about but, now that I finally have I’m recommending it to everyone  It has all the tenants of YA fantasy and adds a bit more. I said it before on twitter

This book fills in some of the pieces I’m looking for I can’t get enough of the different magics and even though it uses soft magic which is something I’m not always a fan of and forms a world around it that makes the whole thing startlingly compelling.

Zélie Adebola is one of our main point of view characters and she lives with an undeniably defining trait in her white hair and dark skin. She and the people like her diviners are people chosen by the gods to wield magic. Except the magic is all gone none of the diviners have the power to do things like raising the dead (You all know why that was of particular interest to me.), controlling the elements, healing, and even causing disease. The reason, was on a night eleven years ago magic dried up and the king’s men fled the cities and killed those already awakened to their powers.

I have to assume Tomi knew what she was doing by making all of the diviners’ dark skin people while those without power but, of royal descent were of a lighter skin. By doing this she points a finger squarely at the subculture of colorism. Colorism the thought that people with skin closer to white are somehow better, more attractive, and for some reason more sought after. No spoilers but, she goes from a type of animosity at the world for her skin tone and those of others that made them somehow more noble, to finding a way to talk about loving hers as well as those of people seen above her. I feel like this for anyone who has ever had negative thoughts about their skin tones will see it in thoughts reflected by this book.

Each of the point of view characters has an arc here while some are more pronounced than others there’s no one gets left behind. The plot is very straightforward and tight but there’s more than enough to expand the world and show there’s a lot more to see. I need another installment of what I hope is a much longer franchise.

Honestly, if you don’t like books that talk about real things in a way that is accessible to people, then I’d say still pick it up. It’s still an awesome story with diverse characters and looks into a setting we don’t usually get in fantasy. Tomi Adeyemi has written a book that not only did I love to read and suggest to others but, a book that is just what YA needs right now.

PS, I listened to this on in audiobook form and I loved the voice acting of Miss Bahni Turpin. She did so much with each of the characters that each one felt so unique and polished I thought I was in a room full of them.

(Black) Power Fantasy

Black Panther was amazing. I loved every fucking frame. I can’t be objective and I know it. This for me was close to what how I felt when Luke Cage came out two years ago. That was a gritty view of life in a place I have never lived and hope to never live in but, what it spoke about was what it is to live in fear as a black man and that’s something I know all too well.
There’s something about these two properties that even though they are Marvel properties they portray a measure of the problems I face as a black man moving throughout the world. Black Panther is so black but, it not only that it speaks to colonization what that means and how it has and still does affect the world around it. Luke Cage talks about the Black Community and what it does and doesn’t do for its people. These things pieces of media hit me so hard and I know they didn’t do it for everyone else but, for a black man living in a mostly white suburb, it finally feels like we’ve arrived.

Luke Cage is someone I envy. Someone who doesn’t have to fear the cops or radicals. A man who can protect his home and his life with his own strength. With Charlottesville happening so close to home the idea of homegrown Nazi became a reality I didn’t think I’d have to face in 2018. Yes, I knew racists existed but, people who finally felt free to congregate and march in the open I didn’t know that was the world we were living in. Of course, the man is jacked and he’s definitely a ladykiller but, he’s also loyal to his friends and he looks out for the little guy and that’s what makes him a hero.

There’s a wonderful scene in the Netflix show where he’s getting back all the things for the Harlem community. They just walk up to his door and he does what he can to help them. The same can be said for the women who owns the apartment he has over the Chinese food shop he doesn’t hesitate to throw himself in the way of RPG careening through her storefront window. He does what he does for his community.

In Defenders, during the second episode LC and Claire were helping out after the earthquake and he quotes her saying “If we don’t take responsibility for our neighborhood, no one else will.” They’re both going block by block he’s removing chunks of buildings off cars and she’s treating the wounded. Luke Cage is all about community and that hits home.

For me, there are a ton of injustices I would love to be able to do something about without having to put a vote in a machine and hope the rest of the country agrees with me. This might be a little vain but, I’ve always wanted to be hero helping people less fortunate than myself.

So why Luke Cage and why not Superman: Luke Cage has a code of law, he doesn’t do what he does for free. It might seem unfair but, it’s realistic. His name, place of business, and the names of his family members are all public knowledge he has something he needs to protect and life to keep up. Superman hides his identity because his human life is more important to those around him. Supes is strong enough to protect everyone in his life and still live whatever life he wants to but, his anonymity is something very important to him. Luke Cage has decided to be a part of the community and takes part in its everyday struggles as well as go out and save the world.

Black Panther is the man of the hour right now and as we all talk about #WakandaForever and how black the movie is I don’t want to lose sight of why BP is as excellent a character as he is. He is accomplished, having multiple degrees from the best colleges from all over the world. One of the richest men in all the world. He has spies in every country and weapons that would make every 2nd Amendment guns rights activist and Nuclear Dictator shit their collective pants. Simply put he has the biggest toys and he knows how to use them. He’s Ben Kenobi (secret Jedi warrior), Liam Neeson (in practically all of his movies), and actually good spy so not James Bond…

“So BP has all the toys, what else?” you ask? Black Panther and Wakanda represent a future we would like to have for ourselves way too much. It’s been expressed over a hundred times as everyone pretends they don’t know why Black people are so in love with the movie. Black Panther is a king which in it of itself is enviable but when you match that with the fact that it’s of a country that was never touched by colonialism and his people were never enslaved you hit a whole new level of awesome. T’challa has never had to even consider the feelings of white men, colonizers as they’re called in the film. He doesn’t care that they think of him the king of some tribe of farmers in the middle of Africa because he knows inside that he’s more and that confidence is something that draws the eye in every scene he’s in.

So why not Batman: Forgoing the option of bringing up yet again the idea of secret identities… it’s easy to say that Bruce Wayne is the mask and Batman is the true identity. But moving on Black Panther in the movie it the prototypical good son. He’s always respectful, never raises his voice, even-tempered, and patient. In the comics he’s a different person almost entirely he’s passionate, brash, prideful but, remains one of the smartest men in the Marvel universe. The reason I would choose Black Panther is he chooses to save the world out of a duty to his people and Batman does it because he can’t stop. Batman needs this. Black Panther has and will stop if it doesn’t affect his people.

In Civil War and in the Black Panther movie proper, he’s shown that he’s willing to understand the villain and hear him out. For the man who murdered his father and the man who stole his country, Black Panther shows a humility that is superhuman. Killmonger was a man who may have done horrible things he wasn’t completely wrong about what he wanted but, wrong about the way he went about it. His rage made him no different from those he was trying  It hurt Black Panther to have him kill himself because he knew not only could this man be an asset to Wakanda but, he could probably offer valuable insight to the world at large that until now the people of Wakanda didn’t have.

PS. I’ve seen Black Panther three times in theatres I’ve never done that with any other movie. Even for things I like I can’t do repeat viewings but, I love this movie so much. I just want to give everyone who had anything to do with a big hug. Black Panther is a cultural phenomenon.

The World Ends With You

I know it might seem like I’ve lost track in my writing and to be honest I probably have. The work that’s almost done just doesn’t feel to me as fun to write on as the next project. I’ve got so many ideas buzzing around my head that it makes focusing on one and doing the work to put it out nearly impossible. I know it’s not just my ADHD that’s bothering me but, also intrusive thoughts: “This isn’t good enough,” “You should quit right now. You did one that’s commendable most people don’t even do that.”, “No one will fault you, you tried.”, etc. I know I have to find a way past it. I also know that this is all bullshit. I need to keep working at my craft fine-tuning it to turn into something extraordinary. I mean what’s the worst they can say then? He got better? Anyways that’s the update now on to the fun stuff.

The World Ends With You is one of my favorite games of all time. I mean everything about it from the story, to the message, to music, to even the gameplay. When I got into it I think it was something I needed to hear. I mean this isn’t a story about a piece of media changing someone’s life immediately but, more a gradual change over time. The message beating in my heart like a mantra “The World Ends With You” over and over again until I actually understood it.

The World Ends With You,” I thought it sounds cool I mean everything about this game is cool. Kids wearing clothes I wouldn’t believe, not just because they were in but, they were also in style. Saying things I always wanted to. Living in alternate worlds. Listening to their favorite music all the time non-stop. Making real friends that you know would last forever. I didn’t do any of those things then but, I’ve learned a little better now.

Mr. H pulls Neku (our Protagonist aside as says the thing that’s slowly changing my life even now something I’ll always remember. He first says “Enjoy every moment with all ya got.” They have a small exchange where Neku says it’s the motto of someone he respects and he’s taken it as his own. Mr. H tells him he’s gotta funny way of showing it. “Listen up, Phones. The world ends with you. If you want to enjoy life, expand your world. You gotta push your horizons as far as they’ll go.”

It might seem a bit cliche but, I think this hit me at the right age. I didn’t know then what I wanted out of life. I always had a bit of wanderlust and I originally thought it was about just that. Meet people from all over the world see new horizons. What it really meant was to get to know all people find people of different backgrounds even people who think differently than you. Make friends and even find the good in people who disagree with you. I’m still having trouble with the last part but, I’m getting better at making friends. I read, watch, and play media that challenge me. I went to Barbados last June and met relatives and explored a place I’d never seen.  I want to continue this trend, have wonderful experiences, and have my perspective broaden even further. I’m still changing and learning and… figuring it all out. I just want to keep doing that. Become a person who is not just “woke” but, has lived.

-PS. This was going to be my New Year’s Resolution post but, the Winter Blues got me and I couldn’t really write for a while. I’m doing a lot better and between today (Friday) and yesterday, I have written more than have in a month at least. I’m feeling absolutely great. Let’s hope it continues straight through the end of this book.

The Self-esteem of Mental Health

I recently read… well listened to Turtles All the Way Down and it got me thinking not just about the main characters but, about what my mental health means to me. I’ve gotten so used to talking about my anxiety and my depression that it doesn’t really bother me to bring it up in normal conversations.

Don’t worry I’m not that guy who brings it up every chance they get as if to say that I’m going through these things somehow gives me a perspective someone else doesn’t have, but… to connect with people. When I see someone in pain or hurting I can’t help myself but, want to step in. Now, this trait has gotten me into a lot of trouble because used to sacrifice my mental health just to try and cheer someone up. I say used to as if it’s been a while but, I think it’s only been a few months now so I don’t know if I’ll be falling off the wagon again but, hopefully, I can keep the chip this time.

I would expend so much of my energy giving a damn about somebody else just because they do or have made me feel good one day, that I’d be a wreck because I hadn’t spent time on myself.  And often times when I’d ask for what I needed from them I’ve been trying to stop that now.

For a long time it took me forever to just love myself now I’m working on treating myself better… It’s been a long road and even though I feel better I don’t know if I’ve made the strides I think I have.  I won’t really know until I’m faced with the same situations… But, I can see the people who really need help and at least not put myself in the same position I’ve put myself in before. So hopefully that leads to something new.

So anyways, Turtles All the Way Down paints interesting characters who try their best to rise above their own problems. The main character is so interesting and seeing inside her head is both frightening and beautifully complex. What I love about John Green’s writing is it’s witty and careful and the people are actually people none of them are exactly who they appear to be. I’m not surprised by how much I liked it, only surprised by just how much his work could still impact me. I think I’ll be a lifelong fan.

 

Confidence.

I’m confident in a lot of things about me. If you ask anyone close to me they’ll probably tell you how I can talk about myself for hours. Which is probably true. I am not afraid to talk myself up. I don’t mind putting my best foot forward and I think people actually respond fairly well to it. Am I a little cocky? Probably. Does that make me a bad person? I don’t think so. But to get to my point there are a couple things I’m not too confident in.

I don’t think I have much to offer people. It’s probably the last dregs of that teenage low self-esteem angst but, I’m not sure how much I add to people’s lives. I mean they tell me they like having me around but, everyone lies. People get into relationships (all types) because they want something from someone else. Whether it’s companionship or because the person is smart and they can help me get ahead or do good on a math test. Whatever that is they offer something. I don’t know what my thing is and I overcompensate.

I try to be a big part, helping them through their pain and troubles. A shoulder to cry on when they’re in need. If they need something they can always count on me. I push myself way too hard to be available and ready with the right thing to say.  Not that I’m bad at that part but, it weighs on me. There’s sometimes when I’m an absolute mess and there’s no one to talk to. They tell me their problems and I try and fix them. It’s easy not because it keeps me away from my own problems because it makes me feel useful. I like feeling useful. I like knowing that no matter how low I get someone’s life would be worse without me in it.

Does that make me selfish? Probably. Do I tell them? Yes. I tell them that I’m self-centered that I do most of these things for myself. Do they believe me? No, they just think I’m being humble. If there’s anything you learn from reading this blog, other than the fact that I’m an overthinking basket case, it should be that any bit of demureness that comes from me is due to uncertainty.

The other thing is my writing, it’s not as interesting as the earlier topic, not much to analyze here. I guess I’m the same as everyone else here. We’re all just trying to get through the next project and hopefully, one day write a hit. I know I’m not alone in wanting this so bad you lie awake at night hoping just hoping that it’s good enough. That the right person thinks highly enough of it and tells all their friends about it. That it somehow gets on the right person’s blog and they read about it and love it. And everyone is just clamoring to get their hands on your book like it’s the only one out there. They read it all in one night or savor it over a week. They love your world so much they dream up their own characters to fill it. (Deep breath. I actually did this while writing this.)

I want what every writer wants. What every person wants. To be loved for what I bring in the world. To be admired for what I can do. And to be cherished by the people who love me.

PS. Sorry, this is so heavy but, I had a lot get off my chest.

Vultures

Some people are vultures circling and circling hoping to find you when you’re weak and needy and take advantage. What do they want from you? How far will they go?  Does it even matter? How can you spend your entire life around Vultures and not turn into one?

I’ve got this friend and she’s been going through it these last few years. She’s been very strong and tried to keep her head down but, in light of what’s gone on, she’s starting to see the people around her for who they really are. The only problem is when all your friends are vultures how do you get away? I want to help her but, she says she knows what she’s doing… And I don’t really know if there’s anything to do. She’s got a lot of feelings of attachment to these people. Some have been her friends for a long time and others are even family and she feels more than a bit of responsibility toward them.

I no longer have vultures in my life. I don’t really entertain that kind of behavior in any real capacity. If I see them flying overhead I show them exactly why I’m not the guy to pull that shit with. There is a difference between people who seek to pull others down to their levels and those people who need a little help to get out of a jam. And the differences are readily obvious. I don’t ignore people who need help but, I can’t stand the people who seek to make others miserable.

My advice for dealing with Vultures and people surrounded by them is Stay vigilant, they always show their true colors eventually. It’s frustrating watching people get taken advantage of but there’s only so much you can handle. You can’t only help those who need it when they’re ready to listen about it.

Vulnerability

Vulnerability isn’t something I worry about. It’s something I practiced. I don’t have any issue being open with my feelings. I learned that being open and honest with yourself would lead less stress and anxiety. I have always felt everything on an increment of ten. My feelings are loud and explosive. I figured once I got a handle on what I was feeling then I would never rule me. Learning this I am far more myself today than, I have ever been.

The only way I know I know how to write is by pouring my soul out in the things on the page. In a way, it makes me feel alive. It’s cathartic and it’s freeing in a way, talking about it with others ever was. I don’t feel judged.  That people are weighing their experiences against mine. I think writing through your pain heals me in ways I didn’t always understand until now.

I still get anxiety and I’m still depressed at times but, it’s helped me a lot not only to talk about how I’m feeling but, to write it. I’ve found things out about myself just saying things aloud. I realized that my ability to honest with the things that hurt me has only made me stronger.

Old Friends

Like most people, I’ve lost friends throughout my life. But some have really stood the test of time. They remember who I was before and how much I’ve changed they’ve seen me at my best and worse. I don’t think I’d rather have anyone else at my back.

My best male friend who shall only be known as The Editor did so on my first book has been the only person who I can talk most about my book with. Having read it and given me ideas on how to make it better has made him instrumental in my development as a writer.

There were questions he’s asked about the world of the Aftermath Collection, that I hadn’t actually thought of. He’s done more for the world building than any flights off inspiration I’ve had. I wouldn’t have come this far this quickly without him.

Friend 2 is probably the person I trust most in the world. No matter what I’ve come clean about to her she’s never judged me. I don’t know anyone with a bigger heart and better judge of character. The fact that she spends time with me, makes me believe that I might actually be worth it.

They’ve been with me through a lot and I will never take them for granted. I don’t think I’d be anywhere near this far in life or in the career I want without them. They’ve taught just taught me so much.

I don’t think I expect a lot from people.

I guess the title says it all, I mean I don’t really feel like I need much from everyone. At work, mostly I just want people to do their damn jobs. It’s not really that hard, I understand things may come up or you have a bad day but, it doesn’t make sense for you to not work to catch up on the days you just aren’t feeling it. Especially, when departments seem to be able to get their stuff out in the same amount of time or quicker.

With friends, I understand I’m not your first priority and often times you aren’t mine. I don’t expect you to drop everything when I text and I don’t loose my mind when you don’t call. If you want to hang out I will certainly make time for you if I don’t have any earlier plans. If you promise to get back to me I totally understand if you don’t. It’s really not a problem, I love you and if that’s who you are chances are I already know that about you.

People are going to hurt you. I mean it’s a forgone conclusion, right? The closer you get to friends, family, and SO’s the more likely, they will do something that’s going to hurt you. Do you stop loving them? I guess it depends on how egregious the actions that were taken. But, for me I kind of realize this is a thing within their nature and moving forward our relationship, whatever it is, will have to reflect that. Now that doesn’t mean beating them up about it every chance you get but, maybe just keeping it in the back of your mind at all times.

Maybe it’s wrong to say I don’t expect much from people but, I think it’s true. I’ve learned from a young age that people are going to let you down and often times there’s nothing you can do about it. I think it’s more a part of growing up and being the starry-eyed kid doesn’t work anymore.

I’ve got an issue, well more than a couple.

I am bad at disclosing, maybe you’ve already figured that out I mean I’m not exactly forthcoming with any of the finer details of my life. That’s partly because I’m boring and partly because I like to be able to step away from this whenever I can. Don’t know what exactly that says, actually, I probably do but, I’ll talk about in some other time.

Back at to the topic at hand, I don’t really understand how to do it. Not that I can’t but, how much is enough? How much is too much? Again, my problem seems to be balance, I can’t seem to find it I feel like I’m an open book but, I don’t feel like the people I want to get to know me actually do.

I can’t say it’s all on them I just feel like some part of me would rather fit into roles rather than be honest with people. It makes it easy. I don’t have to be anyone other than this and I can keep the deeper parts of me hidden. Letting down my walls doesn’t come easy and when I finally it doesn’t seem like people like what they find. Maybe it means I’m crazy but, aren’t the best people?