The Year-Ender in books

I was poking around the web earlier today and noticed that Amanda Palmer had tweeted out a link to a post she’d written on her blog. A year-ender sort of post on…books. Books she’d read or re-read in 2014. She mentioned at the end to share our own lists… So I will.

My list of books read in 2014 is laughingly short, I know. I don’t read much. I’m trying to get better at it again, and frankly, it’s a great escape from the reality that is the News Biz, and it’s an alternative to binge-watching something on Netflix.

Probably THE most important book that I read this year was Janet Mock’s Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More. 2014 for me has been a year where I’ve been doing a lot of searching of my own. Janet’s book came out right at a very down point in the year and it was one of the big reasons that I was able to, using Janet’s words from her appearance on The Colbert Report “get it the fuck together” and make 2014 a year of progress. Here is my initial review of Redefining Realness.

The second most important thing I read in 2014, was ironically enough, Amanda’s book The Art of Asking: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help. Even though I have had a somewhat complicated relationship with her this year, it is a very fascinating book to me. Asking is something I am very bad at, and allowing myself to be helped is something I’m not much better at. Some of it comes from being an introvert, some comes from being on the Autism spectrum. Or it’s because I’m just plain bad at it. Anyway, it was a book that was highly recommended to me and I’ll recommend it to anyone.
Here is my blog post immediately following reading the book.

The third thing on my list is a book that has a personal connection for me. One of my good friends, Katie, published her first book, Independent Flight, in 2014. It’s a book set in the future, in space, and in a space ship. Oh and the main character is TOTALLY bad ass too. Her follow-up, full-length novel in the series is (hopefully) due in 2015.
Here is my blog post on Independent Flight

The final book in my list is Imogen Binne’s Nevada. I unfortunately don’t have much to say in this post about it. It was a good, quick read. I enjoyed it. And it struck on some VERY emotional chords for me.
Here is my blog post on Nevada.

I’m not sure what 2015 will bring in the reading department. This time, last year I was eagerly awaiting the release of Redefining Realness. So far this year, there’s really not anything like that. I know that Laverne Cox is working on a book, I think it might be out in 2015. I know Susan Jane Bigelow has a new book out, as well. Plus, I’m hoping that Katie gets her “un-named novel” out soon too. I can’t wait to read it.

But as always, suggestions welcome.

Asking

This also appeared on my Medium page.

Just a warning for anyone reading, this is most likely going to sound jumbled, disoriented, and unconnected. I write very much as I think of it, and very much from an AHDH brain. So just roll with it.

These are my thoughts on Amanda Palmer’s “The Art of Asking: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help”

I just finished reading the second of the most important books I feel were published in 2014 (The first is Janet Mock’s “Redefining Realness”, as if you had to ask.) This book was recommended to me by a friend of mine after I posted to Facebook something that really was me trying to vent, but in my makes sense to me way:

Some days I feel like I should somehow network my way into Twitter or Facebook. Especially since both companies are going full-in on the news game. Seriously…LOL
(This is also one of those times where I know I know people who know people but am afraid to ask.)

Asking for help has always been one of those things that I have been very bad at. On the surface, especially if you only know me from Twitter or Facebook, I can seem very outgoing, but I’m very much a scared, shy kid inside. I’m forever the dreamer but who has no idea how to make dreams into reality. And that’s why I was told to read this book by a friend. I’ll get more into this block of text copied and pasted from my Facebook later on. So stay tuned! But after the break…

Artists connect the dots–we don’t need to interpret the lines between them. We just draw them and then present our connections to the world as a gift, to be taken or left. This IS the artistic act, and it’s done every day by many people who don’t even think to call themselves artists.
Then again, some people are crazy enough to think they can make a living at it. (Page 17)

That is a quote from page 17 of the book. A quote that I highlighted while I was writing. I had a note written into the page through the wonderful Kindle note taking system, but while trying to bring it up on my shitty ass laptop, I managed to delete it. Damn. It was going to make a beautiful point to why I shared that quote. Oh well, I guess I’ll have to re-make it.

I’m good at connecting the dots. When it comes to video. Hand me a camera, put me in the Director’s chair, and I’m fucking good at what I do. Seriously, ask around. Don’t believe them? Here’s my YouTube: http://lnkdby.me/12ThhQL. Interestingly, though, until I read this book, I’d never seemed to think of it as an art form. I direct a newscast on OverDrive for Pete’s sake. This was something I did. Something I do. Every. Fucking. Day. Me an artist? But you know what. The more I really thought about it (lmao…accidentally wrote tit there) I guess I too am in this wonderfully crazy mess. It does take a certain artistic skill to frame up a shot, or to know exactly when you need to make a cut, or coax a camera operator into just that absolutely perfect shot. Oh and I’m apparently, also, one of those crazy people who thinks that they can make a living at it. Oh shit. LOL.

Taking the donuts is hard for a lot of people. (Page 179)

Yes. Yes it is. Very hard in fact.

I still am very much like how Amanda was when Neil offered to lend her money. I have several friends who have dangled donuts in front of me. Some people you have never heard of, some, interestingly enough, household names (or at least people with a verified check mark and follower count in the double-digit thousands.) I know they have. I know there are some who want to help me. Very much so. But I have a hard time taking the donuts. (Unless they have sprinkles. Which you should have mentioned in the first place.)

But why is it hard? Ok I’ll admit it: I’m scared.

Scared of being rejected. Scared of “no.” Scared of the own voices in my head which seemingly on a daily basis tell me that I suck. (Seriously, they’re even worse if I make a mistake on-the-air.) And really, scared of the unknown.

Yeah… This was all addressed in the book too. But I never highlighted it so I don’t have a fancy quote to pop in here. So how about this funny one.

The professionals know they’re winging it. The amateurs pretend they’re not. (Page 44)

Oh yeah. You betcha. If only people knew how many times I was winging it when we walked out of a breaking news, OMG what the hell is happening, everything is going to hell show with a sparkling clean show report. Seriously. Winging it. Oops. I probably shouldn’t have shared that secret. LOL.

Our first job in life is to recognize the gifts we’ve already got, take the donuts that show up while we cultivate and use those gifts, and turn around and share those gifts […]
Our second job is to accept where we are in the puzzle at each moment. (Page 306)

I recognize the gifts I have. I wouldn’t be here right now if it weren’t for donuts given to me a while ago. OK. Pull up a chair, it’s story time.

Back in 2011 I was stressed out, ready to crack, and at wit’s end. Trust me, it was not pretty. I was tossed a lifeline, donut if you will, by my mother: “Quit. Move home. And we’ll figure it out.” So I did. I used another donut to land an interview at a trailer house in Los Angeles. It didn’t work out. But then another landed in my lap. My now boss asked me to just come up for an interview (he’d been working on me for like a year at that point.) I did. And this is where I’ve been for the last 3 years. Directing the news in the 15th largest market in the country. Sometimes at horrible hours of the morning. Or sometimes not directing. Sometimes it’s running cameras, or the audio board, or whatever.

And I’ve shared those donuts when I can. Or at least what appear to be for me. A recommendation that helped Jeannie. A letter for Missi. The countless offers to help out, listen to, or just talk to an intern who is about to graduate college and is scared of the looming darkness of the job search.

Or you know just the part where I don’t abandon those who I have chosen to bring into my circle of chosen family. Where I sit with them while they’re in the ER, or in a hospital room, hooked up to machines, having technically died…twice. When I give a ride to a friend who calls me up in a panic, even though I should have been in bed hours ago. Or when I just sit and listen, because a friend is having a shitty day and needs someone to talk to.

But interestingly, I still have a VERY hard time asking for anything in return. Which brings me back to my original statement that sparked the whole “you have to read Amanda’s book.”

I’m going to preface this with the fact I love what I do. I love the people I work with. And I love the community at large. But I swear this state is slowly killing me. Mostly in the 9 months where the temperatures hover somewhere between meat locker and absolute zero. Which is why I wrote my Facebook update last night. After reading about how Facebook is trying to win breaking news (and how twitter is, and I quote Twitter’s media boss Katie Jacobs-Stanton, “not a media company.”) And all while feeling I could do something bigger, better. And less newsy for a change.

And there in lies where my problem is. I have a network. I have donuts being dangled in front of me. But I have the problem of not knowing how to ask for those donuts. Oh and you know the problem of feeling like I don’t actually deserve to have those donuts in the first place. That…non-authentic feeling.

So I guess I’ll do it here, not that I’m sure any of them is actually reading this. Or if they did reading down this far: Let me take the donuts. Please help me get to a warm part of the country, or at least New York City. Just don’t send me to Chicago. I’m not ready for that drama yet.

Oh and one more quote from the book:

If you love people enough, they’ll give you everything. (Page 312)

Yep.

~A

P.S. A completely off-track side note to all of this. I still owe Janet’s book a big post like this. That is if I could figure out how on earth to actually decipher my notes. I kind of made random scribblies on paper since I didn’t want to ruin the book (that she awesomely signed for me later on too!!) I’ll have to get the Kindle version so that I can make all sorts of highlights and scribblies directly in the text.

K.L. Tremaine’s Independent Flight

Full Disclosure: I want to be up front here that the author of this book is essentially family.

Space. The final frontier. These are the voyages… Er wait. This isn’t Star Trek but if you’re a fan of Star Trek, you’re probably going to love this book. It’s a space adventure in the best sense of the genre. You have action, a sassy captain and a great story.

The center of the book is Veronica Gray, a young captain in training, who is being given her first real command. She has a wonderful crew who is surrounding her who add a lot to the story line and the adventures. You also, without giving away spoilers, have an awesome “bad guy” in the form of the drug runner that has an unfortunate run in with our leading lady.

This particular book is a quick read, but it is a good read.  I highly recommend it. And really, can’t wait to see more of what happens to Ms. Gray.

So uh. Go buy it already!

OH! One awesome bonus note with a itsy bitsy spoiler alert on it: Veronica is team #GirlsLikeUs.

Imogen Binnie’s Nevada

Warning: This is going to read like a bunch of dis-jointed thoughts. I posted this stream-of-consciousness without doing any editing on it. It’s written just post-reading of the book while so, so many emotions are swimming in my brain.

Do you ever have one of those moments where you finish a book and you are not entirely sure of the emotions that you’re feeling? Because that is how I feel right now. I just finished reading “Nevada” by Imogen Binnie.

One one hand, I feel this complete and total deep connection with her central character Maria. She…is going through a lot of similar stuff to me. Reading everything I seriously just couldn’t help but be like “yeah, sister, me too!” Or well, at least I had in the past. It’s complicated. Because like, I’m totally not her at all but at the same time I feel like I am if that makes sense. Like I didn’t do any of the crazy high school shit…unless you count accidentally running over my brother’s foot as ‘crazy high school shit’…but I have/had a lot of the same issues and realities in relationships as she does. And hell, I never just jumped in a car and headed west (I should have lol!) Closest I have gotten to that was that moment I decided I was moving to the Twin Cities. (Though a part of me still thinks I should have tried for LA.) I do have one, odd, but interesting question, and maybe I’m reading WAY too much into the character, but I really, really wonder if she is an Aspie. It…just fits way too perfectly.

On the other hand I have this sense of well…I don’t entirely know what it is over the relationship that Maria develops seemingly at random with a Wal-Mart clerk. I guess maybe jealousy is the correct term. I wish I had someone stumble into my lap, so to speak, at 20. I think it would have been very interesting. I know where I stood at 20, and where I stand at 32. And it could have been much more, shall we say, interesting. Closest I have had to that were my friends I made on LiveJournal and MySpace in the later part of the last decade. (You know. The one between the 90’s and the 10’s. Le sigh. I can’t believe the 90’s were that long ago.) I’m still friends with a few of them, and I consider at least one of them family.

Ok and on a third hand, or well, I guess I’m branching out to feet here, I feel a profound sense of longing and disappointment. Without giving away any spoilers here, I… Just the way the book ended. I was expecting something more and then all of a sudden it was like “oh…this is the about the author page now. But…But…Moooooooooooooooooooooooooore please!!!”

Honestly, I love this book. It’s just…awesome. You should take the time to sit down and read it. And interestingly, I don’t know what it is lately, maybe it’s the fact I’m finding books I enjoy lately, but this was ANOTHER book I finished in a mere matter of hours, not days/weeks like some books I have read. Ok. Time for dinner.

Janet Mock’s Redefining Realness

I am finally getting a chance to sit down and write my thoughts about Redefining Realness onto paper, or well, electronic 1’s and 0’s. But you ask, shouldn’t I have done this a month ago? Probably, but believe it or not, even though I work in a communication field, sometimes it’s hard for me to find the right words.

Redefining Realness is by far one of the best and most powerful books that I have read in a very, very long time. I have said time-and-again that this is the sort of book that I wish had existed a long while ago. Janet’s words are very powerful, and very personal, in many ways. She has the ability though to draw the reader into her world. As I read the book, I was overcome with emotion: happiness, sadness, anxiety, and yes even a scosh of jealousy.

I think that one of the best parts of Redefining Realness is the fact that it leaves the reader with a sense of “OMG I need to know what happens next!” Truthfully, even though I know the outcome of some of the events she wrote about, such as her relationship, there was still this moment of “oh no how will he react?” when Janet finally opens up to Aaron. That is the kind of emotion that I am talking about that is present throughout.

Now, my off-topic…ish aside: Pop culture. Pop culture is one of the things that is talked about with-in Redefining Realness. I want to share one of my reactions when reading that involves pop culture. Specifically, television. There was at one point where Janet mentions watching a lot of shows on Nick as a kid. I had one of those “OMG” style moments for a second where I realized that these were the same things I was watching at the time. It also, too, helps in a way to illustrate just how pop culture binds us together.

Overall I can’t stop telling people that they need to read Redefining Realness. I’ve even gotten some friends, and an aunt on the super Catholic conservative side of the family on board with reading. This is how highly I recommend the book. I think that everyone should read it. So seriously, why have you not stopped reading this and picked up your copy? Oh and as a total aside: Redefining Realness is the first physical book that I have purchased since probably Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was released in 2007. I usually read books via Kindle or iPad these days. So, with that said, pop on down to your local bookstore, if you still have one, or at least click on over and get your copy. (Or your local library may be an option too if you can’t afford to buy a book. Remember them? Libraries are kinda awesome still ya know.)

Oh and before I forget. If you have the opportunity to see her in person at an event… GO! There is a great story to go with this picture, but that is for another time.

Getting my picture taken with Janet at her event in St. Paul
Getting my picture taken with Janet at her event in St. Paul