October Reading: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

“It was on a dreary night of November that I beheld the accomplishment of my toils. With an anxiety that almost amounted to agony, I collected the instruments of life around me, that I might infuse a spark of being into the lifeless thing that lay at my feet. It was already one in the morning; the rain pattered dismally against the panes, and my candle was nearly burnt out, when by the glimmer of the half-extinguished light, I saw the dull yellow eye of the creature open; it breathed hard, and a convulsive motion agitated its limbs.”

This is one of my favorite books ever. Continue reading

October Reading: Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven”

To celebrate the month of October, all the weeks of which are steeped with ghosts and goblins by association, I’ve been delving into my favorite horror reading, and since today is apparently the UK’s National Poetry Day (and the world’s too if Twitter is any indication), today seems like a fitting one to talk about “The Raven,” by Edgar Allan Poe, one of my all-time favorite poems and an exceptionally creepy tale. Continue reading

An obituary for an electric kettle

Today I am taking a moment to mourn the passing of a treasured help and companion that saw me through three years of college and a year and a third of adult employment: my ~$20 electric kettle purchased from a humble CVS that passed away quietly on Sept. 8, in the year of Our Lord 2015. This kettle saw to the boiling of the water for tea that prevented me from freezing when walking to work during apocalyptic Chicago winters, kept me caffeinated during the multiple papers and midterm papers, saw me through the one all-nighter I pulled for academic reasons and the one all-nighter I pulled for reading in the 24-hour Readathon. I’d crank it up and hear the whir when I needed to curl and calm down from stress, and when I began adult employment, it became routine to stumble into the kitchen and blindly grope for the kettle. The rumble of the water beginning to bubble was the sound of my lifeboat approaching as I tried to get ready for work without either putting on a shirt inside or knocking over things in my sleep-dazed stumbles, and it became a part of my pre-bedtime routine to whip it for something herbal, ridiculously sweet, and decaffeinated as I tried to readjust from my customary night-owl habits to those of someone who had catch a train before 6 a.m.

It will be greatly missed, and I have no doubt I will mourn its passing for many days to come. Not least because it was my primary method of getting caffeine for the mornings and I am genuinely at a loss for what to do tomorrow (I’ll probably end up forking over for coffee).

ETA: Tweaking some cords and things seem to have brought it back at least for the moment. How long that’s going to last, I can’t say, but here’s hoping the zombie version will at least get me through the rest of this week for caffeine…

Your grave will be watered by the tears of the uncaffeinated

Your grave will be watered by the tears of the uncaffeinated. Or at the very least, your memory will live on in my complaining.

What I’ve been doing: SO MUCH STORY REWRITING. This is what happens when you give up writing for a year- you think you’ve gotten the hang of finishing something decent and then you open the document again and it’s all spiders and cobwebs and overgrown ivy, where things are constantly scratching, nibbling at or distracting you as you try to clear things out. Writers, if you write… just don’t stop, for the love of Heaven. Having taken hiatuses in both writing and exercise, I’m finding regaining the writing stamina infinitely more excruciating.

What I’ve been listening to: a lot of podcasts, notably Thinking Sideways and The Tolkien Professor

On taking writing seriously

First of all, I’m so sorry about neglected comments, updates, and other neglected things. Something apparently went wrong with the email I was using before, and I wasn’t getting any updates at all, so I assumed this place was seeing its usual zero traffic (not exactly the case; I have no idea why, given my lack of updates). Anyway, a comment with foul language was purged, another is a thoughtful one that I have yet to respond to, and there are no doubt several updates that I completely missed on the assumption that every other person I followed was slacking off as much as I on the blogging front. I’ve changed emails while trying to sort out what’s going on with the other one, and I actually do have something written. I’ve also finally updated my About page.

Now to what I initially logged in to write… Continue reading

Thoughts on ‘Brain on Fire’

If you’re asked to define yourself, coming up with a working answer might take a few minutes. But you would have some things spring to mind, whether it’s boy or girl, native of certain country, hobbyist in something near and dear. You’d have to weigh which aspects of yourself are “you” and which are the result of outside factors. The definition could be given quickly and glibly, or it could be given with thought and consideration. But either way, most people could give an answer. The concept of self comes as naturally to most of us as breathing.

Brain on Fire takes an unsparing look at what it’s like to have that selfhood ripped away. Continue reading

On the name change and what things will look like going forward

The rename was a long time in coming, but I think it suits the blog better for where I’d like to take it now that I am no longer a college student (which reminds me I have to update my ‘About’ page). But in keeping with the Monty Python theme, the phrase is derived from the Spanish Inquisition skit.

I promise the room is cleaner now

I promise the room is cleaner now

I’m still going to do book reviews- I think it’ll be the only way to get me through the massive stacks of books I have. On a recent organization of my room, I counted up 164 physical books, not counting the ones I have on my Kindle; about 30, give or take a few, hadn’t been read at all or had been opened so long ago that I may as well not have opened them (and I have no bookshelves. Make of this what you will). I will, however, try and stretch a bit and get some nonfiction reviews in, which should be an interesting endeavor.

I’m also hoping to get more of my own works up on the blog once I get a bit more settled and have some finished that I like.

For categories and formatting, I haven’t yet decided if I’m going to merge “Unsolicited Opinions” with “Essays” but for now I’m going to keep them separate.

When I have some free time (ha), I’ll probably go through some of my older posts and weed out the pictures I used when I was dumber about these things and thought Googling an image meant it was automatically fair game to use. I did consider taking down some of my older posts, as the writing and humor attempts of some are just painfully bad, but if I was dumb enough to think it worth posting online a few years ago, I should bear with that decision now. Not to mention the internet is forever, and it probably wouldn’t be too hard to find an archived version if I ended up removing anything.

As evidenced by the long absences between updates, I have a lot of blog posts to catch up on. If you guys want to recommend any of yours that I’ve missed, feel free to do so!

Currently listening to: The Interstellar soundtrack by Hans Zimmer.
Just finished reading: “Bannerless” by Carrie Vaughn. A rather nice take on what might happen after the end times, particularly for focusing on how people might live as opposed to the destruction of the world as we know it.

On the blending of words and actions

When I was in college and the piles of deadlines became too much to handle, I’d finish what I absolutely had to for the day, grab my keys and head out to start walking.

It always began as an aimless stroll, one day moving through the residential areas to the west of my campus one day, heading east to Lake Michigan on the next day. I’d cross busy streets, double back, go down a road I’d headed down in the opposite direction a few days before. There was no rhyme or reason to any of it.

One thing was always constant, though. Somewhere along the way, I’d stop by a place with books. Continue reading