Do you Litsy? You should Litsy.

If you don’t love books, this will not matter to you at all. If you do love books, read on.

There’s this newish app that I’m in love with recently and you should know that I’m in no way being asked to or bribed to talk about it. I just love it that much.

Because it’s social media for book lovers. And it’s not GoodReads (which I don’t use for many reasons). As many of you know, I’m a bookseller and I love talking about books, but I usually don’t do so here because that’s not what this blog is typically about. This is the exception. This is where I blur the lines between my goofy Internet self and my let-me-tell-you-what-I’m-reading-because-BOOKS! self.
It’s Litsy.

Basically it’s as if Instagram and GoodReads met one night at some bookish photography thing and then that turned into drinks, which turned into a few dates, which turned into trading book recommendations via photographs, which became their relationship, and then all of that eventually led to a baby app that grew up to become it’s very own awesome individual app that we should all be hanging out with.

And it’s so wonderful, you guys. Every morning I wake up and I check through my various social media feeds, and by far, my favorite one is Litsy. I get all sorts of reading recommendations from people who love books. I’m following authors and seeing what they’re reading. I’m mIMG_5225eeting other really bookish people on the Internet and my to-be-read list is overloaded in the best way possible. On top of that, there’s this fun little game aspect to it: You can track your reading and gain “Litfluence” points based on how much you’re reading and how many people are adding books to their stacks because of your reviews. So if you’re into stats and improving your score, this feature is delightful.

Currently this app is only available for iOS devices, but hopefully that will be changing soon so that we can all participate in this bookish glory together. But you should totally get on this if you can and follow me over there for book stuff! In fact, let me get you started with some of my favorite accounts:

Mine: @AwkwardlyAlive

Liberty Hardy: @Liberty (You will  never read as much as her. Accept this and then read whatever she tells you to.)

Amy Stewart: @AmyStewart (As in the author of Girl Waits With Gun, which is SO GOOD!)

Rebecca Schinsky: @RebeccaSchinsky (Fabulously smart)

K.D. Winchester: @kdwinchester (She reads the most interesting things!!) 

So go and download this app, follow me and all these lovely readers, and let’s start chatting about books! BECAUSE BOOKS!

 

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One year from today.

One year from today I will have a husband.

I will be a wife.

Fiancé and I went to our ceremony site today and had a picnic to celebrate our “pre-anniversary”. I had a migraine, but I didn’t care. He had a lot of work to do, but he pushed it away, all so that we could go and sit and be with each other in the place where one year from today we will be promising to love each other for the rest of our lives.

Which is insane. And awesome.

And now I’m back in bed, having just taken two more pills to make this pain go away and he’s back at his computer making sure that emails get sent. But that’s besides the point.

Because one year from today we will be dancing and drinking and clinking glasses and eating cake and I hopefully won’t have a migraine, and he definitely will not be working.

One year from today.

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My identity (or lack of one?) as a writer.

I’ve been in an interesting stage with my writing lately. Even though I’ve been doing this blog for a few years now, I’ve always seen myself as a potential novelist. I just wanted a way to exercise my writing brain and to use my sense of humor along the way, so I though this blog would be fun.

I’ve completed a first draft and a first round of edits on a novel, and I’m really proud of that, but I’m starting to wonder if that’s the route I really want to take.

I really enjoy personal essay. It’s an incredibly fun thing to work with and it’s a great way to explore that whole “write what you know” concept – or in some cases what you don’t know.

But it’s also so damn personal. And what if I write something now that I’m going to regret later? What if I choose to rant about gun control or women’s rights and I end up looking back on it and saying “Crap, that wasn’t what I should have said.”

Maybe that’s not the attitude to have. After all, if you constantly live in fear of regret, you never do anything, right?

And maybe this just means that I need to set up rules for myself.

So that’s what I’m doing. Here are my rules for writing:

  1. Never write anything that will hurt someone else’s feelings. Or at least, never intentionally do so. Obviously I can’t avoid everyone’s hot buttons, but if I can foresee someone getting hurt, I will try and do my best to back away. Basically: only make fun of myself.
  2. Avoid major political or social issues as much as possible. This isn’t to say that I’ll remain completely neutral on subjects, and I might allude to my feelings, but I’ll probably never write an essay about why a certain candidate is amazing or terrible. I’m not smart enough to tackle that shit.
  3. Be honest. I think this is one of the most important ones. I don’t want to be fake with my writing. I don’t want to try and adopt a personality because I think it’s what everyone wants to read. I want to be me, and if some people find that interesting, then yay. If they don’t, at least I didn’t lost myself or lie about who I am in the process.

And I think that’s all I need for right now. Those are my three things that I will check in on before publishing anything.

And lastly, I’m going to start trying to submit my content to places. While I edit my novel, I want to start actually working on getting published in other ways. I want to start receiving rejection letters and maybe even some yesses.

If anyone has any tips or knows of a place where I should start submitting, I’d really love to hear what you have to say. We’re all in this together, right?

Here’s to the writing life.

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Be weird.

If you’ve been reading my stuff for any length of time or if you know me even a little bit, you can probably safely say that “normal” is not a word that many people would use when describing me. I mean, I have a normal body in that I have the proper amount of everything, so in that respect, I guess you could say I’m normal, but when it comes to my personality or my brain… not so much.

Now that we’re planning a wedding, Fiance and I are having a lot of fun with our weirdness. We’re just not incredibly conventional people and we want to incorporate that. We’ve never been fans of doing things because “that’s the way it’s done.” In fact, I think that’s the most dangerous sentence anyone can say.

Don’t get me wrong, we’re not being married by a llama (oh my gosh, we should totally have a llama officiate our wedding…) or anything, but we are breaking the mold in certain ways. That’s not actually what I’m here to discuss, though.

I’m here to just say this: Embrace your weirdness. This isn’t a new message, nor is it a completely original one, but it’s one that I’ve been saying to myself a lot lately now that all of these decisions are coming up.

When I think of my heroes from film or books, it’s always Luna Lovegood and Pippi Longstocking that come to mind first. It’s always the delightfully eccentric and bizarre girls who are so unbelievably comfortable with who they are, even if the rest of the world can’t figure out how to be. I love that about them.

The two of them are disrupters – not for the sake of disruption, but for the sake of authenticity. They’re true to themselves and with the people around them. They do what they like to do and live life the way that they want to live. They don’t care if it means that they get funny looks or whispered about or scolded.

Is there anything more admirable?

I will never accomplish the level of awesome that Luna or Pippi did, but I sure as hell try every day to get there, and on the days when I feel like I come close, I’m really, really happy.

So all I’m here to say today is that I want you to embrace your weirdness. Live your life in the weirdest and most honest and loving way possible. Have fun with everything that you do and smile at the weird looks you’ll get, because the people who don’t or won’t get you aren’t the ones you want approval from anyway, right?

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So I guess we call him Fiance now.

Okay, so the past few weeks have been insane, because you know BOYFRIEND PROPOSED AND STUFF.

Yeah. It happened. We’re getting married and I’m still walking around with a disturbingly large smile on my face and suspect that that’s just the way I will look from now on. For the rest of my life.

He also turned 30. So, you know, celebrations have been happening.

Here is just one example of said celebrations:
IMG_3171

Carry on.

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“Hey! You’re Great! I love you! …Too much?” or “A Midwesterner in New England’s Court.”

I get teased a lot for being such a friendly Midwesterner. I never really noticed it until I moved to New England where everyone is very into their privacy and conversations are minimal with strangers. Thankfully, I work in retail, so my sunny disposition is a skill rather than a nuisance, and it ends up working in my favor, but if I didn’t have books to sell, I don’t know what I’d do with myself. I just like talking to people. I like hearing their stories and what they have to say, and I genuinely believe that if you’re nice to others and take an active interest in people, they’ll either return the favor or pay it forward (or both, if things go really well!), and that’s something I can be proud of.

As someone at work put it, “everyone is Emelie’s best friend.”

Now, don’t get me wrong, I have my bad days and I have my bad moments during my good days when I’m not as nice as I could have been or I say something truly awful and stupid to or about someone, and I almost always feel remorse over those moments. I do get annoyed with people and there are people who I just don’t like or don’t get along with, but I’d like to think that I give everyone an honest shot before deciding whether or not I like them. I do my best to be nice to every cashier and every barista – after all, coffee is my lifeline and if I’m not nice to the barista, things could end up very poorly for me – and I try and make sure that each customer who walks into the bookshop knows that I’ve seen them and that I’m happy to help them find a book if they need me. A lot of that has to do with my job, yes, but I think that it’s mostly just in my nature. I just happened to find the career that works best with my personality.

So, yeah, when I answer the phone, my voice goes up an octave, and when I ask how you’re doing, I really do want to know. It’s not forced and it’s not fake; it’s just… happiness. It’s love. I operate out of a love for what I’m doing and for the people I’m talking to, and even if some think that it’s too much, I’m not going to stop. I am nice. I am happy. And I’m unapologetic about it, because if any of that can transfer from me to you, then you bet your butt that I’m going to keep doing it.

Sorry, New England. You’ve got a loud Midwesterner in your midst and she’s here to stay.

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So… I’m screwed up, but in a cute way… right?

This week was a weird week and it involved a lot of panic attacks, which I won’t dive into, but it also involved my friend, Sookie (not her real name, but she is the Sookie St James to my Lorelai Gilmore, so that is what she shall be called here), being lovely to me and wonderful in many ways, because last night, she felt the need to check in via text:

Sookie: Mental health check.

Me: Me? I’m doing okay now. Watching Doctor Who with Mike. The dog seems back to his normal self (Did I tell you that I thought he was dying the other night?) and life feels good. You?

Sookie: I’m fine. What was wrong with Gio?

Me: I think he just had a bug. He wouldn’t get off the couch or eat and I’m pretty sure he had a fever. And all the dogs that I’ve lost so far in my life have dropped very suddenly under similar circumstances, so I might have had a bit of a panic attack over the situation…. Thus proving that I’m not cut our for human children because I might care a little too furiously about the things I’m not biologically tied to.

Sookie: Oh that sounds awful!

Me: Yeah, it was fun. But I like to think that the level of screwed up I am is endearing.

Sookie: I completely agree. Your level of screwed up is very charming.

 

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Thanks a lot, weird genetics.

I’m twenty-five, but if you were to just look at the state of my  hips and back, you’d think I was decades older. I have a lot of strange issues with my skeleton, most of which are caused by the fact that I have a very acute form of spina bifida. Don’t worry, it’s so mild that it isn’t life-threatening or anything, but it does come with its own issues. Essentially, I have an extra vertebrae in my spine, and my tailbone never really… happened. I guess when I was still in my mom’s womb, my tailbone was all “NO! I’M NOT READY! I WANT TO BE MORE LIKE THE REST OF THE SPINE!” and then the rest of my spine was like “Dude, if you don’t do what you’re supposed to do, this girl is going to be born with a tail. IS THAT WHAT WE WANT, REGGIE?”

The end result? A sort of half-formed tail bone… thing. It’s not noticeable in any way, unless you’re looking at my x-rays, but it’s a thing that sometimes causes problems.

For example, I woke up the other day and my hip felt like someone just popped it out of the socket and now it’s refusing to go back in. And, because I know that whole song about all the bones being connected, there is shooting pain and discomfort up and down the whole left side of my body… which results in people staring at me when I think I’m alone as I try and bend my body into all sorts of weird positions to hopefully put my hip back in its rightful place. And this is a small town. People talk. So now I’m that girl.

And my hip decided to do this at a really not awesome time, you guys. As many of you know, I work in a bookshop, and yesterday was Independent Bookstore Day. Indie bookshops across the country, including this one, were celebrating with tons of festivities. I planned many of our festivities, and one of those festivities was a Rad American Women Dance Party. This was because one of the exclusive merchandise items was a 7-inch LP inspired by the book, Rad American Women A-Z, which is an awesome book, and I suggest you rush to your local indie bookshop and buy it right now.

So yeah. I was doing my best on this very busy shopping day to not show how much pain I was in, all the while knowing that the grand finale would be a dance party, and that I was to be pioneering this dance party, so I was really going to have to shake it.

Oh, and did I mention that I had no pain meds with me?

Let’s just soak this all in.

  1. Spina bifida.
  2. Rebellious hip bone.
  3. Terrible back pain.
  4. No meds.
  5. LET’S BOOGY.

I was about to panic for a moment, so I went into the back room to take a deep breath and to try and stretch my back and then I took to twitter:

And all I really got in response was some nonsense about wildebeests that I’m still trying to make sense of… so twitter kind of failed me on that one. I think. I’m still not sure.

And then the time came, and – I kid you not, folks – no one showed up for this dance party. There were a few stragglers in the store, yes, but they were all very disturbed when I told them what was about to happen.

But you know what? I blasted Cyndi Lauper’s Girls Just Wanna Have Fun and danced anyway. Because life is short.

Plus I was also hoping that if I danced, maybe I would move a certain way to pop my hip back into place.

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We argue just like regular couples do.

Boyfriend and I don’t fight much, but we’ve been having the same argument over and over again for the past few months or so. It’s a fairly simple argument: I believe the toilet is haunted and he chooses to fall for the witchcraft of mechanical logic.

You see, every now and again, multiple times a day, my toilet will make a noise. It’s not a flushing noise. It’s more like a… whispering. And every time that this happens, my eyes get wide and I look at Boyfriend with a mixture of fear and excitement and I whisper “ghosts!”

He inevitably responds in a monotonous voice at a normal speaking volume, “It’s not ghosts.”

Recently this escalated:

Toilet: whisper, whisper, whisper….

Me: Ghosts!

Boyfriend: You have a leaking valve in the tank. It is slowly letting water out into the bowl causing the tank to refill itself. It’s not ghosts.

Me: 1. It’s ghosts. 2. Stop raining on my ghost parade. 3. It’s ghosts.

Boyfriend: 1. Ghosts are scary. 2. Ghosts scare me. 3. I don’t like being scared.

Me: 4. Who tampered with the valve?? GHOSTS. They just want us to believe in logic. THAT’S HOW THEY WIN.

Boyfriend: 4. It could be caused by that thing you put in the tank to keep in clean. That could have caused build-up – or the gasket is old and rotted and needs to be replaced.

Me: or…Ghosts.

I’m not saying he’s crazy or anything, but I don’t understand how he can even try to argue with me on this one. He even tried to hit me with a “why would a ghost even haunt your toilet?” and I just yelled “DO I EVEN NEED TO BRING UP MOANING MYRTLE RIGHT NOW??”

And it’s not just the toilet, if I’m being fair. I think it’s also the bathtub. I’ve never heard anything in the bathtub, but sometimes the dog just walks in there and stares all panic-stricken into the bathtub and animals can see things that we can’t, so you can’t deny this one. Plus, this is a super old building. This house was built in the early 1800s! In Connecticut! There is a whole movie about Connecticut being haunted! Is he seriously going to try and tell me that this place isn’t even slightly haunted? And sure, he says ghosts scare him, but it doesn’t seem like this one is doing anything too creepy. S/he is just using the bathroom. Maybe that’s how s/he died. After all, as I told Boyfriend, ghosts usually hang around because they have unfinished business….

It was at this point that he said, “Emelie, can we please talk about something else right now?”

“What, like the little boy I sometimes see standing in the corner of the hallway at night?” I asked.

He maybe hasn’t talked to me since.

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Feeling and thinking and thinking about the feelings.

love being emotional.

I understand that this might be a bizarre thing to say, but it’s true. I love having feelings. I love thinking about what I’m feeling and trying to figure out why I’m feeling it. Boyfriend knows this well about me. I’m always asking him, “What are you feeling? What are you thinking? What are you thinking about what you’re feeling? TELL ME.”

And his response? Usually a blank stare while he chews his first bite of cereal in the morning.

Yup. I wake up like this, people. I wake up ready to talk about my emotions and I’m willing to have that conversation all day long.

This even goes for sad feelings. My sister and I will intentionally watch movies that make us cry. We call it “emotional yoga.” Both her husband and my boyfriend are baffled by this voluntary self-destruction, but we will defend it until the day we die, because sometimes feeling sad and crying feels just so good.

But this has its drawbacks. Especially when you fall in love with someone who thinks that having feelings is a weird thing and that talking about them openly is even weirder… Boyfriend isn’t exactly the most vulnerable or verbal person I’ve ever met. It’s not like he’s an emotionless robot or anything. He has feelings, but getting him to talk about them is like getting my dog to puke in the toilet: Impossible and irritating, especially because I have no problem accomplishing it myself.*

Maybe this all just means that I’m a little bit more broken than he is and therefore I require a lot of analysis.

Some people would argue that I think too much and that I have a tendency to spiral inward or something like that, but I think that my constant emotional analysis is helping me grow.

I just think that if we’re ever going to grow as people, we must look inward, right? If I stop looking at myself and wondering why I am the way that I am, how am I ever going to be better? Just like most people, there are things about myself that I don’t love. There are things about myself that I wish were different. If I don’t stop and check in on those things, I worry that I’ll wake up one day and realize that I’m just the same as I’ve always been and that I haven’t done anything about it… and then I’ll just be a basket-case.

I’m not saying that I strive to be perfect. I know that that is an impossible goal, but I can always be striving to be better, right? And I think that allowing myself to feel things to the fullest extent and then to figure out why I’m feeling that sensation of anger or sadness or unadulterated joy will only lead to me being able to catch myself when I feel negativity rising up and redirecting it towards feelings of positivity and love.

All of this self-analysis has helped me to come up with little systems. When I feel a panic attack rising up, I’ve started to learn what I need to do so that I don’t start yelling at someone who doesn’t deserve it. I know to excuse myself from the room and go be alone for a few minutes when it gets really bad. When I start getting frustrated with someone, I’ve learned to remember that the only behavior I can alter is my own, and that has helped me to react in a more productive way.

All of this said, I’m still really working on it and I always will be. I’ll always be working on myself. I’ll probably always have panic attacks and I’ll probably still get annoyed with other people and wish they would be different. But I’m working on it. I’m working on learning that Boyfriend’s way of expressing himself is different from mine and that both ways are okay. And I’m working on remembering that my dog is a not people, no matter how much we both think he is, and that he cannot be trained to run to the bathroom and puke in a toilet. It’s simply not in his nature.

So what are you feeling? What are you thinking? What are you thinking about what you’re feeling?

*I just realized that this is the second post in a row in which I talk about my dog’s/my own puking habits. It should be noted that neither one of us throws up that often. I swear. 

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