Short and Sweet Reviews // The Color Purple by Alice Walker

Dear God,

I am fouteen years old. I have always been a good girl. Maybe you can give me a sign letting me know what is happening to me.

― Alice Walker, The Color Purple

In the book The Color Purple by Alice Walker, we meet Celie, a poor and uneducated black woman who is abused by her father and later her husband but manages to keep hope alive and find the love and family she longed for her whole life. Celie writes letters to God, and we learn about her life, her family, and the world around her through these letters.

The Color Purple touches on the oppression of black women in the way that no other book I have ever read does. It also showcases the strength of black women and their ability to support one another in a world that would rather forget they exist.

Walker brings front and center clear but often unaddressed issues of incest, rape, and domestic violence, as well as issues of poverty, religion, homosexuality, love and marriage, and family, all from the perspective of black women. I also think there were subtle hints to issues between white women and black women,  education, language, and intelligence, the relationship between Africans and the descendants of the slaves, and the ways patriarchy hurts men too.

“I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it.”

― Alice Walker, The Color Purple

It’s graphic, much more than the movie, and it made me cringe more than once, but I wouldn’t call it vulgar. A lot of the sexual language is either in reference to a woman’s knowledge or ignorance of her body and the way she feels in the act of sex and whether it is consensual or not. It was honest.

I recommend The Color Purple for everyone because I think it’s one of the most important books ever written. I recommend it because each character felt real and I felt for each character. I recommend it because it’s powerful and it got deep down inside of me and by the end, I was so full of emotion I wanted to cry.

I recommend it because it will make you think about what it must have been like, what it still might be like, to live as a black woman in America.

“I’m pore, I’m black, I may be ugly and can’t cook, a voice say to everything listening. But I’m here.”

― Alice Walker, The Color Purple

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The Week’s End // A Round-up of Important Reads

Happy Saturday friends! If you’re looking for some interesting reads to check out while you kick back and relax, look no further, here is the best of the web this week, according to me.

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Have you seen the newest Trump attack ad from Hillary? It’s brutal! :)

Why do we still thinks it’s okay to put people down based on their body type?

A perfect piece of art that is full of flaws and falling apart.

“Being transgender is not a mental illness. But I absolutely believe that mental illness can impact our experiences of being transgender.”

Next time someone tries to act like they don’t understand how consent works or what rape is, show them this.

Call me “Honey” one more time.

Addiction is not weakness; it is chemistry, and harder than you can imagine to overcome.

A day in the life of this taxi driver in Istanbul will remind you that life is beautiful if you look at it the right way.

Ten bullet points.

Hot coffee or iced coffee? A difficult and hilarious choice.

 

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Comics Illustrator of the Week: Jen Bartel // Illustration Age

 

And that’s it for this week. Have you read, watched, or written an interesting thing this week? Has something on the internet made you think or feel strongly? If so, drop a link in the comments :)

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The Red Tide Cometh!

Maybe periods wouldn’t be so frightening if we didn’t refer to them as “red tide” or “shark week” or any other euphemism that evokes neurotoxicity or dismemberment.

—  Lindy West, on a world where girls can talk about menstruation in shouts instead of whispers

I’m one of those girls who calls my period things like the “red tide” and “shark week,” and, my newest addition, “the red wedding.” I use words like massacre and death and killing when I talk about it. I also do things like quote the movie Carrie and look at everyone like I might be covered in pig’s blood and about to set my entire workplace on fire with everyone inside.

I don’t do this because I want to frighten people, not really. I do it because referring to it as such sounds pretty cool.

I do it because I want to illustrate the point that having a period feels a lot like fighting a battle. When I am on my period it feels a lot like I’m trapped in a horror movie, or maybe a psychological thriller. I want people to see that for one week every month I am acting with bravery and courage.

I want people to think periods are pretty badass.

Even if your reaction is more horrified than “I’m basically Xena,” you still stare at your hands, and think about how freaky it is that you have blood all over your hands and yet everything is totally fine in your life.

— The 11 Grossest Things Every Woman Does During Her Period

I guess it’s a pride thing. I am constantly being tested, and I have proof that I am strong and can handle pain, irritability, and discomfort like it’s nothing. I can fight through fatigue and anger and sadness to get everyday activities done. I can do it all without people around even noticing anything is wrong.

Waking up month after month to seeing your underwear filled with blood never stops being a little bit scary. Swimming upstream through migraines, fatigue, cramps, and an uncontrollable feeling of rage, despair, and loneliness for a whole week every month never gets easier. To watch yourself behave in ways you can’t understand or control is always frustrating and a little surreal.

Not to be mean but the guys I know shut down when they get the damn sniffles. They have to go home every time they get a headache. They look for sympathy, comfort, and care every time they feel a little “under the weather” but if I mention my period it all “Ew!” “Gross!” “I don’t want to hear that!”

But we are the sensitive and weak sex? Ha!

So yeah, I’m gonna go on and on about how it’s “shark week” and about all the “blood in the water”. Yeah, I’m going to talk about massacres in my pants and having a “uterus made of death”. I’m going to talk about “Carrie at the prom” and warn people the “red tide is coming in.”

I’m going to do it simply because it sounds badass.

I’m going to do it because fighting through my period makes me feel pretty badass.

I’m going to do it because I think all women are badass and I like to talk about us like we are something to fear.

I’m going to talk about us like we are made of pain, and war, and blood, because we fucking are and our periods prove it.

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Written for the monthly blogging event #WeBleed, where women can share their experiences surrounding menstruation.

Featured image via Wikipedia

Writer’s Quote Wednesday // Sylvia Plath

Hello, hello, and welcome to the middle of the week, dear readers. If you are feeling a little run down or if Friday is feeling a bit too far away, I encourage you to check out Writer’s Quote Wednesday, a weekly event hosted by Colleen of Silver Threading and Ronovan of Ronovan Writes.

For my contribution this week, I have chosen a quote from the infamous American poet and novelist, Sylvia Plath.

4379Plath was born on October 27, 1932, in Boston’s Jamaica Plain neighborhood. Her mother, Aurelia Schober Plath was a second-generation American of Austrian descent, and her father, Otto Plath, was from Grabow, Germany. Plath’s father was an entomologist and a professor of biology at Boston University who authored a book about bumblebees.

Known primarily for her poetry, Plath also wrote a semi-autobiographical novel, The Bell Jar, under the pseudonym Victoria Lucas. The book’s protagonist, Esther Greenwood, is a bright, ambitious student at Smith College who begins to experience a mental breakdown while interning for a fashion magazine in New York. The plot parallels Plath’s experience interning at Mademoiselle magazine and subsequent mental breakdown and suicide attempt.

Despite her remarkable artistic, academic, and social success at Smith, Plath suffered from severe depression and underwent a period of psychiatric hospitalization. She graduated from Smith with highest honors in 1955 and went on to Newnham College, Cambridge, in England, on a Fulbright fellowship. Here she met and married the English poet Ted Hughes in 1956. For the following two years, she was an instructor in English at Smith College.

In 1960, shortly after Plath and Hughes returned to England from America, her first collection of poems appeared as The Colossus. She also gave birth to a daughter, Frieda Rebecca. Hughes’ and Plath’s son, Nicholas Farrar, was born in 1962.

Plath took her own life on the morning of February 11, 1963. Leaving out bread and milk, she completely sealed the rooms between herself and her sleeping children with “wet towels and cloths.” Plath then placed her head in the oven while the gas was turned on.

“I needed experience. How could I write about life when I’d never had a love affair or a baby or even seen anybody die?”

— Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

A little while ago I signed up to be matched with an Awl Pal through The Awl‘s newsletter. An Awl Pal is basically a pen pal with whom I would email back and forth getting to know a little about them and telling them little bits about myself. We’ve only written back and forth a few times, but it has been fun to hear about the life of someone who lives in a different place and works a different sort of job than I do.

Recently I asked him why he signed up, and he replied that it sounded Romantic and that he is also just plain nosy. Good answer. He asked me in return and in a moment of “thinking I knew my answer until I wrote it down and realized it was something else entirely” I learned that I did it because I wanted to do something new. I did it because nothing new has happened to me in a very long time, and I am desperate for something new.

I have loved the same girl for 14 years, I have worked the same job for over 10, and I have live in the same city of almost my entire life. A lot has happened in my life, but none of it has been very recent.

I wanted this. I wanted the slow and steady, the “same shit, different day’, and the comfort of knowing what was going to happen in every moment of my life. I have too much anxiety, I am too sensitive and too full of fear, to live in a way that at all feels like chaos. I chose this life, and I still want it too, but lately I have wondered if I might have gone too far to the safe side. There might be a way to add an element of surprise and novelty here and there. Not too much but just a little?

I think I may need some new experiences if I want to be a better observer, thinker, and writer.

I get the feeling my mind has grown dusty and stuffy. I get the feeling ideas are lurking around my mind that need to be shaken up and out. I wonder if a few new experiences might light up some neglected parts of my mind. I wonder if seeing something new, talking to someone new, or even just sitting in a new place to do the same things I always do might connect a concept or two and unlock a little potential in me.

I don’t doubt I could write something good the way that I am now. I just think a little push and pull, and little stimulation, and a little excitement, could motivate me, inspire me, and light a good fire under my ass.

No harm in that, right?

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Biographical information via Wikipedia and Goodreads

Featured image via Unsplash

Look at How You Love and Have Been Loved

Hello, dear readers and happy Monday! I know I know, Mondays aren’t supposed to be good days, but let’s imagine for a moment that they are. Let’s imagine that Mondays are the days when we get to start all over again. Let’s imagine all the bad things that happened last week don’t matter anymore and that we’ve been given a second chance to do it all again, and this time maybe even get it right.

Monday’s are for making the changes we want to see in ourselves and for thinking about the changes we want to see in the world. Monday’s are exciting!

For me, this Monday is flying by much too quickly. I am late for just about everything, I’m even late getting this post up! I thought about just giving up and trying again tomorrow but that didn’t feel right. I felt I should still give my all and try to do everything I set out to, including writing this post anyway.

Better late than never.

“..it’s awful not to be loved. It’s the worst thing in the world…It makes you mean, and violent, and cruel.”

― John Steinbeck, East of Eden

This week I am finishing up John Stienbeck’s East of Eden and I just know this is going to be a book I am going to be thinking about for a very long time. There are a lot of lessons in it about love. About everyone’s need for love and what can happen to us when we grow up without that love.

What particularly struck me was the time spent on people who on the surface did look like they needed love but on the inside both craved and gave an immense amount of love.

Sometimes those people, because they hadn’t gotten the love they needed, acted in ways that prevented others from loving them easily. They felt inadequate and unworthy. They felt inherently bad and incapable of attaining the beauty and perfection of othere they saw getting the love they so desperately needed.

In contrast, the one who were loved easily grew to take it for granted and could not look past other people’s perceived flaws and mistakes in order to give love in return.

I have been thinking about how these scenerios might have played out in my own life, or how I might have acted or felt similarly.

As a child I was deeply sensitive and craved love from the adults around me. Unfortunately the adults in my life had their own problems and lacked the emotional capacity to give the kind of love I needed. I went through many fazes trying to get that love. I tried to be perfect, that didn’t work. I tried being bad, that didn’t work. I tried not caring, and that didn’t work either. Eventually I had to leave behind the people who couldn’t love me to search for people who could.

I found that love, and later the people who couldn’t love me found me again and they had grown and matured enough to try again. I am lucky, some people never get that love. I wonder how I might have turned out if nothing had changed for me?

I wonder how many people around me, people I have written off or not taken an interest in because they are not easy to be cared about or wanted, are filled with a need for love they’ve never had and love they’ve never been able to give?

This week, look inside yourself and look back into your past, all the way to your childhood. Think about all the way you have grown and been shaped by the presence or absence of love. Think about who has loved you and who you wish had. Think about the love you have now and whether it excites or scares you. Think about the ways you accept love and the ways you give it too. Think about the kind of people who think deserve love, and the ones you think don’t, then ask yourself why?

This week take a little time to look around yourself. Look at the people who aren’t perfect who aren’t easy to know, the people who might’ve made mistakes or who might be hiding behind a facade to avoid pain. Try to see the beauty in them. Try to see them as a person, a whole human being like yourself with all the same needs and pains. Try to find love for them, in your own way. Even if it is only a secret love.

It’ll keep you from becoming too cold and cruel.

As always, try to be the change you want to see. Examine yourself and those around you and adjust accordingly.

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Featured image via Unsplash

If We Were Having Coffee // Am I Sad or am I Sick?

Hello dear readers, thank you for stopping by for coffee and conversation. I apologize for being a bit later than usual. My laptop decided to install about a million updates today and to take its sweet time in getting it done. I know humans make new advancements in technology almost daily, why is none of it is frustration free yet? Sigh…Please excuse my, my expectations are getting unrealistic again.

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If we were having coffee, I would need mine strong. I feel tired today, but I can’t tell if it is my body or my mind that is dragging.  I can’t tell if I just need more sleep, or if I am depressed. It’s also possible I could be getting sick. I can’t tell if it’s allergies or the beginning of a summer cold. I hope it is allergies; everyone knows summer colds are the worst.

I am going to go with depression. Nothing serious, it’s just a bit of loneliness. My friends have been busy; my girlfriend has been busy, and my family feels fractured and yes, too busy. I haven’t had an adequate amount of human interaction and conversation to stimulate the mind. Also, whenever it seems people are too busy, I start to worry I never had any real friends, that no one ever really cared about me, and that my life is by comparison very dull.

I’ve had too much time inside my own head.

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If we were having coffee, I would tell you it isn’t all doom and gloom. This past week marked the 14th anniversary of the day we became us. She said yes and we’ve been together ever since. Through some very good times and some very bad.

I’m one of the lucky ones. I’ve found someone to love and be loved by. I’ve found someone who knows me and still thinks the world of me. I’ve found someone who makes me laugh, helps me grow, and teaches me patience. She’s the kind of girl who hugs you and kisses your wounds when the world has driven you home, bruised and broken. She’s the kind of girl who sends you right back out with a swift kick in the ass and tells you to keep fighting. She’s been there for me when I had no one, and she loved me when I had nothing to offer her but my love in return. She’s amazing, and I’ve had the privilege of spending the past 14 years with her. Happy Anniversary! Thank you for all the happiness you’ve given me.

I wrote this for her on Facebook, and I admit I felt pretty proud when she told me it made her cry. I meant every word of it, but I wish I could write something that told people what 14 years with someone feels like. I love her of course, very much, but there are other feelings. Sometimes I am angry with her, and sometimes I am hurt by her or even, in my anger, wish to hurt her too, which makes 14 years sound like something bad.

I think I mean that when you first love someone, there is only love, and that feels limited and fragile. When you grow with someone, there are other feelings, all the feelings, and it feels more secure. It feels bigger and stronger, and it is more beautiful than you an imagine when you think love and perfection is al there is.

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If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I am having a hard time doing anything but read East of Eden by John Steinbeck lately. I am nearly done with it, and I’m feeling sad I will have to let it go but also accomplished for talking the big thing.

There are parts of the book I don’t care for much, but I am enjoying the way it was written and the mirroring of the oldest biblical stories over and over again.I am not religious, but I do find the stories and lessons interesting. I especially like when they are updated and written in a time closer to my own. I like when the stories and lessons are made so that I can apply or compare them to my own life.

I’ll, of course, write a proper Short and Sweet Review when I am finished.

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If we were having coffee, I would tell you that my driving class last week went very well! I told the guy about my fear and that it was the reason I am 31 years old and still haven’t gotten my license. He said he understood and even worked with another woman in a similar situation. He told me that, unfortunately, she was unable to overcome her fear but apparently she was worse off than me.

I drove for an entire hour and a half which is excellent for me. Usually, I start to get upset long before that. He said I am a good driver; I have control of the vehicle, and I am safe. He thinks I just need a lot of practice, and I need to spend a lot of time learning the rules of the road. He believes learning the rules inside and out will help me feel safe, and he told me to think about what I am doing as a sort of communication to other drivers.

The whole thing helped a lot!

I have two more sessions, and I can schedule them whenever I want. He recommended I practice on my own for a while before working with him again, so that is the plan.

I’m so glad I did this!

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If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I had better get going. It’s getting late, and my house is such a mess. I have to start the dreaded chores, bleck! Thank you so much for chatting with me, I needed it.

I hope that you had a good week, and I hope your weekend has been relaxing. Please, if you have a moment, drop a note in the comments and let me know what you’ve been up to and how you’ve been feeling. I’d love to hear from you!

Until next time :)

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Featured image via Unsplash