Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014: A Year in Books

Choosing only ten books as favorites at year's end is always a difficult task. I'd written a rough draft mid-December, but then December happened to be full of amazing reads that couldn't be left off. #problemsthataren'tproblems

Only books I read for the first time this year were considered. Otherwise it goes without saying that Hobbit and Harry Potter would be featured prominently.

Top Ten Books of 2014
10. Fic by Anne Jamison (I am a huge fan of fanfiction and this book discusses it extensively.)
9. Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok
8. Living My Life by Emma Goldman (Turns out that Emma Goldman is every bit as legit as I wanted her to be. I love it when that happens.)
7. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
6. Unfriending My Ex by Kim Stolz
5. Song of Spider-man by Glen Berger
4. Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman (I'm in love with this book.)
3. Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson (Read this book. Just read it.)
2. The Book Thief by Markus Zuzak (This book will break your heart in the best way.)
1. The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr (I don't even know what to say about this book. It is perfect. This man is amazing. If this book doesn't inspire you to fight injustice, nothing will.)

Honorable mentions: The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame (fiction) and The Unpersuadables by Will Storr (non-fiction)

A few statistics:

  • 81 total books, 37 fiction and 44 non-fiction. Although I read more non-fiction books, when it comes to page counts fiction leads with 12,591 pages to non-fiction's 11,552. That's a total of 24,142 pages.
  • Longest book-- A Clash of Kings by George RR Martin (969 pages)
  • Oldest book-- Evelina by Frances Burney (1778) 
  • Books I've meant to read forever and finally got around to: The Maze Runner, The Eyre Affair, The Graveyard Book, The Fault in Our Stars, Brave New World, Three Cups of Tea, Dracula, The Picture of Dorian Gray, The Book Thief 
  • Historical figures I became better acquainted with through biographies: Emma Goldman, Shirley Temple, Martin Luther King Jr, Ike Eisenhower, Walt Disney, John Quincy Adams, Harry Selfridge
  • Classics: Evelina, Three Blind Mice, Crime and Punishment, Madame Bovary, Wind in the Willows, The Heart of the Matter, Brave New World, Doctor Zhivago, Dracula, Around the World in 80 Days

 Complete list follows the Jump

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Eighteen Months

With my grandparents having returned from their mission this week I’ve been thinking about time. Eighteen months, to be precise. They left for the Scotland/Ireland mission in April of 2013. At the time I remember being afraid that I would have to get married without my grandma. Was I close to getting engaged at the time? No. Did I have a boyfriend at the time? No. Was there any boy that I even consistently texted at the time? Of course not, but hope springs eternal, and it's easy to imagine that Eighteen-Months-Older Rebecca will be a lot better at achieving things. 

Obviously I am not writing to you as Mrs. Whoever. I could’ve, is the funny thing. I mean, there was a dude who expressed a pretty serious interest in putting a ring on it. But our relationship ended in flames (thankfully only figurative ones), and now, as Daenerys said in A Clash of Kings, “Her only consolation was that least she’d had the great good sense not to marry him.” My grandma will be at my wedding, should I ever deign to give up my beloved cat lady label.

But what else has happened in the last eighteen months? I’ve been in two shows: Camelot and First Christmas. I’ve moved to a third house in the Murray area— my roommates and I just can’t seem to get away. I’ve shopped at the same Smiths for three years now. I drove to California and back twice, was introduced to RPGs, and bought a new car. (Goodbye, Cathy!) Taylor Swift came out with a new album, and it’s freaking brilliant.

 In the area of Netflix, which is a pretty significant area in my life, I added a lot of shows to my Watched By Rebecca queue. The most important? Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I watched all seven seasons during the course of one glorious month in late 2013 on a gorgeous flat-screen television that was temporarily living at our house and fell deeply, deeply in love. My advice to you is don’t ever bring up Buffy, Spike, or Joss Whedon unless you are prepared for at least a two hour session of me obsessing over the most perfect show in existence. I met James Marsters!!!!! He touched me!!!! (I am not a person who uses multiple exclamation marks, but trust me when I say they are justified in this situation.)

I also discovered Avatar, Walking Dead, Supernatural, Switched at Birth, Lost, Better Off Ted, and The Office, in the realm of television. Lost was frustrating, Being Human (the UK version) was great, and I gave up on Downton Abbey. I’m six seasons into Supernatural, and The Office made me shed both tears of laughter and actual tears. 

I fell head over heels in love with a scrawny British late night host named John Oliver. His existence brings joy to my life. The obsession is real. He is literally my ideal man: British, feminist, bitingly funny. He has the same birthday as Shakespeare! I was destined to love him.

I switched jobs twice, first to a Brookstone in the airport and then to Western Governors University, a job at which I hope to stay for the foreseeable future. Nine to five, Monday to Friday, baby. No more 4:30 a.m. shifts for me!

I read one hundred and sixty-two books and kissed three boys. I watched a lot of Marvel movies. I’ve become deeply interested in social justice causes and become a lot more comfortable with the liberal sensitivities I’ve been struggling with since high school. I now wear the label of feminist, equal rights supporter, and pro-gun control with pride. I’ve decided that I am good enough, and although I struggle with this quite a lot some days, cool people seem to like me, and they must see some potential in me.

In some ways I feel like exactly the same girl who said goodbye to her grandparents eighteen months ago, but in others I feel like a completely different person. That’s the paradox of life, I guess: we never change, but we never stay the same. 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Raise Your Voice

Lately I've been talking a lot about Ferguson, and Eric Garner, and basically anything I can find about the issue of racial inequality in America, specifically as it regards to the police. It may be that people wish I would shut up. Well, I wish I could.

I would love to talk about other things, like my excited trepidation for the new Star Wars movie, going home for Thanksgiving, or my new obsession with a skinny Englishman named John Oliver. (He may someday be the subject of his own post because he is perfect.) I could tell you stories about dreaming that Stephen Colbert tried to hold my hand, or singing Annie in the elevator at work, or my recent introduction to X-Men. I've been learning about Ada Lovelace and performing a Christmas show and being baffled/pleased by a December so warm that I've been driving around with my windows down.

But just at the moment, I won't.

Right now I will use my voice, both online and in real life, to join in a discussion about social justice, because it is important. I strongly believe that it is vital for us to stand up when something is wrong, even it is controversial. All that it is necessary for evil to conquer is for good people to do nothing. And as a white person, I will never truly understand racism, but I can fight against it because I understand that it exists. If I see injustice in the world I am going to say something about it. This was not always true about me, but I learning that what people think of me is far less important than being able to live with myself.

There was a protest in Salt Lake City on Saturday night. I very much wanted to go, but I had a performance in the aforementioned Christmas show. This whole week I've been having a bit of a quarter-life crisis in the vein of, "How long would it take me to drive to Missouri? I have enough for  a plane ticket to New York. Do you think the protests in San Francisco are still on?" Because I want to be a part of it. I want to stand up and be heard. I want to carry a sign that says JUSTICE and march down a street to make a statement.

I'm not black. I can't chant "We can't breathe" or "We are all Mike Brown". I'm not oppressed by my race. But I want to be on the right side of history, and much more importantly I want to be one the right side of my humanity. I would never be the person who actively disparages the protesters, but I feel that I would be betraying myself to sit back and be silent.

You don't have to agree with us. But we will not apologize for our views and we will not be silent. I will have an open-minded discussion with you if you will have an open-minded discussion with me. But what it comes down to, in my mind, is that when it comes to human rights, the only change this country has ever seen has come from people who are willing to fight for it. I intend to stand up against injustice and inequality and say, "This is wrong." Because it is. My soul knows this, my mind knows this, my heart knows this.

"And say to those who blame us/ For the way we chose to fight/ That sometimes there are battles that are more than black or white/ And I could not put down my sword when justice was my right/ Make them hear you/ Make them hear you." -"Make Them Hear You", Ragtime

"Do you hear the people sing?/ Singing the song of angry men/ It is the music of a people who will not be slaves again/ When the beating of your heart/ Echoes the beating of a drum/ There is a life about to start with tomorrow comes" -"Do You Hear the People Sing?" -Les Miserables