Review: Hi, Anxiety: Life with a Bad Case of Nerves

Hi, Anxiety: Life with a Bad Case of Nerves
Hi, Anxiety: Life with a Bad Case of Nerves by Kat Kinsman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am impressed with the life Kat Kinsman has built herself in spite of her anxiety; this comes not from a place of patronizing or condescension, but from the heart of a person who has likewise lived her life in a state similar to Kat’s, though admittedly on the milder end of the spectrum (at least it has been for the last seventeen or so years).

The book is an interesting look at how our genetics, our experiences, and our choices in life shape who we are, as well as how our genetics and our experiences shape our choices.

Her “irrational fears” sections sprinkled throughout hit uncomfortably close to home (to the point of tearing up in several instances), and her descriptions of her fear surrounding her professional and creative life in particular cut me. If you are an anxious person or know someone living with anxiety, this book is a sympathetic, informative (through life experiences and anecdotes), and often funny telling of one woman’s experience. No one person can be emblematic of Anxiety as a whole, but this books seems to have resonated with a lot of us.

View all my reviews


Delayed Adulthood

Friendship Together Bonding Unity Youth Culture ConceptMy job recently found me on a local college campus for the day, giving some rising freshman a hands-on campus tour.  The school was beautiful, and finding myself walking the quads and sitting in on classes made me miss my own college life – the thrill of learning new things about my passions, about the world, and about myself.  

It was while I was happily indulging in a potent mix of nostalgia and general feel-good vibes that a girl walked by with a backpack adorned with buttons for various media franchises and social causes.  I immediately perked up; I’d always used buttons as a beacon for like-minded individuals, and she and I apparently shared several of the same likes and beliefs.  I started to turn towards her, to open my mouth and say something about her tastes, and then —

— I realized that I was a stranger twice her age there on business with her organization, and that maybe it would be more professionally appropriate to keep to myself this time.

The reaction was extreme, I admit – I’m positive that it wouldn’t have been an actual problem especially since my commentary was going to be a fairly innocuous, “Hey, I love your [X] pin, I think it’s awesome!”  But the initial realization of, “I’m an adult twice her age” effectively silenced me, and I missed what would have been the appropriate moment to comment, anyway.

Twice her age.  Twice the age of someone old enough to be attending college.  I had to rethink the math more than once, because it didn’t seem possible, but there it was – I’m 35, and the average college freshman in 18.  Holy shit.  When did that happen?

I don’t feel like a kid.  I’m married, I own a house, I’m a parent, I work full time.  I’ve seen my friends through some hefty, heavy life changes, and gone through several myself.  And yet, when I think about college kids – kids in their early to mid-20s, let’s say – my first instinct is to think of them as peers.  As someone “my age.”

Is this something anyone else of my generation is experiencing?  I’m one of the “old millennials,” literally coming of age at the turn of the millennium, and mine was the first generation where the phrase “extended adolescence” really became applicable.  Looking at the generally accepted “adulthood” criteria (financial independence, living on one’s own, being finished with school, being married, having kids):  I lived at home until I was 25, married at 27, still in graduate studies until I was 30, not a parent until I was 32.  From that perspective, I suppose you could argue that my move to become an independent person didn’t really start until I was 25, when maybe with the generation before me, it would have started at 18.  

I have some deep, deep issues with the whole model of what it means to be an “adult” (i.e., it’s classist, ableist, heteronormative, and makes no mention of intangible milestones, such as diplomacy, discretion, resilience, emotional intelligence, etc.),** but it makes a sort of sense when you look at it just in the sense of shared experience.  A single 25-year-old living at home would have, on the surface, more in common with an 18-year-old than a 25-year-old with a house and a spouse would.

But that still doesn’t explain me.  It would have, ten years ago – 25-year-old me was in a place (financially, emotionally, socially) similar to a lot of college-aged kids – but doesn’t go a long way to explaining my experience now.  I’ve hit all the major milestones (even those I have issues with), I’m a married, home-owning parent with a degree.  Why do I feel more at home on a college campus than in an office?

Arguably, I guess you could say that my interests skew towards the more youthful, but by the same token, my special interests and obsessions fall in line with a number of other “geeky” individuals – the creators of the properties I love are geeks, but they are adults… I mean, technically.  Right?  Do they feel that way?  Do all my fellow geeky and nerdy brethren feel a similar disconnect – living an adult life (fairly successful, I might add), but still feeling an underlying sense of Imposter Syndrome?

Or, not even that, since I definitely feel that I have earned and deserve what I have accomplished.  It’s more like I feel like a very responsible child.  Or, an especially accomplished adolescent?

I don’t feel “five years from 40” (which is where I am), is the point.  And I’m wondering if anyone feels the same way, and can hypothesize as to why that might be?

**In addition to the factor I already mentioned, it also ignores the changing world in which we live in, where jobs are expecting more advanced degrees from their workers, necessitating we spend more time in school; school costs are rising, meaning we need to take out more loans, and subsequently go further into debt; no one can afford to wait for their dream job, but it can be incredibly hard to break out of the menial jobs that you intended as just a stop-gap, especially after a certain age, etc.  

Review: In the Great Green Room: The Brilliant and Bold Life of Margaret Wise Brown

In the Great Green Room: The Brilliant and Bold Life of Margaret Wise Brown
In the Great Green Room: The Brilliant and Bold Life of Margaret Wise Brown by Amy Gary

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I honestly had no idea how prolific Margaret Wise Brown was/is in the children’s market; I had a 2 year old, and I picked up this book mainly because I’m often lamenting about the frequency with which I’d been forced to read “Goodnight, Moon,” and wondering a little about the person behind the poem that (at this point) I can now recite from memory.

Her life differed quite a bit from what I had imagined it to be; she was apparently quite privileged, and seemed to move in the same circles as some pretty wealthy/important/high class individuals, which is not what I would have expected of the author of books for pre-schoolers. I appreciated her eccentricities and her creativity, and even her dismay at her seeming inability to write for “grown-ups” – I’m a creative writer who would love to write children’s literature, but everything I write takes a turn for the inappropriately dark (so, same problem in the other direction – I feel you, Margaret).

I’m not sure I loved the narrative style of the book; as pure prose, there aren’t really any interjections of Margaret’s own voice or really, anyone else’s besides the author.

Also, I would love to make it more widely known that Margaret was bisexual. We could always use more representation in all walks of life/forms of media.

View all my reviews

Review: Difficult Women

Difficult Women
Difficult Women by Roxane Gay

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The quality of writing in this book was everything I had been told it would be and more. It’s been a long time since I’ve read short fiction as deftly and honestly written.

I have mixed feelings regarding the actual content; this is not an uplifting or empowering book, at least not in the more mainstream, “grrl power!” sense, but it gives us realized female protagonists with complex desires and backstories; women navigating seemingly impossible situations; women just trying to get by; women trying to reclaim their lives.

It was a heavier collection than I was anticipating, and bleaker than I had been told, but (as I said) brilliantly conceived and written.

As a side note, “Breaking All the Way Down” was an especially difficult story for me to get through, and necessitated several days rest before I could even finish the story. It was incredibly upsetting, which is by no means a criticism of the story – if anything, it’s a testament to the vividness and rawness of the writing – but simply a reader’s note.

View all my reviews

Z is for Zenith: #AtoZChallenge

ze·nith ˈ(zēnəTH/) noun
  1. the time at which something is most powerful or successful.

And that’s it.  We’re done.

I’ve got mixed feelings about how this has gone for me (more on that later). but my overwhelming feeling is triumph.  I did it.  I stuck it out.  Even when I fell behind, I stuck it out.  I made time to write (almost) everyday.  I can find it if I look hard enough.  I can do it if I make it a priority.

In twelve years of attempting NaNoWriMo, in sixteen years of personal blogging and participating in challenges, his is the first time I’ve tuck with a challenge from start to finish.  It feels good to know that I have that ability.

On the flip side, while I’ve done great on the writing side, I’ve done a shitty job as part of the community.  I haven’t reached out.  I’ve been hit or miss in responding to comments, and I’ve been completely MIA in commenting myself.  These are things I’ve apologized for already, so I won’t bore you with it again.  I just want to acknowledge it.  I’m only capable of working on one thing at a time, at the moment.  I’m hoping in the future, I’ll evolve to a point where that is no longer true, and I can take on more at any given time.  But I’m not there yet.

Going forward, I doubt that I’ll be blogging as prolifically from here on out, though the likelihood of my posts being slightly more frequent than they were pre-A-to-Z Challenge is fairly good,and they will most likely be of a slightly higher quality (and without the “hey, gotta write and jet!” deluge of typos.  At some point I’m going to go back and retroactively edit all the challenge posts, eurgh).

This has been fun.  In the next few days, I’m expecting to do more reading than writing (on WordPress and off, actually).  I’m looking forward to catching up on what I missed, and maybe even doing a little additional exploring out in the blogosphere.  I’m taking baby steps, but I’m moving.  Maybe I’ll catch you along the way.