Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Most Completely Awesome Reason to Read

For a while now, I've been writing really downer posts (parents getting divorced and all that), so today I am delighted to bring you a positive, upbeat post about an awesome reading experience I had this week. Oh books, how I love you.

For the last week and a half I've been on vacation in Los Angeles, which has been totally awesome, for a number of reasons (Studio tours! Celebrity trivia! Visiting the Kodak Theatre!), one of the most awesomest of which was the Emily Giffin reading I went to last week. It was held at an amazing independent bookstore called Vroman's.

(I am somewhere win this picture! But even I can't see me, so I don't think you'll be able to!)

The first part of my awesome night occurred in their unbelievable teen section. Now, it isn't any bigger than average or anything, but, can you believe it, it actually has a good selection of teen books! Going through the shelves, I nearly screamed with all the incredible, impossible to find in Canada, books they had. Moreover, their YA inventory had clearly been selected by someone who understood the genre--not just what's popular, but what's good in YA. I so wish I had a bookstore like that near my house. Instead, all I have is lousy Indigo. Blech.

It was so cool going through the shelves and feeling like the person who had picked the books had the same love for them as I did. And, of course, it was so great to be able to pick up some titles I had been dying for:

Then, I went and sat down for the reading. There was a whole stage set up, and I expected Emily Giffin to enter from behind the curtain, but instead, she just walked up through the crowd, no big deal, acting like a normal person, with no superiority complex at all, which was great. I kind of expected her to seem like an untouchable celebrity, but she was actually a real person, which was refreshing. I don't know if this unusual--another draw back of living in Canada is a lack of author readings--but perhaps not, because when I told this story to various people they all looked at me like I was crazy for thinking an author could actually be a celebrity. Though, to them, I say, look at how nerd fighters treat John Green, and try to prove me wrong.

From there, Emily Giffin was great. Hilarious, smart, insightful, other awesome qualities like that. But to me, the most enjoyable part of the whole evening was when she referenced her other books--Something Borrowed, for example--in quick little ways. "I met a couple who were such a Rachel and Dex!" she said, and I couldn't help but smile at that. But that wasn't the coolest part. No, the most completely awesome part of the whole night was looking around me and seeing that the other seventy people in the room were smiling and nodding and laughing too. They too had loved her books. They understood the references just like I did. It was so amazing to me to look around at this room full of forty year old women--I was, by far, the youngest person there--and feel so instantly connected to all of them. I loved that feeling so much, and I wish I got to experience it more often.

She signed my books and I struggled to find something to say, finally muttering something about Baby Proof that she didn't even hear, and then I headed back home.

Going into the night, I had been kind of nervous. Celebrity-type people tend to do that to me. But I didn't need to be, not for one second. These were my people, who loved the books I loved. This was a world where I felt like I belonged, where I laughed and smiled and had a great time.

Over the past year, I've really focused on the ability that books have to bind people, to make us feel understood. That night, at that bookstore, it wasn't just the books that made me feel that way. It was the community of readers. I sincerely hope I get to experience such excitement again soon.

For now, though, I'm sure I'll return to my sad, tear filled posts which have a much smaller number of uses of the word "awesome". Sorry.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

This Pain Is Not My Fault

In books about divorced parents, doctors and psychologists and other fancy, well informed, degree earning people often talk about how the kids often blame themselves for their parents divorce. 

Well, I don't blame myself. In fact, in this super awesome roller coaster ride known as The Year My Parents Divorced, I'm currently stuck in a loop of absolute frustration, asking the same question over and over again:

What did I do this deserve this?

Because I don't blame myself for my parents divorce. I believe they are two people with certain flaws that create a lot of friction--two people, who at some point, may have belonged together, but have not gotten along for a long time now. I believe that whatever is happening between them is because of them--their flaws, their judgments, their decisions, both right and wrong--and not me. I am not the one who didn't do the dishes or who acted unappreciative or who went a step too far too many times. I'm sure they'd both like to tell you that this situation is not their fault. But all I am sure of is that this year, this pain, is most definitely not my fault. 

That idea really frustrates me. If I didn't do anything wrong, if I had absolutely no choice in this matter, why am I being forced to sacrifice and feel hurt again and again and again? I have no answer. Ultimately, all I can think about is how completely unfair this all feels. 

From thought, I've only spiralled into a thousand thoughts of how my life sucks, how things that I've accepted about myself and my life for so long are actually really unfortunate. Like the fact that I have never had parents who loved each other. Ever. Not really. "Why!" I want to scream. Why does my life have to suck like that? And why, oh why, do I have to go through all this alone? And why does everyone else get to have siblings and I don't? I would give anything to have someone like that right now, someone to go through this whole mess with, someone who loves both my parents the way I do. Because, from now on, I am, officially, legally, fully, the only person who loves them both in the whole wide world. And that feels very lonely. 

I don't know if this is just me--I suspect it's not--but I've always gone through life assuming that things were generally, ultimately, fair. Not always, of course--cancer isn't fair, poverty isn't fair, a million things aren't fair--but divorce isn't a chance thing like that. It is the direct result of decisions made by people. People who aren't me. Which, in my view, isn't fair. I can't help but feeling life isn't being fair to me right now. 

I want to say that I'm not writing this post to whine. There would be not point in that. And, obviously, as lives go, my is probably not more than a little unfair. I was born into a life filled with loving, fairly well off parents, in one of the best countries to live in in the entire world. I am healthy, smart, what have you. I know that. But I wanted to write this post without that element of perspective. I wanted to document my exact feeling at this exact moment, two weeks before the big split, to document how it felt being sad, scared, and frustrated, in the eye of a tornado that is currently ripping through my life. To me, right now, there isn't much of a thing called perspective. All I can see is the wind whipping around me at a million miles an hour, stirring up pain and creating nothing but debris. I wanted to document the fact that right now, I feel like a piece of wood, sucked up by the wind, waiting to be flung off in an uncertain future. 

I wanted to prove that this frustration I'm feeling is very real and very valid to me right now, no matter what a grander perspective might suggest. As Augustus Waters says:

This pain, in this moment, is real. And I guess I'm going to just have to feel it and question it and experience it. This is my life right now. 

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