Please, Don't Smile at Me

There is this thing that people say, especially to women:

Smile, it's not that bad! Smile, you're so much prettier that way!

This is super annoying.

So I'm here to say, please don't smile at me.

Not unless you really want to.

Look, I live in the South and we're supposed to be all about hospitality. Which is cool. But...I'm not a natural smile-er.

I try it, at work. And I feel like a super lame phony.


Because I barely laugh when I hear a joke, okay. I don't want to be a performing monkey.

And really, that's what what people want. They don't want to have to admit that life isn't perfect. They don't want to hear an honest answer to "How are you?" They just want to mosey along and pretend everything is fine, so they don't have to deal with your problems.

Well, I just want to say- you don't owe these people anything. 

You don't owe anyone your happiness, except yourself. And if you are happier planning a blog post or outfit in your head then in making pointless chitchat about the weather with a smile on your face- fantastic. DO THAT.

I'm not saying be rude.

And if you notice you are aiming your RBF in a particular person's direction, maybe move that angry-appearing gaze to the floor or ceiling so they don't think you're going to attack them.

But you don't have to smile, and it's BS that anyone believes you owe them one.

You don't owe me anything. But things are that bad, I'm offering to listen. And probably try to give you a glass of wine to help. You're welcome, friend.

Monthly Recommendations April 2017: Big Books

This months topics are big books- specifically books with 500 pages or more. I really wasn't sure how many I would have for this recommendation...thank God for Goodreads. Seriously y'all, I could not blog about books without Goodreads to keep track of all the details I can't remember on my own, haha.

The first book I thought of was Gone With the Wind. I freakin' love this book. When I read it I was living in Colorado and reading this sweeping Southern Saga was a balm to my transplanted little soul. I like that it covers topic like race, love, marriage, society, religion, family, and about a million other topics while showing all the gray areas. Many things in life are hard, and you can be selfish and do the right thing and you can have great intentions and screw everything up's just super interesting and I love it.

Apparently when it comes to big books, I love a Southern saga. This book was the first Pat Conroy novel I ever read...and it was love at first read. Something about his writing grips me and calms me simultaneously.  Normally, flowery and descriptive writing isn't necessarily my thing. But it works beautifully in Conroy's work.

I don't even know where I got this- maybe my local used bookstore? It's a collection of thriller short stories (hopefully that's not cheating). From just plain creepy to gory, from political terror to random physical violence, it represents a good range of the thriller/mystery genre, and I only DNF'd one story. It does give background on the authors, which takes up a lot of pages...I didn't necessarily need it, but it could be helpful to find other works by an author if there is one you really love.

This is my favorite classc. Jane Eyre is a little bit weird, she falls for a pretty weird guy, she definitely struggles, but she's clever and determined and a little snarky and it was remarkably relateable for me in a weird way. I was nervous to read it because I hated Wuthering Heights by her sister Emily Bronte, but this I loved.

What are your favorite big books? Link-up and let us know!

Living on the Struggle bus

Confession: this mom thing is kicking my butt. 

It's hard.

It's hard for me to be a mom and a wife and a cook and a cleaner.

My dogs are being completely ignored.

I just don't know how to juggle it all.

And there are so many people in my life who make me think I should be able to juggle it all. And with a big ass smile on my face.

A friend's husband was talking about how he's had to work a lot of overtime and it puts more work on her and she piped up to say "Oh it's fine, I like my baby."

Right...because only people who dislike their baby find it hard. Only people who dislike their baby actually want their spouse and co-parent around.

My heart melted. And then it started beating really really hard. I had to practically push my husband out the door because I was going to have a panic attack if I continued to share a physical space with this person.

I love my kid. I do. She's a super cool baby.

But I don't know how to have one-on-one quality time with her while also getting dinner on the table for myself and my husband, who works 10+ hours a day and more than deserves a hot dinner. I don't know how to have a floor clean enough for her to crawl around on when her and the dogs are constantly creating a giant mess.

Liking her- loving her- does not give me more hours of the day or the ability to clone myself. 

I think I just need to give up sleep, maybe?

But sleep is sometimes the only time my husband and I get together...the only time I can just sit somewhere and be loved without pressure to do something.

Some people say it would be easier if we lived near our families. I do not like my hometown, so I don't know how being there would help my peace of mind. And since my family mostly just asks why I do what I do or why I don't do the things I don't do, I'm not sure that giving them more opportunities to micromanage me would be helpful.

And saying it would be easier if someone else could take over- it feels like they're saying I'm inherently such a shit mom that I literally need to give her to other people so they can do it better.

WTF? How is THAT encouraging?!?!

I know these people probably aren't intentially trying to hurt me. But they are. They are lashing me emotionally every single time they give an opinion. They are cutting me every time they push something on me that I don't want, and treating me like I'm a freak for wanting anything else.

All I want in this world, is for someone to tell me that it's okay to be a working mom who struggles. 

My life is hard right now. I don't need advice on how to fix it, I don't need pity- or even sympathy. I chose thise life, and there really isn't anything I want to change. But it's hard.

I just need to a friend to toast to the beautiful mess I'm living in.

Show Us Your Books Link-Up: April 2017

It's the best bloggy day of the month-SHOW US YOUR BOOKS!

Also...I have to start actually blogging again. Been severely slacking lately...I'll work on it. Maybe.

Anyway, here's what I've been reading.

Finally got around to it- thanks to the many SUYBers who recommended it. It was superb. Excellent writing, realistic characters, I could identify with literally everyone in some way. It was life and messy and vulnerable and wrong and right and confusing and mysterious and basically it rocked.

This one took longer for me to get into, but by the end I was completely absorbed. It's a debut novel and definitely felt like that at times- especially the present relationships, between Inara and Daniel, came off a little cheesy. But the plot itself was really interesting and imaginative. 

This was my first graphic novel! Definitely a different experience. Because I am so used to reading standard novels, it was admittedly hard for me to slow down and actually pay attention to the graphics...which is a big part of a graphic novel! But I enjoyed the illustrations- I almost wish I had read this first to get an idea of the characters in my head during the rest of the series. Not sure why it was all blue- wish there had been a bit more variation. But overall still really pleasant and interesting.

It's been kind of a slow month, but I'm making really good progress on my yearly goal so I'm cool with it. And my current read (Johnny Panic and the Bible of Dreams by Sylvia Plath) will finish out Erin's Reading Challenge 6.0 which is nice. 

What have you been reading lately?

Life According to Steph

Add It To My List: March 2017

Link-up creators are Lauren from Eat, Drink, & Be Lauren and Bre from Bre Writes. Basically, they are always recommending things to each other- podcasts, television shows, music, blah blah blah. And they figured- why not share even further?

Kinda short & sweet this month, but here's what I came up with.

What have you been enjoying this month?

Erin's Challenge 6.0- One Month to Go

The challenge ends next month, so figured it was a good time for a monthly check-in. I honestly didn't think I would finish, since my library did not cooperate with some of the books I wanted...and I read a bunch of other stuff that wasn't originally on the list. But some of those ended up fitting well and replacing some original I think I will make it! And I'll end up reading more things off my TBR rather than things I just had decided to add for the challenge, which is cool.

5 points: Freebie – Read a book that is at least 200 pages.

So, three of these came from The Lunar Chronicles...

How is everyone else doing?

Monthly Recommendations March 2017: Own Voices

Goodreads Group - Kayla Rayne - Trina

This month's topic is Own Voices. You can read this post or this article from the creator Corrine Duyvis of the phrase/hashtag to get some more details. But short version- it's books with characters who represent some type of minority group, written by an author who actually belongs to that minority group.

So a book written by an autistic person by a neuro-typical person would be diverse, but not Own Voices. A book written by an autistic person written by an autistic person would be both diverse and Own Voices.

This definition of diversity from the We Need Diverse Books website is the one I am working with- so I will be including things like abuse survivors/etc as a "social model of disability." 

We recognize all diverse experiences, including (but not limited to) LGBTQIA, Native, people of color, gender diversity, people with disabilities*, and ethnic, cultural, and religious minorities.
*We subscribe to a broad definition of disability, which includes but is not limited to physical, sensory, cognitive, intellectual, or developmental disabilities, chronic conditions, and mental illnesses (this may also include addiction). Furthermore, we subscribe to a social model of disability, which presents disability as created by barriers in the social environment, due to lack of equal access, stereotyping, and other forms of marginalization.

OK, now that we've gotten all that on the table...on to the recommendations!

Some of these are sorry, but they're all good reads.

Y'all, this book is soooo good. Like, will probably end up on my best of the year even though it's only March. It's a story that I think almost anyone would be able to relate to.  But for the context of today's topic: Brit Bennett is African-American, so that would be the minority aspect. 

I think the reason I loved this is the contemporary aspect of it. Too often when I've been given or heard about books about African-Americans, it was in a historical context. Which is important- but black people are not a only a part of our past. They are our neighbors and co-workers and more than just headlines in our current culture. That was refreshing- reading about people who were living in different communities but the same world, if that makes sense.

Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt 
This book is a huge insight into poverty. Yes, it's decades ago and it's set in Ireland but the realities of desperation and poverty are universal and this will forever be worth reading.

Girl Meets God
This one is kind of cheating. The author has a Jewish father, and that lineage is based on maternity rather than paternity. However, that in itself is really interesting and examines the idea of belonging, community, family in the context of her religious journey.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

This is a story about a teenager who lives on a Native American reservation, and eventually decides to attend the "white" school off the reservation. Native American stories do not get nearly enough attention, and I appreciated this one.
Bastard out of Carolina
This is a super tough book to read, because it deals with sexual abuse. I actually listened to it through Audible, and the afterword from the author really shaped the way I looked at the story. She speaks about how she herself survived abuse and poverty, but wanted to show how families handle these and still manage to find joy in music, etc during these hard times. Highly recommend.

The Bell Jar
This seems to be one of the first books regarding mental health in the mainstream. It is a semi-autobiographical novel that parallels Plath's own experience with writing and depression. It's a little dark and twisty and beautiful.

Furiously Happy

This is also about mental health, but from a current time. Lawson is honest yet hopeful, and always always hilarious. Love her and pretty much everything she creates.

The Story of My Life

I found this randomly in my local used bookstore, and while the writing itself is amaeture the story is compelling. It follows a young girl who lived under siege and was dismembered as a child. Eventually she gets help and immigrates to the US. It's a up-close view of terror and immigration, and while it's an older story it's more relevant than ever. 

If you'd like to link up, please join the Goodreads group & share! 
Or, ya know, just leave a comment.