This Post Is For Those Who Are Not Out

It’s National Coming Out Day! I’ve written about this before – I compared coming out to Doctor Who (hey, don’t judge!) in 2013, and I wrote a list of bizarre things people have said to me after I came out to them in 2014. So, basically, I’ve previously talked about being out.

This time, however, I would like to dedicate a post to those who are not yet out, who can’t come out now or maybe even ever.

This post is the result of many things: Conversations, stuff I’ve read, things I learned about in class. And all but one of these things happened recently, so they’ve been on my mind a lot lately. Soooooo. I’m going to try to pull these thoughts together so they form one cohesive post, OK? I’ve even bolded all the thingies so you know what it is that drove me to write this post.

It is National Coming Out Day. What does that mean?

There is a pervasive idea that everyone has to come out. EVERYONE. E V E R Y O N E. And that’s just… not a good idea for many? In and of itself, National Coming Out Day isn’t necessarily a bad idea – if you’re ready to come out and can be sure that you’ll be safe afterward, then go for it – but I think there is wayyyyy too much pressure on LGBTQ+ people to come out or else.

Spectrum – my college’s LGBTQ+ group – set up a National Coming Out Day booth on Friday. (Because there are more people on campus on a weekday than on the weekend!) I volunteered there for a few hours, and one of the things we did involved taking photos of queer students/faculty (and a few allies) holding up whiteboards with positive messages written on them.

I did a few messages myself, and I was going to include the photos with this post, but… well, they haven’t been uploaded to Spectrum’s Facebook page yet, so I can’t. I WILL SOON THOUGH. AS SOON AS I FIND THEM.

Anyway, I walked past the booth later that afternoon after my Media History & Culture class was over, along with a few of my queer friends from that class, and I asked if they wanted to do a photo or two with me since plenty of people were doing silly group shots. They both said that they’d be totally down for it if they were out to their parents, but they weren’t, and they couldn’t be. (FYI, everyone had to sign a waiver saying they were OK with Spectrum putting the photos on social media. We didn’t want to accidentally out anyone!)

Similarly, some of my Internet friends aren’t in a position where they can come out, either. One of these friends started college at the same time I did; the other leaves for school in a few months. Both of them are extremely upset about this – about not being able to come out to their friends, family, et cetera – and I feel bad about seeing my friends so sad like this, but what can I do? If they come out their families will disown them, and then both of my friends can kiss the dream of college (let alone grad school) goodbye. It’s really not as simple as “What are you afraid of? Just come out and everything will magically be OK! It Gets Better!”

I recently saw a post… somewhere, I think it might’ve been on Facebook? I’m really sorry that I don’t have the link, especially since I’m providing links to all the other online thingies I’m discussing in this post, but I JUST DON’T KNOW WHERE IT IS. Anyway, the gist of the post was basically, “We need to stop making queer people responsible for coming out, and start making straight and/or cisgender people more responsible for the effects that their assumptions have on queer people.” In other words, the only reason queer people have to come out in the first place is because cishet people assume that everyone else is also cishet.

One of the (many!) LGBTQ+ Facebook pages I follow – Gayce in Space – shared this post today, and I thought it was AWESOME and really relevant to all that I’d been thinking about lately. Like, why do we prioritize coming out soooo much, even when it’s at the expense of others’ safety? Even today, many children and teens who come out will be kicked out of their homes, and we’re so invested in the idea that everyone must come out… but we’re not really willing to devote resources to the issue of homeless queer youth, are we?

(I particularly like #5: “What does it mean when not being ‘out’ is associated with being repressed/self-hating rather than being strategic and discerning?” UGH. SO TRUE. Is there even such a thing as a queer person who is completely out? I really don’t think there is – heteronormative assumptions mean we’re always closeted to someone, and besides… we have to be discerning. There are people I am deliberately not out to, because I wouldn’t feel safe being out to them, or because I just don’t want to deal with their reaction afterward. I am Not Out to some people because… quite honestly, I feel they don’t deserve to know about that part of me, because I know they’ll be horrible about it. They’re never going to really know me unless they change their attitude, and I don’t feel one ounce of regret about that.)

Aaaaand that post really reminded me of my Intro to Gender, Women’s, & Sexuality Studies class! It’s not something we’ve discussed in class yet, and I doubt we ever will because that class is soooooo heteronormative that it makes me cringe, but it really made me think about all we’ve learned about systems of power/oppression so far. Take, for instance, #2: “What does it mean to make the onus of liberation on the individual (you! come out!) versus the system (you! eradicate the closet!)?”

The solution to destroying “the closet” isn’t to have more and more people come out – not when we don’t have resources set up to help  those people out of the terrible situations they all too frequently wind up in afterward. The solution is to destroy that system entirely by eradicating the ideas that form it – in other words, we need to start challenging the assumption that everyone is cis and straight until proven otherwise.

A couple of days ago, my friend John – who writes for Barnes & Noble’s teen blog – posted a list titled What To Read (and Watch) in Preparation for National Coming Out Day. And… well, it had some good recs! So thanks for that! I really mean it.

Buuuuut… and I feel horrible about saying this, because he’s my friend, but I feel like it really, really has to be said… he started his post by saying: “Two years ago, I first accepted that I had to come out. That might sound odd to many people – obviously being gay is tethered to telling people you’re gay. There isn’t much of a question there.”

And I just. I have so many issues with that way of thinking, John. SOOOO many. That way of thinking is still quite dangerous for so many people. You don’t have to come out. No one does. It is not a duty. I don’t think that idea was even created by queer people, but we’ve certainly grown attached to it. I know many (maybe even all) of us want to come out, but that isn’t quite the same thing. Sometimes we want to come out, but we can’t. Some LGBTQ+ people are not now – and may not ever be – in a position where coming out is safe, and we need to let them know that that is OK. That it isn’t really fair, but that that is a reality for many people.

(And we need to fix that reality, obviously – I’m not saying that we should let society stay this way! But at the same time… well, like I wrote earlier, we can’t solve that situation by encouraging everyone to come out, regardless of their particular situation. Because it has less than stellar results for some people.)

And the second half of the second line – “obviously being gay is tethered to telling people you’re gay” – especially bothers me. It reminds me of a quote from the book that the It Gets Better Project published a few years ago. It’s been a while since I’ve looked at the book, so I’ll have to paraphrase the quote, and I’m not even 100% sure of the author but I think it was from an essay by Ivan Coyote.

SO. The quote was, essentially, “It is OK if you are not able to come out. It doesn’t make you any less cool, or radical, or queer than the kid with the purple hair and the rainbow socks. It just means he has a different situation than you.”

I FREAKING LOVE THAT QUOTE. It helped me sooooo much when I was still in the closet! And… yeah, this idea that being LGBTQ+ is tethered to telling people that you’re LGBTQ+ really bothers me. Nothing you do can make you more or less queer. You exist as a queer person, and that’s enough. Coming out doesn’t make you more queer, and being closeted doesn’t mean that you’re just a faker. It just means that your situation is different from those who are out. And that’s OK. It’s not easy, but it’s OK. Coming out is still a luxury for a lot of people.

The final thing that inspired this post is this…. this thing I saw today. It’s an old post – from a blog I follow, actually – but it was reposted today on yet another LGBTQ+ Facebook page I follow. Because it was National Coming Out Day, I guess? I don’t even know. I don’t even know why this post was published, to be quite honest, and I was amused and pleased to see that many of the comments (on both the blog post and the link on Facebook) disagreed with the author.

The post in question is titled “A Straight Ally Tells Her LGBT Friends, ‘What I am Asking is Hard, but We Need for You to Remove the Mask'” and I just… I can’t even. This post includes such gems as:

“Unfortunately, in order for those of us who are straight to understand your path, we need you who are gay to have the courage we will never have to muster ourselves, and take your masks off. We need to see that you are no different than those of us who are straight.”

Like… can you not? Can you just please NOT? This person is the epitome of “entitled ally who thinks LGBTQ+ people owe them everything just because they’re not being actively hurtful towards LGBTQ+ people.” Why on earth would you frame coming out as something that should be done to help straight people? Why? Why wouldn’t you start by having straight people examine the ways in which their assumptions forced queer people into the closet in the first place?

And I just… oh my god, the bit about needing to see that queer people are no different? It gets worse:

“I needed to see that my friend was a nurse and liked racquetball just like me.”

Wow! It’s almost like…. queer people are people too! Wow. I’m a person? Wow. Nice.

…I have no patience for straight people who are all like, “It was hard for me to understand and relate to queer people until I met one of them.” Like, really? You couldn’t come to the conclusion that we’re all human beings worthy of respect on your own? You needed help with that? With, like, respecting everyone? I. Um. I don’t even know what to say. I mean, this whole post is basically blaming queer people for straight people’s lack of understanding of queer issues, rather than expecting straight people to take an active role in their own education about said issues.

One of the comments on the Facebook link made me go “!!!!!” Someone pointed out that those who wear the masks are straight people – straight allies, in particular. A lot of straight allies don’t make it obvious that they do, indeed, support us (I’m not saying to “come out as an ally,” though – ew, don’t do that, it’s mocking and disrepectful) and that makes things really hard for us.

There is an all-too-common coming out narrative that goes something like this: LGBTQ+ comes out to straight people and then finds out whether or not those people accept them. And that needs to stop. If you really want to help us, MAKE YOURSELVES KNOWN. Help us out by letting everyone know you care about and respect us – if we know that you care, then we won’t have to play that guessing game of “just how badly might this person react, and what should I do to prepare?” and it’ll eliminate a lot of stress and angst and sleepless nights.

(This is the point in my story where my parents and a few of my friends shake their heads and laugh and say, “Well, of course we support you! I don’t see why you were so worried!” I came out 2.5 years ago, and my coming out was fairly uneventful, but I was lucky. I WAS INCREDIBLY LUCKY. Coming out was a shot in the dark – I had no idea how anyone would react because they didn’t talk much/at all about this kind of thing, and knowing that someone has queer relatives or acquaintances really doesn’t mean much. It just means that you know a queer person. It doesn’t tell me where you stand on the issue of acceptance. So, yeah. I have a lot of complicated feelings there that I haven’t quite figured out how to articulate until now.)

So today, I’d like to tell everyone who is not yet out that it is OK. They are OK. It’s not easy, but it is OK. I am not saying that LGBTQ+ people shouldn’t come out, but there shouldn’t be a mandate for us to do so, either, not if doing so harms us in some way. There is this “come out, come out, wherever you are” idea, and it’s just… no.

Please be safe, and think carefully about coming out if there is any possibility – any at all – that you could be in danger if you come out. If coming out means you’d be kicked out or cut off from your family, or if you are not yet economically independent and your family is helping out in that regard, then you don’t have to come out. YOU DON’T.

In general, there is a lot of pressure to come out, and even more of it on this day. And that can be hard. If you’re on social media – and who isn’t? – then you’ve doubtless seen tons and tons of posts and status updates about National Coming Out Day. And that can be hard. Here you are, unable to come out, and out there (pun totally intended) are all the openly queer people, and that’s hard.

So today’s post is basically one gigantic hug to everyone who can’t come out – those who can’t come out right now, or at all, or who are out to some people but really, really wish they could tell some important people, like their parents or best friends, but can’t. I LOVE YOU.

P.S. No one should let me drink an entire bottle of yummy yummy cherry Coke after 10 PM and then release me onto the Internet ever again because I get really sad and gay and deep and end up staying up late writing angry 2500-word posts. I REALLY NEED TO GO TO BED BECAUSE I HAVE CLASS IN THE MORNING. I can’t believe I used up all my brainpower writing this post and not one word of my Intro to GWSS paper… I mean, it’s not due until the 24th, but still.

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Five Years

Today is a very special day for me.


I just… wow. I’m trying to think of eloquent things to say, but my brain is just like “!!!!!!” and “??????” right now. Oops. Well, anyway. I CAN’T BELIEVE IT.

Like, that is a very long time in the blogging world – I’ve been blogging longer than almost anyone else I know, with a few notable exceptions. (I think Miriam Joy @ Miriam Joy Writes started blogging about one year before I did?)

A lot of people quit blogging before they reach the five-year mark, because their interests change, or they just don’t have time, or whatever. And many of my favorite blogs – the blogs that make me sort of envious because they’re JUST SO AWESOME and well-designed and well-written and have, like, a kazillion more followers than I do – are younger than Musings From Neville’s Navel.

So, yeah. Wow. WOW. I honestly never thought I would still be blogging in 2015, and I’m pretty proud of myself right now. I always talk a bit about changes in my blogiversary posts, but I don’t think I’ve talked about transitions previously? Like, I’ve definitely talked about how my writing style has changed since I started my blog, but I don’t think I’ve talked about the changes in my life since then. Here are some of the transitions that have A) occurred and B) been faithfully recorded on this blog since October 10, 2010:

  • Middle school to high school to college
  • Homeschooling to institutional education
  • Questioning to closeted to openly gay
  • “I have no idea about my future” to (hopefully) an author, photojournalist, & activist
  • Childhood to adulthood

And, of course, my interests changed over time, too! I write far more serious, thinky posts than I ever did when I started blogging. It’s always amusing to look back at old posts and see what I wrote about certain topics. Especially BOOKS. Oh my god. It’s so much fun to read past posts and be all like, “Wow, I forgot how much I loved that series way back in 2011?” or “I had no idea how much that story would TAKE OVER MY LIFE.”

I wish I could say that I’d set up some sort of fun trivia quiz about me/my blog (which I’ve done in the past) or even a giveaway (which I’ve never done, but I want to at some point). However, COLLEGE. College has really kicked my butt lately and I just didn’t have the time or energy to set up anything special. SORRY! I really love it here at college, but it’s all I can do to stay on top of my studies and write ordinary blog posts. So. Yeah. Maybe next year I’ll have more of my life under control and can set up something fun?

I didn’t do any particularly special today to celebrate on my own, either – I have two midterms to study for, four papers to write, and three classmates’ short stories that need to be annotated and critiqued for my creative writing workshop, IN ADDITION TO writing this post, doing my laundry, watching the new Doctor Who episode, and having a movie night with my friends later this evening.

So, yeah. That was my day. Today has been suuuuuuper busy, and honestly I’m just happy I got this post up, especially since it’s on an even-numbered day and usually I only post on odd-numbered days? I wish I could’ve just taken the whole day off from homework, but that wasn’t really feasible. It’s OK, though. I’m used to it.

Thank you all so much for reading Musings From Neville’s Navel! I’m so glad to have “met” all of you, and I love reading your blogs, and I really love seeing the “new comment” notification when I log on! I love seeing what you have to say.

Here’s to another five years (or more!) of blogging! I love blogging, and would like to continue this activity for as long as I can. I may not always post as frequently in the future as I do now, but I definitely don’t want to give up blogging. I’m so happy to have discovered this hobby… because I love it, and because it’s helped me to make so many wonderful new friends!

P.S. This post is titled after one of David Bowie’s songs because… hey, I thought it was apt!

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DOCTOR WHO Series Nine Review: “Under The Lake” (Co-written With Mawa Mahima @ All Things Wordy)

under the lake posterHello! It’s time for another Doctor Who series nine review – this one is for last week’s episode, “Under The Lake”! Long story short: I loved episode three, and so did my co-reviewer. I’m impressed with the consistently high-quality episodes so far!


P.S. You can find previous collaborative reviews of Doctor Who‘s ninth series here.


Mawa Mahima is a 17-year-old book blogger and crazed student. She has way too much to study and watching Doctor Who has become one of her sole comforts in her new school-filled schedule. Fun fact: She only watches the show with all the lights off and the door closed. She’s pretty sure she couldn’t sleep the night they aired the episode with the Daleks levitating over stairs! (She thought she was safe from them!) She blogs at All Things Wordy


Warning: Spoilers ahead, sweetie!



Engie: While I loved seeing Missy, Davros, et cetera – established characters, basically –  it was nice to move on and meet someone new! I really enjoyed this group of scientists, and OMG THEY’RE GETTING KILLED OFF ONE BY ONE. That’s such an old trope, not just on Doctor Who but in stories in general, but I love it.

Mawa: Slowly killing off groups of scientists seems like the right way to start a Doctor Who episode – there’s so many episodes that start exactly like that! (And I always end up loving them!)

Engie: I know, right? I’ve seen reviews comparing this episode to soooo many others, including:

  • “The Waters of Mars”
  • “42”
  • “The Impossible Planet”
  • “The Hungry Earth”
  • “The Rebel Flesh”
  • “Silence in the Library”
  • “The God Complex”

Engie: I mean, it would probably be easier to say which episodes are NOT like this one. But I do love the creepy episodes… there’s usually at least one really good one per series. I’m always like “THIS IS JUST A SHOW, ENGIE” and then I still freak out and worry that a monster might eat me.

Mawa: I agree – it’s even worse when you’re in a dark room and that itchy feeling on your shoulder could be those ghosts reaching for you. Yikes.

under the lake scientistsScience!

Engie: Doctor Who is IMMENSELY fond of the “there is a completely scientific explanation for the existence of [insert terrifying phenomenon here] – it only looks like something humans would call ‘supernatural'” trope. AND I LOVE THAT. Out of all the story ideas they repeat over and over, this one’s probably my favorite. 

Mawa: Yes, yes, yes! Including scientific explanations behind these supernatural phenomenons makes the science geek in me so proud. For example with this episode they had a Faraday cage and talked about electromagnetics and I was like YES. GHOSTS AND MAGNETISM. GET IN.

Engie: YESSS. I do enjoy the more fantastical episodes, but I love it when the Doctor is like “OK I’M GONNA DO SCIENCE” and shows us the cold hard facts.

Mawa: I was just sighing in contentment. I mean using science to explain bizarre happenings is what I’m all about. Science, in essence, is about the delight one experiences when they find something they can’t explain.

Engie: A few days ago I was talking about this episode with another friend, and they mentioned how much they loved the scene where the Doctor says, essentially, that none of the scientists HAVE to stay. He says they can totally go home, if they want, and let him solve the mystery – but he also points out that they did dedicate their lives to science, and if they don’t stay they’ll always wonder what would’ve happened. They’ll always be curious. So they do stay. My friend loved that scene, and once they pointed it out so did I.

Mawa: Yes, I so agree with everything said! Like, do you be brave or cowardly… but it’s not even about that. It’s about the pursuit of knowledge and, you know, curiosity and it just makes the whole episode more realistic, more human.


Engie: I do wish they hadn’t killed off the black guy first, BUT. But! Not everyone was white! It’s so weird to read/watch a story where absolutely everyone is white because it’s just like…. this is not even remotely close to reality? 

Engie: When I wrote my intro post for this series of reviews, I mentioned that one of the things I’d like to talk about in these reviews is diversity – I’d like to analyze the diversity in series nine! I included “disabilities” on my list of diverse characters to maybe talk about (if they even showed up), but I didn’t think there would actually be any! So I was very happy to see Cass, who is deaf!

Mawa: Yes, when I realised she was deaf I was like THIS IS WHAT ENGIE WAS TALKING ABOUT!

Engie: It’s funny… I was watching with a friend, who is actually taking a course in American Sign Language here at college and she was like “UGH I KNOW SHE’S SIGNING BUT I DON’T KNOW THE SIGNS SHE’S USING THIS IS SO WEIRD” because ASL and BSL are so different.

Engie: AND AND AND CASS WAS READING THE GHOSTS’ LIPS. I LOVED THAT. I love how no one else thought to do that, or even had the ability, and then they were like, “Ohhhh, good, she’s got it under control.”

Mawa: Ha ha, yes I’m glad they clocked on too.

Engie: I loved her interpreter too. They were so adorable together.


Mawa: But it feels like they have a deeper-than-romance relationship. I couldn’t help thinking: Who would you trust enough to translate the whole world to you? And trust them enough to have them give your words a voice? It was so harrowing.

under the lake prompt cardsThe Doctor!

Engie: I loved the Doctor’s prompt cards! The same friend I mentioned above sent me soooo many excited messages after the episode about how they felt their autistic!Doctor headcanon was confirmed, and I just… I mean, the writers haven’t said anything official about it yet, but I think it’s really important when we read or watch stories and find someone we can relate to and we’re like “HEY THEY DO THINGS LIKE I DO” and basically I’m just glad it made my friend happy.

Mawa: Yes, I always knew Twelve, especially, was autistic, it’s one of the best defining characteristics of his personality in my opinion!

Engie: Also, I’m just really amused by the mental image of Twelve and Clara making those cards, like I feel she would be very intently writing things on index cards while he’s flitting around the TARDIS disassembling things and rebuilding them into other things, and seemingly not paying attention until every so often when he’s like, “…is that really a thing I should stop saying? I was just trying to prepare them for their imminent extermination.”

Mawa: I want to talk about what happened to the Doctor dying – I thought he only had a day to live, and that’s why he got the confession dial ready?

Engie: Oooooh. I didn’t even think of that, but that would make sense. I mean, otherwise then what was even the point of the confession dial in the series opener?


Mawa: This episode wasn’t written by Steven Moffat – rather, it’s by Toby Whithouse. Whithouse has written Doctor Who episodes before. For example, “School Reunion” – in which Rose and Sarah Jane become friends and we get to see K9!

Engie: OH MY GOD I COULDN’T REMEMBER ALL THE EPISODES HE’S WRITTEN BUT LIKE. He wrote “The God Complex”! No wonder I kept seeing similarities!

Mawa: I really like Whithouse’s episodes, and I can see the difference between him and Moffat. Can’t really put a finger on it, though, except perhaps that “Under the Lake” was less serious and more goofy. The Doctor seemed more astonished by the ghosts than anything, and the one-liners were indeed quite funny.

Engie: I think sometimes the show tries too hard to make everything SUPER FREAKING DRAMATIC, and… like, everything is bigger and better than before, and it just doesn’t always work because after a while it gets really hard to keep one-upping yourself. And… I mean, this episode certainly had its dramatic moments, but I didn’t get the sense that it was trying to outdo every episode that came before it. It was a fairly low-key, fun episode.

under the lake twelve and claraClara!

Mawa: Clara and the Doctor are an adorable team, like when Clara was all up for heading off into the adventure and the Doctor was like “no, there can’t be two of me, go get a new relationship” and then he backtracked and started blabbering about getting a new relationship (because finally he realised, without those darn cards, that this was a no-no) and Clara had to shut him up with “I’m fine”. IT WAS SO CUTE.

Engie: And when he’s like “Can I stop saying that? Should I stop saying that? I just felt I had to.” Oh my god.

Engie: This is not serious… or even related to character development or anything, really, but OMG CLARA WAS SO CUTE IN THIS EPISODE. Her dress was adorable. Her outfits are always on point, and honesly they’re one of my favorite parts of the show? Like if I get bored or the plot isn’t making any sense, I’m always like “just fangirl about Clara’s clothes, Engie, and daydream about owning those cute dresses.”

Mawa: That girl’s style is always on point. HER NOSE THOUGH. Her nose is something everyone should aspire to have, it’s beautiful.


Engie: It is very cute, though. And so are her eyebrows. And so is her face in general. GAH I HAVE SUCH A CRUSH. I’m actually going to be a bit sad when Jenna Coleman leaves the show, because… like, I’m glad she’s moving on to bigger and better roles? But she has a cute face and also the wardrobe department does a good job.


Engie: What did you think of the episode overall?

Mawa: I thought it was a funny episode full of science geekery and a wonderful third episode into the series!

Engie: Same! I’m really impressed with series nine so far, and… well, who knows? Maybe I’ll love this story even more when part two comes out this weekend? Like I said above, I don’t mind low-key episodes. I just want something fun… with a plot free of holes! That’s really all I’m looking for. “Under the Lake” wasn’t my FAVORITEST episode or something, but it was fun. And that’s what counts. We seem to get either really amazing or really awful episodes, and I’d rather have a bunch that are just plain GOOD. If the writers can achieve that balance and avoid the extremes, I’ll be happy. I mean, that means fewer amazing episodes, buuuut it also means fewer sucky episodes. 

Engie: Thank you for reviewing with me!

Mawa: Ha ha, thanks for having me. It’s real fun nerding out like this every once in a while – oh, who am I kidding? I do it all the time.


What is YOUR opinion on “Under the Lake”? I’d love to know!

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An Update On My Classes | I Am Excited, Nervous, & Irritated All At Once

Soooooo… I haven’t posted about college in, like, a very long time. OK, that’s not quite true. I have talked about college on this blog lately, but only in passing – I haven’t written any posts that were SPECIFICALLY about college since early September. (Which, admittedly, is also not all that long ago.)

WHATEVER. I want to post about it now, so I’m going to. I haven’t done a recap of how my classes are going in a while, so I thought I’d do that today!

City of Literature

I’m soooo glad I’m taking this class! I’m learning so much about the literary history of Iowa City! I’m so glad I’m learning about all the authors who’ve lived and worked here, and even the ones who just passed through. (Dylan Thomas evidently spent most of his time here drunk and not talking about poetry like the directors of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop had intended him to?)

Also, it’s just really cool to finally take a literature class. FINALLY. That is one thing I was never able to do as a homeschooler, because my mom is a math/science kind of person, so we just never discussed books for school. We never analyzed them.

Creative Writing

UGH THIS CLASS IS SO INTIMIDATING AND YET SO EXHILARATING. I’m so insecure about my fiction writing, and am super uncomfortable with showing it to others, so this class has been… interesting.

Anyway. We’ve begun to workshop stories now – I signed up for the last possible date, because I’m still not quite sure what I want to write about, but I think I may write about a hella gay necromancer and her alchemist girlfriend – and I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the first few stories!

…but this week’s batch. OH MY. I feel bad about saying this but… like, I’m not totally sure that some of the people realized they were supposed to write a story and not a freaking college application essay, because that’s what their writing samples felt like. It was awkward.

Intro to Gender, Women’s, and Sexuality Studies

UGH I’M SO CONFLICTED ABOUT THIS CLASS. I looooove that I’m studying this subject, finally, and I can’t wait to take more classes like this – not only because I am interested in GWSS stuff, but because this class is so freaking basic and it’s really disappointed me in some ways.

Like, I get that it’s an introductory course, but this is college. Not high school. And I was expecting this class to be, well, as intersectional as it claims to be. I feel like this course is very much about Straight White Cis Feminism, and I just… no.

(Also, I’m annoyed at how when my TA does bring up queer issues during our discussions, she talks about them as if none of us could possibly be queer and, you know, be personally invested in this subject/have actually met a real live queer person. I’m just like “Actually…” Like, please stop. The other TA is super funny and basically the lesbianest lesbian ever to lesbian, and I so wish I’d gotten her. UGH SORRY I TOTALLY JUST WENT ON A RANT THERE. One of my friends and I were talking about Intro to GWSS the other day, and both of us were relieved to know that we weren’t the only ones to feel this way.)

…basically I am happy whenever we discuss something from Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay – one of our assigned readings – and then I’m pretty much just like UGH WHY.

Media History and Culture

Cross-posted from my Facebook wall:

I went to a professor’s office hours for the first time this semester! My Media History & Culture prof OKed my idea of writing about Carmilla S1E1 for the upcoming “contextualization of a YouTube video” paper. He got pretty excited about it, actually!

I brainstormed a list of things to discuss – the show’s method of broadcasting, its extensive use of social media not only for marketing but as a way to tell more of the story, native advertising, its predominantly young/queer/female audience that is highly adept at using the Internet.

…and long story short, he now wants me to talk about this show as an example of “convergence culture” (a topic we have been studying) in front of the entire class on Friday. Eeep.

UGH I’M SO EXCITED. I love that I was able to turn something I’m passionate about into an entire essay. I love that I can write about fandoms, essentially, and that it counts as actual homework. Now I can geek out about Carmilla AND media history!

Basically, I’m starting to really love this class. I didn’t at first – I hated it, and thought it was much too hard and BORING – but now I enjoy it! I was soooo bored when we were on chapter one, with all the stuff about woodblock printing and Gutenberg and the 95 Theses and whatever, because A) I already knew all this and B) this stuff is so basic!

But now we’re learning about all kinds of cool stuff – photojournalism, and Nellie Bly, and the muckrakers, and filmmaking as a means of bringing about social change, and digital culture, and… ohhhh my. I love it so much.

Superheroes Unleashed:
3,000 Years of Heroes, Villains, and a Mad Race for Immortality

This is my FAVORITE class, but I think everyone – including the professor – is frustrated with our time constraints. We meet once a week for only fifty minutes! It’s very hard to say everything we want to say about a particular story in the time we do have!

At the moment, I have a paper due. It has to be “at least three pages about… how heroes are still relevant today!” We have to pick at least one superhero and one classical hero and compare them, and it’s due at the beginning of the next class (Tuesday). Basically, we can write about whatever we want.

All I know is that I want to talk about CAPTAIN AMERICA. (My prof said to save our ideas for papers about superheroines for the second paper, after we’ve completed the upcoming unit all about them!) I’m thinking maybe Captain America & Beowulf, or Captain America & Achilles? I’ve been exploring this website lately and it’s given me soooo many ideas.


…so, there you have it. Not the best post I’ve ever written – I feel like it was a little disjointed in parts – but THIS IS WHAT I HAVE BEEN DOING LATELY. Walking from class to class, raising my hand like a NERD, reading soooo many books for school and so very few for my own pleasure, petting all the cats I happen to see, and doing OODLES OF HOMEWORK.

How have your school days been? Awesome, I hope!

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Review: The Sword Of Summer

the sword of summerMagnus Chase has always been a troubled kid. Since his mother’s mysterious death, he’s lived alone on the streets of Boston, surviving by his wits, keeping one step ahead of the police and the truant officers.

One day, he’s tracked down by a man he’s never met—a man his mother claimed was dangerous. The man tells him an impossible secret: Magnus is the son of a Norse god.

The Viking myths are true. The gods of Asgard are preparing for war. Trolls, giants and worse monsters are stirring for doomsday. To prevent Ragnarok, Magnus must search the Nine Worlds for a weapon that has been lost for thousands of years.

When an attack by fire giants forces him to choose between his own safety and the lives of hundreds of innocents, Magnus makes a fatal decision.

Sometimes, the only way to start a new life is to die…

This review is spoiler-free!

Rick Riordan’s newest book – The Sword of Summer – was published today! This book is the first in the Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard trilogy.

And this morning, I WAS DISTRESSED. I was (and still am, although I’m going to cancel the request) nineteenth on the Iowa City Public Library’s waitlist for The Sword of Summer! I was anxious to read it because A) Rick Riordan is awesome and B) I really, really wanted to avoid spoilers.

SO. I was having a sad.

And then I remembered that this town is bursting with bookstores. And that I have leftover birthday money. Soooo… shout-out to that one employee at the Prairie Lights Bookstore for digging through stacks of books to find one of the few copies they had left. You’re awesome, dude.

And now, on to the review.

(Although, before I start – you should check out my friend’s review! Cait @ Paper Fury wrote a lovely review and Rick Riordan linked to it on his blog! FDKGJHSGJHFKDFG. CONGRATS, CAIT.)

This book is an incredibly fast read.

I mean, I read really quickly, too, but OMG THE PACE OF THIS BOOK IS JUST. OMG. IT’S AMAZING. The plot zips around and… well, that’s important. I do read more slowly if the material is boring! (So, my textbook assignments take forever.) But this book? I read five hundred pages in four hours. THIS BOOK IS ONE NON-STOP ADVENTURE AFTER ANOTHER.

the sword of summer iowaThat cover is freaking gorgeous.

Like, neither of the pictures above do it justice. The colors are just so INTENSE. I may have freaked out in the bookstore because The Sword of Summer is JUST. SO. PRETTY. I may have stroked the cover gently and lovingly carefully carried it home.

(Also, look at me, doing bookish photography! Whoo! This was on the way home from the bookstore – the building with the shiny gold dome in the background is part of campus.)

It really reminded me of the Percy Jackson series!

UGH THIS WAS SO AWESOME. I mean, I enjoyed the Heroes of Olympus series, but… not as much as Percy Jackson. Reading The Sword of Summer was like reading about Percy for the first time, which is an experience I never thought I’d have again.

The humor was ON POINT.

And by that I mean that it was there, but not overwhelming. I do love Riordan’s sense of humor, but at the same time I sometimes feel that he, um, overdoes it? I don’t know. This book struck the PERFECT balance between humor and seriousness, and none of the jokes felt over the top. They didn’t feel forced – they felt like what like real (read: sarcastic) teenagers would say.

(And that’s one of the things that made me think of Percy Jackson – I don’t find the humor in that series nearly as overpowering as that in Heroes of Olympus. Anyway, I think this is probably Riordan’s most… mellow? book, humor-wise. Does that even make sense? Do people even describe humor as mellow? I DON’T CARE. I’M GOING TO. I think it made the funny scenes even better BECAUSE they were a little more rare!)

I don’t even know whether this is MG or YA.

I mean, it’s being marketed as MG, but… I always feel this way about Rick Riordan’s books. I think they can be a little bit of both! And I think the toned-down amount of humor made this book feel a little more grown-up.

RIDING TO VALHALLA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!I don’t know Norse mythology as well as I thought (or as I’d like to).

I mean, I know the basics of it, but I’ll need to check out that glossary! Sometimes I couldn’t keep track of the relationships between all the characters, and I don’t have that problem when it comes to Greek or Roman mythology.

But yeah. I loved the interpretation of Thor, and I cheered for ALL of the Valkyries (because Skulduggery Pleasant is the best), and basically I spent soooo much of the book internally screaming “HE IS AWAITED IN VALHALLA” and “HE LIVES, HE DIES, HE LIVES AGAIN” whenever Magnus did, well, pretty much anything.

I’m so happy that this series didn’t focus much on Thor, Loki, Odin, et cetera.

I mean, they were definitely in the story! And they played an important role when they did interact with the main characters. But I love that Rick Riordan focused on other gods and goddesses, and especially the  jötnar (giants). I think it would’ve been very easy to focus on the mythological figures everyone knows, but he didn’t.


This isn’t a spoiler! IT’S NOT. Rick has said it so many times! Annabeth is in this book, briefly, and it was amazing, and I love the scenes with her and Magnus – she’s his cousin. I love love LOVE the scene at the end where neither of them know the other is a demigod, and they’re trying to one-up each other about their lives. That was amazing.

Also, in my review of The Blood of Olympus, I mentioned how sad I was that we were leaving Percy and his friends. But we didn’t, not really! UGH I’M SO GLAD WE STILL HAVE ANNABETH.


One of the Valkyries – and Magnus’ friend – is Arab American and Muslim! I loooved Samirah. I love that Rick Riordan has gotten so much better at including diverse characters. Also, I loved Sam’s magic hijab. SHE HAS A MAGIC HIJAB. IT’S GLORIOUS.

And and and Hearth – an elf who protects Magnus – is deaf! I love that he was such a major part of the book.


I don’t want to give too much away, but IT WAS BEAUTIFUL. And I just. I love that whole thing about Magnus and light/warmth/sun/summer/healing/et cetera.


I haven’t had time to read much this fall, so I’m glad that I was able to make time to read The Sword of Summer – and that it was such a good book! I honestly wasn’t sure what it would be like, because…, well, Riordan IS ridiculously fond of the “this kid is a demigod” story, and I wasn’t sure if it would be more of the same.

And, well, it was. Kind of. The Sword of Summer cannot escape the fact that it is, in fact, another story about a demigod teen, but it wasn’t THE SAME as reading Percy Jackson, it was only LIKE reading Percy Jackson. I loved spending time in this new world he’s adapted for us, and I loved the understated humor, and the diversity, and Samirah. I can’t wait to read the next books in this series!

Rating: 4/5

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Thoughts On “Carmilla” Season Two

carmilla season two small posterOH MY GOD, PEOPLES, I AM SO EXCITED TO WRITE THIS POST.

The season two finale of Carmilla – AKA my favoritest show EVER! – aired last Thursday, and oh my god oh my god oh my god IT WAS AMAZING and I have so much to talk about!

This post will be about season two as a whole, but I’ve split it up into two parts: The first part is more general, and the second part is about the characters and… well, there are plenty of things in it that AREN’T spoilery, but there are also spoilers mixed in with it. So if you haven’t caught up on all the episodes, it’s probably a good idea to stick with just the first half.


P.S. You can find my thoughts about season one here!


Watching this show in college = OMG THE BEST THING EVER!

I’m fine now, but when I first got here… I was pretty miserable. Carmilla helped distract me, and I am very grateful for that. It gave me something to look forward to, and… it’s also just plain FUN to watch vampires and their tiny cute girlfriends in college because HEY I’M IN COLLEGE NOW YOOOO.

There is a sad lack of vampires on my campus, though.

Carmilla is venturing out into new territory, story-wise, and I love it.

So if you didn’t already know: Carmilla is a modern retelling of a novella of the same name by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu! It’s one of the first vampire stories – it precedes Dracula – and I actually read it last year because I wanted to know all the references!

The show used up almost all the plot of the original novel in season one, but not quite – the Baron Vordenberg story arc is a good example of using material from the original story.

Anyway, it’s been fun to see where the plot is going next, and I love how much mythology they’re inventing for this story… especially in the final episode! (Shhh, no spoilers!)

carmilla season two kiss gifI just really really love seeing queer women onscreen. 

And this is one of the things that makes Carmilla my favorite show – the characters are gay or bi, and LaFontaine is nonbinary, AND AND AND MOST OF THE ACTORS ARE QUEER IRL TOO. You’re just not going to find this on mainstream TV. YOU’RE JUST NOT.

kiss kiss kiss kiss natasha gifI just… this means so much to me. I love that Carmilla and Laura’s relationship is THE main relationship, and not some side thing, as so often happens with queer women in fiction.

It’s so obvious that the show has a bigger budget than it did in season one.

Like, a MUCH bigger budget. And the difference is kind of hilarious. Like, they’re filming in a different location now, and in multiple locations, with multiple camera angles. They have those SNN thingies. The hair, makeup, and wardrobe departments are at at the top of their game. The design, in general, seems more professional – especially in the credits.


I love how much diversity was in season two!

More actors, you say? YES. And when the fans asked for diversity… the writers delivered. There’s Mel, and Theo, and – my personal favorite – MATTIE. MY QUEEN.


I relate to Laura. SO MUCH.

And that is all.

I really love how the show explored moral grayness…

In season one, Laura was pretty idealistic, and I LOVED how the show delved into more complex issues. Like, people aren’t good or evil, but somewhere in between. Laura realized that she can trust some people about some things but not others, and that doing something that you think will help isn’t always the same as actually helping.

carmilla season two poster…but I did think there were too many monologues at times. 

Laura had some really good quotes this season! Everyone did! But at the same time, I kind of rolled my eyes at some of her monologues. I mean, this IS told in vlog format, so I do expect plenty of talking – more talking than doing, actually – in front of the camera. But sometimes Laura was talking when she really needed to be DOING!

Towards the end of the season, an exasperated Carmilla would say, essentially, “Well, what do you want me to do about it?” and Laura would reply with some long thought about good vs. evil and I’m just like… LAURA NO. YOUR GIRLFRIEND WILL GO OUT AND KICK ASS FOR YOU BUT YOU HAVE TO STOP PONDERING HUMAN NATURE FOR A WHILE.

I… completely forgot what Vordenberg was like in the books.

I REALLY THOUGHT HE WAS GOOD. I thought he was an adorkable, harmless old man. UM. NO. Oh my god, I hated him. Eventually.

I don’t even know what to feel about Danny.

I mean… I like her! But I don’t really love her. I feel like I might if Carmilla didn’t exist? But Carmilla is more my type than Danny is, and basically I just want a whole spin-off show about what Danny did with the Summer Society before all this vampiric stuff started happening?


I freaking love Mattie.


Wait, I said that already, didn’t I?

But it’s true. I love her. She is SO sarcastic, and SO charming, and SO pretty… I cried when she died.

vampires eating cookiesCarmilla and Mattie are the most adorable sisters ever. 

I love their banter. I love when they laugh at something ridiculous. UGH I JUST LOVE THOSE TWO SO MUCH OK. And I think it’s cool that they’re a mixed-race family, too – they were turned by the same vampire “mother,” which matters more than their actual birth.


This, especially, is what I really wanted to talk about! I KNEW SOMETHING WAS WRONG WITH PERRY. I KNEW IT. I’m part of a Carmilla fanclub Facebook group, and way back in the early episodes of season two, I knew something seemed off. Perry seemed… well, she seemed possessed. She reminded me of Laura when she was possessed by the Dean. (AKA Carm and Mattie’s mother.)

And quite a few people in the group were like, “Nah, I think you’re just reading too much into things” or “Don’t you think it’s too early to tell?” and I’m just like LOOK. LOOK AT THE EVIDENCE. All those students “mysteriously” die, and she wakes up in the same room as them, miraculously unharmed?

So, yeah. I WAS SO EXCITED AND SO TERRIFIED WHEN SHE ADMITTED TO BEING THE DEAN. I think it’s really cool what they’ve done with that character, and with that actress (Annie Briggs).

I mean, she was just a side character in season one. She said funny/odd things, and didn’t really do much except cleaning obsessively. (Which is one of the things that tipped me off – before, she’d always cleaned a lot whenever she got nervous about vampires or whatever, and she just seemed way too relaxed in this season.)

But now? Oh my god, that was such a good performance.

That last episode, though.


It was so good, and OMG DANNY CAME BACK AS A VAMPIRE and Vordenberg is dead and Kirsch is maybe dead and MATTIE CAME BACK. I kept watching until the last few seconds because I thought they might show something important, AND THEY DID. I’m kind of wondering now if Perry!Dean meant to bring her back? She definitely intended to revive Danny, but I have no idea if she meant to wake up Mattie at the same time.

Anyway, I’m just really happy now because OH MY GOD YOU GUYS WE’RE RIGHT BACK WHERE WE STARTED IN SEASON ONE. The Dean, disguised as Perry, has been killing off people who stood in her way and getting others to ally with her, and now everything is set up for her to cause SO MUCH HAVOC.


I was sad when I finished because I thought I’d have to wait forever for season three, but… we’re getting a “season zero”! This consists of twelve episodes – instead of the usual thirty-six – set before season one, and they begin airing on October twenty-second! I’M SO EXCITED.

really enjoyed this season of Carmilla. I wouldn’t say that I liked it better than season one, though, because I love both. For very different reasons. Season one is dorky and charming precisely because of its dorkiness. It’s low-budget and a bit overacted and… IDK, I still love it.

Season two was much more complex. It brought it a whole bunch of new characters, and showed the depths of those we already knew. Also? Visually, it was much more striking.

And all of that counts as a win in my book.

What did you think of Carmilla season two? I’M SO EXCITED FOR SEASONS ZERO AND THREE.

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Things I Miss About My Brother | Happy Birthday, Quentin

brother birthday collageI miss my brother. I’m not homesick, per se, but I do miss certain people and it feels weird not to talk to them every day and see them every day and just generally be around them. I haven’t seen Quentin since I left for college in August, and I won’t see him again until late November. (The University of Iowa has no fall break, only a Thanksgiving break, but it’s a week long to make up for the lack of any breaks in September or October.)

It’s my little brother’s eighteenth birthday, so I thought I’d write a post for him because I forgot to buy a card.

So here’s a list of things I miss about my brother.

1. His computer skills

UGH I AM NOT VERY GOOD WITH TECHNOLOGY. Well, I mean, I’m pretty good at finding my way around the Internet, and I know how to use social media effectively, and I’ve taught myself a lot about WordPress over the almost-five (!) years I’ve had an account here. And I, like, can open and edit documents in Microsoft Word.

But coding? Or hardware stuff? I know Quentin claims he’s more of a software kind of guy, but I HAD NO IDEA HOW TO CONNECT MY LAPTOP TO THE INTERNET IN MY DORM ROOM WHEN I GOT HERE AND HE COULD’VE HELPED ME WITH THAT IF HE’D BEEN THERE.

2. Watching Doctor Who with him

I have someone to watch with, finally – she’s coming over this evening and we’re watching “The Magician’s Apprentice” and “The Witch’s Familiar” and the new episode – but it’s not the same.

There is a PROCEDURE you have to follow while watching the show, goddamn it, and it’s called “Quentin wraps himself in the fuzzy TARDIS blanket I bought him a few years ago and consumes prodigious amounts of popcorn and I smother cuddle the cat and ask ridiculous questions about Classic Who while Quentin gets all huffy and indignant that I just don’t know everything, already, and then we argue about the episode because Quentin loves Moffat and I question whether that man understands plotting and developing characters and other Basic Skills of Storytelling.”

Happily, he told me how to set up my computer so I could watch all the new episodes using the BBC iPlayer, but it’s just not the same. For instance, there is a distinct lack of fuzzy objects – TARDIS blankets, the cat, Quentin’s hair. OMG I CAN’T WAIT TO WATCH THE CHRISTMAS SPECIAL WITH YOU. (And Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, too, on that same day!)

3. His obsession with birds

OMG HE IS SO OBSESSED WITH BIRDS. Especially chickens. And penguins. But really, he just loves all birds. He hugs our chickens. He carries them around the yard. HE CRIES WHEN THEY DIE. Whenever I see cute birds hopping around on the sidewalks and in the grass here, I think of Quentin. He would go “awwwwww” and get completely distracted from whatever he was doing. HE DOES THIS WITH PIGEONS WHEN WE’RE IN A CITY.

And I’ve sent him so many bird pictures, GIFs, and videos today. HERE’S ANOTHER ONE. I found this yesterday and laughed for a solid five minutes. I’ve watched this like 16 times already?

4. His height


I love having a tall brother – and tall parents, as well – because I can just ask them to get things from high shelves! But now? OH HOW I MISS TALL PEOPLE.  Seriously, the other day, I stood on top of a box that was on top of a chair just to reach the back of the shelf in my closet.




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