Shadowsong (Wintersong, #2)

Image result for shadowsongFirst Lines: My dearest Sepperl, They say it rained on the day Mozart died.

I read Wintersong back in the…spring?…and, being a duology, I wanted to finish off this series.  It was gonna be easy, you know?  Two books, done.  And I’d have one more series I could cross off my list.  If I was actually keeping a list, which I’m not.

*Potential Series Spoilers Ahead*

It’s been six months since Liesl came back from the Underground.  She’s determined to live her life and grow her music career, but her second chance at life is so much harder than she ever thought.  Her brother, Josef, is cold and distant from her.  And Liesl can’t stop thinking about the man she left behind.  When signs begin to show that the barrier between the Underground and the world above is failing, Liesl knows she needs to do something.  But how far will she be willing to go?  How much is too much to sacrifice?

I had really enjoyed the first book in this series, though I admittedly found it weird at times. But I liked its play on German culture, its delve into the Goblin underworld, and its ties to music.

Pretty much, still what I liked about this one.

I will say that it started off sloooooow. It took me a long time before I felt like I was really getting anywhere. Part of that might have been because I didn’t have time to sit down and sink into it the way I like to. I was reading a chapter at breakfast and maybe another couple before bed. (Normally, I like to sink at least an hour into reading a day, but I’ve been on a writing kick lately.) But part of it, I think too, was that we not only had to set up the currently world Liesl was living in, six months after the end of the previous story, but also her new, manic mindset.

I did really like that this book took a look at mental illness, particularly relating to bipolar disorder and depression, without calling them by name. You see a couple of the characters spiraling, but they don’t have the vocabulary (due to the time period) to really explain what they’re feeling. But we know. We see it. And I liked seeing some of that from the inside, to better understand it.

What I missed from most of this was the Goblin world. Even though that was the crux of the previous book, it wasn’t very present in this book at all. And unfortunately, that’s what I really enjoyed before. And Der Erlkonig really wasn’t in the story much either.

The reason I gave this a four instead of three is because the last 150 pages or so were pretty extraordinary. I don’t want to say there were big plot twists, necessarily, but it was really well-written. Madness, depression, and yes, a few twists made it quite an emotional ending. I liked that.

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The Healer’s Apprentice (Hagenheim, #1)

Image result for the healer's apprenticeFirst Lines: The townspeople of Hagenheim craned their necks as they peered down the cobblestone street, hoping to catch a glimpse of the Duke of Hagenheim’s two handsome sons.  The topheavy, half-timbered houses hovered above the crowd as if they too were eager to get a peek at Lord Hamlin and Lord Rupert.

For over nine years, this has been on my to-read list.  Since then, more than one person has told me how much they loved this book.  But…I was hesitant once I found out it was labeled as Christian lit.  That is not a genre I tend to like, so even though this looked really good, I was reticent.

Rose has been chosen to be the apprentice to the healer of Hagenheim castle, a huge opportunity for the girl who is the daughter of a woodcutter.  And yes, Rose is ill at the sight of blood, but she’s determined to overcome it.  If she doesn’t, she’ll be forced to marry some bloated, old man and the thought of that alone turns Rose’s stomach.  When Lord Hamlin, the future duke, is injured, Rose is the only one who can help him.  And as they get to know each other, Rose discovers feelings she’s not supposed to have and wonders if Lord Hamlin feels them too.  But what they feel is forbidden, not only because of the difference in their stations but because Lord Hamlin is already engaged to a mysterious girl who has gone into hiding to avoid the wrath of an angry sorcerer.  As Rose’s life begins to spin out of control, she’ll need to take the first steps to find her new destiny.

I was initially a bit nervous about this, since I knew it was Christian lit. However, since the story is set in the 1300s in Germany, the focus on religion felt historically accurate more than anything else. In fact, I would have been surprised if religion didn’t play at least some role in a story set in that time.

The story itself was more than a little predictable, but it was a fun read. Rose is a healer’s apprentice, but she doesn’t have the stomach for it.  But she’s determined to do the job well, especially since it means she doesn’t have to marry. I liked her strength and her convictions. It would have been so easy for her to abandon her beliefs in the face of some of her struggles, but she stood her ground, even when that meant making her life harder.

Right, the plot. I saw the big twist coming waaaaay before it happened. That made some of what followed boring, as I was already three steps ahead of the characters. However, there’s enough going on in the story that there was usually still something else happening to draw me in.

I thought this was going to be more of a fairy tale (I’m told it’s supposed to be a version of Sleeping Beauty), but I definitely didn’t see it.  However, it does have some of those fairy tale tropes to it, which I liked. It feels like an original story, but it also feels comfortable and easy to sink into, like a well-known story.

This was good. I plan on looking at some of her other books now.

Top Ten Books On My TBR I’m Avoiding Reading

Hey everyone!  Oh, this one is going to be sooo easy.  I have about 500 books on my TBR on Goodreads and I gotta tell you, there are definitely more than a few that I’ve been avoiding.  Some intentionally, some not, but it’s definitely happening.

So let’s take a look, shall we?

Top Ten Books On My TBR I’m Avoiding Reading

1. My Dear Hamilton by Stephanie Dray

I bought this book.  It’s sitting in my library, on my “grab this next!” shelf.  I absolutely adored Dray’s first book, America’s First Daughter, about Jefferson’s daughter.  It was breathtaking.  And for her to have written about Eliza and Alexander, I’m sure this is gorgeous.  But I want to savor it and I know that I’m going to just devour it the moment I start it.

2. Strange Angels (Strange Angels, #1) by Lili St. Crow

I’ve been holding off on this for a couple reasons.  One was that my best friend from college loved the series until later on, when she said it got really bad.  So I’m worried about reading a series that will eventually suck.  But also, I kind of wonder if this is one of those series that doesn’t age well.  A lot of 2000s books didn’t age well, back when love triangles were hot and sparkling vampires were in.  So…I’m worried.

3. Beautiful Redemption (Beautiful Creatures, #4) by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

I own this book as well, though this was a gift.  I’ve been hit and miss along the Beautiful Creatures series.  I loved the first book, but after that I sometimes struggled through the books.  It’s been so long since I read any of them that I feel I have to reread the series before I do anything with this book.  Hence why I’m avoiding it.

4. I Was Here by Gayle Forman

Gayle Forman + a story about suicide = me and tissues all over the floor.  This book will undoubtedly break me.  It’s going to be emotional and messy and I don’t know that I’m fully equipped to handle it.

5. The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand

Same as above.  Hand has hit me in the feels pretty hard before and this story, also about suicide, it certain to do the same.

6. End of Days (Penryn and the End of Days, #3) by Susan Ee

I’m terrible about reading last books in a series and this series I have loved so much.  The first book is easily working its way up the chain of how many times I’ve reread it.  The action, the humor, the plot, it’s all sooooo good.  I’m worried that it’s not going to end the way I want it to.

7. P.S. I Still Love You (To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, #2) by Jenny Han

Ok, so like, I liked the first book.  I did.  But I didn’t love it.  Or at least I don’t remember loving it.  But I did like the movie.  And with the sequel coming out…next year?…I feel like I need to read this to know what else happens.  However, I don’t really know that I want to either.

8. Library of Souls (Miss Peregrine, #3) by Ransom Riggs

It’s been so long since I’ve read any of the Miss Peregrine books that I’m afraid I don’t remember enough.  I did that with the 2nd one.  I just read it because I got my hands on it even though it had been years since the first one and I forgot a lot.  It was a rough read and I didn’t really enjoy it.  I think this is going to go the same way.

9. Lord of Shadows (The Dark Artifices, #2) by Cassandra Clare

I’m not totally convince that Clare can write a new story anymore, you know?  The first book in this felt a whole lot like City of Bones, except both of them were already in the know.  The themes are the same, the plot points are all very similar, etc.  Once I get going on it, I do tend to enjoy the stories, but in the last one, I definitely felt like I was aging out of them.  There were moments where I felt like a mother, completely not seeing why they were doing what they were doing.  So…maybe I’m getting too old to enjoy these particular stories.

10. Kingdom of Ash (Throne of Glass, #7) by Sarah J. Maas

Here’s the real money shot.  I checked this book out once and let it sit on my shelf so long I had to return it.  I want to read it.  Truly.  But again, I’m scared of how it will end.  Obviously it’s going to be amazing, but that doesn’t mean it’s not going to be a hard journey to get to that point.  I do vividly remember what happened to Aelin at the end of the last book.

Shadow on the Crown (The Emma of Normandy Trilogy, #1)

Image result for shadow on the crownFirst Lines: She made a circuit of the clearing among the oaks, three times round and three times back, whispering spells of protection.  There had been a portent that night: a curtain of red light had shimmered and danced across the midnight sky like scarlet silk flung against the stars.

Ok, I want to start with a small disclaimer her that this isn’t technically YA.  However, for a long time, I thought it was because our protagonist is a teenager the whole time.  So…yeah.  And based on the fact that this is a based-on-real-history historical fiction wherein an actual 15-year-old girl finds herself Queen of England, well, I thought it deserved some mention.

The year is 1002 and 15-year-old Emma of Normandy has been sent to marry the much older King Aethelred of England.  It’s not the future she envisioned for herself, but Emma knows her duty to her family.  But from the moment Emma arrives, she realizes this is going to be harder than she ever imagined.  She doesn’t meet her husband until the actual wedding, and the man immediately distrusts her.  Her new stepsons resent her.  Rivals are fighting to push Emma away from the king.  Determined to stand her ground and show her worth, Emma slowly wins over the English people and begins forging alliances with powerful advisers.  Even then, though, it may not be enough.  For Emma is falling in love with someone who is not her husband and the constant threat of Vikings could destroy the country before he has a chance to do anything.

I’m a big fan of historical fictions and, I’m finding, especially learning about the time before the Norman Invasion and the reign of William the Conqueror. This was perfect for that.

Emma is only 15 when she’s sent across the water to England to marry King Aethelred, a man about 20 years her senior. Whip-smart and clever, Emma may be out of her depth in terms of power and understanding the culture (temporarily), but she’s clever enough to figure it out quickly on her own. That was a lot of fun to read.

The history and the fiction are expertly combined. Accounts from actual contemporary sources are used throughout the story to introduce the next part and it’s so cool to see how Bracewell put her own spin on it. There’s always far more to history than meets the eye, and I loved that she tried to go beyond the obvious while still staying true to source by giving people other motives.

I also enjoyed how this story really has four narrators to really give a full view of what was going on and why. There’s Emma, Aethelred, Athelstan (Aethelred’s eldest son), and Elgiva (Emma’s rival for political power).  Three of these four are teenagers.  It was really cool to see how they all were woven together to create a bigger picture. It was well done.

It was easy to fall into this story and not difficult at all to keep with it. I read this very quickly.

Verify (Verify, #1)

Image result for verify joelle charbonneauFirst Lines: My stool creaks in the slate-gray silence.  I stretch, then turn once again to stare at the partially finished canvas.

Oh hey, look at me reading an ARC before it comes out!  On top of reading books I’ve had on my to-read list for a decade, I’m also trying to intentionally read my ARCs before their release date.  (This one drops on September 24th!)  I was drawn to this by the cover and the synopsis.

I’m just gonna copy the synopsis in: Meri Beckley lives in a world without lies. When she turns on the news, she hears only the facts. When she swipes the pages of her online textbooks, she reads only the truth. When she looks at the peaceful Chicago streets, she feels the pride everyone in the country feels about the era of unprecedented hope and prosperity over which the government presides.

But when Meri’s mother is killed, Meri suddenly has questions that no one else seems to be asking. And when she tries to uncover her mother’s state of mind in her last weeks, she finds herself drawn into a secret world full of facts she’s never heard and a history she didn’t know existed.

Suddenly, Meri is faced with a choice between accepting the “truth” she has been taught or embracing a world the government doesn’t want anyone to see—a world where words have the power to change the course of a country, and the wrong word can get Meri killed.

I nabbed it because I liked that it was about books and that it seemed to have a lot to say on our current world.

But oh my gosh, did I almost put it down.

I had a really hard time getting into it. It was such a slow start and I really didn’t see what the point was for a long time. Meri’s world really wasn’t all that different from ours in the beginning, which could be kind of scary if you think about it too much, but it just seemed kind of boring for a dystopian. I didn’t feel like there was much plot until I was at least a quarter of the way through the book.

To me, as well, every character except Meri felt pretty flat. We never get close to any other characters and everything just felt focused more on the book’s philosophy rather than the characters. I just wanted more, something to dig my teeth into.

The philosophy, though, was pretty interesting. It’s definitely a commentary on post-truth ideology. There’s so much about just taking everyone at their word and believing everything you hear because you have no way of checking it (dare I say, verifying their information) when the government is managing all internet access. But again, it took a long time to even get that far.

Maybe this was just the wrong book at the wrong time for me. I just didn’t enjoy it much. There were points when the action kicked up that were pretty good, but I just couldn’t get into it.

Top Ten Books I Enjoyed That Are Outside My Comfort Zone

Hey everyone!  So I really like this topic because it goes to show that sometimes there are epic books out there that you never thought you’d like.  (I would say you can’t judge a book by its cover, but that saying drives me nuts.)  I think you’re going to be surprised by some of these…

Top Ten Books I Enjoyed That Are Outside My Comfort Zone

1. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

When I started teaching, I found out I’d have to teach this book.  It looked nothing like anything I’d enjoy.  A fifty year old book about Greasers…who steal and kill people?  No thanks.  But oh my God, now it’s one of my favorites.  I adore this book.  I convince my students every year that it’s amazing and it never truly gets old.  I didn’t think I’d like it at all, but now it’s one of my most-read books I own.  (Well, partly because I still teach it every year.)

2. The Taking by Kimberly Derting

Whenever I look at books, the first two things I avoid are stories related to space or aliens.  They just…no, not gonna happen.  I can’t do it.  But this one got me because I like Derting’s other books.  It sounded interesting enough to get my attention, but I didn’t expect to like it as much as I did.  It was exciting and weird and thrilling.  Now I have two of the books in this series in my personal library.

3. Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

It wasn’t all that long ago I posted my review for this.  Even though I love fantasy, this was just so hyped up that I was sure I was going to hate it.  (I don’t respond well to hype and peer pressure.  I usually go the other direction.)  So when I finally sat down to read this and liked it…it was a weirdly satisfying feeling.  I was glad I’d gone for it.

4. The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

Ok, I just want to say that this book was outside of my comfort zone at the time.  Prior to this book, I didn’t really care for high fantasy.  Most of what I read had at least some grounding in reality, even if the wizards drove flying cars or the vampires sparkled.  To jump into a story where there was no such reality was hard for me to wrap my head around.  But this book convinced me that I needed to be reading more fantasy because it was amazing.

5. Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

Gotta give props to graphic novels.  This wasn’t the first graphic novel I’d ever read (I took a class on how to read them in college), but it was one of the first ones I read that wasn’t connected to something else famous (March, the Vampire Academy graphic novel, etc.).  I’m still not super comfortable with graphic novels, but this was surprisingly good.

6. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

In high school, it was probably a fifty-fifty shot that I’d actually enjoy the assigned reading.  Of course I’d read it because I was a good student, but enjoying it was questionable.  I’d hated Great Expectations, so my expectations of Dickens were very low going into this story the following year.  But I actually found it to be really awesome.  I’m actually kind of scared to read it again in case it’s not as good as I remember.

7. Refugee by Alan Gratz

As with the assigned reading comment above, this was a book my classes were forced to read last year.  I was against it before I read the book because I thought the whole project we were doing was going to be an epic fail.  But, after reading the book, I saw the value.  It’s certainly not a book I would have picked up on my own despite being a fan of historical fiction, but it was really good.  And the parallels between the three stories cannot be understated.

8. The Diviners by Libba Bray

I will happily tell you that I hate the Roaring 20s.  I can’t stand the way people apparently acted as the 1920s got into full swing: excessive drinking, speakeasies, flappers, all around reckless spending.  It makes me crazy.  I do love Libba Bray, but convincing me to read this story–set in the 20s–was not easy.  Once I finally did read it, though, I loved it.  While it still had that flapper/speakeasy element to it, there was so much more underneath.

9. The Shack by William Paul Young

I am not a religious person.  Religion makes me uneasy.  But I watched this movie for Tim McGraw and Octavia Spencer and after that, I had to read the book.  I’m actually convinced that no matter what you’re going through, this book is going to make you feel better about your life.  I haven’t tested that theory, but this book will definitely move you.

10. This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

I got this in an OwlCrate a few years back and, much like assigned reading, I felt like I had to read it because I’d paid for it.  It didn’t quite seem like something I’d like, but it was close.  Once I read it, though, it was super interesting.  I enjoyed it and discovered that I liked Schwab’s storytelling enough to try some of her other books too.

Let’s Talk Relationships

Ok, everybody.  It’s that time of year.  Summer’s mostly over, some of us are back at school, and now I think a lot of us are settling into normal life and we’re thinking ahead to fall and winter.  Maybe you’re looking for a relationship on various apps or maybe you’re crushing on that person who sits two rows in front of you in class.  So I thought I’d take a few moments to share with you some of my relationship advice, from someone who has been in some pretty crazy relationships over the years.

Remember That They’re Flawed People Too

This is probably honestly the hardest for me because I’m so used to crushing on guys in movies and books.  And that’s actually pretty terrible because we only see a certain side of those characters.  We don’t see them when they’re frustrating because they leave socks on the floor in the middle of the room or forget to pick up eggs even though you told them ten times to do that.  Or worse, we see actual red-flag behavior presented in an adorable way (Edward breaking in and watching Bella sleep, for example).  We see the best, swoon-worthy sides of characters, but that’s not how life works.  In life, no one is perfect.  But it is possible to fall in love with their imperfections or to love them even though they frustrate you.

I’m well aware of what my flaws are in relationships.  Like when I get moody or tired, I just disappear.  I can’t handle looking at my phone or answering texts and if I’m forced to, I usually say things I shouldn’t.  Or like how I frequently prioritize my books/alone time/creative time over another person.  I need that time to recharge, especially after a stressful day.  But for whatever reason, when it comes to dating, I expect the other person to have no flaws.  It’s just unrealistic.

But that leads well into my next point.

Don’t Ignore The Red Flags

I’ve done this more times than I should have.  Literally all of my best friends in college hated my boyfriend of 1.5 years.  (He was pretty controlling and far too serious.)  One of my boyfriends told me his fiance had left him about 4 months before we started dating.  (I didn’t realize how big of a red flag that was at the time…he was far from over her leaving.)  Another told me flat out that he was not into PDA, would not even peck my cheek in public or hold my hand as we walked.  It was a fundamental difference that we had because I need someone who can show me that support.  I need that physical connection and even in private, he was pretty opposed to touching.

However, it’s my last serious boyfriend who I really shouldn’t have dated at all.

I was blinded by the fact that he was my high school crush.  Built like a tank and incredibly good looking, I was just in awe that he wanted to go out with me.  But by our first “alone” date, I should have run the other way–and I knew it, even though I didn’t flee.  He admitted to me that he was on probation for a DUI and was without his license, so I’d have to drive him to dates.  It went downhill from there.  He basically wanted a mother, not a girlfriend.  It was my job to nag him to do simple things like go get glasses or call to make appointments.  I’d literally have to do this for weeks before he’d do it.  And once he got off probation, it got worse.  He started doing drugs to cope with the PTSD and nightmares he got, sometimes flat out lying to me about it or going behind my back to do them.

And yet I stayed with him because I thought he was broken and I could fix him.  He’d been suicidal in the past and I worried that leaving him would send him back to that place.  Not to mention his dad and stepmom were terrible people who would yell at him with me literally standing in between them.  It was so uncomfortable.  There was one night they locked him out of the house and he had to spend the night on a park bench.

I ended it because I couldn’t take the stress anymore, constantly wondering if he was ok.  Even my family and friends, who all had different bits and pieces of the story, were telling me it was time to let this one go.  What scared some of them, though, was the fact that he was such a loose cannon and they were worried he’d stalk me or try to find me.  He never did.  (In my opinion, that was because no one was there to nag him to do it.)

For real, though, if you see the red flags or if something doesn’t feel right, don’t ignore your instincts.  Or if other people (friends, family, your dog) are telling you something’s not right about that person, at least take it into consideration.  They might be seeing something you’re not.

Know Your Values

Apparently we’re getting the heavy stuff out of the way first.  Anyway, when you find someone you like, like genuinely like, it’s good for you to start seeing if your values mesh.  It may not seem important at first, especially if you’re caught up in the romance because your brain is releasing all that woo-woo juice that makes your body all fizzy.

But it matters.  My relationships, on the whole, have fallen apart because our values were different.  I already mentioned Mr. No-PDA.  Mr. PTSD’s drug use was my breaking point.  But my college boyfriend (the serious, controlling one) was my first real we-could-get-married relationship and we didn’t realize how important this was.  He was trying to convert me through the last 8-9 months of our relationship, even though I gave up organized religion after I realized it was contributing to my perfectionism and low self-esteem.  He took me to his nondenominational church on campus and his Methodist church back home and I was never comfortable, especially when they brought out the communion wine.  My anxiety spiked just looking at it (I grew up Catholic and at my church they always said you should not take communion if you don’t feel worthy…and I never felt worthy.  See what I mean about perfectionism and low self-esteem?).  This was a defining difference that we couldn’t get past, no matter how much we loved each other.

That’s not to say people can’t amend their values somewhat.  My parents actually experienced this very same issue when they were dating (it’s a running trend in my family, with 4/6 of us having ended relationships over religious differences.  Welcome to the Bible Belt).  Anyway, my dad was the one who wasn’t religious and my mom was, you guessed it, Catholic.  But she ended up deciding that she was ok with the fact that my dad wouldn’t go to church as long as she could raise us in it.  It’s all about discovering what you’re ok with and what you’re not.

Alright, let’s lighten this up.

Be Genuine and Have Fun on First Dates

First dates are hard, especially if you’ve never really been on many.  (My very first real date was to the movies to go see Twilight with a guy from my sociology class.  I was so awkward.)  What I’m finding are the dates that went the best were the ones where I was trying to be myself and where we were doing something.  Movie dates are fine, but the ones I remember most were the ones where I had fun.  And that meant being engaged with the person I was with, not lost in a movie world.

Let me give you a few examples.  With Mr. No-PDA from above, our first date was to a chocolate shop.  We were there for like 2 hours enjoying the chocolate and talking.  It wasn’t dinner, it wasn’t a movie, but I got to know him really well really quickly.

I’ve also been on two bowling first dates and let me tell you, it’s really good for killing some of the awkward because if you can’t think of a conversation starter, go bowl a frame and then ask a question.  They can answer and then bowl their frame.

Also it’s a good way to be a little competitive, laugh at yourself, and see how they handle losing to your undeniable prowess at the game.  I just went on a date in July like this at it really helped me loosen up because I didn’t have to constantly keep the conversation flowing.  We could get some of the awkwardness during the game and then we went to get dinner after and had a great time.  We spent like 1.5 hours at the restaurant talking and it was so much fun.

I know it’s tempting to hide some of your less-attractive qualities on a first date and I’m not saying you should go in heavy with the crazy, but you also want that person to know what’s important to you.  I don’t ever hide on first dates that I have a wide variety of interests or that I’m well-read.  It would be disingenuous to pretend that I don’t read as much as I do or that I can’t talk about Harry Potter or history or stand-up comedians for hours.

If You Use Apps, Find One That Fits You

My brother and I have been trying to find dates for a while.  I used Tinder for a while, which is how I met Mr. No-PDA as well as Mr. PTSD and Mr. My-Fiance-Left-Me.  It wasn’t a complete wash, is what I’m trying to say.  I had some really good times with all three of them, as well as a few other dates that never went beyond a date or two.

But I was getting tired of Tinder this summer.  I want a real relationship and a lot of Tinder users do not.  It wasn’t matching what I wanted and I was–predictably–having a hard time finding people I would even consider going out with, let alone someone who would be good boyfriend material.

I happened to hear about Hinge in a joke on the Patriot Act with Hasan Minaj.  He made the joke that a Hinge profile takes longer to fill out, but you get better results than Tinder.  I was intrigued.  I downloaded the app and soon discovered I kind of did like it better.  My brother found a date through Bumble and likes that one.

You probably won’t luck out and find true love on the first date.  If your experience is anything like mine (dear God, I hope not), you will probably get frustrated sometimes and swear that there’s no one out there for you and you’re going to spend your life as a single Pringle (which, sometimes, actually sounds amazing).  But that doesn’t mean you need to give up.  Sometimes just switching apps can improve things.

Beware the Stereotypes

This is actually a two-fold warning.

1.) When you’re swiping through profiles, it’s really easy to start stereotyping people based on what you see in their pictures.  Thanks to Mr. PTSD, I’ve started thinking that all gym rats are like him.  I mentally cringe when I see guys post gym pics on their profiles.  And honestly, it’s probably not fair that I immediately swipe left on those, but I have that stereotype that they’re probably vain and a little dumb–and might only care about me if I will go to the gym with them.

People are far more complex than they appear on the surface.  I know I am, so why should anyone else be an exception to that?

2.) I see this every time I start dating someone and I hate it with a blazing passion.  I wish I had a better response to it.  What I’m trying to say is that even inside a relationship, you need to be at least partially aware of the stereotypes of boy and girl roles.  Because in our society, it’s like the men are expected to be grown children and the women are meant to be their mothers.  It’s not a partnership in any sense of the word.  I’ll do nice things for a guy like bake cookies or do his dishes on occasion if he needs the help, but I will not fulfill the role of mother to him.  If I’m expected to take care of myself, surely he can do that too.  When I start not getting what I need from that relationship and I spend most of my time treating him like one of my students, that’s when I walk away.

It’s also worth saying that there are “dating rules” out there that you’re “supposed” to follow.  Don’t kiss on the first date, it makes you look easy.  Don’t call them until a day or two later, you look desperate otherwise.  Look, it’s all crap.  You do you.  If there’s a moment and you’re feeling it, go for that kiss.  If you want to let him/her know that you had a great time on a date, tell them!  After my July bowling date, I came home and immediately texted him to let him know that I’d had a great time.  (I tend to hide my emotions very well without trying, so I wanted him to know I’d had fun.  And I really wanted to see him again.)

Alright?  Just be yourself.  It doesn’t matter if you’ve been looking for a long time for that person or if you just happened to randomly bump into the hottest guy you’ve ever seen in the hallway, be open to the experience.  Even a really bad date can be a funny story later.  (In When Harry Met Sally, Sally mentions going on a date where a guy plucked out one of her hairs and flossed with it at the table.)

Ok.  Glad we’ve had this talk.  If you have any questions, Auntie Holly is more than happy to help.  I’ve seen/heard/been through a lot.