We Have a Day for That!
Gratitude should be easy, right?
Like...we've all got something to be grateful for, don't we?
This whole "gratitude practice," was seeming a little difficult. Because every time I would think of something I am grateful for, my bitchy/bully mind would come in and be all, "well, too bad, because..."
Me: I'm really grateful for my mom and dad.
Bitch/Bully Mind: Well, too bad, because Covid cases are on the rise so you're probably not going to see them for a loooooooong time.
Me: I'm really grateful it's autumn.
Bitch/Bully Mind: Well, too bad because it's about to be winter and get really fucking cold and you'll be stuck the fuck indoors. Soooooooryyyyyyyyy.
And so, it seemed as though every single thing I had to be grateful for was pushed away by the lurking negativity monster in my head. Which begged the question: how do I circumvent said monster and get down with the gratitude?
Well...I found the answer.
And lo and behold, it was contained in an article from Women's Day.
Yes. Women's Day. I know, it's a magazine geared towards suburban moms with penchants for, like, macrame. This particular issue also included an entire section on what kind of China pattern you should collect. But the thing is, I love it. Seriously. I love Women's Day. And I fucking love magazines like Women's Day. The day that I learned Redbook wasn't a thing anymore? Was a very sad day.
Seriously. I have a bag that is printed with the words: Chai Lattes, Idris Elba, Redbook.
I'm not sure what it is, since I am not a mom, nor do I collect China or do macrame...but something about the homey, family-centered quality of these magazines really soothes me. And so it's not surprising that contained in it's glossy pages, along with advertisements for these super realistic, super fucking creepy baby dolls, and hideous cubic zirconia jewelry, there would be the answer to my problem.
The answer being: Whacky-Ass Holidays.
You see, I started to realize that my gratitude was being hijacked by my fear of the future, which, in times like this can feel hopeless and dismal. So, the key to breaking that pattern was to root things firmly in the present. And nothing is more present than a holiday. It's time made for celebrating. And that's it. And it just so happens, that Women's Day listed all of the bizarre National holidays for November. Of which there are, get this, SIXTEEN. And that's not counting Thanksgiving or Veterans Day.
And I decided right then and there that I was going to celebrate every. Single. Fucking. One.
Seriously. Starting on November 1st (National Author's Day) I was going to begin celebrating weird National Holidays to bring myself gratitude in the present moment. (By the way, November 1st is actually home to three holidays, but I was going to spread those out since it is shocking to me that National Vinegar Day and National Cook for Your Pets day weren't giving their own sacred 24 hours)
And guess what? Today is NOVEMBER 1ST! Which means....it's time to start celebrating!
Authors deserve a shit ton of gratitude, because honestly, books have been a Godsend during this time of quarantine. I've read more in these past months than I have read in years. Books are transportive. Reading is active. And every page has been a saving grace for my overly-anxious soul.
Specifically, the thrillers.
I love thrillers.
I used to kind of shy away from them because they felt sorta cheesy and not something a "sophisticated person like myself" would deign to read. But, seeing as I had actually had a moment of not remembering if I had changed my underwear one day? I figured I could go with something a little hokey.
The thing is, ya gotta go with what ya like. Forcing yourself to read stuff you're not into is missing the point entirely and is going to make you hate reading. Reading what you love is going to, well, kinda save your life a little, ya know? (Lotta "ya's" in this paragraph...) And I love a good spine-tingling thriller, man. I just do.
Of course, that's not all I read. I got down with a bunch of cool stuff, from historical non-fiction to tough love self-help. And as part of my celebration of National Author's Day, I made a list of my favorites and I'm gonna share 'em with you.
Okay, first up: The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn. This book is AWESOME. It's about an agoraphobic, alcoholic, pill-popping woman, who is sure she's seen a murder from her living room window. If you suddenly thought, "that sounds a little like Rear Window," you'd be right. It is definitely Hitchcock-ian in nature. And it is the perfect noir novel. I couldn't put it down. And I COULD NOT BELIEVE THE ENDING. Seriously. You will not guess it. If you do guess it? Message me. I wanna know when and HOW.
Second: Everything is F*cked (a book about hope) by Mark Manson. This book is a little gem of tough-love, all about finding hope in the hopeless moments. It's pretty much perfect for times like these. I found myself highlighting lines and dog-earring pages, which generally means this is a book I'll go back to and will turn into a literary old friend.
Third: Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Bali Kaur Jaswell. OMIGOD THIS BOOK IS SO GREAT! Set in London, an Indian woman is hired to teach a class of older immigrant Indian women how to read and write. However, what starts as a general literacy class turns into something completely different as the women find a new avenue to hone their writing ability.
Fourth: So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo. This is an incredible book on race in America. She discusses privilege, police brutality, the Black Lives Matter Movement, and much much much much more. The book definitely challenged me as a white American, but Oluo writes in a way that allows you to see and understand your privilege and your missteps, but doesn't get you bogged down in guilt (which doesn't do anyone any good anyway) I highly recommend this book to anyone who is feeling lost during this time of reckoning in America. I honestly think it should be required reading for all white people, because the lessons I learned from it are still reverberating through me and shaping me in a positive way to be a better anti-racist ally.
Fifth: Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. If you love spooky, sci-fi, Bronte-level gothic stories, then this book is made for you. We follow a young socialite, who going to check on her cousin after receiving a disturbing letter about the home she shares with her new husband. It's creepy and crawly and super bizarre, and all set in 1950s Mexico.
Sixth: Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson. During this moment in time, I've found myself asking the question: "how the fuck did we get here?" Isabel Wilkerson's brilliant AF writing, delivers quite an answer. She explores the hierarchies of different cultures and relays the experiences and stories of African Americans to shed light on the hidden caste system of America, revealing the true nature of what this country is built on. It is...fucking difficult. But it explains so much, and it does so beautifully. I would compare it to that moment in The Matrix when Neo is asked to decide between the red pill or the blue pill. It's a literary invitation to see how deep the rabbit hole goes.
Seventh: The Soul of An Octopus by Sy Montgomery. I actually read this book way before quarantine. But I fucking love it, and I send copies to people for any and all occasions. It's glorious, it's beautiful, it's heartwarming, it's amazing, it's literally ALL THE THINGS. This book led me to learning everything I could about this majestic cephalopod. The only negative I can think of is that after reading it, you will never again be able to eat or enjoy calamari.
Eighth: Bitter Orange by Claire Fuller. Another gothic tale set in the English countryside in 1969, Bitter Orange centers around the odd and somewhat awkward Frances Jellico and her relationship with a couple named Cara and Peter. Their friendship starts out smooth and beautiful before...well...You know the saying, "three's a crowd?" Well...let's just say this brings that old adage to a whole new level.
Ninth: Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi. I can't say enough good about this book. Yaa Gyasi's writing is goooooorgeous. I mean...it's poetic, and heart-wrenching, and an incredible story that meets at the crossroads of faith, depression, addiction, yearning, and, oddly, science. I loved the main character, Gifty, and as much as parts of the story kinda rip you open and wound you, I am so thankful I read it.
Tenth: The Rural Diaries by Hilarie Burton Morgan. Did you watch One Tree Hill? I did. And did you love the character Peyton Sawyer? Same! Well, you're in luck, because the actress who played Peyton (Hilarie Burton Morgan) Is also a great writer. And this is a beautiful memoir about her transition from actress to lady of the farm in upstate New York. It is the most lovely book, and you feel like you're actually there! If you have ever dreamed of a quaint, homey farm life, where you have favorite shops and shop owners and where you're able to rise with the sun? This is the book you need to read. It's like a hug for your heart.
AND THERE YOU HAVE IT! My Top 10 for quaratine!
As always, I encourage you to purchase your books from an independent bookstore. My favorite is Charm City Books. You can order books to be shipped directly to you from their website here: https://charmcitybooks.com/ and follow them on Instagram here: https://www.instagram.com/charmcitybooks/
And finally, if you have any recommendations, please leave them in the comments! I always have room for more books.
See you soon, we still have a lot to celebrate. I mean, fuck, it's almost time for National Deviled Egg Day!