Friday, 20 September 2019

Review: In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree and American Flowers by Micheal A. McLellan

When I was a kid, I read the book Chalk and Cheese by Adele Geras about two sisters who were, unsurprisingly, as different as chalk and cheese. To describe In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree and American Flowers, both by Michael A. McLellan, as being as different as chalk and cheese, would be a bit of an understatement.

The first book I read, In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree, features freed slave Henry and runaway rich girl Clara as they try to leave their previous lives behind. After losing his girlfriend to a snakebite, Henry narrowly escapes being hanged to go and live with the Cheyenne people, while Clara leaves home to get away from her controlling father who disapproves of the father of her unborn baby.

Through a series of attacks on the Cheyenne people and American soldiers, Henry and Clara reach their destination, only for Clara to have a miscarriage and die next to the father of her baby once they have been reunited. The book itself doesn't so much end in any form of resolution, other than the protagonists getting what they wanted only for it to not end up as they thought it would.

This seems to be a theme within McLellan's work, as the protagonists in American Flowers sure as hell don't end up in the situations they thought they wanted at the end.

Essentially, it's Requiem for a Dream for the 2010's. Starting with Chris, the high school baseball pro turned meth addict, meeting Allie, a runaway teen, in his dealer's house, the two become progressively more and more addicted to meth and end up on the run from the police.

Sliding further into addiction, Chris begins dealing to fund his habit and ends up selling to a 15 year old who dies of a heart attack. Blamed for the teenagers death and suspected of ratting out his dealer to the police, Chris and Allie wind up involved in an armed robbery which leaves four people dead and start their lives on the run from the authorities via motel-room murders, kidnap and a hell of a lot more meth.

Eventually, the two are discovered asleep in the woods and are taken in by a local woman who lets them stay with them while they detox, only to shoot Chris in the head when he refuses to hand himself in and leave Allie to get on with her life. While she didn't get what she wanted, to spend her life with Chris, she got what she needed.

I'd thought of ending this post with a comparison of sorts, but there really isn't room for it here. As with author's I've enjoyed in the past, the style and subject matter of McLellan's two text are such polar opposites that it would be impossible to compare and contrast them without falling into writing a full blown essay. The texts were both incredibly interesting and covered both brand new subject matters and topics that I've read time and time again. American Flowers is not something I"d recommend to anyone upset by portrayals of drug use, but if you are interested in how death and mistreatment can be seen in both a historical and contemporary settings, then McLellan is an author I'd recommend.


Thursday, 29 August 2019

Review - Wild, Dark Times by Austin Case

Magic can get you some wild pussy 

Good to know

I haven’t posted a book review in a while, mainly because the books I’ve been reading either haven’t been that great or I’ve read them so many times that, at this point, reviewing them would be kind of pointless.

On the road anyone?

This one, however, I don’t mind reviewing. Not necessarily because I loved it, there are some paragraphs on my PDF that I’ve written WHAT?? around in the intelligible scrawl only used by doctors, toddlers and the guy I had a thing for that I set next to in year 9 science, but because I loved the language.

Writing about the language of a book instead of the plot isn’t something I’ve read in many reviews. This isn’t an “I’m not like other writers” kind of post, but more a comment on my understanding that, unless you have a particular interest in it, solely reading about the language used by an author might be quite boring. I’m fully aware of my status as an epic writing nerd, but I’m also fully aware that the use of the written language is not something that appeals to everyone else.

Without indulging in my traditional, overdramatic, nature, it is fair to say that the language used by the author is nothing short of beautiful. Descriptive, delicious and invitingly metaphorical, if it hadn’t have been so vibrant I probably wouldn’t have finished the book (and it’s only 96 pages). Whilst they may have had difficulty creating a continuous plot both easy enough for readers to follow and as equally as unique and popular as is needed to attract an audience, it is more than made up for by the words they use in their attempt.

If the idiosyncrasies of language make your nipples hard or if you're looking for a quick read to finish in a day or so, this one's for you.


Tuesday, 27 August 2019

Why I'm not Moving Back to England

I don't think I've really discussed politics in great detail in this blog. Other than my destain for the B-word (Brexit), it's not something I really talk about because I often don't feel able to provide an informed perspective. It's also something that I'm somewhat insecure about talking about, so I tend to let it go. In this instance, however, I actually have something to say, so I'm going to give it a go as best I can.

Until very, very, recently if anyone asked me whether or not I was going to stay in Canada after my work visa ran out I, quite literally, laughed in their face. Sweet baby Jesus, no, I think was one response I used when my dad asked the question. But, due to recent proposals by the UK government, I'm starting to change my mind.

Recently, Iain Duncan Smith proposed that the pension age of citizens of the UK should be raised to 75. Meaning that, until the age of 75, individuals would receive no form of pension from the state. The argument behind this is that it would be put in place to support the "fiscal challenge" the country faces in light of the increasing life expectancy of the population.

Eight years ago, on December 21st, we lost my Grandad, he was 74 at the time. In line with Duncan Smith's proposal, he would have had to work until after the day he died in order to receive any form of state pension. Not until a decade before he died, not until a few years, but until after his death. Not only is this physically impossible, but it shows the lack of care and respect that certain people within my country's government have for the general population.

Whether or not this proposal may come to fruition I don't know, my guess is that it's not going to get the go-ahead and, even if it does, the proposal suggests that it won't come into effect for another decade or so. My problem is that even the law isn't imposed, I don't want to live in a country where the government may have wanted my grandad to work until after his death in order to receive any kind of support, after having worked his entire life.

Not necessarily a rational reason to not return home (other than to visit) but one I believe in, and so am going to stick to.


Monday, 19 August 2019

Early noughties teen literature, what even?

Today ladies and gentleman, we are going to be taking a walk down memory lane, particularly the lane that holds my previous taste in literature. To be specific, the teen literature of Meg Cabot.

When I was a teen, I had no desire to be a princess. However, I did have a desire to be loved and therefore enter into a relationship as romantic and adoring as that of Mia Thermopolis and Micheal Moscovitz from The Princess Diaries.

Not only are we not going to address the content of that last paragraph, but we're also going to ignore the fact that I didn't need to google the spelling of Moscovitz. #Thoscovitz for life.

Would that be there ship name? Who knows.

Anyway, I digress.

The title we're going to be addressing in today's episode of "I'm in a rare ass mood" is The Princess Diaries 6: Sixational. For those of you who didn't spend hours on the memo boards of the Meg Cabot website, the book centres around some bullshit that vaguely relates to Mia becoming student body president and the pressure that comes with dating a college student, aka genius boyfriend Michael.

I was totally invested in this as a teen and let's face it, would happily re-read the majority of the series.

So, spoiler alert, in the book Mia throws a bitch fit after finding out that her boyfriend isn't a virgin (what even?) and he throws a bitch fit because she doesn't want to bone.

Hello, mid naughties? 1940 called and they want their neanderthalic opinions back.

Side note, I googled it and neanderthalic is, in fact, a word.

As I discussed in my previously unread post To the guy that drove me home, trying to pressure someone into sex is so many different shades of wrong that E. L. James wants her book titles back. This guy's behaviour was bullshit, but I'm a grown-ass woman (*cough*) and I'm able to tell someone to suck a dick when I need to. As a teenager, I was completely unable to do this. At the age of 16, I was nowhere near secure enough to be able to tell someone I didn't want to sleep with them and, as a result, found myself in situations that I really wasn't happy with. For some reason, Meg Cabot felt it appropriate to not only write an entire novel based on someone feeling pressured into having sex with her boyfriend but, after they break up for reasons that had something vaguely to do with Japan that I can't remember at this point, she deemed it appropriate for her protagonist to not only be happy remaining friends with her ex-boyfriend who told her he "wouldn't wait around forever" to have sex with her, but they also GOT BACK TOGETHER.

Seriously, this was an appropriate message to send to teens in the mid-noughties? I'm not convinced. As I said, I'm in a rare af mood today, but it would be impossible to deny that they may be a connection between being told that it's okay for your boyfriend to try to pressure you into having sex, and people allowing others to treat you like shit. 

I have various opinions on the #metoo movement, but bro, this is not an okay message to send.

In all honesty, I'm not sure what my conclusion to this post is going to be, But, to summaries, it's not okay to use literature to tell people that it's okay for others to pressure into sex, whether your protagonist is the future princess of Genovia or not.


Monday, 29 July 2019

The Dating Game

When I started dating my ex I began writing a blog post about him that I never published. I was convinced that if I posted anything discussing the fact that I liked him I would jinx everything and he wouldn't like me anymore.

TBF I was convinced of this in most situations and spent the entirety of our relationship petrified that he would go off of me, as I have been in almost all of my romantic endeavours. It wasn't the healthiest of couplings.

I'm attempting to rid myself of the automatic assumption that if I'm involved with someone they are guaranteed to "go off" me. Admittedly I doubt I'm rather difficult to forget but, in true BPD style, I associate romantic relationships with feelings of instability and have done for a very long time. I always assume that people will leave not in the physical sense, but in the sense that their feelings for me will disappear.

Fear of abandonment is one of the most prominent symptoms of BPD, and it is often said that those living with the condition will exhibit manipulative behaviours in order to guarantee that people will "stay". Me, I do the opposite and engage in behaviours that I, in all honesty, know will push the person in question away. This isn't an example of "if someone really likes you they'll understand", it's a case of "I know this is going to drive the person anyway, but I just can't stop doing it."

Self-sabotage is also a very prominent symptom of BPD.

I've recently been on a couple of dates with someone that I like and, although I'm not going to divulge any details of the connection on my blog, it makes me nervous to post the words online. Not because I don't want people to read it, let's face it my reader count isn't very high and nobody knows the person in question, but because I don't know how things are going to turn out. I never really know what constitutes "dating" someone, is there a number of dates you have to go on or do you incur points like in videogames? I don't think it would be correct to say that we're dating, but it would also be incorrect to say that his existence is irrelevant to my daily life. It's not something I am fully capable of describing but it's there.

Confusing as hell, but at least I can take comfort in the fact that I can't be the only person who finds dating this difficult, borderline or not.


Wednesday, 26 June 2019

Things that are currently pissing me off

One of the things I don't think there's much chance of me modifying during this oh-so-cliche journey to not letting myself get treated like shit again is my temper. People with BPD are known to have pretty short fuses and mine is no exception. I once shouted "I don't have temper" at someone who suggested that I can be a little, hot-headed, at times but, if I'm quite honest, I really don't mind.

Aside from my all-consuming hatred of Cat Dealey and Jameela mother-cunting-fuck-face Jamil, here's what's pissing me off at the moment.


This one is quite specific to job hunting but, even so, it makes me mad. It's 2019, people use their phones while they're taking a shit, stop being so god damn lazy and respond to what I've sent you. Even if it's with an "I'm a bit busy at the moment but I'll get back to you shortly", I need to at least know my message has been received. Don't be rude, don't be a douche and send me a mother cunting email back.


In a similar vein to the above rant, the root of this one stems from my favourite of all activities, job hunting. About two weeks ago, I went for an interview at a coffee shop about 20-25 minutes from my house. Baring in mind that I not only took about an hour and a half out of my day to travel down there, as well as the $7 I spent on public transport, you would think that the person who interviewed me would feel obligated to show some basic professionalism right? Wrong. Towards the end of the interview, I was met with an "I'll let you know by the end of the week and if you don't hear from me, that's your answer." I'm sorry, are you in the middle of curing cancer? Are you busy running the country whilst simultaneously finding a solution to world hunger? No. You run a mother fucking coffee shop, so don't be a douche, show some manners and actually send an email when you don't want to employ someone. You run a business, surely politeness should have been part of your training?


My Dad is a postman, ironically as my name is Jess and he once had a black and white cat. Obviously, given that he still lives in Basildon, he does not deliver mail in Canada, but I'm guessing that the process is roughly the same.

Assuming this is the case, why the fuck does my post keep getting lost? At the moment I'm on about 6 for 6 in terms of things getting lost, including a birthday card from my best friend and a shit-tonne of planner supplies that I, unsurprisingly, actually kind of wanted. A package my mum sent in January took 4 fucking months to arrive making it's contents, gloves, tights and fuzzy socks, really quite redundant. In the majority of cases I've managed to get a refund on what I've ordered, but this really isn't the point and I shouldn't find myself reluctant to order things because the Canadian post doesn't seem to want me to receive them. It's not a difficult concept, just send me what I've ordered, that's really all it takes.

But, as The King Blues say I'd rather be pissed off than be pissed on.


Wednesday, 19 June 2019


I was in bed last night, casually rolling my past romantic failures around in my head as a single woman in her twenties is want to do every now and again, and I realised that I have a pattern within my dating life that I didn't know about. I care.

Part of the reasoning for my not wanting to let go of my most recent romantic endeavour was an innate need to care for the person in question. Other people's life stories are not mine to tell but suffice to say a part of me wanted to make them feel safe and secure even if I didn't.

Taking hold of this, I looked back and realise that I've done this time and time again. There were boyfriends with eating disorders, boyfriends with dead parents, boyfriends with depression and boyfriends who's lives were just different from mine. Whether they wanted me to or not, and whether I wanted to or not, I felt the need to, metaphorically, take them in my arms and do anything I could to make them feel secure regardless of the effect it had on my own wellbeing. Without realising it, I liked that these people felt able to turn to me for support, even when I was scared to trust them with details of my own condition for fear of them leaving.

Freud could have a wet dream analysing why this thought process is so deeply ingrained in my psyche, and this is coming from someone who was even sent to a psychoanalyst at one point. Growing up both my mum and I suffered from eating disorders and, regardless of my own struggles, my mum's health was always 'worse'. She was thinner, she was able to eat less and she became the illest towards the end of her experience whereas my body flipped a switch and decided, after years of starvation, that it couldn't hack being malnourished anymore and so I developed binge eating disorder. She was 'better' at having an eating disorder than me, and the fact that I couldn't help her get better destroyed me.

Sat at my desk writing this, I'm asking myself if I want her to recover just for her own health or to make myself feel like the more successful sufferer? And, if I'm honest, I don't know the answer to that right now, all I do know is that for a part of my life my soul focus was placed on my mum's eating habits. I couldn't keep her safe from the thing that told her not to eat, and even now I can't quite process how that made me feel.

It would seem however that this desire to help people even if they don't tell me outright that they want or need help is ingrained within me, and I've been putting this above my needs. Part of me thinks that it's my refusal to let people get close enough to have an in-depth knowledge of my condition that makes me take this position. If I'm looking after and being there for someone else, it stands to reason that I can't possibly need someone to take care of me, right?

As with my posts on self-sabotage, I can tell this one is going to take a long time for me to crack and I'm definitely going to have to revisit it in the near future. I know I care, I just don't know to what expense.