Some Nerdy Quirks I Have

Hello!

Sorry! I totally missed another one. And at the rate I’m going this one’s liable to be late as well because I don’t honestly feel like writing it.

I honestly don’t feel much like doing anything right now. I’m feeling very burnt out from work, my depression is rearing its ugly head, and I think the heat just makes me sluggish.

But I thought I should try anyway and so here we are.

The fact that I haven’t felt like doing much of anything recently got me thinking about how reading is included in that. But the more I thought about it the more I realized that I actually read at like two paces: all of the book in one day, or glacially slow.

Like, I either devour a book in one sitting or I need to go kind of chapter by chapter but I don’t even need to finish a chapter because I’ll pick it up tomorrow and read a little more. I think I got to this point as a combination between having to read at least a book a week for university and reading on my lunch breaks from work where I can’t control my stopping point because ‘Oh god I’m already two minutes late’!

From there I realized that I have a couple of nerdy quirks that may or may not be normal but aren’t things I necessarily talk to other people about to figure out if I’m part of the crowd or a real weirdo.

I take forever to complete adventure style games like Legend of Zelda and Skyrim because I find the side quests much more interesting. But if I’m playing one of the later Harvest Moons/Story of Seasons games I like reading and walk through to know any ingredients/special items I’ll need so I can keep them as I get them and finish up the story line as soon as possible. (I think that might be why I’ve never managed to beat Magical Melody).

I’m not a big fan of sitting down and walking a lot of shows. I ‘watched’ practically all of Game of Thrones via clips on YouTube and piecing the events together through ‘Top Moments’ and ‘Episode Review’ videos in between. But then I’ll find a random anime on YouTube and will binge watch all the episodes when I should be doing chores.

If my friends like a movie that I have no interest in seeing I’ll totally read spoiler filled plot recaps so that I can talk about it with said friends.

I tend to like individual songs by bands and artists. I know there are people out there who will hear a song and go explore the artist and get like full albums but that’s rarely me. I like the one song and don’t tend to look further than that (though having a record player now is changing that a little bit). I’ll also fully admit that most of the songs I find are from amv and mmv’s and I’m not ashamed of that in the least.

I don’t often actually watch game play videos though I follow a bunch of those channels like that on YouTube. I tend to really only listen to them. I put them on as background noise so I don’t feel lonely at home when I’m doing dishes or even getting ready in the morning. I tend to turn YouTube on pretty early in the morning because it’s so quiet and I just like another human’s voice without actually having to interact with that person. So, sometimes I don’t even bother making sure I’m seeing the episodes in order: I’ll just pick something random from a gamer whose voice is going to sound nice and play it. It makes my YouTube front page a real weird combination of played, half-played, and suggested videos.

I’m already falling asleep and I still need to have a shower tonight so I’ll cut the list there. The more I think about it, the more things I realize and I’m not sure tonight’s the night that I really want to go down this rabbit hole of self-reflection.

Playing Out Emotions in D&D

Hello!

So, I just got home from my third full night of D&D (the second where we’ve actually been playing the campaign). Well…I can’t say I just got home since it has been close to an hour and I’ve been handling all the human things that come along with being away from the house for about 13 hours of the day. I got myself some food (a pizza slice is nice on the 15 minute break but it does not a meal make. Well, neither does chips but I’m in a weird place emotionally right now so chips it is) (Don’t worry, don’t worry I’m planning to get something more filling once I’ve finished up and posted this). I fed the cat. Called my mom and had a small cry because human emotions are scary and being 26 doesn’t make you better prepared for said emotions. In fact, I feel like I’m less prepared for them.

But, I will say this honestly, I’m currently working through some emotions that I wasn’t expecting and didn’t really hit until after the session finished.

All my emotions from before the session. Handled.

I didn’t expect it to happen. I figured D&D was going to be a tool to help me socialize more. I didn’t expect it to draw out certain emotions and allow me to detach from them, to allow me to put them in the character, play them out in a fantasy world, and then let go.

Let me set the scene.

The group is in a town where they are working off a debt owed from half the party getting drunk and causing drunken stupidity. Hobgoblins show up and basically warn the town guard that the town will be incorporated into their growing empire and we collectively decide to boobytrap the shit out of the town and fight it out: battle of Winterfell style…or any town siege in any Western movie you prefer.

We start patrolling the areas and because I’m a healer who’s not much use for anyone else: I go on the patrols. On the third day we discover a run down shrine that used to belong to the Everlight, the goddess my cleric serves under. Turns out though, that the inner sanctum has been used for rituals in the name of the Spider Queen. Lydia, my character is livid and angry and a thousand emotions she can’t express because she just had a moment of direct connection with the Everlight and now it’s been thrown in her face.

All of these emotions should be foreign to me. Nothing like this has ever remotely happened to me, and any event that could even be skewed toward a religious experience or complete meltdown rage happened years ago. Yet, as I played through the scenario, as I acted and spoke as Lydia would, I felt something in my gut uncurl.

During the break, when several of us hurried next door for a slice of pizza, I realized that a lot of the pent-up emotions from the passed week weren’t nearly as pressing.

It’s hard to explain. I’ve been trying really hard not to pen myself in, to let me emotions exist and not to shove them all deep down inside. Even trying to do that consciously though isn’t easy. I’ve been suffocating myself emotionally for so long that its second nature to put them in a box and put that box on a shelf and never even look at it again. To ignore it all until its all too heavy to ignore and everything comes crashing down.

More recently, I’ve been trying to understand myself better. I want to be able to identify my emotions, to put words to them, names, and to discover the root causes.

I’ve been trying to do all the emotional labor logically, not emotionally.

No wonder I had such a bad anxiety attack last month. It’s been either ignore it or over think everything while pretending to be all clinical about it. Set it aside, but be sure to label the box first!

But tonight, with Lydia there was no boxing things up and ignoring it. There was no way to do that in a story that demanded a sheer emotional reaction. Right before they discovered that the inner sanctuary had been used for evil purposes Lydia had prayed to the Everlight and experienced not only a vision but a physical manifestation too! (The Everlight wiped a tear from her face). It was a total moment of peace and love and acceptance that Lydia – and myself – had been craving for, for so long. A quiet steady moment in a sea of confusion, doubt, and fear. I didn’t even realize I had been holding myself so tensely until I felt myself give way and relax.

THEN THE DM FUCKED LYDIA UP WITH THE SPIDER QUEEN.

The moment of peace and tranquility was gone. The one being that had respected and comforted Lydia in her darkest moments was being insulted and her shrine desecrated and Lydia just wanted to smash it all. She didn’t want to study it, to try and figure out what was happening. She just wanted it all dead and gone and broken.

Of course, the other characters with her stopped her (physically picked her up actually…she’s barely over 3 feet considering she’s a halfling). They set her off to the side and sat with her until she calmed down. They reminded her to breath, explored a bit more, and when everything that could be was gleaned from the place, helped her wreck it and let her set it back up as a shrine to the Everlight.

And suddenly I realized how angry I had been: at myself for never letting myself be peaceful and content, at everyone else for never giving me the exact words I wanted to hear when I wanted to hear them, for having their own lives and problems that are priorities for them. For never being first in any one else’s lives and stupidly allowing that to decide that I shouldn’t be first in mine.

It was a completely different scenario but the emotions were the same. For a moment, I think I have it all figured out, then I’m proven wrong and lash out (usually at myself but sometimes at other people who sure as hell don’t deserve it). But there’s the reminder too that people do want to help, it just might not be in the way you want in the moment. Lydia didn’t want to get picked up and sat in a corner until she calmed down. No one likes being told to calm down when all they want to be is angry. No one likes being told to wait. But sometimes calming down and waiting is necessary. Sometimes it stops you from trampling important things (here being evidence of what was actually going on but in real life, more often then not, relationships that are important to you).

I didn’t even realize how much anger, and even resentment, was building up inside me until I saw it staring at me through Lydia’s mismatched eyes. And suddenly it wasn’t mine anymore. I didn’t want it.

I don’t want to be the angry, scared halfling who constantly blames herself when things go wrong, even (ESPECIALLY) when they’re out of her control.

I want to be the halfling who has quiet conversations with the dragonborn about home and losing it and growing up because sometimes you have to and that’s not the worst thing in the world. Sometimes home is different in your head and heart then what it actually was and when you get wise enough you’ll be able to see that and maybe, one day, even accept it.

I want to be that girl and after tonight I feel closer to that Lydia then I did before I entered the comic shop earlier in the day. I didn’t just name the anger and betrayal, and despair but acted them out in a safe environment. I didn’t box them up and hide them: I displayed them, played them out, and let them go.  It’s not a perfect system, it’s another tool in the tool box, but it’s something I found that I didn’t even know I needed.

On the Recent Radio Silence

Hello!

Sorry I went quiet there for a few weeks. June was…perhaps not my best month. For the most part, I’ve been absolutely exhausted the entire month. Between my parents being down to visit and my best friend and her husband coming up, I’ve been around people all month which reminded me that I have gotten used to my own space prior to this point.

Not perfectly used to it yet. I still tend to refer to both the apartment and my car as belonging to my parents rather than being Mine. I still hadn’t moved into the other bedroom (which is slightly larger and has the larger bed with the much newer mattress.

You see, I’m a creature of habit and June just screwed up my habits so hard. It’s been a week since my parents have headed out again and I’m still not back to my habits.

Now, part of that is certainly because I’m trying to make new habits: I’ve finally moved into the other bedroom and am in the process of turning what was my bedroom into an office/library. But that’s slow going. It’s taking time and money and I have to try and spread the cost out or I’ll screw myself over.

Other things are out of my control. I mentioned in the last post that I was going to a D&D night on Monday. I’m trying to make that a habit too but July 1st (Canada Day) fell on a Monday this year so that night wasn’t a D&D night. Which was fine because I spent it driving my parents into the big city so they could catch their international flight. I got home at 2 in the morning but, hey, at least I caught a few glimpses of fireworks as we drove up.

I like to think I’ll be able to restart my habits soon. Get better at actually posting these blogs on Monday (and have them be about something other than my life at the moment) but I’m honestly not sure if I’m going to be able to form habits any time soon.

What I mean is that work is getting heavy. I’m absolutely wiped when I get home which was why I was trying to get up before work and get some of my own projects completed then. But I’m still tired when I wake up because I can’t sleep in the heat. As of yesterday, I also spent several hours in Emerge to make sure I hadn’t rebroken my left wrist (which I heard crack pretty badly carrying a box at work). From the x-rays it doesn’t look like I’ve done any lasting damage but for right now it still hurts and I’m going to be overly conscious about how I move at work and at home for days.

My best bet is likely to hold out until September. Things are going to change then: I’m starting a new program at a new university. I’ll have to develop new habits anyways and dust off some old ones too. It’ll be an adjustment period that I can, hopefully, use to my advantage.

That does mean that things aren’t always going to be perfectly settled for the blog. I’ll do my best to get a Monday blog up consistently but if I have to choose between my mental/physical/social health and the blog then my health is going to win. This whole radio silence and wrist thing has really slapped me upside the head with my need to get my priorities straight.

Wake Up Call at the Falls

Hello!

Sorry, I’m late again. It’s been a whirlwind week and I feel like I’ve been going non-stop between work and non-work activities.

I was supposed to get a tattoo on Wednesday but that didn’t happen. We did end up in Toronto; visiting the CN Tower and the Ripley’s Aquarium (I got to touch a manta ray. Turns out they’re rather slimy).

On Thursday, my birthday, we bused out to Niagara Falls and took a boat trip into the horseshoe itself. That…that was a real rush.  We bused back to Toronto and only made our train by planning on being super late because that was the night the Raptors won and Toronto was already a mess getting ready for the game.

My friends headed home on Saturday and I worked both Sunday and Monday. Then I went to a beginners D&D night last night which just completely filled up Monday.

I’m trying really hard not to shut myself off. If you had asked me if I wanted to spend my birthday in the noisy rush of transport and the mid-way which is the Canadian side of downtown Niagara Falls I would have told you no. I’m an introvert, I would have told you I wanted something quieter.

But…in the complete roaring rush of the Falls my head actually went quiet. Sure, I was yelling a lot; the whole thing is a little overwhelming and scary but also very cool. But I wasn’t anxious. My heart was pumping and skittering differently. It felt like I was actually alive in the moment and not just worried about mistakes of the past or the unknown future.

It was me: my hands freezing cold as they gripped the rail, my glasses smeared with spray, my ears ringing with the total noise of gallons of rushing water.

And it wasn’t just Niagara Falls either. There were quieter moments too, when my head was so wrapped up in what we were doing that nothing else really matter. My grad/birthday dinner with friends and family (something that hadn’t happened in so long), the off-brand Harry Potter escape room (we beat it with six minutes to spare!), mini-putt, and the garden between the Falls and the Hard Rock Café where we paused to take pictures.

Looking back on it, I’ve had to face some hard realizations. I’m my own worst enemy. Even those quiet moments wouldn’t actually be quiet for me if I did them on my own right now. My head just gets too loud and I just LET IT. Sure, this week hasn’t been perfect but my anxiety didn’t keep me up nearly as much. My depression didn’t keep me down. There was just other things to focus on; other things to do.

One of the last things my friends and I did was sign me up for a psychic reading at one of the local new age shops. She used a mixture of tarot cards, palm reading, and aura reading and she told me a lot of harsh truths that I’ve been ignoring in my self.

I tend to focus on the negatives. I tend to shove my emotions deep down inside rather than letting them out, giving them up and letting them go. I tend to try and take on everyone’s problems and solve them even when I really fucking hate when others try to do that to me. I blame myself when I can’t fix everything but tend to be real blind to the moments of self-sabotage in my own life.

I’m actually so afraid of people seeing me as different, nerdy, flawed, needy, that I just close the door and say its because I’m introverted that my normal path is between apartment and work and back again. The most I tend to get out is the grocery store.

And none of that is going to change until I decide I WANT it to change and actually WORK for it. I can’t be a better person while acting the same way.

So the first D&D meeting on Monday night is step one. I’ll go again next week. And the week after.

I’m going to get out more. Maybe not Niagara Falls but also not my apartment. I’m going to try and focus on the good things that can happen, that I can make happen. I’m going to try and actualize it rather just say it and forget.

Wish me luck.

Birthday Surprise!

Hello!

Sorry for the day late post, yesterday was one of the best days I’ve had in a really long time. You see, my birthday is coming up toward the end of this week and I also would have walked across the stage to receive my Master’s degree late last week (had I opted to spend the money and go to the convocation).

I had decided a while ago not to bother spending that money, and just spent $40 to get my parchment sent to me early. With my parents heading international, my brother moving to the other side of the country, and my friends scattered across the nation, at my loneliest times it felt like a hollow victory. Even when snapping some celebratory photos in the beautiful dress my mother made me at times didn’t feel right, I didn’t have that many people to celebrate with.

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Turns out my mother understood that far more than I realized. She’s been planning a surprise for me for months.

She and Dad flew home about a week before we set up a dinner to celebrate both my birthday and my grad. It was supposed to be a small thing: just them, my uncle and me. But when we got to the restaurant our table had two extra seats.

My mother had been scheming with my best friend since March. She and her husband showed up at the restaurant from halfway across the country.  It was the best birthday surprise I ever could have received!

They’re still here (they’re staying until Saturday) asleep in the next room which my parents were kind enough to vacate to my Uncle’s house. Today is the first day I’ve had off from work and it’s the first day of three so we have some plans!

You’ll probably get several more posts about this surprise in June and the resulting adventures and mayhem. (I’m getting my first tattoo tomorrow which is very exciting). I’ve worked the passed two days and we’ve still managed to get up to some shenanigans.

On Sunday I took them on my walking tour and accidentally pocket dialed one of my bosses in the process so several people at work heard a section on my tour (thankfully a part where I was in full tour guide mode and not joking around in only partial guide mode [which is harder to shake than I realized]).

Yesterday, after a shift that tended to be ‘busy’ or ‘dead’ with no in between they picked me up and we went black-light mini-golfing. There were some crazy painted glowing pictures and statues: everything from angry dolphins to a very high looking gorilla. We spent practically half our time take photos and selfies and then putting some rounds. Two faster groups passed us but they seemed to have been competing with each other far more than the three of us were. We were there to have fun and hang out with people we hadn’t seen for a very long time and dearly missed.

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I’ve include a picture of me in the black-light, to show you a little bit of what we were playing around in. I’m not posting any photos of my friends until I double check with them that they’re okay being in my blog. He might not be due to work, so better be safe than sorry!

After my tattoo tomorrow we’ll be off on a whirl wind trip that you’ll hear a lot more about next week. Until then: I have some laundry to do, we have an escape room booked for tonight, and the drinking arcade is calling our names this evening!

I’ve needed this so badly.

Musings on Dororo, Episode 20

Hello!

Sorry about last week, a serious dizzy spell hit me and I spent practically two days on the couch trying to make the world stop turning so quickly. I’ve currently have a pretty gnarly sore throat which tells me I’m getting sick, AGAIN, but its not so bad that I can’t sit here and throw down some words.

Especially since I watched the 20th episode of Dororo last night and OH BOY.

For those of you wondering ‘Dororo?’ its an anime set in feudal Japan where a baby boy’s entire body was sacrificed to demons to give the land his father rules prosperity. By some great miracle the baby survives and is picked up by a man who builds replacement limbs. Hyakkimaru is giving an entire fake body and, as a teen, sets out to kill all the demons and get his body back. Along the way he meets a little kid, Dororo, who tries to teach him as much as they can whenever Hyakkimaru gets a new limb or sense back (Hearing, smelling, sense of pain ect.)

Visually the anime is stunning (especially in comparison to its older counterpart) and Hyakkimaru ‘s fighting style is beautifully, and at times horrifically rendered. Since he grew up without arms his swords are built right into his fake ones: he can pull off his hands up to the elbows and, suddenly, blades! By episode 20 he only seems to really be missing his arms and his sight (though he can see the colour of souls and thus recognize demons and not good people and, of course, Dororo), which makes a lot of sense because those three aspects are really what set him apart in the style of the anime.

Now the anime can feel a bit ‘Monster of the week’ with the basic plot of Hyakkimaru and Dororo meet person in need, find them to be connected to demon in some way, fight demon, get defeated, rally, kill demon, get body part back. Often times, if Hyakkimaru got a body part, especially one of his senses, back at the end of the last episode at least the very start of the next episode (if not a good deal longer) is spent with him learning to use, deal with, or enjoy said sense (he hates hearing, sound is overwhelming, but smell is enjoyable especially around flowers).

HOWEVER, I’ve never found Dororo to get stale because the greater story line comes crashing in from the get go: interspersed with the adventures of Hyakkimaru and Dororo’s adventures are moments with Hyakkimaru’s father, mother, and younger brother, Tahōmaru. His father chose to sacrifice his son to the demons to keep power, yes, but also to take care of his people who were suffering. In fact, practically all the humans who become associated with demonic creatures or demons do because they too are suffering. Sometimes, the demon isn’t even the bad guy: it’s the humans and, sometimes, the anime makes you wonder if its Hyakkimaru himself.

You see, the kingdom is at war and, every demon Hyakkimaru kills, lessens the protection the land has. People are dying and villages start to starve because he’s fighting to get his body back. There’s an ongoing storyline about whether or not Hyakkimaru can even operate as a human considering how he grew up: always hunted and under attack without any real understanding of why and by whom. He doesn’t know how to talk and sound is so overwhelming that it drives him mad at points. Nor does he seem to feel any sympathy for those who suffer because he fights for his body, something Dororo feels. For him, he fights for his body because ‘It’s mine.’.

His biological family all turn against him because, for them at least, it’s the sacrifice of one for the good of many. Even his surrogate father, who built his false body, eventually refuses to help him because of what pain and suffering its causing.

But that question is always right on the edge: the humans who side with the demons often do so by sacrificing other people to those demons. They are guilty of the exact thing Hyakkimaru’s father is: benefitting from the prosperity of the deal as long as someone else pays the price.

Nor is Hyakkimaru heartless. Throughout his journey he meets several people who really connect with him, especially Dororo, and teach him about his body and his humanity. In fact, a person’s name (big spoilers so I won’t type it out) is Hyakkimaru’s first word and one of his favorite’s more recently is Dororo after they’ve been separated and united again. In fact, Dororo becomes one of his main connecting points with the world, even after he gets many of his senses back: Dororo is his moral compass and someone he really wants to protect.

In episode 20 there’s something of a breaking point. Both Hyakkimaru and Dororo fall of a cliff and while they survive with little injuries, Dororo’s arm is caught under some rocks. While, given time, this wouldn’t be a major concern, the rock slide has opened a spring underneath them, and their crater is fast filling up with water. Hyakkimaru fights to move the rocks but his hands and arms are only prosthetics, and prosthetics hiding swords, and he breaks on arm trying to push the rock. As Dororo’s head goes under Hyakkimaru starts screaming and bashing his head against the rock: his one friend, the one person who has stayed on his side through all of this, is dying and he can’t do anything.

Luckily, a blind travelling priest (a reoccurring character who often talks about Hyakkimaru’s mission and the moral implications of it with Dororo) arrives and uses the blade hidden in his lute to pry the rocks apart and pull Dororo up. Hyakkimaru now feeling wrathful about his missing body parts returns up the cliff and literally dismembers the demon trying to get some part of his body back. It doesn’t work, and Dororo has to beg him to leave the dead body alone.

This rage seems to happen because of Dororo almost dying: Hyakkimaru couldn’t move the rock because he didn’t have real human arms and hands. Hyakkimaru no longer wants his body back because it’s his but also so, just like all the other human characters, he can better take care of his own.

BUT the problem is that Hyakkimaru might be using Dororo as an excuse for still fundamentally wanting his body back because it’s his: HE HAD THE TOOLS TO GET DORORO OUT, HE JUST NEVER THOUGHT TO USE THEM.

The priest uses his blade to get Dororo out, not any brute human strength. He pries the rocks apart and snaps the blade in the process. Hyakkimaru becomes so fixated on using the part of him that hasn’t been returned yet (and thus wanting it back even more) that he completely fails to consider how he could use who and what he is now to solve the situation. In the process he destroys the prosthetic arm but not the blade underneath. In fact, the blades are fast becoming the most symbolic part of him: he uses them to dismember the demon as he was once dismembered. In this moment, he breaks the symbol of his humanity (his hand) and chooses the symbol of his inhumanity (his blade), most likely without even realizing it.

The story seems to be getting to the end game now, and Hyakkimaru’s break here in episode 20 leaves one wondering how he’s feeling going into what is likely the final confrontation coming up.

Man, I love this show.

Wait For It

Hello!

I’m in a slump again. That’s the thing about depression: it just keeps coming back. There’s a lot of temptation to just curl up and do the bare-minimum to get by. Go to work because I have to (or I’ll be fired), make sure my cat is taken care of, and try to take care of my own needs.

Some days are like that. I once heard someone compare it to being a SIM character; make sure all the bars are filled and just wait it out from there. I try to make sure I’ve eaten and slept and moved around a bit and if I can enjoy some entertainment, then bonus.

But a lot of the time I don’t want to be like that. The fun part of SIMS is not the everyday monotony, it’s when you’re building a new house, or trying to romance another SIM, or generally screwing around with your character. It’s not: wake up, go to work, come home, eat, sleep.

That’s what my life feels like right now. I’m back in a depressive slump and just going through the motions and I don’t even feel like I’m creating anything any more.

None of my writing feels like its working. The second book in my trilogy is awful and changing that means I’ll have to change huge swathes of the third book that’s already written and the more I think about it the more I dislike the first book too. Not that anyone’s reading it. I don’t have the audience. I’m not the self-promoter I need to be for self-publishing. I’m tired.

Even doing something like this is actually just exhausting, especially since I don’t want to leave it for a week but I also don’t want to be super negative. I’m just not feeling super positive right now and thus aren’t sure what to write about.

I’m trying to be nice to myself about it. I don’t have to be perfect. I don’t have to magically not be depressed anymore. Asking the impossible of myself is not going to help and isn’t going to achieve anything. Trying to understand what I need and what I don’t is my best bet right now. Yesterday, what I needed was a reminder that I’m not alone in this. I spent my entire drive home listening to ‘Wait for It’ from Hamilton: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ulsLI029rH0).

It does help to remind myself that there’s a difference between standing still and laying in wait. Taking some time to figure things out, to save up money, to take a break is all okay. Even if I’m not huge strides right now doesn’t mean I’m not moving towards my goals. Baby steps are still steps.

Sometimes its just hard to remember that.

My Book List: Some Statistics

Hello!

So, yesterday I took a couple of strolls around the antique market that happens every Sunday in the market square near where I work. I went quickly before work and then after work too, having a lovely conversation with a friend I haven’t seen in a while. It turns out that his girlfriend and I are going to be sharing our PhD program starting September!

Though, I hadn’t expected the conversation I will fully admit that I went looking for cheaper books: markets are a pretty cool place to check and I ended up finding 3 books that I’ve had my eyes out for (paying just $10 for all three combined).

Once I got home, the first thing I did was to add them to my book list. Yes, I have a book list. I mostly have it because the majority of my books are actually in storage since I don’t have the space for the necessary book shelves. The list is on Excel and includes the title of the book, author’s name, category, publishing company, year of publication, and a note as to where the book currently is (A for Apartment and S for Storage). Now, the list isn’t perfect, especially the publication year where I have totally failed to consistently use either the original publication year or the year of that specific edition, but it helps get the job done. The job being to make sure I’m not repurchasing books I already have.

But last night, as I was adding my new books, I realized that the book list can have other uses too! So, as I explored my list, I thought I’d bring you a few statistics!

Number of Books Owned

349! I am just one shy of making 350 which makes me a little sad and also makes me want to run out and get another book but I need to resist that urge!

Largest Category

The list is split into a variety of categories which also aren’t perfect. The largest category is Fiction. In the category section I do make notes of genre (so something will appear like Fiction: Mystery or Fiction: Fantasy) which is why the Fiction category is so broad (130 books). If I were to chop up the section into those sub-categories then the History section (because my Non-Fiction is chopped up) would probably win out with a (measly) 57 books. Man, you can tell I took a lot of literature courses in my university career. Philosophy comes in third with 42 books!

Top 3 Fiction Authors

If I did just top 5 Authors in general then there would be no chance for any one by fiction authors. As much as I’m currently on a non-fiction bent, I tend to buy books based more on subject rather than if I like the author. Fiction authors, well that’s a little different. I tried to predict this a head of time and was pretty confident about my order. Turns out, it was a much closer race than I expected!

  1. Rick Riordan: 15 books

The completed Percy Jackson series, the completed Gods of Olympus series, the complete Magnus Chase trilogy, and the first books in both the Kane Chronicles and the Trials of Apollo.

  1. K. Rowling (and some pennames): 14 books

The completed Harry Potter series, The Tales of Beedle the Bard, Fantastic Beasts (the original little thin book) and the current 4 books in her Robert Galbraith mystery series: CB Strike.

  1. Bernard Cornwall: 13 books

This one leads me to believe that I’ve somehow missed a box of books in the storage unit when I first built the list because there was a trilogy that I SWEAR I owned completely but my list only has the first book. Oh well, maybe I actually borrowed them from the library (my BA summers were mostly just work and library visits) and don’t remember.

Books 2,3,4,6,7,9 and 10 (ouch!) of the Last Kingdom series, The Winter King (first in the Arthur series, seriously I’ve read the other two??), Books 1 and 3 of the Grail Quest series and its follow up 1356, Azincourt, and Fools and Mortals.

Top 3 Playwrights

  1. Shakespeare (of course): 11 plays (and 4 manga versions)
  2. Euripides: 6 plays
  3. IS A TIE!

Sophocles: 3 plays and Aristophanes also at 3.

Top 3 Philosophers

  1. Plato: I own 4 books of Platonic writing but, other than the Republic there are multiple works by Plato 3 of them so Plato wins (about 14 different dialogues??)
  2. ANOTHER TIE!

Aristotle: Not included repeated texts Aristotle comes in at 4 as does Nietzsche! (welcome to the fact that I’ve done a lot of political philosophy in my academic career!)

Top 3 Non-Fiction (not including philosophy)

  1. Joseph Campbell: 4 books

Romance of the Grail, The Power of Myth, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Myths to Live By. (Did not study this man in school at all, was just curious because he’s name dropped a lot)

  1. ONE LAST TIE!

Thomas Cadhill with 3 (How the Irish Saved Civilization, The Gift of the Jews, and Heretics and Heroes which are all part of his Hinges of History series) .

John Man’s 3 (Saladin, Samurai: The Last Warrior, and Ninja: 1,000 Years of the Shadow Warrior)

Top 3 Books I Own Multiple Copies Of

  1. Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. This is why I had to specify non-repeated books above. I OWN 3 COPIES OF THIS TEXT.
  2. R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. I have 2 full sets: one the traditional 3 books, one where each “book” receives its own text as does the appendixes making a box set of 7(?).
  3. K. Rowling’s Philosopher’s Stone of which I have 2 copies, one being the special edition for the 20th anniversary (Hufflepuff colours cause fight me)

Favorite Book

WHY WOULD YOU EVEN ASK ME THAT??!  I CAN’T CHOOSE!!!

On Misleading Book Titles

Hello!

April was a slow reading month for me, but I did manage to slip in two books right at the end of the month: ‘Ghostland’ by Colin Dickey and ‘Arthur and the Kings of Britain’ by Miles Russel. Neither of them was what I had been expecting when I had picked them up but I did enjoy them anyway. In fact, I liked the direction ‘Ghostland’ took so much that I’ve decided to do a quick review of it on my YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_6fNcFG2lZ8

‘Arthur and the Kings of Britain’? Well, like I said: I did enjoy it. I’m just not sure that it was what the title was telling me.

You see, Russel’s text is about Geoffrey of Monmouth’s ‘The History of the Kings of Britain’. Geoffrey was attempting to write a grand linage for the kings of Britain and thus tries to fit a lot of historical, semi-historical, pseudo-historical, and made-up (?) characters into one long story. There are points where its just lists of names and other times when people just invade Rome a lot, and then, when you hit the Arthurian parts, there is magic and dragons and no one takes this seriously as history, do they???

Most people don’t. But that’s what Russel is trying to address: in reading Geoffrey of Monmouth’s text can you gleam any actual history of the kings of Britain from it? Russel’s answer: yes, if you’re willing to recognize that time mangles a lot of things.

Throughout the whole book Russel takes the time to consider what type of sources Geoffrey could be using and whether we are seeing the ‘mistakes’ in Monmouth’s work repeated in other ‘historical’ texts like Nennius and Bede. There are points where they align for sure: the discussions of the Roman invasion of Britain by Julius Caesar are fascinating because there were likely enough sources, written and oral, that the event ended up being multiplied and both Nennius and Geoffrey end up recording some three different invasions by the Romans rather than the historical two recorded in Caesar’s own written account.

Russel takes the time to differentiate the different styles of writing in the ‘History of the Kings of Britain’ and thus pointing out when Geoffrey is likely using different sources. The narrative is starkly different when all Geoffrey has is a list of names from a family vs. when he more than likely had lost ‘epics’ or ‘praise’ poems to work off of. The difference being which ever Geoffrey recreates: a list of names or a visceral description of certain battles even if he’s willing to skip over far more important ones because his sources probably didn’t describe them.

Russel is also careful to try and pull apart some of the damage that occurred over time and simply resulted in what we have by Geoffrey rather than purposefully done by him: the tendency for duplicated events and the garbling of names over generations and recountings. It’s an absolutely fascinating book, especially if you have had any prior interaction with Geoffrey of Monmouth’s ‘The History of the Kings of Britain’.

However, from the title of the book I was expecting more on Arthur. ‘Arthur and the Kings of Britain’ tells me that, while the author is exploring Geoffrey of Monmouth’s work, it is done so with the intention of exploring King Arthur. The back hypes this up as well:

“Written in 1136 by Geoffrey of Monmouth the ‘Historia Regum Britanniae’ (‘History of the Kings of Britain’) purported to chronicle the British monarchy from the arrival of the Trojan Brutus, grandson of Aeneas, through to the seventh century AD. The ‘Historia’ was a medieval best-seller and copies spread across the whole of western Europe. It was the first work to outline the story of King Arthur. The ‘Historia’ has long been dismissed as an unreliable piece of medieval propaganda. A new examination of the text, however, shows that it is very much more than that. Miles Russel explains how individual elements can be traced back to the first century BC., a time when Britain was making first contact with Rime. Geoffrey of Monmouth’s skill was to weave these early traditions together with material culled from post-Roman sources in order to create a national epic. In doing so, he also created King Arthur, a composite character whose real origins and context are explained here.”

King Arthur is mentioned twice but, no, the text does not even try to explain the “real origins and context” of the character in any depth. Seriously, for the fact that the back hyped up Arthur and that he’s mentioned in the title of the text, the discussion of Arthur begins on page 259…of 300. It ends on 289, giving us 30 pages, most of which simply recounts what Geoffrey says about Arthur. Geoffrey’s own text, as translated by Michael A. Faletra and published by Broadview, is only 217 pages long with Arthur discussed from 163 to 204 (though Arthur’s death occurs on page 199 and the last 5 pages are the immediate aftermath). Geoffrey devotes more time in a shorter book to Arthur who is only part of his lineage and not mentioned in the title.

I wouldn’t have minded the use of Arthur in the title and on the back if the book had delivered what it said it would: a discussion of the origins of Arthur. Instead, Russel devotes much more time to the origin of previous kings, discussing struck coins, additional sources, and places and names that could fit the context of the history. For Arthur, well Russel recounts the history says that Aurelius, a previous king mentioned by Geoffrey and a person many believe to be the ‘real’ Arthur fought the Battle of Badon (which both Nennius and Geoffrey attribute to Arthur) and that Arthur was probably just an amalgamation of folk tales and actual people. You know, what a lot of people figured. And like I said, its not explained, not to the detail that he explains who Brutus may have been (pages 58-90) or how the, comparatively short, discussion of Leir was likely Llyr/Lir/Ler and may have been a Pagan deity Christianized and connected to Rome through the historic Agrippa (and would go on to be the basis for Shakespeare’s King Lear). Nope, the discussion on Arthur isn’t nearly so in depth or interesting: it’s retreading old ground that many Arthurian scholars have already done.

Which, AGAIN, I would not have minded if Arthur hadn’t been set forward as the focus of the text, which he is not. The entire ‘History of the Kings of Britain’ is. The title would have been far more accurate and informative of the focus of the book would have been ‘Geoffrey and the Kings of Britain’ since the work focuses on Geoffrey’s work, sources, literary goals, and so on. Arthur is coincidental because he’s part of Geoffrey’s linage.

Things like this frustrate me because I understand why they do it. ‘Geoffrey and the Kings of Britain’ isn’t going to draw in the readers because you already have to know Geoffrey and Monmouth as the author of the ‘History of the Kings of Britain’ to understand the title and want to read it. But practically everyone knows who King Arthur is: you don’t even need to give him the title, just include it somewhere nearby and everyone knows who the Arthur in ‘Arthur and the Kings of Britain’ is.

More people are liable to read the book because of the name recognition, sure. But how fair is it to tell someone that they’re going to get a discussion of Arthur through the lens of one of the first historical authors to mention him but what they actually get is a discussion of the author himself and ‘Oh, yeah Arthur’s here – he’s just way in the back over there’? It’s not.

We’ve come to trust titles, especially on non-fiction and literary criticism books. When I pick up a book called ‘The War of the Roses’ I can safely assume it’ll be about the War of the Roses and would, understandably, be upset if it actually discussed Shakespeare because he has a couple of History plays that cover parts of the War of the Roses.

Yes, the back of the book does say we’ll be looking at Geoffrey of Monmouth but it keeps mentioning Arthur too, like he’s going to be the focus. There’s a balancing act and ‘Arthur and the Kings of Britain’ didn’t stay upright in my opinion: I wanted a book about Arthur and that isn’t what I got.

Does enjoying a book anyways erase the fact that I feel like I was tricked into reading it? Not really. I’m just not sure how to avoid this problem in the future.