Tag Archives: book

Adventure In The Great Wide Somewhere

7 Mar

I have always wanted a Tardis. I have not always known the name for it as such. But to see all of time and space – and, if Dr. Who is any precedent, to have uncountable many adventures while doing so – is what I have, and will always, desperately want. I want it so badly it hurts.

But I was not always a Whovian. The seat of my yearning was not always a mad man with his box. No, my wanderlust came with other names – a wardrobe, a letter upon my eleventh year, a snag on my finger in the bookstore with an oath to follow, unicorns with amulets, wrinkles and tesseracts. My mind has always been an amalgam of Ella’s who have more adventures than their Char’s, Wilma’s who make incredible wishes, Sara’s who create kingdoms out of attics and words and poverty, Mary’s who find gardens tucked away in, well, space and time.

It’s always been books, of course.

Sometimes people seem to think that books make people sedentary dreamers. Perhaps this is true, for some. But for me, all it did was make me yearn for adventure in the great, wide somewhere.

I’m going there on Sunday.

There have been so many, many times in my life when I’ve had the thought, “I wish I could do [something].” But there’s always a barrier. Time. Money. Health. Sanity. Money. Energy. Money. It’s hard to make our own adventures in a world where experience belongs to the old and expediency to the wealthy. It grinds a bit, settling for the smaller scope and pretending you feel like you’re doing something more. There’s always that answer to keep us in our place, “Now’s just not the best time.”

I’ll just wait until things in my life become more certain. Then I’ll know better what I’m dealing with. Then I’ll be able to better move around the pieces.

This is reasonable. This is good. This is clear, logical, totally appropriate thinking.

But I personally realized that unless I was suddenly very, very lucky, I was never going to go anywhere. There was never going to be a “best time.” There was probably never even going to be a good time. I wasn’t ever going to be able to have it all. I was going to have to risk something. I just needed to figure out what I was willing for that to be. Money. Job security. Time. Not feeling alone. Absolute certainty that everything would work out.

Adventure means risk. You’re going to have to be willing to lose something. That’s what all those books I read growing up had shown me, right? You want the world. What are you willing to give it in return?

Sure, adventures aren’t inherently about taking stupid risks. I mean, we’re talking about my wanting to go exploring, not saving the world from the forces of evil. I can at least make the risks I take calculated.

And so I am. Five months ago, I saw something that I wanted. A bookstore. Of course, a bookstore.

In Portugal.

But… it was the bookstore, in a way. We’re not talking corporate white walls with B&N logo slathered everywhere (though B&N is lovely and I buy books there and that’s all well and good). We’re talking… well, we’re talking about that library that Belle found in the Great Wide Somewhere. Bookshelves on the scale of glory. Red carpet and graceful bannisters and dust hanging like history in the light shafts, giving the place an irrefutable air of magic and tales as old as time.

It’s called Livraria Lello, by the way.

I found the place while doing random internet browsing. I wasn’t searching for anything in particular. I was just flick flick flicking, procrastinating my time away while breathing between grad school apps.

And then there it was. The most beautiful, magical bookstore I had ever seen. Because it looked like the one I had grown up dreaming about. The one that I had always, always wanted to be real.

It was a bit like finding a wardrobe.

But… Portugal. That was so far away from ocean-locked United States. It would be soooo expensive to get there.

Sigh. Put it on the mental docket. “Places I desperately want to go before I die.”

*PANIC PANIC PANIC PANIC PANIC PANIC PANIC*

YOU DON’T KNOW WHEN YOU’RE GOING TO DIE! YOU CAN’T JUST DO THAT AND EXPECT TO ACTUALLY BE ABLE TO EVER GO THERE!

Holy moly, Anxiety Man! You’re right!

Sometimes my mental demons have a point. Knew there had to be some kind of reason I keep them around.

So. I sat there, staring at my screen. Doing some calculations in my brain. Thinking about time and energy and money and certainty and dreams.

And I’m going to Portugal tomorrow. And then France a few days after that. And then a few days more and I’ll be in Ireland, where I’ll be volunteering with that project I’d wanted to be part of since something like a month after I left Burning Man. The one about art and community and fire and redemption.

You know, things that sound like magic.

I am going adventuring, tomorrow.

Sneaky things, Tardises, when they go looking like plane tickets.

Advertisements

**Trigger Warning**

2 Feb

Over on his blog, the ever-fantastic Chuck Wendig is currently hosting a comments-based discussion (brave one, he is) on trigger warnings when it comes to written material. Not every book is exactly “safe to handle” for every reader. But is that the reader’s job to gauge? Or the writer’s job to present up front, like an STD in a potential lover? Should books come with sets of trigger warnings?

For those who don’t want to read the N paragraphs below, I’ll tell you my personal opinion up here: No.

If you’d like to know the credentials behind that opinion and the whole long rambling comment I left in Wendig’s discussion, then, dear reader, venture on.

I pretty much promise there are triggers.

* * * * *

Context on me as a commenter: As someone who grew up with abuse of many kinds, eating disorders, and depression and who spent most of college in and out of treatment, residential and outpatient, for the lasting impact of all those things, I talked and was taught a crap ton about triggers. My therapists and I and the other lucky people in treatment discussed triggers around food, triggers around weight, triggers around body image, triggers around physicality and sexuality and self-esteem. There are about a *makes up really funny-sounding humongously big number* triggers out there. Some of them might stir feelings in me of wanting to not eat for a week, or puke up anything I do. Some of them might make me want to tear my skin apart. Some of them might send me flying back into a near-hallucination of memory-based, stimulus-galvanized panic attack where what’s real and what’s not becomes really slippery and I have to tell myself over and over and over again that the floor is real, the wall is real, the door is real, the friend beside me is Person X or Y and they are there to care and not to hurt me like my brain is trying to say there are, conflating them with so many person Z’s in the past who have. Triggers can be loud, concussive noises that send my adrenaline bursting. Triggers can be soft, gentle, well-meant and goddamn *wanted* kisses. Triggers are songs and sentences and slantwise jabs from strangers. tl;dr – triggers are everything.

But they are not everything *always.* What could poke at my emotions or my sanity one day might be something cathartic and beneficial another day. If the entire world is a trigger, then, as I have been told in so many group sessions again and again, it is not my job to censor the world. That’s not feasible. And that’s not fair. While I am not responsible for what’s happened to me, I am responsible for how I deal with it. If I want to do any semblance of living, it is my job, now, to figure out warning signs and preventative measures and people to throw in my safety net and what to tell them about different scenarios and breathing techniques and focusing techniques and fighting techniques and no, it’s not fair that I have to do all these things, but that’s just how it is. Because that’s how I get better. That’s how I fight back the triggers and pick off their numbers, one by one. Neural plasticity is a wonderful thing. But if I continually hide, never ever deal with the thing that hurts me, never practice coming up against it because I’ve cloistered myself from any possible sharp thing, then I am never going to change. I am going to remain crippled and afraid and hiding. And that’s when everything that led up to these triggers wins.

Yes, flashbacks are damn painful but I’d rather navigate my way through them than never be kissed by another human being ever again.

Yes, reading about suicide might make me remember my own attempts, but it also reminds me that hey, there are people out there who have experienced these things too, or who at least understand them well enough to write about them this way. And that’s way more valuable, how much less alone that makes me feel, then reading about rainbows and sunshine all day long. Because really that’s only going to make me nauseated.

There’s a difference between seeking out specifically triggering material and reading material that might crop up some stuff. I know not to go reading pro-ana or pro-mia stuff. That’s just intentionally triggering. And dumb. And not well-written, really. And on a day when I’m teetering back and forth across the line of sanity, I know that maybe I should pick up a Harry Potter book instead of Forman’s ‘If I Stay.’ But on days when I am angry at the world and what it has done to me, IS doing to me, then it’s those days that I really, really need Miriam Black and Palahniuk’s cast of psychopaths and N.K. Jemisin’s gloriously unsafe Nahadoth. I need characters with dangerous thoughts and dangerous emotions because they make me feel unalone in mine. They make my existence feel justified. They make me feel like I’m not just some aberration amongst the rest of the human race.

It’s up to me to know when my brain can play nicely with them, or meet them, if I’ve never perused their pages before. That vigilance is not your job. The only amount of warning you’re required to give me is a synopsis on a book jacket. Anything more, and it’s really just cheating.

—–

The only kind of trigger warning I want:

trigger warning

Miceala’s Mother’s Day Selections

9 May

WARNING: Contains shameless plugs for my publications.

Lovely readers, Mother’s Day is in just three days!!! Or at least it is in the States… not sure about when/if y’all across the pond have this particular bought of Hallmark sales spikes. But seeing how a fair number of you are in the U.S. (though shout out to whomever’s reading me in Norway, seriously, you rock) and you’ve presumably got some maternal figure or other in your life and, if you’re, ahem, like me, have yet to figure out what exactly you’re going to give said maternal figure since you’re a little short on string to make her a twenty-third macaroni pasta necklace, well, do not fear! I have some suggestions!

Spoiler alert: I’ve published some ebooks.

Give your magnificent matriarch an ebook! Each of the three below even cost less than $10! No shipping delay, no bad-for-the-environment wrapping paper, major brownie points for sophistication – and you can support a female author in the process! Check out the ebooks below and follow the links to Amazon to give the Kindle edition as a gift to your special female person. Just press the button in the lovely green box on the right side of the screen that says, very handily, “Give as a Gift.”

kindle give-as-gift

 

1. XXX: The Poetry by Miceala Shocklee

Does your mama have a flair for the salacious? Does she chuckle at doggerel and swoon at all things tall, dark, and literary? Buy her a Kindle copy of XXX: The Poetry

cover-image

 

2. Drop Dead Gorgeous by Miceala Shocklee

Is your mother one for stories of resilience and personal growth? Does she bury herself in memoirs and mental health recovery stories? Gift her a copy of Drop Dead Gorgeous.

DDG cover

 

3. Tales of Life by Miceala Shocklee

Is your matriarch a tale seeker? Does she love snippets of literature and life? Give her the collection of narrative poetry and artsy short stories found in the ebook Tales of Life.

Tales of Life

Disgruntled Groveling

23 Mar

Hello folks! I’m going to attempt to sound more cheerful that I was in my other blog post from this morning. Because there are happier things to talk about here! More exciting things!

Things that also maybe sort of kind of possibly involve that super awkward thing called “money”…

No! Please don’t go yet! I promise I’m going to try to be funny in writing this! Then you don’t have to give money, either! You just get to laugh! Laughing is good, right? RIGHT?

I am only one largeish cup of coffee into today’s caffeination, I swear.

Aaaanyhoo. First exciting thing: books! I have them! For you! Wooo! So, what are these books? Well, these books are writing-containing-things that I’ve talked about on this here blog thing before, except now they’re even cheaper! Why? Because I decided that I wanted to make my books cheaper, actually. More accessible. Especially my memoir about life with (and moving towards without) an eating disorder and depression and other mental health stuffs. Because I wrote it in the hopes that maybe it would be helpful for someone out there. As a place to find sympathy. As a place to direct the friends and parents and extended relatives with their bagillion questions for answers. Perspective, more so, really. You can throw statistics and diagnostics and symptoms at people all you want, but that’ll still only tell them what a disease is, not what it’s like. So that’s what I tried to do with my memoir. Show people what living inside an eating disorder is like.

So. Lower prices. (Some of my poetry + short story collections are even less than $3 now!) More accessibility. Good stuff. Check out what’s available on Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=miceala%20shocklee

Also, heads up, my memoir is almost half as expensive if you get it direct through LuLu, because Amazon hasn’t updated the price change I made:

http://www.lulu.com/shop/miceala-shocklee/drop-dead-gorgeous/paperback/product-20635940.html

 

Other exciting thing! I’m going to the Galapagos in two days!!! It’s literally a dream come true for me. Yes, I’m a writer, but I’m also a biologist. Who loves animals. And nature. Especially cool nature. Do you know how much cool nature there is in the Galapagos??? All of it. ALL of the Galapagos is cool nature. I’m seriously not kidding.

I’m lucky enough to get to go on a mostly-completely-paid-for science research-ish type trip to the Galapagos through a class I applied for and was accepted into at Caltech. We spent the entire term, 11 weeks of it, talking about evolution and geological history and 16S RNA genome mapping stuff and LOTS and LOTS about the Galapagos. And this Tuesday, I get to wake up before 6 am and head out to LAX with the rest of my class to hop (well, probably more like “sleepily bedraggle”) onto an airplane that’ll take us to Quito, from where we’ll be sent off straight to the Galapagos!

So, like I said, very exciting. Me, a biologist, gets to go to the Magical Land of Biology. Dream come true.

Also, as I said, the trip is only mostly completely paid for. I did still have to pay for my own flight. Which means that I am $700 of life savings short and recently graduated. I kinda get these knots in my stomach whenever I’ve thought about my bank account over the past few days…

But oh man! I set a “GoFund Me” page to hopefully help make some of the stress-knots stop attacking my insides! In return for donations, I’m writing Galapagos-y things (poems, flash fiction, pieces, short stories, etc.), printing them out all pretty-like when I get back, signing them, and sending them off to donors! The more stress-knots you slay, the more literary goodies you get!

So, um, if you think you would like to help fund my scientific writerly trip to the Galapagos, that would be super nice! But no pressure. Really. It’s cool. Money’s tight. I get it. I like smiles too!

It’s really hard to ask people for money. Katherine Fritz on her blog has called it “shameless whoredom.” I’m calling it “disgruntled groveling.” Because I’m kinda sitting here in my chair all tensed up as I write these paragraphs in which I presume to suggest that maybe if you like my writing you could possibly help fund it and my dreams and travels but if you can’t it’s really okay and you can forget I ever mentioned it okay bye please keep reading.

Here’s that link you can totally forget about to the GoFundMe page thingy that’ll be up till some time tomorrow:

http://www.gofundme.com/53r4wo

Okay. That’s enough being balled up in a whole-body stress knot for the day.

I swear, I was going to make this post more positive…

Um. Here. Have a puppy.

Fantasy

23 Feb

A poem for Fantasy.

Fantasy

I would like a Tardis to fly away

or perhaps a Wardrobe to crawl through.

Some pixie dust or powdered Floo

might do in case of a pinch,

or perhaps a heated air balloon

might be just the cinch.

I’d like to jump a rattling train

to cross the city bounds,

or follow up a couple clues

chased down by the Hounds.

I’d take a sequence of bricks to tap

or an amulet that listens to runes,

the kind of ring that knows a place

hummed in fireside tunes.

And perhaps a ship or craft would do

to bring me Somewhere Else –

just put me anywhere, anywhere

they say exists in those dreams upon the shelf.

XXX: My New V-Day Book Release!

14 Feb

HOLY SHITWHIZZLES this turned into a ridiculously long post. Tl;Dr – new book of poetry released today! XXX: The Poetry. ALL profits from sales between today and Monday Feb 17th are being donated to Planned Parenthood. Check out the book here: https://www.createspace.com/4668600.

Happy Valentines Day, lovely readers! Or, as some refer to it, happy bitterness day. Whatever you call it, go eat some chocolate and smash some stuff. Lips, genitals, old computer monitors and sledge hammers (Caltech is an interesting place on February 14th, people) – you pick.

And guess what, oh lovely readers? I’ve got a new book out! Released today, Valentines Day, is my newest anthology of poem, XXX: The Poetry.

I'm kind of in love with this cover.

Alrighty, “anthology” is maybe a little too heavy an epithet. (Side note: has anyone else noticed that it’s just a tad awkward how similar “epithet” and “epitaph” sound?) At 28 pages, XXX is more of a booklet than a tome. But hey, isn’t that what valentines are supposed to be like, anyway? “Here, pour forth your bottomless, undying love on this candy heart in no more than 10 characters.” Short and sweet, right?

Speaking of sweet – this new book release isn’t just some consumer hook BECAUSE IT’S VALENTINES DAY AND THEREFORE WE MUST BUY EVERYTHING THAT HOVERS AROUND THE RED WAVELENGTH OF THE COLOR SPECTRUM AND IS VAGUELY HEART-SHAPED AND WE’RE ALL GOOD COMMERCIAL CAPITALISTS, DAMMIT.

Ahem. As I was saying. This Valentines release, I’ve got a – well, it’s not quite a sale, because it’s not decreasing how much y’all are spending on the book (sorry), but it *is* decreasinging how much I’m making off of it – so, it’s a promotion, I guess, is a better word, going on from today through Monday.

You see, on all units sold from RIGHT NOW through Monday, I’m not making ANYTHING off the royalties, because I’ve decided to give my own “short and sweet” Valentine to Planned Parenthood this year. So, ALL PROFITS* I make from XXX sales through Monday, February 17th will be donated to Planned Parenthood.

Now, some of you might be nodding in approval and some of you might be screaming your heads off right now. Whatever. My two-second rationale: Planned Parenthood, not all about abortion. In fact, mostly not about abortion. Planned Parenthood is mostly about keeping people healthy and safe with pre-reproductive medical services. STD screening and treatment and prevention, birth control and safe sex protection, mammograms and informational consultations- there’s quite an extensive list, really. And oh yeah, they also help women who do want to be pregnant and have a baby and whatnot do that in the healthiest way possible. And they do all this while trying to keep costs down as much as possible. A lot of the time they even manage to make services free.

So. Planned Parenthood. I personally like them. You are free not to. Whatevs. My point is, if you do like them, and you like poetry, then OH MAN you can put those two things together AND BUY MY BOOK WOOOOOOHOOOO! And the hard copy costs less than $7 if you buy it through the createspace store. I think that’s a pretty good deal. 😉

Because the book release is so new and fresh and shiny, XXX is currently only available through the createspace store. Give it a week or so, and it should start popping up in places like Amazon.com and B&N’s online store. I should also be getting up the (hopefully) multi-platform-accessible ebook version up later today.

Anyhoo, you all are probably wondering about this book thing itself! After all, XXX is a bit of a, uh, provocative title. Now, to calm some of y’all’s (y’alls’?) nerves, no, it’s not a book of porn poetry. I hear the porn industry is doing just fine without me, so I don’t feel any particular need to contribute to it, thank you very much. However, many of the poems in the book are heavily sensual. They’re love poems, after all. Some are lust poems. There are hints – sometimes more than hints – about nudity. There is an entire poem about boobs. So yeah, I would say the words “mature content” probably applies.

Though I’m not sure a comedy piece about boobs actually counts as mature

Anyhoo. There are four sections of poetry: sensual, morose, doggerel, and senryu. The sensual poems are the more traditional love/lust poems in content; the morose poems lean in around the sadder side of longing; “doggerel” is basically another word for “I felt like a fourteen year old boy with a bent for bad puns when writing these poems”; and “senryu” is a Japanese form of poetry that’s kinda like a haiku except that it’s about humans instead of nature. Most of the poems are completely new ones I’ve written in the past five days (lemme tell you ’bout rush projects…), but a couple might have appeared on this blog and on the secret past Miceala blog that nobody here needs to know about.

Also, a note – yes, I am a cis-gendered, generally heterosexual woman. However, I wrote the poems in XXX with the aim of being gender and orientation inclusive. Because poetry is a highly personal thing, my own tendencies probably still bleed in somewhat, but all in all, I think I did a fairly good job of producing a book of love/sex-related-ish poetry that someone with any set of genitalia or brand of horny-ness could pick up and enjoy.

I dunno. Maybe you should just buy it and find out. :p

So. This is now an obscenely long post, so I should probably stop blabbering now and give you all the link to actually go buy the damned thing.

XXX: The Poetry currently available for purchase here:  https://www.createspace.com/4668600

“Heavily sensual.

Hotly morose.

Frisky doggerel.

Flitratious senryu.

Written to tantalize the mind and rouse the fantasy whatever its partner’s orientation or genitalia, herein lies poetry undressed and posing, draped agains the wall of erotica.

A word of advice to the reader: you might want to brace yourself, to.

This is poetry that leaves its partner tingling.

These words encourage voyeurism. They enjoy an audience. They live to be handled by a lover – so go ahead, get your hands on this book. Hold it in your favorite position. These poems will mutter and sigh with pleasure as you move in and out of their pages, tucking your fingers between the spaces and brushing the edges this way and that. These are poems that will beg you to take them home and have them in bed. Morning, night – whenever you want. Let these poems show you what they can do between their covers.

They think you might enjoy getting to know them.

After all, it’s XXX in here.”

* “ALL PROFITS you say? How do I really know you’re going to donate all the profits?” Well, lovely readers, I believe in this thing called honesty. Also financial transparency. Once I have the report of sales through Monday from createspace, I’ll take a screen shot. Then, I will write a check to Planned Parenthood (totally gonna try to get one of those ginormous checks for this) and take a picture of that too. I can even give you all a picture of me handing someone at Planned Parenthood the check (if I do manage to get an excitingly and absurdly large check) or dropping the check in the mail or something. So, breathe easy, lovely readers. I’m not lying to you. Lying makes me feel all queasy inside. Also I don’t like scams. Or spam. For the record.

The Writing Scent

4 Feb

frostbeard old book smell candle

So, I’ve known for a while that there are lovely, wonderful candles out there that smell like books. Old books, usually. And why I don’t currently possess even one of these candles, I have no idea.

But to smell like “books” is one thing – “books” have a faaaaairly defined scent, since it’s usually the lignin breaking down in the pages that people associate with the smell of old books and libraries and secondhand story-purveying stores.

old book smell lignin quote

To smell like “writing,” on the hand, is something completely different. That, I would argue, is something astounding.

And today, while wandering around Eagle Rock with my friend Kim (she’s super cool and pretty, by the way) in a quest to escape campus and become properly caffeinated (and in my case also further ignore oh-god-all-the-work I’ve got to do), we stopped into a store with the wonderful name MediaNoche. There, in addition to a ridiculously affectionate cat called Luxe that snuggled me for at least the first 30 minutes we were there, I happened to notice a set of candles – made locally in LA, of course :p – branding themselves Wicked.

And they smell like writing.

Specifically, the writing of particular authors. Each of the candles, apparently categorized as “negative space” candles by Wicked, pulled out the contrasting undertones of famous authors’ writing and turned them into scents.

For example, Jane Austen’s candle is entitled “Lovely + Decay” and emphasizes the scent of lavender, lily, and black tea. Oscar Wilde’s candle, “Lethargic + Warmth” combined bergamot, oak, and vanilla.

Both of them smelled like the writing perfectly.

I’m so impressed by Wicked candles. To pull out writers with particular styles of writing, manage to find two contrasting words that describes almost the whole of the authors’ work, and then find what combination of scents actually conveys the sense of those two words together – that’s ridiculously good. That’s art and science and reflection and creation.

And oh hey, did I mention that the candles also come in really cool glass containers with yet another fitting characteristic – this time in an image – in the glass?

Wicked Austen Candle

If I weren’t a poor-college-student-starving-artist-almost-graduate-needing-a-post-ug-job, I totally would have spent the $30ish dollars right then and there to bring one home. Probably after deliberating for another half an hour or so over which particular candle to buy.

Of course, I am currently accepting tribute, too… 😉

Aaaaanyhoo. Finding the candles also made me wonder – what would my writing smell like? What two words would create the representative negative space of my words?

There are so many of them. Words, that is. There are the words I post here, in my blog. There are the words in my memoir. The words in my poetry collections, both already and to-be published. There are the words I write for others, in my freelance jobs. There are the words, tucked into neat 140-ish character statements and stories and poems on Twitter. There are the words in the fiction manuscripts still hiding in folders on my computer or neuronal connections in my brain. There are the words in my journals and 750words.com entries. There are the words I write on post-it notes, some of which I keep and bring with me through move after move after move, while others I throw in the trash a month or a year or a college-education-span later. The words others know I’ve said. The words I’ll never let anyone ever know I’ve thought, that I’ll hide away in the dark recesses of pages or hard drive storage space.

What would my words smell like? What would my candle be?