I Read Banned Books! *gasp*

No matter what age I’m at, there is nothing that has ever pissed me off quite as much as people trying to tell me what I can and can’t read. The earliest time I can recall being told not to read something was in the first grade; I had grabbed the fourth Harry Potter book off of the family bookshelf and flipped to the middle and started reading. My mother told me “no” and put it back. (To be fair, I hadn’t read the others yet, but I was so interested in this particular one because a middle school student who helped teach my class basic Spanish would read parts of the fourth book to me on the bus ride to school.)

Since then there have been numerous other situations like that:

“It’s too mature for you.”

“There are gay people in that book.”

And my personal favorite: my mother once pulled me aside to ask me if Bella and Edward had sex in Breaking Dawn. *gasp* “But… but they were married first, right?”

I was able to tell her that, yes, Breaking Dawn did not include any extramarital sex scenes. Or anything I would consider sex scenes at all. The best part was I had already read the book by that point. And I was also seventeen.

I didn’t bother telling her that I’d read much “worse” things by that point. One of the primary reasons I wanted a Kindle was because at the very least she wouldn’t be glaring at the cover of every book I read. And, hey, it worked. I could read books with as many gay characters and sex scenes as I wanted.

Banned Books Week holds a special place in my heart because it reminds me just how much I hate people policing my reading choices. Or anyone’s reading choices. I believe that if a person can’t handle reading a certain kind of book, then that’s their own responsibility to figure out. They are capable of making their own choices.

It makes me cringe to think that it’s possible that maybe every single book on my shelves has been challenged by somebody somewhere. Do you know how much time and energy that would take?

Allow me to help you calculate just a little.

Bookshelf 1

From top to bottom: Harry Potter books and poetry; an assortment of books relating to books I borrowed from my history teacher; comics; Shakespeare and picture books; oversized books.

Bookshelves 2 and 3

Children’s books shelves 1 and 2.

Bookshelves 4 and 5

Non-fiction on the left, adult fiction on the right.

Bookshelf 6

YA on the top two shelves, the remainder of my adult fiction collection on the bottom.

Bookshelf 7

Stephen King. (Yes, I seriously have a stuffed full bookshelf of Stephen King books.)


And, finally, my textbooks for this term, which I don’t have shelved because having them sorted by class is far more convenient than pulling them off the shelves as I need them.

Anyone want to take a guess as to how many books are on these shelves?



Nine hundred and one.

If just half of these books had been challenged, how much time would have been taken up trying to pull these from the shelves?

How many days have been taken up per book?



I’m cringing just thinking about how much time has been wasted banning books over stupid things like content that MIGHT be inappropriate for certain readers.

This particular Banned Books Week was even more special to me because it largely focused on banned comics.

Comics shelf

Comics shelf

As a comics studies minor, I believe it’s important for people to have access to comic books, no matter the content. There are still people out there who believe they are not “real” books and that they don’t deserve as much credit as “real” books.

Have these people not read Watchmen?

The Dark Knight Returns?


Fun Home?


And that’s just a tiny list of basics.

My blood is boiling just writing this post. Here are just a few of the things I’ve done to work on combating the problem of my rising blood pressure censorship:

Start a Comics Section at my Library

I volunteer at a tiny library every Monday and I tend to have a lot of input in what goes on the shelves. My current project is bringing comics to the library. Everyone needs more comics.

Donate to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund

Wonderful stories can only defend themselves so much. Donations help defend challenged comics so that people everywhere can continue to enjoy them.

Donate to NaNoWriMo

One of the best ways to combat censorship is to encourage writers to write what they want to write. And besides, I get to be a wizard!

"Yer a Wizard, Vampy."

*waits for Hagrid to show up to bring me my belated Hogwarts acceptance letter*

Volunteer for the SMART Reading Program

Oregon’s program to help kids learn to read. They get to CHOOSE what you help them read! Isn’t that great? I knew kids were smart enough to make their own choices! (I will be starting my volunteer work here in October)

Take a moment to stop and think: what could YOU do to help fight censorship?

The Amazing Adventures of the Inflating Vacuum-Sealed Springy Futon Mattress!

I got a new 8″ mattress for my futon off the internet and it came packaged vacuum-sealed in plastic.

Opening it was interesting. Enjoy!

I Break Things Off the Pool Table Too

Back in December I decided I wanted to get a tablet so I wouldn’t have to lug around my six-pound laptop around with me everywhere. Throughout fall term, my backpacked weighed an average of about twenty pounds every day, and I had to run across campus three to four times a day in these little ten minute breaks to get to my classes. When your backpack weighs almost a quarter of what you do and you need to run, you’re going to have some issues.

In mid-May, I broke my tablet. It seemed like I should have been surprised, but I wasn’t. When I was a sophomore in high school (2010-2011), I got this wonderful touchscreen laptop. It took me over a year to save up for and cost me nearly $1000, but it was worth every penny. And then, of course, near the end of the school year I broke it. I wiped it. I sent it in. I gave HP over $300. And then I got it back and had to start customizing it all over again. Thankfully, I haven’t had any problems with it since then (and I can still say that I had a touchscreen computer from before when they were popular. It may be a brick, but it’s my brick).

I had to do the same thing with my tablet, except it was a lot cheaper. I paid $350 for it initially. I broke it. I wiped it. I sent it in. I gave ASUS $131 (but shipping it cost me an additional $29.66, which is just stupid). I got it back. And now I’m back to working on customizing it all over again.

When I started this blog, I mentioned in passing this little app on my tablet that I loved called Snook! I missed playing with that app so much, and when I started reinstalling everything I couldn’t wait to play again.

Imagine my expression when I found out Microsoft shut the app down.

I nearly broke my tablet again. I didn’t because I didn’t want to have to pay another $160.66 to get it fixed again. But I almost did.

Instead, I put all of my anger into writing this letter to Microsoft:


As you can see I haven’t quite gotten the hang of that “self-censorship” thing. Ahem.

I was slightly less upset when I found the Facebook page for Snook! (I’m not on Facebook in any form, but at least I found the link) and learned that the creator of the app was hoping to fix the game up and get it back out there in a new format. I’m going to be a bit twitchier than I was until that time, but good for this guy for not giving up.

I have been busy in the last couple months – I had to write a special ADVENTURE research paper on the brick, I had twenty pounds of homework a day, and I had been in class and working from 9 to 6 every day on top of that, so school and other projects took up a lot of my time. While that means I haven’t had time to post anything, it also means that I have a lot of stories to tell. Some are pool-related. Some are book-related. Some are comic book-related. All are fun. Stay tuned!

Taking a Moment to Procrastinate by Complaining about Procrastination. Because That Helps.

I am one of those people that tends to push things off until the last minute. In the past couple years, I’ve learned to make this procrastination more constructive — I know that if I have a deadline coming up in nine hours, I’m going to spend seven of those hours staring at the blank screen on my computer and not doing anything else about it. Instead of trying to push myself to do the work during those seven hours, I find something else to do with that time. It’s not the best course of action, but at the very least it guarantees that I will do something with that time.

This is not a great course of action for dealing with midterms, which will all be smacking me in the face at the same time right after this weekend is over with. I lucked out a little bit — my Japanese midterm and oral performance, both of which I was not prepared for, were moved to Monday due to the fact that Oregon is a wet white snowy mess right now. It’s nice because it gives me more time to study. It’s not so nice because I have an English midterm on Monday. And a different English midterm on Tuesday. And an 8-10 page psychology paper due on Wednesday. Oh, joy.

Just to spice things up a little bit, Life decided to throw some more stuff at me. My bus home on Wednesday had to take a half hour detour because a girl I went to school with got struck by a car and killed on our normal route. A family friend is in a coma right now and they don’t expect him to make it through the weekend. My aunt went in for surgery to get a brain tumor removed yesterday, and just when everyone was celebrating because it went okay they decided that they needed to operate again to try to remove more of it.

Life sucks. Life makes you deal with everything all at once, and just when you think you’re getting a break Life takes your free time away from you again. It happens. It’s okay to take a break from Life every once in a while, even if you’re busy. Give yourself some extra time to sleep. Read something you want to read. Play some virtual pool on your tablet. Procrastinate by ranting about your procrastination issues.If all you’re going to be paying for your suffering is a couple points off your GPA or something, then don’t worry. Give yourself a few hours to unwind. Then go back and tackle your project.

Keep your chin up. You’re going to ace those Life-curveball-equivalents-of-midterms. I am too.

When Conversations Fall Flat, Talk to the Internet!

Story time! (Most of my posts will involve story time in one form or another, so I may as well get excited about it!)

When I was in high school (and middle school and elementary school, for that matter…), I had a hard time interacting with other people. By this I mean that I just flat out couldn’t do it. I was that one brainy girl who everyone knew but few people actually got to know. I could name everyone in my school and they could all name me (to make this less impressive-sounding, I’ll add that there were only about 100 of us), but I couldn’t really claim more than three of them or so as friends.

I know that not having very many friends in high school isn’t that uncommon at all, but the weird thing is that making friends hasn’t gotten any easier for me in college. If anything, it’s gotten harder. The first actual friend I made here was my billiards instructor. I’ve made a couple more friends since then, but it took me more than a year to find them.

I often feel just so awkward when I talk to people. I tend to slur my words a lot and talk in circles because my thoughts often come to me in a jumbled mess — words and pictures all mushed together until I can’t tell the difference between the two anymore — and I often have to say more than what is necessary in order for me to feel like I’ve actually made my point. When I do talk, I often feel like I have trouble keeping people’s attention, as if I’m just too boring to pay attention to. On the rare occasion that I’m able to, I can sometimes make a good friend. Other times the conversation just falls flat and no matter how hard I try, I can’t fix it.

So, why should I monologue here? Why not monologue to my cats? My rat? My teddy bear?

Well, to start with, pets and teddy bears can’t understand what you’re saying. The pets can hear you, and they care about you, but they can’t talk back to you and don’t really care what you’re saying as long as you’re paying attention to them. Teddy bears are teddy bears. You can talk to them and squeeze them as much as you want, but they won’t react.

I guess, to me, talking to myself on the Internet is a little more fun than talking to myself alone. It’s taking a risk. I’m extremely introverted and talking to people is something that I struggle with, but by posting my thoughts online I’m taking a chance. Maybe someone is listening to what I have to say. Maybe someone gets it.

Or maybe no one will read it and I’ll just be talking to myself. And you know what? That’s okay with me. Sure, I’d love it if someone had something to say about my random musings, but that’s not why I’m here. I’m here to talk about the things that I love. If no one cares, I don’t care. I hope someone does eventually, but if not then it’s okay. And who knows? Maybe by talking to myself like this I’ll get more interesting at some point. And if I get more interesting at some point, maybe I won’t be talking to myself anymore. Maybe I’ll be talking to you. That’s worth the risk to me.

A Bibliophile’s Guide to Curbing Your Book Hoarding Habit!

Here’s a not-so-secret secret for you: I own nearly 800 books, many of which I’ve had since childhood.

Here’s a slightly-more-secret secret: I’ve gotten over 300 of those in the last two years alone.

300 books in two years.

I realized that I seemed to have a problem rather early on — when you run out of space on your bookshelves and start piling books on the floor, and then get a new bookshelf and fill it up within half an hour and have to resort to stacking new books on the floor again, that’s a pretty good sign that you have a bit of a problem.

This year I’ve decided to work on buying fewer books. As much as I love my book collection — I wouldn’t trade a single book from it — it takes up a LOT of space. I have a rather small bedroom, and when I move into an apartment later this year it’s probably not going to be much bigger. Going at the pace I’ve been going at, another 150 books in my collection in 2014 and I’ll probably be drowning in books.

My plan of action is as follows:

Avoid the book section in thrift stores. This is probably where I run into the most trouble. I once took a trip to the coast and brought seven books with me. I came back home with nearly thirty because of thrift store shopping. It’s incredibly hard to resist a good deal. If I can’t see the deal, then I can’t buy anything. Hopefully.

Avoid bookstores in general. I’m not going to say NEVER GO INTO A BOOKSTORE EVER because that’s just ridiculous. All I’m saying is that if I have a specific book I need, then I should go. If I’m thinking of going just to browse, then I should stay home. Or at school. Or wherever I am.

If I need to go to the bookstore, only bring enough money for the one or two specific books that I went in to buy. If I don’t have more money,  then I can’t buy more than what I need. This one can be tricky, though. If you have nowhere safe to keep your money, then you could have a problem. If that’s the case:

Go into the bookstore, get exactly what I need, and hightail it out of there as fast as possible. If I give myself time to browse, then I’m going to find other things I want. Last time I was in a bookstore, I went in to get a textbook and came out with six books (nine if you count the three Boyfriend had me buy for him). If I have more money on me then I need, then I’m probably going to buy something.

I’m sure I won’t be able to follow through with my plan of action entirely — sometimes a girl just needs a good book. I’m just hoping that maybe I won’t buy enough to fill up a swimming pool this year. I have plenty to read as it is.

Oh yeah, and free books are okay to take home. I’m not paying for them. Even if they’re taking up space, they’re still nice. I just need to make sure they’re things that I may actually want to read at some point. Taking home free books just because they’re free is silly and it makes it harder to love every book in the collection the way they deserve to be loved. Take them if they’re going to a good home.

Here’s hoping  that I don’t have 900 books by this time next year!

What To Do When You’re Underage and Can’t Find a Place to Play Pool

When I first started college, I was lost. Horribly lost. As in ten weeks after I started school I STILL needed escorts and maps to get to all of my classes without getting lost. It was terrible. College was awesome, but getting around college was terrible. The worst part was I could never find a place to be while I waited between my classes.

Somewhere along the line, I started hanging out in the wonderful campus pool hall — The Break. The last memory I had had of playing pool was the last day of school in fifth grade when I played with a friend of mine at a pizza place. I sucked. My friend laughed at me and asked me how someone so good at math could be so terrible at pool — it was all angles.

Coming into The Break, I didn’t think that I would end up playing pool at all. I just sat around, talked to people and watched a lot. I’d “attend” almost all of the classes offered, and soon enough I was captivated. Just by watching, I became a strong theoretical player. The only problem was that I still wasn’t very good physically. I knew what I was supposed to do. I just couldn’t do it.

I took one term of billiards classes. I did not start out well, but by the end of the term I was almost as good as some of the stronger players in the class. I’d play for hours at a time — once missing my only bus home just so I could play another game — and I loved every minute of it.

And then The Break closed down.

While all of us who spent a significant portion of our time in that pool hall, I was one of the ones that was hit the hardest by the closure. At nineteen years old, I can’t exactly walk into a bar and play. It doesn’t really work like that. On top of losing my place to play, I also lost a place that I considered to be home. I loved it there. I never wanted to leave that place, so saying goodbye was really hard.

Now I spend most of my time wandering between my classes. I look incredibly lost most of the time because I don’t really know where I’m supposed to be.

Worst of all, I have no idea how to satisfy my craving for pool.

Okay, that’s not entirely true. I do have some ideas. They just aren’t very effective. My process of finding a way to fix my craving went something like this:

1.) Bitch and cry about the problem. This does nothing to solve the problem, but every single one of us who loved The Break did this. At least, we all bitched. I don’t know about the crying.

2.) Play bumper pool. I lucked out a little bit here — for whatever reason, my parents have a bumper pool table in our house. The table is octagonal and I still have no idea how to work with angles on that thing. The bumpers don’t help either. It’s great for when I just want to hold a cue and hit a ball, but if I want to play 9-ball — or anything else — I’m out of luck.

3.) Play miniature pool. As a joke, my mom got me a miniature pool table for Christmas, which was shortly after The Break closed. When it comes to playing on this table, a friend of mine put it best — it’s just big enough to be too big to travel with and it’s just small enough to be hard to aim with. On the plus side, my cats enjoyed attempting to scratch on it (as in hitting the cue ball into the pockets, not scratching the table with their claws).

4.) Play virtual pool. This, so far, has been the most effective for me. In addition to a miniature pool table, I also got a new tablet PC for Christmas to use at school so I didn’t have to drag around the laptop I fondly refer to as “the portable desktop.” I was browsing the Windows store and I found this app called Snook! I was intrigued and downloaded it because it was free — and then I learned that the app would let me play all of the virtual 8-ball I wanted. Aiming was extremely accurate and realistic, and I became hooked. It’s not a complete substitute — I still far prefer holding a real cue and playing on a real table with real balls and real physics — but it has helped a lot.

While this wonderful app is highly recommended for anyone who loves to play pool, it still has its shortcomings. It’s virtual. It’s harder to play with friends. It only plays 8-ball. It’s similar, but it’s not the same.

Which brings me to the next step in the process:

5.) Bitch and cry about the problem. This is still an incredibly useless tactic. I’m aware of that. That doesn’t mean I’m going to stop using it before the problem goes away.