Berkeley’s Little Free Library

I was walking down a street in Berkeley recently when I came across this:

Berkeley's Little Free Library

It’s a Little Free Library.

Berkeley's Little Free Library

I’d never heard of these before but I looked it up online and I learned it’s a thing happening all over the place. The idea is that you can take a book, leave a book to share reading in your community.

Little Free Library Story from Beargrass Media on Vimeo.

This project was started in 2009. By 2012 they had met their goal of having 2510 Little Free Libraries out there in the world. There are now more than 15,000.

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USC Bookfest

When we were down in LA for my birthday weekend (to camp on Channel Islands) it was the time for the annual USC Bookfest, one of the largest literary festivals anywhere. We decided to spend a day there, where we listened to an interview and some poetry, visited lots of booths, bought some books on sale, added our hand to some art and ate out of the food trucks.

usc bookfest

Making a Book

We went to a booth where we made our own little book. First we wrote a paragraph based on a prompt. Then several copies were made and added to a pile on a table. Then we were able to pick four other people’s on the table to create our story, which we pinned into a book. I had my boyfriend and sister help me with all the parts. It was fun :)

usc bookfest bookfest making a book Continue reading

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What Was Your First Love?

When my mom and I were at the Disney Museum I saw this quote I loved:

disney quote

And I thought of it again when we came across this outdoor art display of “first loves” because my eye immediately landed on the Nancy Drew answer (which was one of my favorite childhood reads):

nancy drewBut of course there were plenty of other answers in this art project as well:

outdoor art display of "first loves" outdoor art display of "first loves" outdoor art display of "first loves" outdoor art display of "first loves"

What was your first love?

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Shining Affliction: Quotes and Memorable Things

Yesterday I shared my current love for Annie Rogers’ books The Unsayable and Shining Affliction. Today I thought I’d preserve some of the things I marked as “to remember” from Shining Affliction.

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What you fear most has already happened.”  This is the first line of a poem that Rogers writes and shares in this book. What a powerful statement. And it is so, so true.

“Tea Bags is “magic” and has a relationship with Ben, but Tea Bags also has a relationship with me – I animate the puppet, but Ben treats the puppet as I have treated him. Tea Bags might also be an extension of Ben’s body; Ben wants to bring him boots after all, though Tea Bags has no feet. In short, Ben has found a way to put himself into Tea Bags’s “skin”, to guess what the puppet might want as an extension of what he wants. In this way, he is able to guess what a little lost bear needs and to make a tender response.” Ah, such complexities of people and our play!

“I feel suddenly wary. Everything within me is about to be named, boxed, contained and controlled. My hands rest on the arms of a green chair, but I feel as if they could life up and life me out of here. But they are still, lifeless. The top of my head lifts off (a strange sensation), and with it my answers to his questions life and float out of me into the street where they mingle with the smoky breaths of passerby. There is no need to explain anything, I realize.” As someone who is always reaching for words, written and spoken, I’m intrigued by elective mutism and I feel like this scene (where a doctor is asking her why she’s in the hospital after a breakdown) gives me a glimpse.

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“I know already how to listen to different silences. There is a silence that lies in hiding, waiting for words, but the words of the speaker are carefully censored, for all but the ones the listener waits for go unheeded, denied, into this silence. This silence leaches confidence and vision from the speaker, so that the telling itself becomes unnatural, estranging, annihilating. This silence is a bog, thick. There is no breathing space within it. But there is also a silence that opens out, as a simple wood door opens out on a clean white field, cold, its long slope strewn with stars. This silence breathes and expands. This silence waits for words, too, and it welcomes the unexpected ones, the uncanny, disturbing, and surprising ones.” Another thing that I’m reading for school is Barbara Stevens Sullivan’s book on Bion and Jung, so I’m learning about Bion’s K, the concept of being totally open to what is true in this present moment, and I feel like this latter type of silence expresses that K.

“The philosopher Heidegger writes, “What withdraws from us, draws us along by its very withdrawal, whether or not we become aware of it,” in What is Called Thinking. He goes on to explain how drawing towards withdrawal can shape who we are: “Once we are drawn into the withdrawal, we are drawing towards what attracts us by its withdrawal. And once we, being so attracted, are drawing towards what withdraws, our essential nature alread bears the stamp of ‘drawing toward’.” Another way of saying this is that the gaps in memory draw us into memory, whether we know it or not.”

“In each moment in every life, there is a gesture hovering, to move toward or away from a truth.”

“I see suddenly, very clearly, that her trust in me changed as she acquired more and more clinical training and experience, until I felt, in the last year we met, that what I said to her hardly mattered. She had her interpretations all ready, and my words were fitted to them. Anything that did not fit could be attributed to my ‘denial’ or ‘resistance’.” This is at the heart of Rogers’ troubles with her therapist and it really strikes me to the core. I think it is the risk all therapists run of getting wrapped up in the academic side of things and forgetting to see the person in front of them. It’s a risk I’m afraid of if I move into this work myself. It’s an area I never want to stop being vigilant about.

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Shining Affliction, Unsayable, Annie Rogers and Lacan

One of the book assigned for my Clinical Relationship class this semester was The Unsayable: The Hidden Language of Trauma by Annie Rogers, PhD. I fell in love with the book, reading it in one day and then reading a big chunk of it for a second time. After that I went back and checked out Rogers’ first book A Shining Affliction: A Story of Harm and Healing in Psychotherapy.

About Annie Rogers

Annie Rogers is a psychotherapist who shares case studies of some of her work with us in each of these books. She also has her own history of mental illness, including hallucinations and hospitalizations. A major focus area of her work has been studying French psychoanalyst Lacan and applying her interpretations of his theory to her work. She is inspiring in her work and it was fascinating to read each of her books for different reasons.

A Shining Affliction

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This first book is a book of two different stories.

The first is the story of one of her earliest patients, a young boy that she worked with during her practicum year. His is a devastating story of neglect and abuse and the acting out that occurred as he tried to cope with the world around him. It’s also a powerful story of transformative healing through the therapeutic relationship. His story reminded me of so many of the kids I worked with in my group home work and her work with him is inspiring.

But her work is imperfect. And for a time she has to take a break from him. That’s because this book is also her story – her story of her own breakdown, triggered by her work with young clients and complicated by a negative relationship with her own therapist. We see her work with another therapist as well as some psychology mentors and heal.

These are human stories and so they are stories without endings, without perfect resolutions. But they are powerful. And it’s inspiring to have read this book after reading The Unsayable because I was already familiar with how inspiring Rogers’ work went on to become and it was even more inspiring after realizing the difficulties she surmounted to get there.

Unsayable

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Books Unread

Every time that I go to the library I come home with dozens of books. I read most of them but there are always a couple that I don’t get to. This time around the two I didn’t read were Love with a Chance of Drowning by Torre DeRoche and OCD Love Story by Corey Ann Haydu.

books unread

The latter I probably won’t end up reading. Although it looked cute, it’s a teen novel and I don’t typically read YA fiction. (Although there have been some exceptions.)

love with a chance of drowning

DeRoche’s book is one I might return to, though. It’s a memoir about the Australian author’s experience spending a year in San Francisco, meeting the man of her dreams and going sailing around the world with him despite a fear of deep water. It didn’t grab me at first, but sometimes that’s just a timing issue. I like travel memoirs, I like reading books related to life in San Francisco and I like true love stories. There was nothing wrong with the writing so the book is on my radar as one I might want to read, just not right now for some reason. It seems like a good vacation / airplane trip read.

Have you read either of these books?

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Books I Loved as a Child and Beyond

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I am currently working on a creative project for school that is going to track my own personal human development through the books that were most important to me at different stages in my life. I have always been a voracious reader and books have both reflected my interests at any given time and also enhanced and influenced my interests. They have been a key part of my personal development.

nancy drew

The earliest books that I really remember reading are the Nancy Drew books. I read the entire series with my mom when I was a child. I could easily have read them on my own but it was something that we shared together. I remember sometimes going shopping for the books with her, instilling an early love of bookstores. I remember sitting in my bed while she read them to me.

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There were books I loved before that, though, even though I was too little to remember them. When I asked my mom what Continue reading

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Recently Read: The Sweet Revenge of Celia Door

sweet revenge of celia door

I don’t typically read a lot of teen or Young Adult books but every once in awhile one will catch my eye at the local library and I’ll pick it up. I do love that they are such fast reads and always offer reminders of what it was like to be a teen. Recently I read The Sweet Revenge of Celia Door by Karen FinneyFrock.

The Story

The basic story is that main character Celia Door was horribly bullied by some girls in her school. In reaction she turned “dark”, writing a lot of poetry, hiding behind a goth exterior, pretending not to care what anyone thinks of her. As high school starts she befriends new student Drake. She promptly gets a crush on him but then learns he’s gay … still it’s nice for her to have a friend and especially one that other kids see as cool. A series of things happen and her poetry book gets stolen and a poem about Drake being gay is posted all over the school, effectively outing him. It ultimately doesn’t have the dramatic impact you might think it would and the story kind of ends with quietly shortly after this scene. The title of the book refers to a plan Celia has to get revenge against the girls who bullied her but she basically realizes in the end that developing her own life, creativity and friendships is of more value.

What I Liked

I can’t really say I liked or didn’t like the book. It was just one of those things I sat down and read in a quick sitting to zone out and relax my mind and for that I totally enjoyed it. But if I had to get nitpickier, I’d say here are the reasons I liked it:

  • The author does a good job of revealing little bits of Celia’s story over the course of the whole book.
  • The character of Drake isn’t super stereotypical in what it means to be a gay teen coming out.
  • There are some funny scenes that make fun of the self help reading movement; they aren’t the bulk of the book but they entertained me.
  • The author works in her own poetry through the main character. She’s written two books of poetry previous to this book (her first novel) and from a writer’s perspective it’s interesting to see her write it in.
  • Descriptions of Celia’s encouraging middle school English teacher remind me of a teacher I had when I was in high school.
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