It’s been almost two weeks since I’ve posted. I’m having a bit of trouble at the beginning of this year keeping up with my twice a week posting schedule. Life and work has been busy and that’s ok.
One of the bigger and more stressful events of the last few weeks was Leslea Newman’s visit to our library. It wasn’t stressful because of her; she is lovely and amazing. Nevertheless, trying to coordinate with Methuen’s GSA, our library and staff, and stupid Mother Nature who was threatening to snow last Thursday made for a couple of sleepless nights. I don’t usually get myself so worked up about a program that I will lose sleep over it, but this one has two nights where I either stayed up later than usual thinking about it, or had to send myself an email at 1am because I had awoken with an item to remember to do.
But once the day came, all went smoothly. Leslea Newman read from her book October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard and talked about his life. Her presentation is really moving – I had seen it at NELA last year – and it still made me cry. At one point she talks about young people who have killed themselves because of anti-gay bullying. The handful of lives she talks about range from 18-year-old Tyler Clementi to 11-year-old Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover who hung himself in 2009 after kids bullied him daily calling him “gay” and “girlie.”
11 years old. I can’t even begin to say how ill this makes me, how thinking about how despite this poor boy felt makes me cry.
Leslea also has a point in her presentation where she asks us all to close our eyes and imagine a perfect world where we can do all the things we are afraid to do in our current world. It could be anything, either being with the person you love openly, or walking down the street, or whatever. This also gets me because I realize that one of my dreams of perfection is to go running at night without fear. It’s so silly in a way and I feel almost embarrassed of how easy my life is compared to others’ lives: I don’t have to worry about being assaulted, harassed, or worse for being gay, trans, a minority, in prison, living in poverty, physically or mentally disabled, or any other identity or situation that comes with a lot of danger. I’m a white, straight, middle class, cisgendered lady who wants to go running at night. Really? It’s a really good and striking reminder that I have it pretty easy in a lot of way. This makes me grateful and sad.
On a separate note, I am also grateful that I am not a woman (poor, black, or royal – this book has all three points of view) in medieval Scandinavia. Why? Well, I just finished The Kingdom of Little Wounds, a Printz honor book for this year. It was good, I think? I did like it, and I can’t stop thinking about it. The author’s afterward calls the book a “fairytale about syphilis” and that’s pretty accurate. There are lots of political machinations, sad realities of women’s lives, sexual assault, the madness that comes from syphilis, and one especially memorable body modification that brings particular meaning to the euphemism of a man’s “crown jewels.” (Once you get there, you’ll know…)
All the makings for a great YA book, right? I do think some teens will read it, but it is definitely for the older set. I did enjoy it and can recommend it at least for the very reason that you will continue to think about it for days after you finish it.
What about you? Are your weeks busy and full of lovely art and books?