On December 7th I landed in Detroit Airport after one year of living in Colombia, six months prior to that of wandering South America, and  six months prior to that living in Southern Cali.Michigan is home. Not Detroit, far a way from Detroit, it’s just the cheapest airport to fly into. I love winter and snow and northern MI in the winter, but it was fucking cold. I am starting a new job in February, I have a 9 month contract and will be working on some certifications while I’m home, then I’m off again. Back out there in the middle of the world. Until I start my new job I have a freelance cabin sitting position. A friends very wealthy parents own 20 acres of densely wooded property up in Northern almost touching Canada Michigan. The next closes neighbor is miles away and their 20 acres of densely wooded property is surrounded by another 30+ acres of wooded property. I’ll be alone. I’ve had amazing opportunities to do similar things in the past. I house sat on a 15 acre ranch in the middle of nowhere Arizona for two months one summer, I house sat sat for an Aunt and Uncle in a little tiny Beach cottage in St. Simmons Georgia for winter once, I’ve house sat for another summer in the middle of downtown Denver for my sister and brother in law a while ago. But this will be the epitome of solitude.

Upon arriving back to the states I remembered how much I love being able to just grab any book off the shelf at a bookstore. I can read at a respectable level in Spanish and I do alright reading in French, but I can’t just grab any book I want. I have to evaluate it and decide whether I know the author well enough or the genre well enough. Is there going to be a lot of colloquialism in the book? How dense is the prose? These are all things I have to consider before buying a book in Spanish or French. Here in the states I just get to buy the book I want.

This whole experience is going to be fun, but it will become lonely. I’ll probably only interact with a few people in the real world once or twice a week when I drive the half hour into the nearest town to get groceries. I will probably interact online occasionally so I don’t go completely mad, but it is going to be a mental exercise to keep myself from getting lost in the lariam depression and to keep myself entertained. When I got back to the states I had some money saved from a bunch of freelance I took on this past summer and I went to the first used bookstore I found to stock up. These are the books I intend on finishing over the six week period I am house sitting.

ww1So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed? Jon Ronson

For the past three years, Jon Ronson has traveled the world meeting recipients of high-profile public shamings. The shamed are people like us, people who, say, made a joke on social media that came out badly or made a mistake at work. Once the transgression is revealed, collective outrage circles with the force of a hurricane and the next thing they know, they’re being torn apart by an angry mob, jeered at, demonized, sometimes even fired from their job.

A great renaissance of public shaming is sweeping our land. Justice has been democratized. The silent majority are getting a voice, but what are we doing with our voice? We are mercilessly finding people’s faults. We are defining the boundaries of normality by ruining the lives of those outside it. We are using shame as a form of social control.

Simultaneously powerful and hilarious in the way only Jon Ronson can be, So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed is a deeply honest book about modern life, full of eye-opening truths about the escalating war on human flaws and the very scary part we all play in it.

I grew up online. I was creating and playing in forums on a regular basis way before 2.0 even hit. I have friends I have known for years online that I absolutely consider friends despite the internet aspect of our relationships. I however never really got into social media much. Facebook…I only used it for a couple months way back in 2009, just never really got into it. I don’t understand Twitter so I only have an account there to follow a blogger or two, and my old account was so underused I had forgotten my email and password so I had to make a new account in June to follow the few people I follow there. Despite my ineptness towards social media I view the internet as a place to be anonymous if you so choose, it’s up to you to protect that anonymity, but the option is there. I view it as a place to grow some thicker skin, make friends, laugh, learn, and say what you want. I’ve dwelled in some darker corners of the internet. Early day chans, subreddits before the PC stuff took over, forums with loud outspoken people on topics so weird if you’re a casual internet user you would find me to be insane. While I don’t see a problem with being a jerk online (ignore the ppl being jerks to you it’s that easy) I prefer to use the internet as a place to make friends so I’m usually pretty mild in my internet interactions, and I’ve not said anything that ppl wished to publically shame me over in a massive way. But I’ve said stupid stuff; we all have. We all have said stupid stuff in the real world and on the internet. A few years ago I found out that I probably won’t be able to have my own kids naturally. I didn’t want kids then, I still don’t want them right at this moment, but it pains me to know that because I did want them someday. I remember around that time I left a comment on some forum that was distasteful in a conversation about abortions. I was feeling depressed, I shouldn’t have said that, but to the people who did freak out at me and make sure it was known in other forums what a horrible person I am….they didn’t know me, they didn’t know what was going on in my world, they took the opportunity to take something an anonymous person said, put themselves on a pedestal and make me feel worse than I already did about things. I didn’t lose my job, it was over quickly as a lot of people on those forums knew me quite well and knew I genuinely try to treat everyone with kindness so it didn’t last long. However, these people that were so mad at what I said…the same people that get mad at what an anonymous person on twitter says the same people that will virtue signal and shame others in a heartbeat….they aren’t innocent either. They’ve said things or thought things that were harsh and cruel, they just didn’t get caught. Imagine if I had made my comment on a more public place such as twitter and I was publically shamed and caused to have lost a job over one comment. I work in the education sector now, with kids, teaching them to read and I fucking love my job. And with my salary I’m able to be a tax paying citizen who donates to nonprofits and who helps others financially when I can. And I volunteer in other education settings. Imagine me not being able to do any of that because one person who has said or thought something as awful as I had during a very dark time I was having getting so worked up that they set out to ruin the rest of my life just to make themselves feel better about their own shortcomings. The internet has changed a lot over the years, it used to be a place where weird stuff people said things they couldn’t say in the real world and you either accepted it, grew thicker skin, or moved on to a different site. It’s becoming a place where the insecure yell at everyone who doesn’t think exactly like they do and throw fits until they ruin someone’s life. I was surprised to find this one at the used book store, but there it was, and it sounds interesting to me.

ww2The Train of Ice and Fire Ramon Chao

Colombia, November 1993: a reconstructed old passenger train, bespangled with yellow butterflies, is carrying one hundred musicians, acrobats, and artists on a daring adventure through the heart of a country soaked in violence. The intention is to put on free shows for locals at railway stations along the way: vibrant spectacles involving music, trapeze, tattoo-art, an ice museum and, star of the show, Roberto the fire-breathing dragon. Leading this crusade of hop e is Manu Chao with his band Mano Negra. Ramn Chao is on board to chronicle the journey. As the train climbs 1,000 kilometers from Santa Marta on the Caribbean Coast to Bogot in the Altiplano, Ramn keeps one eye on the fluctuating morale of the train’s eccentric cargo, and the other on the ever-changing physical and social landscape.

I’ve been fortunate enough to travel a lot. I’ve lived all over the states and I’ve lived in Shanghai, Seoul, the Caribbean Island of Dominica, and I just got back from a year in Colombia. I’ve never loved a place like I loved Colombia. There was something about it that worked for me. I’ve also never loved a book (I had read this book way before going to Colombia) like I love One Hundred Years of Solitude. I simply can’t wait to read this book.

ww3The True Story of Hansel and Gretel Louise Murphy

In the last months of the Nazi occupation of Poland, two children are left by their father and stepmother to find safety in a dense forest. Because their real names will reveal their Jewishness, they are renamed “Hansel” and “Gretel.” They wander in the woods until they are taken in by Magda, an eccentric and stubborn old woman called “witch” by the nearby villagers. Magda is determined to save them, even as a German officer arrives in the village with his own plans for the children.

Combining classic themes of fairy tales and war literature, Louise Murphy’s haunting novel of journey and survival, of redemption and memory, powerfully depicts how war is experienced by families and especially by children.

ww5Florida Roadkill Tim Dorsey

Sunshine State trivia buff Serge A. Storms loves eliminating jerks and pests. His drug-addled partner Coleman loves cartoons. Hot stripper Sharon Rhodes loves cocaine, especially when purchased with rich dead men’s money. On the other hand, there’s Sean and David, who love fishing and are kind to animals — and who are about to cross paths with a suitcase filled with $5 million in stolen insurance money. Serge wants the suitcase. Sharon wants the suitcase. Coleman wants more drugs . . . and the suitcase. In the meantime, there’s murder by gun, Space Shuttle, Barbie doll, and Levi’s 501s. In other words, welcome to Tim Dorsey’s Florida — where nobody gets out unscathed and untanned!

On the other hand, there’s Sean and David, who love fishing and are kind to animals — and who are about to cross paths with a suitcase filled with $5 million in stolen insurance money. Serge wants the suitcase. Sharon wants the suitcase. Coleman wants more drugs . . . and the suitcase. In the meantime, there’s murder by gun, Space Shuttle, Barbie doll, and Levi’s 501s.

In other words, welcome to Tim Dorsey’s Florida — where nobody gets out unscathed and untanned!

This sounds like a Christopher Moore type thing. Informal fun. I’m going to need some Florida sun and informal fun up there in near Canada Michigan.

ww4The Selected Stories of Anton Checkov

Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, the highly acclaimed translators of War and Peace, Doctor Zhivago, and Anna Karenina, which was an Oprah Book Club pick and million-copy bestseller, bring their unmatched talents to The Selected Stories of Anton Chekhov, a collection of thirty of Chekhov’s best tales from the major periods of his creative life.

Considered the greatest short story writer, Anton Chekhov changed the genre itself with his spare, impressionistic depictions of Russian life and the human condition. From characteristically brief, evocative early pieces such as “The Huntsman” and the tour de force “A Boring Story,” to his best-known stories such as “The Lady with the Little Dog” and his own personal favorite, “The Student,” Chekhov’s short fiction possesses the transcendent power of art to awe and change the reader. This monumental edition, expertly translated, is especially faithful to the meaning of Chekhov’s prose and the unique rhythms of his writing, giving readers an authentic sense of his style and a true understanding of his greatness.

I’ve read a lot of Russian Literature the Russian’s are great writers. But I haven’t explored much Checkov so now is the time I guess.

ww11Child of God Cormac McCarthy

In this taut, chilling novel, Lester Ballard–a violent, dispossessed man falsely accused of rape–haunts the hill country of East Tennessee when he is released from jail.  While telling his story, Cormac McCarthy depicts the most sordid aspects of life with dignity, humor, and characteristic lyrical brilliance.

 

 

I have a bittersweet relationship with McCarthy. I think he is one of the most brilliant and talented contemporary novelists alive. I have the utmost respect for him, but he is painful for me to get through. I mean it is actual effort and work to get through his prose sometimes. But I want to keep trying with him.

 

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