Unashamed Truths of a Middle Class Twenty Something

I'm figuring it all out as I go.


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#MeToo

If you have been a part of my life or followed my social media in any degree in the last six years, you will not be surprised by this statement: I have been raped. I have been raped more than once. I have been raped by more than one man. I have been raped by more than one man at the same time. I have PTSD. Men have irreversibly changed my life through violence. I have been raped.

If you follow me, you know I don’t like to say I have been sexually assaulted. It’s not specific enough. I have been raped. And I am so far passed giving a fuck if that makes you uncomfortable to hear.

Harvey Weinstein and his deplorable actions have finally lead some of Hollywood’s biggest names to come forward to tell their truths. Good for them! Social media is starting to explode with #MeToo to show how widespread rape, sexual assault, and sexual harassment are.

Rape is not a socioeconomic issue. Rape is not a race issue. Race is not a cultural issue. Rape is not a political issue. Rape is not a women’s issue. Rape is an issue.

Women are taught to protect themselves. Men are not taught to ask for consent. Women are taught to keep quiet. Men are taught to boast about their conquests. Women are taught shame. Men are taught pride. Women are taught how to be slut shamed. Men are taught to slut shame. Women are taught to laugh. Men are taught rape jokes are funny. Women are taught to be kind. Men are taught to be ruthless. Women are taught to be weak. Men are taught to be strong. Women are taught to suck it up and keep on keeping-on. Men are continually reinforced with the fact they can do pretty much anything they want to women and face zero consequences.

The hard part about being a raped woman is you’re constantly surrounded by men acting out, in varying degrees, the same behavior which hurt you. Where is our safe space?

I met my first rapist in church. We grew up together. I met my second in college. I met my third in church. I met my fourth in middle school. Aren’t these supposed to be safe places? Some even sacred? Church is supposed to be safe and holy and the embodiment of Godliness. That’s the problem. Rapists are everywhere masquerading as friends and even family.

I don’t like working in an office. It’s hard because they usually only look at me as one thing: their next blow job. Or they think I’m stupid and only hired me because I am nice to look at. I found it easier to work in a bar because at least, there there was a lack of nicety about it. Those men were up front about their assholishness.

I work from home now as a freelancer and blogger. I try not to leave the house without my big dog or my even bigger boyfriend. Speaking of which, I like to date big men because they scare away the other men because men don’t actually respect women enough to leave them alone when they say no. If I go to the grocery store alone, someone either asks for my number or calls me a bitch, but usually it’s both. As a blogger and freelancer, I spend most of my time online or on social media to expand my business. There is no respite there either. My Instagram inbox is filled with older men bombarding me with dick pics, sexual come-ons, and more. It’s become a new hobby of mine to see how many white men don’t take “no” for an answer. The best insult I get is “blond,” which is funny because I’m not even blond. The worst is somewhere along the lines of I hope you get raped.

When I’ve told men I’ve been raped, too often I hear “Yeah, me too! Haha.” Then they realize I’m not joking, they’re usually a bit confused followed by “I guess, I shouldn’t make rape jokes around you then, huh?” Rape has become more of a punchline and less of a criminal offense.

In college, I remember reading essays on rape. The authors didn’t know how to charge the men because it is so he said she said, and unfortunately, the men have the power. The authors were angry and upset and frustrated because they didn’t know what to do. Their arguments were well thought out, but nothing ever came to fruition in court when prosecuting. The authors were alive and writing in fifteenth century France. I remember sitting at home on my couch in tears with the heaviness of the knowledge that not a single thing had changed in over six hundred years. If some of the greatest thinkers of Renaissance couldn’t encourage change in one of the most pervasive issues, how would I?

I have been incredibly open about my past. I have always believed it can help someone. There are days, I don’t know if it’s true. There are month long periods, I will go without writing or talking about it. It doesn’t mean it’s not there; it’s just too hard to go there.

I don’t like being known as the girl who got raped. It’s not a fun identity. I have been on the receiving end of many rape and death threats because of it. Why men think this is an appropriate response is beyond me. It’s amazing how many women have similar responses. I’ve heard everything from “if you would have gotten pregnant by your rapist, then you’d have something to talk about” to “I hope it happens again and they disfigure your face” to “maybe you should have fought harder.” When employers Google my name they find two things: I’ve been raped, and I’m vocal about it. So I don’t get many interviews… Actually, none.

I mentioned I wanted to try stand up comedy to a friend because I funny stories, I like to make people laugh. Their response was “like ‘I once got raped in this super funny way’? Yeah, funny.”

I am known as the girl who got raped. Even to those closest to me. I am not known by my triple degree or penchant for books or encyclopedic trivial knowledge or my musical talent or even my personality. I am known as the pretty girl who was raped. I am not defined by the achievements I have worked my entire life for. I am known by the actions of men. Moments have defined who I am in the eyes of others because I chose to speak out in order to create change in the world women inhabit.

Sexual harassment is rampant. Sexual assault is rampant. Rape is rampant. Sex trafficking is rampant. Every woman I have ever known has been sexually harassed, some don’t even know it. I know too many women who have been sexually assaulted. I know so many women and men who have been raped. I have worked alongside sex trafficked women. I am the keeper of so many people’s painful secrets because they have no safe place, no one to talk to. I keep my own secrets because some things are too hard to talk about.

I don’t want children. If I were to have children, I don’t want girls. I want boys. I want to raise boys to be good men who do not rape or perpetuate rape culture. I want to raise boys to be good men who call out sexist jokes and support women. I want to raise boys to be good men who raise the bar for all other men. Because I do not want any other woman to know a moment of the pain men have caused me.

I have also posted this on my book blog: Bookish Liaisons. Here’s some reading to expand your mind. Go unfuck yourselves.:


Tess of the D’Urbervilles
Thomas Hardy
$4.95
My favorite book ever.


What Lies Between Us
Nayomi Munaweera
$15.09


Blueprints for Building Better Girls
Elissa Schappell
$2.40


Infidel
Ayan Hirsi Ali
$12.64
An absolute gutting read.


The Lonely Soldier; The Private War of Women Serving in Iraq
Helen Benedict
$20.26
One of my most recommended reads.


Lolita
Vladimir Nabokov
$8.99


The Handmaid’s Tale
Margaret Atwood
$9.55


The Second Sex
Simone de Beauvoir
$12.99
My dog is named after her!


The Scarlet Letter
Nathaniel Hawthorne
$5.00


Half of a Yellow Sun
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
$15.26

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Rape Scene

I started watching Game of Thrones with my boyfriend. In Season 3, there is a scene where Sansa is about to be gang raped by a mob when the Hound saves her. This scene sparked a conversation. We briefly mentioned how hard it had to have been to film a scene like that as a teenage girl. With my knowledge of history and present day, I had to mention it was totally accurate saying, “can you imagine it actually happened, though?”

I didn’t even mean to bring myself into the equation. Honestly, I didn’t even think about it until the words were leaving my mouth. I quickly glanced at my boyfriend seeing the look in his eye. We had the same thought at the same time. Sometimes, I can forget. I was barely older than Sansa when a Hound never showed up to save me from the fate Sansa narrowly missed in that episode.

We like to say how horrible it is shows like Game of Thrones use rape to further the plot…. But it’s realistic. Are we forgetting rape was incredibly prevalent then? I know we like to forget how prevalent it is now. We say that rape is just being thrown in there to add shock value. People don’t want it in the show because they don’t want to see their favorite characters go through something so traumatic. I get it.

There are actually people who have to live with rape in their pasts, their presents, their futures. Not so long ago, I was raped more often than I needed a new roll of toilet paper. No writer added a rape scene into my weekly routine for shock or entertainment value; it just was life. I highly doubt any writer wants to write a rape scene. Personally, I have never enjoyed it. It’s grotesque. It always makes me feel vile and dirty. Sometimes, it’s unavoidable. If I’m writing about my life… I have to write about rape. It’s a part of my life. For so many women and men too, it is a part of our stories. Just because they aren’t as open about it as I am, doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened.  

Art mimics reality, and rape is a reality. If we leave it out of our TV, books, art, or any other form of narrative, we’re not showing reality; we’re engaging in escapism.   


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College Sucked and I’m Not That Happy

I have been incredibly bad at writing here recently. For a lot of reasons. The two big ones have been: 1) I haven’t had anything to say because/but 2) it’s hard.

In college, I had a really good friend, who knew me quite well much better than most anyone. Because life got busy we ended up drifting apart for no reason other than the fact we did. I’ve been lucky enough to reconnect recently.

It’s surprising how well you can know someone, or how well they can know you but simultaneously know so little. I am an incredibly private person, and I keep so much from even my closest friends. Sometimes I have moments when I realize how few people really know me. There’s actually only one person I have ever been completely honest with. I’m not much of a liar anymore, but I do with-hold far more than I ever tell.

The friend I’m referencing, we met in college. I had a very different college experience than most people for so many reasons I’ll eventually get around to writing about someday. Now it’s just too hard, and I’m still preparing myself to have that past in writing – something that never goes away. Over the years, we kept tabs on each other, and she read my blog. This and the things I write about here seem like a completely different person than the me she knew in college, and I’m sure it’s vastly different than the me people see today. She and everyone else see a bubbly extrovert with a happy-go-lucky personality, but that is because it is a facade I have taken great care in curating for just over 26 years now in ranging amounts of vigilance. I’ve done so because I learned people don’t ask questions when there’s a smile, a giggle, a happy face. When someone is quiet or a multitude of other-than-happy people ask questions like why? Once I start talking about the whys, I can’t stop crying. It’s a dark hole when explored is emotionally devastating to crawl out of. Sometimes, it takes days to go back to a functional version of myself let alone the well curated facade people enjoy being around.

College was hard. After three years, I think I’m finally just starting to process how difficult it was for and on me. I don’t think anyone will quite understand what those four years entailed because they always saw the happiness and laughter and the jokes about the brief moments of honesty I bestowed upon them; they were never behind the closed door with me. The hard times were only ever shared with one person, and I can’t begin to imagine what they went through with me. We’re both finding our own paths toward healing and wholeness because of those years.

Visiting with my friend, the past came up. I realized for as much time as we spent together during our friendship I never really let down my walls. She knew and still does know so much about me, but she never knew any of the difficulties I went through before we met or even while we were in college together. It’s amazing how much we can hide from those close to us. Although, I’m not sure I did either one of us a favor with my secrecy.  

I’ve almost always been open about my past when asked, but I have not necessarily gone out of my way to make people aware of it unless they absolutely needed to. Actually, I tend to downplay every bad thing, and I tend to side step the really bad even… especially here. It makes my life so much easier. Let’s be honest no one wants to be the raped girl.


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Living Out Of Kindness

I am nowhere near perfect. I am absolutely a work in progress. A considerable amount of time, I get things completely wrong. I spend a lot of time writing about myself only because there’s no other subject I know so well. There is one subject very dear to my heart I have not said a word about. That is kindness. I have a lot of failings. I have made many mistakes. I am always in need of some form of help. I am a bit of a mess. I do, however, like to think of myself as kind. I can’t say I’m kind all the time. I wish I could tell you my first thought is always kindness, but I would be lying. My kindness does not always come off as kind. I do however try to live out of kindness; it is the driving force behind the majority of every one of my conscious actions when I leave the house and enter other people’s lives.

I am a judgmental person, but I believe it to be a very human quality. I’m pretty sure one caveman nudged another caveman pointing at a third caveman trying and failing to teach his platypus fetch to only grunt and nod in simultaneous judgey agreement from their seat around the fire their cavewomen made. We all judge people all the time. I firmly believe it’s not the first thought popping into our heads but the second and the actions or words to follow that defines who we are as people. I try my very best to only share my initial thoughts with my dearest friend, who will call me out immediately knowing full well I would never say such an awful thing to anyone else.

Kindness is an essential pillar in my life. I have been on the receiving end of many an unkindness. The truth is 98% of the time it has nothing to do with me at all; I’m just the outlet. We live in our own bubbles, and unfortunately our bubbles tend to dictate how we react to the world around us. 0.5% of the time it is undeservedly about me, and the other 1.5% of the time it is about me and I absolutely deserve it. 

I try -not always successfully- to treat everyone with an overwhelming amount of kindness because I just don’t know. I do not know. I don’t know their life. I don’t know their trials. I don’t know what they’re going through emotionally, mentally, psychologically, physically, etc. I am not them. In my opinion, everyone is their own judge and should live their life accordingly to their personal moral compass’ position of true north. Consequences almost always catch up. It is not my place to be the jury, the judge, or the executioner. I am but merely an observer in everyone’s life but my own.

For me, the key to kindness is patience. I have no problems saying please, thank you, hi, how are you, have a nice day, etc. But I am not a naturally patient person, so this can be particularly difficult every day all the times I am not in my own home sans pants. The only person who’s life revolves around mine is mine; everyone else does not run on my schedule or sway to my rhythm or move out of my way. Would I love for my Starbucks to be in my hand in three minutes post order, YES; but sometimes during busy hours it can take ten minutes. The baristas always apologize, but it isn’t their fault. Instead of being upset, I say thank you and have a nice day. It’s inconvenient, but it’s easy to be kind. What is being rude going to do? Make them go slower? When I was double charged for an airline ticket, it was not the lovely lady’s fault working in customer service; she is, in fact, not the automated website. Instead of yelling at her, I explained the situation calmly, and asked how it could be remedied. Not only was it taken care of, my ticket was upgraded. The tragedy had already occurred, so I waited an hour before calling to ensure kind RaeAnna was on the phone instead of pissed off RaeAnna. I love living in big cities, but the homeless population accompanying it always breaks my heart. I try to keep a few dollars or loose change on me, but more times than not I have none. It’s hard, but the least I can do is smile saying I’m sorry. I genuinely am. I will not ignore them. They are people too. I hear so many say it’s drugs or alcohol or stupidty, but you don’t know. So often it’s mental illness, abuse, tragedy, so, so many things. If it weren’t for very kind people once upon a time, I would have been there as well. Is a smile so hard for a person? I have this compulsion to like every single post I scroll past on Facebook – unless it counteracts my beliefs or morals- and Instagram, which has actually gotten me blocked from liking posts on Instagram a few times because I liked too many too quickly. We live in a tech fueled world where likes boost our self-esteem. People took the time to share that post for whatever reason. I am already scrolling, so why not take the extra .2 seconds to double tap. When people use sexist, racist, or any kind of slur to demean, humiliate, or dehumanize a person, I politely let them know I will not tolerate that kind of language in my home or presence, and if they continue, I remove myself from the situation. Not often but sometimes, kindness can call attention to someone’s skewed thought process or belief system (just ask my boyfriend) because maybe they weren’t aware of the impact their words have on the people or world around them. Maybe my kindness is the spark they needed to educate themselves… A girl can hope. Kindness does not mean tolerating obscene behavior or being a doormat, but it does mean a gentle yet firm reminder. When in doubt, leave or call the cops depending on the situation.

I have always tried to be kind, but I have actively tried to live from a place of kindness over the past few years. I have been through a lot. I have made decisions for which society has deemed me unworthy of basic human decency at times. More than anything, I chose to be open about all of these things and more. This transparency has lead to so many good things but also my being judged, harassed, threatened, and encountering some truly horrible experiences. I could be but I do not want to be an angry woman. I want to be a kind woman. I try to meet every rude comment with warmth and understanding. If I am unable to, I try to choose silence. Kindness will not persevere in every situation, but I choose to hope it will help in most.

I am not always kind, but my basest goal is to live out of kindness. To be an ear for those who need to be heard. To be a friend for those who feel like they have none. To support those in need. To empathize with those who feel misunderstood. To help those who have no idea where to start. To encourage those without cheerleaders. To be warmth in a generally cold and indifferent world. To stop when no one else will. I strive to leave every encounter a touch better than I entered it. I want to acknowledge everyone’s existence by, at the very least, remembering their name. I want to commit to memory the details which make them uniquely them. I want to make each person feel like they are important in this world. Because isn’t that what we all want? To feel worth something. To feel important to someone outside of ourselves. To feel like our existence is not going unnoticed. To feel like we are unique, beautiful, creative, talented, important, complex beings with aspirations, feelings, motivations, obstacles, jobs, loves and so much more.  

I am one person in an ever expanding billions. I do not matter to 99.9999% of people I encounter on a daily basis. People with equally brilliant, complex, difficult lives as mine. I write about myself in this space, and the people who care, for whatever reason, find themselves here. The truth is, I am the least interesting person in comparison to the multitudes surrounding me. I know so many people with devastatingly wonderful stories, who I barely know, and I will never have enough time to get to know each one as thoroughly as I wish to. It is utterly astonishing to think about the numerous people whose lives are as beautifully diverse as my own. I pass through so many lives to which I do not matter. If I live through kindness, maybe I can faintly touch each life with a smile, a hug, a nod, a momentary personalized contact where they feel like they matter. Because they do.


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What I LOVE Hearing As a Woman

I’m a feminist. I’m not going to lie. As a woman, I hear lots of “interesting” things come out of people’s mouths – men and women’s. I’m sure every woman has heard these and others. I probably pay attention to the meanings behind these comments and questions more than most. Partially because I’m aware. Partially because I lived in a beautiful bubble that had a tendency to call out misogynistic bullshit, but then I graduated. Partially because I’ve always been irked by the patriarchy. I have decided, as a full fledged adult, to take on the world. Or, at least, draw attention to my liberal, ideological self.

Q: “Is it weird for you that your younger brother is engaged before you?”
A: “I kind of always figured that would happen since he wants to get married. I feel engagement is an appropriate step for him. I’m kind of attached to the nudity of my ring finger. I think I’ll get nine really big rings and leave that one specific finger naked. Would that make my point better?”

“But you’re just so pretty and nice. You’ll make a great wife, don’t worry.” Yeah THAT is why I don’t want to get married because I’m worried I’ll be a bad wife… Fuck off!!! Have you seen my dinner parties? I’d be the best damn wife. That doesn’t mean I want to be the best damn wife.

That one time… Those many times that guys refuse to continue talking to me because they found out I’m a feminist. It’s less offensive to scream “cunt.” Sorry, I’d really like to be treated like a person and have some options instead of having the societal norm and your dick shoved down my throat without my consent. Women have the right to be a stay at home mom IF THAT IS WHAT THEY WANT!!! Or not.

“Bisexual isn’t actually a sexuality. It’s just someone who can’t decide.” Here’s the deal. As long as people aren’t fucking in your bed, you shouldn’t care. While you’re here, sexuality is a spectrum. Go look up Kinsey, he was onto something.

Leslie Jamison wrote the essay “Grand Unified Theory of Female Pain.” For those of you unfamiliar with this, it is about how the pain of women is marginalized. Discussing how women are often teased into silence about their pain. How women have to prove the amount of pain they’re experiencing, while men are just believed. How women are often pushed to the side – as the article mentions quite literally to the side of the hospital hallway – in order to allow men to be seen first. How it can be helpful if not imperative to have a male witness accompany a woman to the doctor, so he can testify to her pain experiences.
I personally go through excruciating and debilitating pain once a month for the only reason that I am a woman. I have consulted doctors and tried numerous medications to try reducing my pain to no avail. It’s been ten years, I still have no answers. Last year when I was in the hospital, a female doctor didn’t take my pain seriously nor did she believe what I was telling her. Had I listened to her advice and not gone to a -different – doctor the next day, I probably would have died. Suffice to say, even with not dying I was in the hospital for a week, had surgery, and took months to fully recover. But, “It can’t hurt that bad.” Right now, I’m trying to get into a gastroenterologist to try and figure out why I haven’t really eaten in six months, but you know, no big deal. Now, I almost never go to the doctor unless I have a male with me. I get taken a lot more seriously when they’re there. That sucks.
These are just a few examples of what women go through every day. Our pain is less than. Men like to make the joke that getting kicked in the balls is worse than pushing a baby out of a vagina because “no man wants to get hit in the balls again, but women have more children after the first one.” Fact: women have a higher pain tolerance than men. And men play stupid games all the time where they consenually hit/kick each other in the balls. Also, what do men get out of being kicked in the balls? Literally just pain. What do women AND men get out of childbirth? A fucking human being. You know that same being most people attribute there worth and greatest achievement.
Here’s an example of the marginalization of female pain. We glorify women who have natural childbirth. I have heard so many times “she took it like a trooper.” Why are we trying to silence this pain? It’s natural, it will hurt. Why shouldn’t women take the drugs if it helps make the experience more bearable? If she wants drugs, give them to her. If she doesn’t want drugs, don’t give them to her. Her body, her choice.
More importantly: Stop making me justify my pain!

“You’ll change your mind.” Oh my God!!! Maybe, maybe not. I know me infinitely better than you know me. Actually, you just met me. You don’t know me at all. Keep your opinions to yourself. I have agency dammit! Why does possessing a vagina mean I must inherently want babies? My penile counterparts are not bombarded with the same harassment.

“Transwomen aren’t women.” Oh go fuck yourself. I’m not even kidding.

“Why do you always bring up black issues when talking about feminism. You’re all women.” First of all, I’m intersectional as fuck. I may be a cis, white, straight woman with some battles of my own, but this melanin comes with privileges. You better believe I’m going to use this genetically derived privilege to help my fellow women who face even bigger obstacles than I do. I may not live their lives, but I will help fight their battles any way I can. That means I am going to break down the white feminist wall one asshat at a time.

“You just haven’t met the right man.” Just no.

“You like to cook?” Of course I like to cook. I also like to eat.

End rant for now. I have  more. I will save your sensibilities for now. I don’t want the hysteria to grab a hold of you.


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Raped

A while ago, someone told me I have this talent of telling my story of being a survivor while making people see me as a victim. Simultaneously being strong and weak. It was suggested, I stop telling people. For a time, I did. I’m finding it hard to get back into talking about it because I don’t want to be seen as a victim, but that’s unavoidable.

I realized three things. First, I can’t control how people perceive me nor is it my problem. If someone is going to judge or think less of me for this, I don’t want them in my life. Second, I asked myself why I share my story. In a way, it’s cathartic. It’s definitely not because I’m an attention whore, which has also been suggested in the past. I mean really, who wants to be known as the girl who got raped? I used to think I tell my story for all of those who can’t, but that’s not true. I tell my story so others can tell their stories. There is a big difference between the two. If I am here and inspire someone else to speak, then maybe their speaking will inspire someone else. So on and so forth until there is an orchestra of voices telling our stories different but the same calling for change. I will not impact global change with my voice alone, but what if there are a thousand voices like mine? Ten thousand? A hundred thousand? A million? I am not the only one to be seen as strong and weak, survivor and victim. Maybe, I’m the only one you see. And until you see someone else, I’ll be here. Third, I don’t like either term: survivor or victim. I prefer one over the other, but neither suit me.

I am raped. I was a victim of rape. I am a survivor of rape. I am both; it’s impossible to be one without the other. I am all of these things and more. Why pretty this up to make you feel better about something I went through with my eyes open? Why must I give terms connoting weakness or strength? Does it make you feel better thinking of me as a survivor? Someone who overcame atrocities? Does it make you feel better thinking of me as a victim? Someone who was helpless in a moment, I’ll relive for the rest of my ever?   

I am raped. My body was raped. My soul was raped. My heart was raped. There is no part of me that is left unraped. It is an adjective that has become an integral part of my essence. Did I ask for this?  No. Did I deserve this? No. Was any of it ever my fault? No. None of that matters because the past is set, and I will forever consider it when considering myself because without it I am no longer this version of me. For all my idiosyncrasies, weaknesses, and strengths, I for some reason like who I am. Raped and all. In this self, I am strong. In this self, I am weak. I cry; I shudder; I look over my shoulder; I hide; I jump, and yet I stand, I thrive, I work, I wake, I write, I speak. I am both victim and survivor. Neither makes me any less strong or any more weak. They are just different nouns prescribed to me. I was faced with two choices. Within those choices, I went with the one that didn’t sound weak. Today, I am putting my liberal arts education to use and choosing neither noun. I am making my own option and choosing an adjective: raped. But that makes you uncomfortable.

Being in this body, in this psyche is uncomfortable for me. Maybe I’ll be comfortable inhabiting myself someday. That day is not today.  


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Books Are The Gateway To The Soul

If you know me at all, you know books bring meaning to my life. If you follow my blogging life at all (and why wouldn’t you? I’m just sooo interesting *eye roll*), you might be confused as to why this is being published on Unashamed Truths instead of Bookish Liaisons. Well, I try and keep the book blog fairly impersonal. Ok, at least, I try to keep my personal narrative out of it.

Anyways.

We have this stupid saying “the eyes are the gateway to the soul.” No. Anyone with any decent amount of self-control or acting ability can convincingly say “I’m happy” with their eyes all the while contemplating the many ways to kill their boss. I have no boss, so that’s just an example. I have always had the theory that books tell us more about ourselves than anything else. I have read a lot, and I truly mean a lot. I’ve read books in every genre. I’ve read everything from Chaucer to Hawking – I do mean Stephen – to Dostoevsky – in Russian – to anthologies to Ngozie to Orwell to Shakespeare to Zinn to Voltaire – in French – to Tesla to I don’t even know. The one thing I do know is books hold one universal truth: people gravitate towards themselves. When I really want to get to know someone, I ask them their favorite book. It tells me more than I need to know about them.

I have two favorite books. I can’t choose between them. Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy and House of Mirth by Edith Wharton. The obvious is they’re both old, and therefore you can tell I’m nostalgic and look to the past for comfort or answers. Another obvious conclusion can be drawn from the strong, young, female protagonists… I’m not one to fall into the category of a common or traditional woman. I’m drawn to them because I see myself in them more than I do in most books. I love Tess because I read my story in a few ways. We were both raped young; though, I never got pregnant – thank Yahweh. I identify with the story because rape defined both of our lives for both good and bad. I love House of Mirth because both Lily and I never fit. We both have spent our lives searching for a place. More than anything, I connect with the ending. I won’t spoil it because I know you’ve already ordered it on Amazon,

My best friend’s favorite book genre tells a lot more about her than she would like to admit. My ex/best friend reads a lot more than people know, but his books of choice just reiterate what I already know about him.

I have a tendency to travel alone a lot. I don’t go anywhere without books. On planes people like to start conversations with me even though I’m completely enveloped in a book with headphones in. So I have started the tradition of asking people who like to interrupt my in flight reading what their favorite book is, and then I tell them about themselves based on it. Suffice to say, most people are surprised I know them so well already. I know people because I know books.