I want to mention at the outset that though I haven’t been sharing individual blog post links on Facebook anymore, I have been here. I’m right here. It’s just that I can’t bring myself to go to that toilet bowl of a Web site anymore. If you’re a regular, you’ll know that social media is a daily horror show on repeat, but I find Facebook particularly nauseating. That’s why you don’t see the links to my blog posts there as I used to share them. I write this here explicitly because a reader sent me a private message today asking if I had stopped blogging. Though, I don’t know what my “audience type” is, I know that I have an audience. Your private messages, emails, (and the surprise bouquet of amaryllis flowers) reassures me that I am being read. So, for all of you who are reading this, I will be here for good. However, if anything goes downhill, I will leave a forwarding address. I promise you I will. Even if I don’t, I have the faith that you will find me as you always have. Write to me where you do, I will respond.

Now that we have that out of the way.

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At the risk of stating the obvious, the goal of social media was to collaborate and communicate. That it has turned into a raging fest of fears and hormones (and plain asshole behaviour) is, to say the least, disappointing. I’ve come to realise I don’t need that kind of negativity in my life and I’m not saying this as a catchphrase. I honestly don’t. It’s my foremost job to protect the sanctity of my mind and the interactions I have. Of course, quietly slipping out of the party is the best way to leave. It’s my favourite form of leaving these days. I leave corporate lunches and parties like that. I exit ignorant and sexist conversations like that. I even leave people that way. For, it turns out, trying to explain oneself is hard and boring. Like they say – first I have to educate you, then I have to beat you. Nope, it’s just too much effort. But sometimes I want to stay back and call out on bullshit. As experience has taught me, that’s a pretty rookie move.

A couple of days after the #MeToo campaign, two male friends I know spoke about women disrespectfully. I was in absolute rage because I had admitted on social media ‘me too’ and these friends knew. What bothered me was that it didn’t matter whether the women in your lives have been affected, but the inherent bias that “men will be men”. I’ve said it in person, I must say it again – it is not okay. It’s not okay to standby and watch the deterioration of society, of misogyny and be silent spectators or active participants. No, it is not just a joke, anymore. I don’t want you telling me you’ll man up for me, to protect me from the infringing behaviour of another man. If any of this means anything to you, my male friends, you have to become better men. For, talk is cheap. And I have learnt how to exit a party without you even noticing.

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I’ve read only 11 fiction novels this year. This, coming from a woman, who read 52 novels last year spread from countries across the world. If I have to place blame, I’d place it on the book I picked for Norway. It just killed all my buzz. I must take some of the blame too. Instead of reading one of the psychological thrillers by Jo Nesbo, I went for their literary fiction. To be fair, most of the book is set on the Faroe Islands, so Denmark also must take some responsibility. God, I was so bored. It wasn’t a bad book or anything. If it is a redeeming grace, I can visualise exactly the house the characters lived in for most parts of the book as I write this. I can recall exactly how it felt like to be there, but the absence of a plot didn’t work for me. And I am not even a plot person for crying out loud. In any case, I asked DF to help me read fiction since, and God, he tried. I just couldn’t do it anymore. And if DF cannot solve this, I don’t think anyone can. However, I read a lot of non-fiction and that has been absolutely enriching. More on that in a different post. For now, if anyone can send me one recommendation for my 12th fiction novel, it would be good. Here are some considerations: has to be a non-western author preferably from a country I haven’t read, has to have a plot. (It’s better if the author is native to the country instead of living in America.) Let’s run with that for now. Here’s the 2016 book list by country for reference.

  1. Pachinko by Min Jin Lee (Korea)
  2. All Grown Up by Jami Attenberg (USA)
  3. A Horse Walks Into a Bar by David Grossman (Israel)
  4. The Mystics of Mile End by Sigal Samuel (Canada)
  5. Exit West by Mohsin Hamid (Middle East)
  6. American Gods by Neil Gaiman (USA)
  7. Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi (Africa/USA)
  8. Buzz Aldrin, What Happened to You in All the Confusion? By Johan Harstad (Norway)
  9. Three Daughters of Eve by Elif Safak (Turkey)
  10. The Calligrapher’s Secret by Rafik Schami (Syria)
  11. Harraga by Boualem Sansal (Algeria)
  12. <Need Recommendation>

I also stopped reading fiction due to some of my issues with belonging. I couldn’t find myself in anything I read. Maybe Pachinko came closest to striking a chord, I think it was one of the best books I read this year. Right up there with A Horse Walks into a Bar. (I did not like American Gods. Sorry.) One month, one book and then, we’re done for this year.

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I don’t think I can do it anymore – put up with irresponsible behaviour anymore, with men who don’t respect women, with people who bring to me nothing but negativity. I just can’t do it. I have found a sense of comfort in being alone. In that way, I prefer my company to some others. This causes me to guard with my might all that is wonderful and joyful in my life, and I will do it. Anything that doesn’t lend to this cause is not welcome. Like Cheryl Stayed’s mother said, I will put myself in the way of beauty. I will be a warrior for light.

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