My god. It has been a year.

I enjoy this. I enjoy writing. How did I get out of the habit of writing, of attempting to connect with people? Your answer is as good as mine. I want to say. “Life.” But god that sounds so trite. The fact of the matter is that I got out of the habit of doing just about anything in 2017. Anything but being a mom drone. That also sounds trite.

Normally at the start of the year, I look back on the previous year with a mixture of happiness, and hopefulness. I set out large lofty goals for myself, rarely meet them completely and learn a bunch in the process. It wasn’t that way this last year. I entered 2018 not actually able to remember if I had done anything of note the entire year. That is not to say that I hadn’t built anything, learned anything, or read anything. It just seemed all so inconsequential. It took my husband sitting down with me and recounting some of my adventures for me to recall anything, and my reaction of, “so.” For me to figure out that maybe something is wrong in the mental or happiness department.

First and foremost this year we bought a house. That is fucking huge. I am trying to curb my cursing a bit, but I can think of no other word that describes the immensity of purchasing a house. It is very very large undertaking. First paperwork. All the paper that has every been printed out since the Guttenberg Bible needs to be signed, notarized, viewed, corrected, then re-signed. Then then the moving in process, which I jokingly said that I was done and was going to set everything on fire. I didn’t, obviously. But I learned a lesson that I have way to much crap. More on that later. Our house is an odd shape. It is a great house, but very long. Kinda like a giant hallway with bedrooms attached. Trying to figure out how to decorate and move our family in has been a challenge. Plus, I am a designer. I hate saying that. It makes me feel all uncomfortable inside and awkward. But, I am a trained in architecture and worked in the field for ten years. If something is off design wise it makes me physically uncomfortable. So couple that with new house and I have set myself off to have about 8k pins on Pinterest of things I want to do.

I have overwhelmed the crap out of myself.

I also have a three-year old. Which means I cannot get anything completed ever.

Couple my inability to get anything done, my wish for all the pretty things, and my penchant for anxiety and depression.. well you get the idea. I have pretty much fried my brain.

So here I am a year later, older and maybe a touch wiser. I have started a soul clean out of sorts. I am not connecting this to the new year or anything else. There needs to be a change and no calendar is going to tell me that it is too late or early to get it done. I think that simplification is in order. I have started purging and reevaluation of things that actually don’t hold value to me. Do I want to look at it, touch it. If the house was on fire, would I grab it? This has nothing to do with pets or family. Just the tactile belongings one surrounds themselves with. Is it beautiful? Is it useful? Does it add value to my life? Not much does when you boil things down to the bare minimum of things. So far I have concluded a few things. I don’t want to buy clothing that doesn’t want to make me spin around in a mirror. I have too much clothing to start with, and I end up wearing nothing but yoga pants and t-shirts. Neither of which make me feel great. But that is another adventure for another day. I have too much hair care, and facial products. Our bathroom is small and has very little storage. Time to pare down.

I need to figure out what real things and pursuits mean the most to me, and go after them. I think I have spun my wheels to long. Here is what I have so far:

  1. Things that I love:
    1. My antique kimono
    2. My necklace from my sister April.
    3. My books (maybe not all. But certainly my Dr. Seuss and pop up book collection)
  2. Things that bring me immense joy
    1. Gardening
    2. Art (both doing and looking at)
    3. Reading books

I’m going to start from there. See where I go. I already deleted about 8k pins in one fail swoop of cathartic soul cleaning.

Graphic Novel Review of “The Arrival” by Shaun Tan

A Picture Really Does Speak a Thousand Words.

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Image courtesy of goodreads.com

Stats

5 out of 5 stars
Hardcover, 132 pages
Published October 12th 2007 by Lothian Books (first published 2006)
Original Title The Arrival
ISBN 0734406940 (ISBN13: 9780734406941)
Edition Language English

Awards

  • Hugo Award Nominee for Best Related Book (2008)
  • Locus Award for Best Art Book (2008)
  • New South Wales Premier’s Literary Award for Book of the Year & Community Relations Commission Award (2007)
  • Western Australian Premier’s Book Award for Overall Winner & Childrens Book (2006)
  • Children’s Book Council of Australia Award for Picture Book of the Year (2007)
  • Moonbeam Children’s Book Award (2007)
  • Rhode Island Teen Book Award Nominee (2009)
  • Aurealis Award for Best Young Adult Short Story & Golden Aurealis for Best Short Story (2006)
  • Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis Nominee for Bilderbuch (2009)
  • Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for Special Citation (2008)
  • Australian Book Industry Award (ABIA) for Older Children (2007)
  • Literaturpreis der Jury der jungen Leser for Sonderpreis (2009)
  • Plano Nacional de Leitura for (Portugal) (0)
  • The Inky Awards Shortlist for Gold Inky (2007)

About

Tan, Shaun. The Arrival. Lothian Books, 2007.

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Dinner time in the new place. Tan, Shaun. The Arrival. Lothian Books, 2007.

From the publisher, “In a heartbreaking parting, a man gives his wife and daughter a last kiss and boards a steamship to cross the ocean. He’s embarking on the most painful yet important journey of his life- he’s leaving home to build a better future for his family.

Shaun Tan evokes universal aspects of an immigrant’s experience through a singular work of the imagination. He does so using brilliantly clear and mesmerizing images. Because the main character can’t communicate in words, the book forgoes them too. But while the reader experiences the main character’s isolation, he also shares his ultimate joy.”

My Thoughts

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” 

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A man prepares to leave in search of a better life for his family. Tan, Shaun. The Arrival. Lothian Books, 2007.

Do you think an can image speak a thousand words or maybe ten thousand words? Do you think that an image could speak for you when you don’t know the language and the only way to communicate is through hastily drawn art on scrap paper? That is what Shaun has done. He created a graphic novel that speaks to the immigrant experience. What it is like moving to a foreign land, faced with alien food, language, buildings, and pretty much everything else, but uses no language, expect the language of imagery and absolutely incredible imagery at that. Reading this book, I felt like I was sitting down to watch a silent movie, popcorn in hand. The imagery is so poignant, so much so that it seems like the pictures could move right out of the pages.

The focus of the story is about a man leaving his small family in search of a better life for them all. The book moves quickly, but he arrives at the new land and he is examined, cataloged and labeled. Everywhere he goes, there is something new for him to learn. It is exhausting and boldly exciting at the same time.

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Immigrant arrival. Tan, Shaun. The Arrival. Lothian Books, 2007.

I can’t speak for other people, but I can definitely speak for myself when I say when people step outside their comfort zone and do something as scary and bold as move to another country in search of something they should be lauded. This book was a great reminder of that. A beautiful reminder. It should also be noted, that this book is not political in nature at all. It isn’t about politically what it means to be an immigrant, but more of what beauties and joys are found in the discovery.

Conclusion

If you can’t tell already, I love this book. I think it is an important work for the world right now and I highly recommend anyone to read it. Come on over, I have a copy of it sitting on my bookshelf I’ll loan it to you.

My 2019 reading Goals

I am going to have a busy year.

Read 100 books. I set this goal for myself every year, and most years I have achieved it. Except for the year that my brain was fried from pregnancy. Stupid pregnancy brain.


Read 1 Graphic Novel or Comic from each decade from 1900 and on till now. There is a wealth of beautifully written work out there to discover, and all very stylistically different.


Participate in the Book Riot reading challenge. This looks like an excellent way to broaden my horizons. Here are the choices:

  1. An epistolary novel or collection of letters
  2. An alternate history novel
  3. A book by a woman and/or AOC (Author of Color) that won a literary award in 2018
  4. A humor book
  5. A book by a journalist or about journalism
  6. A book by an AOC set in or about space
  7. An #ownvoices book set in Mexico or Central America
  8. An #ownvoices book set in Oceania
  9. A book published prior to January 1, 2019, with fewer than 100 reviews on Goodreads
  10. A translated book written by and/or translated by a woman
  11. A book of manga
  12. A book in which an animal or inanimate object is a point-of-view character
  13. A book by or about someone that identifies as neurodiverse
  14. A cozy mystery
  15. A book of mythology or folklore
  16. A historical romance by an AOC
  17. A business book
  18. A novel by a trans or nonbinary author
  19. A book of nonviolent true crime
  20. A book written in prison
  21. A comic by an LGBTQIA creator
  22. A children’s or middle-grade book (not YA) that has won a diversity award since 2009
  23. A self-published book
  24. A collection of poetry published since 2014

If you would like to join me in some of these goals, please do!

Happy New Year!