Friday, September 4, 2015

Book review: My Name is Brett

My Name is Brett by Brett Ray

Description from Brett's website (below) can be found here along with other responses from early readers. 

My Name is Brett: Truths from a Trans Christian is the story of a transgender Christian finding his name, voice, and strength. The book holds humorous stories of his upbringing, tough stories of addiction, and the stories of hope he has found in his transition. It centers on his journey toward his name—Brett—and how foundational finding and being called Brett is for “naming” the big truths in his life. A transition is never easy, and the book refuses to water down the difficult complexities of being transgender. But, it simultaneously refuses to deny the continually regenerating hope found in loving family, friends, recovery, and in the ability to tell one’s story honestly and boldly. Most simply put, My Name is Brett: Truths from a Trans Christian is a love story; it’s a love story about a man finally falling in love with himself.

Disclaimer: Brett is a friend of a friend and sent me an advanced reader's copy of his book in exchange for me reviewing it here and on other platforms.

More and more, transgender men and women are stepping into the public eye. Most recently, Caitlyn Jenner famously came out, but before that, the world was already getting to know Janet Mock, Laverne Cox, Geena Rocero and more wonderful transgender celebrities.

I've previously read and reviewed Janet Mock's memoir, but Brett's book, My Name is Brett, is the first I've read from a trans man. I was excited to get to hear his perspective on his transition and his life as a Christian, trans man.

Brett's book is an honest retelling of his thought process throughout much of his transition -- from the day he realized he was transgender, through picking his name, through the days when he would forget his own name and be corrected by friends. This play-by-play of his transition makes My Name is Brett an awesome read for anyone who knows someone transitioning or knows someone who is transgender and wants to understand more what that process feels like.

Though Brett's experiences are only his own, and not truly representative of the entire trans community, his story conveys the importance of supporting trans people in whatever way they need support. His story shows how calling someone by their right, true name can be a life saving act. It allows cis (non-trans) people a peek into the mind of someone transitioning and allows us to have true understanding and empathy for someone going through something we may never experience ourselves.

Brett's story also tackles the tough topic of the physical changes someone may or may not choose to go through as they transition. As you hopefully know, it's rude to ask someone about their physical transition -- it's a very personal topic! -- but Brett shares some of his thoughts and feelings behind his choices.

I was moved by Brett's story, by the affect a supportive person could have on his transition and his mental health, and by his ability to understand and empathize with his family and friends' varied reactions. Although a gender transition is a very foreign experience to any cis person, Brett's story makes it relateable and close to home. His honesty and openness made the emotions of transitioning real to me, even though I've never experienced anything like it.

I would recommend My Name is Brett to anyone who wants to know more about the experience of transitioning -- even if you're not a person of faith, even if you're not transitioning, even if you don't know anyone who has.

My Name is Brett officially comes out (haha... see what I did there?) September 9. If you're in the Durham, NC area, he's having a release party September 8 and you can get an early copy! Brett's book is not officially on Amazon yet, but I'll update this review when it is -- it will be available hard copy and in kindle version.

Thoughtful comments and responses only please! :) I don't worry about my normal readers, but if anyone were to post hateful content, it would be deleted.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

"So, are you married yet?"

Pat and I have been engaged for 15 months this Saturday.


I have been engaged the whole time I've known everyone I work with, so every time I talk to some colleagues, they ask if I'm married yet, or when the big day is or something wedding related. Since I've worked here, TWO coworkers have gotten engaged and married.

The wedding is just under a month away. And I don't think I've blogged a single thing about it? (Not that I have blogged a single thing about anything lately.)

So here's where we're at:

--I used this project for Save the Dates (way back in November and December!) They're super cute and since I printed them myself at FedEx and recruited the fam to put them together over Thanksgiving, they were cheap and easy. Win/win/win.

--Invitations are out! We worked with Andrea at SoulPress, who designed a BEAUTIFUL invitation suite just for us. She's working on other stuff for the wedding now -- table numbers, signs around the event, etc, so it'll all be matchy matchy. Andrea and her team area also my wedding planners / coordinators and I am so grateful for their help since 99% of the time I don't know what the heck I'm doing.

--RSVPs are currently at a stand still :( but had been trickling in before that. It's exciting to actually know who is going to be there! Sad too, obviously, when we hear about people who can't make it. But it's easier to imagine the actual wedding now that we know some of who will be there!

How am I doing?

Overall, not freaking out yet. Probably TOO relaxed. I am SO TIRED of planning that I don't even care about some of the details anymore. I just want it to happen! I want to party! I want to see my aunts and some of my cousins and all my BFFs!

I want to get MARRIED and go on our HONEYMOON.

So that's where we're at. Scrambling for the last minute details that I care a little too little about, counting down the days, and waiting to be married.

How are you all lately?

Friday, June 12, 2015

Must-read books

I made Pat start reading a book I love love love.

(Ok, so I can't actually make Pat do anything. But I did set it on the table in front of him and say "I think you should read this next" and when he finished his book he started reading it next because I told him to.)

And now I have the same kind of nervousness I did when he asked to watch my favorite movie, You've Got Mail, and I had to sit there and watch it with him and sneak glances and gauge his reaction to all my favorite scenes, lines, facial expressions.

(I do have favorite facial expressions in that movie, thank you very much.)

But today, I was thinking about how you can't really predict what someone will think of a book.

I made the mistake of reading the Goodreads reviews for a book I finished recently. I was hooked on it, gave it four stars, couldn't put it down. And it had about a bajillion negative reviews. Some were on point, just things that hadn't really detracted from my enjoyment -- like, yes, it's a flaw in the book, but I still enjoyed it a lot. And it made me question whether my four stars were overkill and was it really a good book and good lord people have told me they read books just because I've reviewed them and then what if they hate them and what will they think of me??

One more anecdote -- another book I love love love is The Book Thief. Love it. In my second year in grad school, someone made a second attempt at starting a book club. (The first attempt had failed the year before after discussing exactly one book.)

The first book the New Book Club picked was The Book Thief and I was stoked. I reread it in preparation. I went to the discussion meeting, which took place in a bar because duh, and discovered everyone had hated it. Most people didn't even finish reading it.

In my head today, before I started thinking all of this, I was making a list of books I think all people should read, or at least start to read and they can put it down if they want. The book I've asked Pat to read, The Scorpio Races, would be on my list. So would the Harry Potter series, though I know plenty of people who don't really like HP.

What would be on your list? Have you known people who read your faves and hated them? I'm curious!

(Pat has not yet finished the book -- he's studying for the CPA tests and doesn't have much time for reading these days, but he'll likely pick it back up after his tests are done.)

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Back to Couch to 5k

Hi friends!

Over two years ago, I posted my eternally most popular post ever: the Couch to 5k plan I used when I very first started running.

That post is clearly the most viewed post I have -- although the competition isn't super fierce. I'm not really a very pinnable blogger. But that post -- or at least the image from it -- has been pinned over 5000 times.

So. I thought I'd quickly revisit it because: Guess what? I've been using that plan again.

I kind of wanted to put it out there that I have completed a marathon and am now being challenged by Couch to 5k and that's ok.

After my marathon, I pretty much stopped running. I ran one 5k about two weeks later. I did a fitness class for a couple months, but just could not bring myself to run.

Then I moved to Colorado. I spent a lot of time eating my emotions and making friends on Netflix. Which, you know, not the best coping mechanisms, but they got me through the winter, which was pretty tough. I was leaving when it was dark in the morning and getting home when it was dark at night. I had little motivation to work out, so I didn't.

A few months ago (I think?), I decided to get back at it. I fiddled around on the stationary bike, elliptical and treadmill at my apartment gym with no real goal in mind. I got my endurance back to where I could complete 30 minutes of exercise.

And then I started Couch to 5k again.

After all that time not running, I have totally no shame in scaling back my running and having to get back into shape. It was basically nine months-ish (10?) of not running and barely working out. OF COURSE I have to start back at the beginning. I would destroy my body trying to jump in at any level other than the beginning.

I think people who work out and especially runners are embarrassed to take a step back. As if because I ran one marathon I will eternally be able to run marathons. Um. No. That was hard as hell.

And right now, Running a 5k distance is enough to make me feel accomplished for the day. Because I've worked to get my fitness back. I have woken up for more 5:30 am workouts than I wanted to. I've done burpees and froggers and planks. I've put in the miles, again.

So if you see me bragging about hitting milestones again when I hit them for the first time years ago. Well. I'm probably going to be just as proud this time through as I was that time.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Book review: I Was Here

I Was Here by Gayle Forman

Description from Goodreads (below) can be found here along with other reviews. Add me on Goodreads!

Cody and Meg were inseparable.
Two peas in a pod.
Until . . . they weren’t anymore.

When her best friend Meg drinks a bottle of industrial-strength cleaner alone in a motel room, Cody is understandably shocked and devastated. She and Meg shared everything—so how was there no warning? But when Cody travels to Meg’s college town to pack up the belongings left behind, she discovers that there’s a lot that Meg never told her. About her old roommates, the sort of people Cody never would have met in her dead-end small town in Washington. About Ben McAllister, the boy with a guitar and a sneer, who broke Meg’s heart. And about an encrypted computer file that Cody can’t open—until she does, and suddenly everything Cody thought she knew about her best friend’s death gets thrown into question.

I Was Here is Gayle Forman at her finest, a taut, emotional, and ultimately redemptive story about redefining the meaning of family and finding a way to move forward even in the face of unspeakable loss.

First things first: this book deals with suicide. So, if that's something you shouldn't be reading, don't read this book. And maybe also check this out, if you need to.

And also maybe be careful who you recommend this too. (lookin at you Kate) (not because you wouldn't be careful, just a heads up)

Moving on: I Was Here is the story of Cody, who was left behind and shocked when her best friend committed suicide. She didn't see it coming, even a little bit, and begins to question everything about her friendship with Meg, her life, herself.

Parts of this book are really intense. Cody is so shocked that she takes a lot of steps to understand Meg's mindframe -- to try to find the why of Meg's suicide, and it takes her to really dark places. I related to Cody's questioning of how she could not have known this about her friend, questioning how well she actually knew her friend.

Some parts of the book, though, I felt were too light. The relationships that form in the wake of Meg's suicide felt shallow to me -- I wanted more from their development, wanted to see more how that was happening. I think death can bring people together in weird ways, but I Was Here seemed to make people close really quickly in the way that can happen after a death without acknowledging that it's kind of weird and quick and different from normal. So while a lot of the emotions were really intense for me, I didn't always buy the relationships.

I'm trying not to say too much so I don't give anything away. I liked the book, but I think it could have been better.

Have any of you read I Was Here? What did you think?


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