Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata – Five Sentence Book Review

Back again with another five sentence book review, this time for Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata. It’s a book originally written & published in Japanese and translated by Ginny Tapley Takemori.

This book was a confusing read, and felt like a literary rollercoaster ride where I wanted to sometimes scream at the main character, and at other times scream at everyone else.

It felt like equal parts memoir, fiction, and ethnographic study, which would have been perfect had it not been so weird.

I found myself feeling utterly conflicted and as time went on, I went from enjoying the book, to essentially hate-reading it.

I don’t know if it’s cultural differences, but I found some of the book to be frustratingly offensive, and while I think that was in some ways perhaps the point, it made it no less bearable.

I expected a lot of things from this book, and the only thing it delivered on was that it was a short & quick read.

⭐️

If you’ve read this book, I’m curious to know what you thought of it! I picked it up and read it in a matter of hours and I’m now sitting here wondering what exactly I just experienced!

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The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary – Five sentence book review.

This book is a beautiful romance filled with heart-warming moments.

It’s also dark at times – tackling difficult subjects in a really refreshing way.

I loved how well the characters and setting were used and developed, which made it so easy to picture every scene.

What a damn good debut novel.

Go buy/borrow/download/listen to this book!!!!

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

Is this a ridiculous way of reviewing a book? Perhaps. But honestly, I often find myself wanting to discuss a book when I’ve finished it, and I also find that I frequently struggle to convey my thoughts properly after reading a book. Sometimes I just want to sit in my feelings, but I often also feel the urge to write about what I’ve experienced too. This felt like maybe it could be a good way to bridge the gap??

Oh, Canada: Maple Dip-Donuts, Public Transit, and Disability Accomodations

Earlier this week, Tina and I spent the day traveling through Ontario on our way to the Burlington IKEA. Many of you may not know that I have harbored a deep love and appreciation of Canada pretty much since I was young. I know that I also tend to romanticize Canada, but Canada and its provinces are filled with so many fascinating and beautiful vistas and they always seem to be miles ahead of us Americans in many respects (public transit, universal healthcare, etc.). It’s hard not to be impressed or taken by some aspect during a visit.

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Sunday Thoughts #2

It’s only been a couple of weeks since the first Sunday Thoughts post I slapped up, and look at me! Here to do it again!

I want to start it all off by saying that if you haven’t read Missy’s post yet – How to Really Support Autism, get on that!!

Lately I’ve been trying to fill my social media with more cute shit and less politics. It’s not because I don’t care – because I really, really do. It’s because I feel emotionally tapped out. It feels like the horrible things going on in our world never cease (because they don’t) and I found that I’d open up twitter or Instagram and it was never-ending. It made me feel horrible all the time and I was miserable. So I’ve been trying to find happier things to fill my timelines with, just to try and get some balance for my sanity’s sake.

Enter Strange Planet Comics. When I was a kid, I used to love reading the comics in the newspaper on the weekends, or after unwrapping a gift from my grandmother who always reused them as wrapping paper. There was so much to choose from and I’d read it all. From Doonesbury to Kathy and everything in between. I’m sort of ashamed to admit that I don’t remember the last time I picked up a newspaper – for comics or anything else. Now, I find comics online, usually on Instagram. I just came across Strange Planet and oh my god, it is so freaking brilliant. Nathan Pyle has created this hilarious comic with aliens who take every single seemingly mundane aspect of our lives and make it amusing. The simplicity of it is what makes it so funny to me, and the art keeps me coming back. I’m usually the last to everything and this comic already has over a million followers so clearly that’s true in this case, but just on the chance that you haven’t come across this comic yet, please go check it out!

 

I’m also still loving The Goldbergs. I’m making my way through the series via Hulu (another love for sure) and it’s just so damn good! While the show is excellent, I recently discovered that there is a Goldbergs playlist on Spotify, and holy shit it is killer. It’s nothing but really good 80s bops and after watching different episodes it connects the music like a soundtrack and I’m totally loving it. Even if you’ve never watched the show (fix that), you can get down with the playlist (please do). Trust me – you can’t listen to it without singing/dancing!

This next thing isn’t something I’m loving or about to rave about. I want to talk about something I’ve been struggling with – my skin. Skincare is freakin’ hard people. I have been trying to find a routine that works for me for what feels like forever, and it’s exhausting. I have sensitive, dry, redness prone skin to start off with. Strong fragrances are a no because they trigger my migraines. Add on the fact that I can’t use anything with Salicyclic acid and you can eliminate basically 50% of the products currently on the market. Citrus seems to freak out my skin too, but sometimes its hit or miss. I’m not looking for products that cost a $$$$$, not because I’m not willing to ~invest in my skin~ but I just don’t have that kind of budget! I’ve tried all the popular products that get rave reviews – Cetaphil, CeraVe, Vanicream, …the list goes on. Then there’s the fact that I struggle with textures. So many of the products I’ve tried have DRIVEN ME NUTS when they’re on my skin. I mean, it’s so uncomfortable and distracting that I end up washing my face again because I literally cannot stand the feeling of whatever oil/cream/gel I’ve tried using. I’m at the point now where I’d rather deal with my dry cranky skin than the feeling of something goopy and horrible laying on my skin driving me into a pit of madness.

I’ve got a couple points with this rant. For one, I feel like you can easily find a million blog posts and Youtube videos about skincare routines and how someone solved this or that issue with their skin and all that jazz. That’s all good (when it’s authentic of course), but honestly it’s not all sunshine and daisies. I’d love to get to the point where I can share my skincare routine here, but I’m just not there yet. I’m so so far away.

Secondly, I share this because I’m looking for any suggestions anyone might have for me. I feel like when it comes to recommendations, I’ve heard it all, but I’m still hoping that someone has the secret product that will work for me. I’m not looking for a twenty point skincare routine, I don’t have the energy for that. But if I could actually feel like my skin is clean/hydrated and not angry all the time, that’d be pretty cool. Tell me your secrets.

Lastly, I just want to profess my deep and intense love for Tim Horton’s Ice Capps. Living in Western New York, Timmy Ho’s has been a part of my life for a long ass time. I’ll be honest that over the years, my love for Tim’s has dwindled. They’ve changed recipes, gotten rid of things, and quality control has sort of gone out the window. But despite all that (and Burger King’s acquisition), I’ve recently rekindled my love for them via their Ice Capps. The weather is s-l-o-w-l-y starting to improve here and with that my craving for cold coffee drinks has emerged. When they make them right, an Ice Capp is such a perfect freakin’ work of art. It’s like the best coffee slushie you could dream of. No, Starbucks frappuccinos DO NOT compare, because those are simply horrible. While the Ice Capps you can get state side still do not compare to the ones in Canada (or the beautiful maple dip donuts they refuse to carry here…), they’re still a beautiful thing. The perfect hopeful acknowledgement that spring/summer is actually coming and we survived another winter. I’ll drink to that.

Oh and speaking of coffee, Missy and I set up a Ko-Fi page! It’s a work in progress so it’s pretty bare bones right now, but if you like anything you’ve been reading here, we’d love any support you felt like giving. ❤

It’s Time Sephora Got Rid of Kat Von D

If you like makeup and you pay any attention to things in the beauty world, you’ve likely heard something over the years about Kat Von D and her beauty line. You’ve probably heard people raving about various products, or maybe you only heard the talk about the many problematic issues with Kat Von D herself.

This isn’t a gossip blog, nor is it really a makeup focused blog, but makeup is something I have an interest in and as I’ve seen talk about Kat Von D pick up again following a video that Kat did (I won’t link to it, but I’ll link to this great response video that Leesha did). It got me thinking about the brand again and I felt like talking about it here.

Scandals bring down brands all the time. Sometimes not right away, but generally speaking, it seems that we live in a world where its harder to bounce back after a big blow up. I think the existence of social media plays into it, as its near impossible now for brands to just shove the bad shit under a rug. It’s also way easier for consumers to find out stuff that brands might not want us to know. In the case of Kat Von D, the issues are primarily with Kat herself. I’m not going to share all the info here, but the receipts are all over the internet for you to find. Over the years there’s been instances in which her actions have lead to accusations of racism and anti-Semitism. She’s been in multiple relationships with neo-Nazis, and of course there is the subject of anti-vaxxing.

Whoa, honestly that’s a lot for one person/brand. I feel like in so many instances, any one of those would have brought a different brand down! Of course, Kat Von D has tried to defend herself and discredit these claims over the years, but for many consumers, including myself, it’s too late. I can’t in good conscience give my money to a company/someone with this kind of track record.

Each issue with Kat Von D is horrible no matter how you look at it. For me, it was the anti-vaxxing that sealed the deal – not because it was the “most important” or anything, but simply because it was the first issue I even heard about. The anti-vaccine movement (I cringe to even call it that) is considered to be a global health threat according to the World Health Organization (WHO). 

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The way I look at it, not vaccinating your children is irresponsible, ignorant and a threat to the general public. I have a lot of anxiety when it comes to health stuff and doctors, medicine, etc. But vaccines are something I’m 1000% behind. Then there are the claims that vaccines cause Autism, which I find to be not only ludicrous but also wildly offensive. If you’re into facts and science, it’s also been proven untrue about a million times.

I can’t get behind a person who supports and/or promotes this kind of bull. I definitely can’t support their brand. I know I’m not alone, I’ve had so many conversations with others who feel the same way. Many, like myself, have vowed to no longer purchase her products. I gave away any of her products that I had and refuse to touch another thing of hers again.

When I was at Sephora this past January I was offered the Kat Von D birthday gift and I emphatically told them that I wasn’t interested and could NOT support the brand because of her behavior. Like I said, I know my stance is that of many other consumers. I’ve seen the threads and I’ve watched the videos. A lot of us no longer support the brand. So my question is: WHY IS SEPHORA??

When there were complaints over the questionable names that Kat Von D uses for their products, like “underage” and “lolita”,  they were more or less glossed over. Sephora did however, pull her product following backlash over a lipstick called “Celebutard”. Cringe. This was in 2013!! Has she learned? Doesn’t seem so. Has Sephora listened to the continual backlash that only seems to gain momentum with every scandal that rocks this brand and its creator? Again, that’s a negative.

Why pick and choose Sephora? Honestly, I think it’s beyond time that Sephora stop supporting this brand and remove Kat Von D from their shelves. When is enough actually enough? Hasn’t there been enough scandal? Enough outrage? I think that if you’re still supporting Kat Von D and her brand, you should take a hard look at your choices. That includes Sephora. By keeping her brand on the shelves, they’re sending a message that these issues don’t matter, at least not over the prospect of making a few bucks (perhaps literally, because who is even buying this brand anymore?!?!). I’m not sure I want to support them so long as they continue to keep her on their shelves.

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Thank you, next.

 

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How to Really Support Autism

My mornings are pretty consistent – I wake up for the several alarms I’ve set neurotically, hit the off button, and browse on my phone to stay awake while snagging a few more minutes nestled in my comfy warm bed. While checking Twitter this morning to see if ODAAT was finally picked up by a network (fingers crossed), I saw so many posts for World Autism Awareness Day. So many puzzle pieces and #LightItUpBlue, so little time. You might also know that April happens to be designated National Autism Awareness Month. As an autistic woman myself, I felt compelled to set the record straight about some things that I take issue with when mostly well-intentioned people try to support autism as a cause. It’s not all bad, but there’s definitely some bad vibes that April gives to #actuallyautistic people like myself.

Language Matters

When you’re drafting a post to social media, you might spend some time thinking about hashtags, which filter, and definitely if you’re anything like me which gif to use (still not solid on how that’s actually pronounced). So why wouldn’t you spend some time thinking about the language you use on social media? I can’t tell you how many times in April I see people using language that’s often considered hurtful to both the autism and disability communities. Phrasing like handicapable, differently-abled, and special needs or calling people with disabilities inspirations or courageous. My biggest issue is with what is commonly referenced as inspiration porn. I recently discovered ABC’s Speechless, which is an amazing show that actually features genuine disability representation and needs to be renewed ASAP!! They hit the nail on the head in one of their episodes as they explained what inspiration porn is.

No Assembly Required

The imagery associated with autism of the puzzle piece may appear innocent, but it carries an implied meaning that can be hurtful to autistics like me. Think about the last time you tried putting together a puzzle. You had to look at the box to see if the pattern was even remotely close, scavenge for the right piece for a particular spot, and sometimes slam it into place before you realize that there was a missing piece. People are not puzzles!!! The analogy of a puzzle piece – especially when paired with that saying “until all the pieces fit” – implies that people on the autism spectrum need to be fixed or that something is wrong with us. The sooner we ditch the puzzle piece, the sooner we can change the narrative of autism as being something to fix when really it’s society that could benefit from changes.

Blue-Washing

Every April brings a wave of blue everywhere, which seems cheery enough, but again there’s an aspect that might not even cross your mind. When you think of the color blue, there are several associations you might make from raindrops to a beautiful clear sky. Of course, there’s also the association seen at many gender reveal parties with boys traditionally being represented with the color blue. When attached to something like autism, it wipes out the existence of other autistic people who identify as female or another gender identity. In 2019, we need to do better in not only recognizing but supporting all autistic people regardless of how they identify in terms of gender, race, and sexual orientation.

Ditching Autism Speaks

Have you ever had that one acquaintance that’s always saying something really messed up? Enter Autism Speaks. For many well-intentioned people, Autism Speaks is the organization that you might give a donation to in April, but peel back the curtain and see the horrible ethos of the organization which ascribes to what is referred to as the medical model of disability. It essentially aims to fix or cure people with disabilities including autistics through medicine. In the case of Autism Speaks, their goals are made into reality with research for a cure and support of prenatal testing which aligns itself with other modern eugenics practices. Let me say emphatically: I and fellow autistics like myself – we are not broken and we don’t need to be cured!! They are an organization that not only fails to represent the support needs of autistics directly but is perfectly okay at the prospect of erasing autism and autistics like myself off the map. This op-ed published four years ago from The New York Times written from a parent’s perspective, while dated still provides a great perspective of the issue.

 

The Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) also gives some thoughts in a prepared pamphlet on the ills of Autism Speaks’ practices as well as providing some helpful guidance on where to donate instead that will actually benefit people on the autism spectrum and not an organization participating in mass character assassination of autistic people. I leave you with this thread from NYT YA author Marieke Nijkamp that pretty much sums up my feelings to a T. I hope you enjoy the rest of your #WorldAutismAcceptanceDay and as always, I’d love to hear your thoughts!!

 

Dinner & a Show – Misuta Chows, Buffalo NY

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My sister is awesome and for my birthday in January, she gifted me with tickets for us to go see the 20th anniversary touring production of Rent when it came to Buffalo. For a long time, Rent was the only musical that I liked. I actually thought I hated musicals with Rent being the exception (yeah….that’s not true at all). But when I first saw Rent in High School (on video) I just fell in love. It’s such a wonderful story and I was so happy to be able to see it live (I’ve seen a smaller production when my sister’s college did the musical, and it was great there too)!!

Seeing Rent at Shea’s was the second time I’d seen a proper production of a musical. The first being when Hamilton came to town (and was everything I hoped and then some). I used to go to a lot of concerts, but I haven’t in a long time because unfortunately, all the flashing lights and the noise often meant every concert I attended came with a bonus migraine. I miss going out and experiencing live music, but I’ve found that musical theater is a wonderful alternative. I’m able to sit, it’s indoors (I swear I’ve been rained on at nearly every concert I’ve ever attended), there’s generally no massive exodus of traffic afterwards, and so far, there hasn’t been any insane flashing lights to trigger my cranky head.

The show itself was great. Somehow I behaved myself and didn’t sing along to every song, though trust me – I wanted to! The cast really did a great job and if the show is coming to your town, I highly recommend getting tickets. Even after seeing it here and there, and watching different versions of the show, it still gets me in the feels. Even all these years later – it’s still such a relevant and wonderful show.

My only real issue were the seats but that was part my body – I overdid it the day before and my back was in a REAL MOOD – and part the historical (read: uncomfortable) nature of the venue. I was in a lot of pain during the show and of course, I switched bags before leaving and didn’t have anything to take for it. As soon as the show was over though, walking started to help and I felt a lot better.

After the show we walked down to a restaurant we were both really wanting to check out: Misuta Chows. I’ve got to admit, the fact that Buffalo is now a place where there’s stuff to walk to on Main st. is sort of a crazy prospect. I mean, there’s always been something here and there, but the city is changing into something I never imagined.

Misuta Chows is part Japanese restaurant and part arcade/bar. The attention to detail in terms of design is excellent. It’s got the feel like you’re in some alleyway Japanese restaurant and despite feeling small, it doesn’t feel too cramped – more cozy. There’s a faux roof on the kitchen area with a little counter, and paper lanterns hang throughout the space. The noise level in the dining area wasn’t bad which I really appreciated. 80s tunes wafted in (also appreciated) and as we were seated at the counter facing the kitchen, it actually felt quite private. The lighting was also great  – I know, perhaps weird details to comment on, but some places are just too bright and too loud for me to deal with and this just felt right, so they get points for ambiance for sure. Also, the Maneki Neko banners on the roof over the kitchen space was adorable. Can I have that please??

 

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Upstairs is a second bar and an arcade, which you get to via a pink glittery Hello Kitty adorned stairway. Because, why not?? The arcade itself is a fun little space with a bunch of pinball machines and about a dozen older video game machines. The games are $0.50 a play, with the pinball machines costing $1.00 a play so they’re not the cheapest thing in the world, but it’s definitely a nice feature and one I can get down with. I think it’d be neat if they did something where you got a token or two to play when you ate there. That’d be a really nice little detail!

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In terms of the food, we started with two appetizers – the cucumber slices and the pork gyoza’s. Missy also got a drink – the “Hey Samurai” which she felt was really nothing like it’s description, and at their drink prices, that was a little bit disappointing. Being seated by the kitchen meant that our food was placed directly on the counter in front of us for us to grab which was nice in a way.

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For our entree’s we both went with the Shio Ramen. I have wanted to try real ramen for years now, but I just haven’t found myself in a place to do so until now, so I was excited to finally try it. Overall it was pretty good. I LOOOOVED the soft boiled egg!! I would have liked more bamboo shoots/scallions as I felt that was a bit sparse, and I personally wasn’t a fan of the large pieces of pork due to all the fat. I’m not a fan of fat because the texture really bothers me, so that might be more a personal issue – but I was sort of anticipating thinner slices of pork. The broth itself was good, but definitely super salty as Shio ramen is meant to be. I’d really love to try a Tonkatsu ramen sometime!

In the grand scheme of things, Misuta Chows is a great little place and I think it’s a welcome addition to downtown Buffalo. I like that while it’s a place with two bars, it’s still a welcoming environment for people who don’t really drink (hi), although we were there early on a Saturday evening and I’m sure it’s likely a different atmosphere later at night.

If I found myself in the area and wanting a place to eat, I’d definitely keep Misuta Chows in mind. I’d love to see them expand their menu options!