The Things I’m Seeing Without You

It’s been a while between blog posts, what with Christmas and then New Year which wasn’t New Year…(allow me to explain). I had high hopes for New Year 2018. I had made my vision board and committed to a year of health, well being, writing, blog development, disconnecting from technology, etc. 2018 was going to be epic, I could just FEEL it. Then, I got sick. I mean really sick. Pneumonia as it happens. And no, not the “I have a cold and got walking pneumonia” kind. The real deal.

So 2018 New Year was a bust. Fortunately however, I am a big believer in the concept that knowledge will find it’s way to you when you most need it, and sure enough in this case it did. Fortuitously, I had a conversation with my Library branch manager a few weeks back which happened to come round to the Russian Orthodox Church and the celebrations of moveable feasts by the Julian calendar as opposed to the Gregorian calendar. One of the celebrations in the Russian Orthodox Church happens to be Old New Year. You can see what I’m talking about with the calendars HERE. Then you can read about Old New Year at THIS very informative, 100% accurate and critically acclaimed wiki site (ha ha ha- but you’ll get the idea).

Point is that I went with Old New Year because the actual 2018 New Year basically wasn’t a thing at all for me. I vaguely remember watching the Sydney Australia fireworks on TV after the fact (Sydney has THE BEST fireworks by the way, in case you are wondering), but otherwise, I was coughing up my good lung.

Old New Year was on January 14th which is great. It allowed me to get better and plan a celebration with my family (they were totally on board because we were all sick and New Year basically sucked all round), and with a friend who came to stay. It’s been epic, as it should have been in the first place. Firstly I worked the weekend before which meant that I had Friday off. Then, MLK day was Monday so it was a long weekend anyway. But then Texas REALLY came through. It FROZE.

That’s right. Like, legitimately there was snow and white stuff. It was very cool because having lived in Germany for seven years I can tell you that this was like maybe a flurry. I don’t even think the big Texas freeze of January 2018 even counts as a flurry. More like a frizzle. But Texans being Texans cannot deal. Seriously, have a hurricane come through and we’ll prep like the best preppers in the world. Stocks of bread, milk and eggs will be piled up in the garage freezer. We’ll store water like a drought is coming and drinking is going out of style. People who don’t even own boats will craft one out of rubber cement and life rafts to save their neighbors during an epic storm. But when there is ice, everything here SHUTS DOWN. As soon as the white stuff hits the ground, we are in catastrophic failure mode. It’s like a real life ‘Day After Tomorrow’ situation. People monitor the weather like there’s 25 feet of snow and sleet coming and they’ll need to support their roofs with iron beams to account for the weight.

All this said, it worked great for me, because my library straight up closed down. Two extra days; that’s six days total people, since I last saw a catalog computer. It’s been fabulous. Had I known I would have flown to the Virgin Islands for a for reallsy dealsy vacation. Or I would have booked a cruise to South America. Nevertheless, there is beauty in staying in and actually relaxing. Which is what I’ve been doing for days. We did our Old New Year celebration, ate out at a beautiful restaurant and drank to be merry and the rest has been all sleep-ins and late night movies over strong liquor. I love Old New Year!

Anyway, I’m not just blogging about my luck over the Texan incapacity to deal with anything in the negatives as far as weather is concerned (don’t panic I’m going by celsius folks, it really wasn’t that bad), I actually did read something over this weekend (AKA six day complete rest and relaxation). I read a lot actually. But I’m going to blog about Peter Borgnanni and his most recent publication (it just came out in October 2017) called The Things I’m Seeing Without You. Here’s the pretty cover:

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So I have to admit I was a little skeptical at first because the premise of the book is about a girl who must deal with the loss of her first love, a boy that she’s met only once but has maintained a relationship with over social media. Sound familiar? It should if you’ve read Once and For All by Sarah Dessen (published in June 2017), which has a similar story. But actually both books diverge and Bognanni has delivered a very witty, clever and emotionally moving story. The protagonist is Tess, who has met Jonah at a party and has fallen in love with him over months of communication via social media. But when she realizes that Jonah has died and that their communication was not as it appeared to be, she embarks on a journey (both physical and emotional) of love, loss, depression, mental illness, grief and closure. The clever part is that Borgnanni writes Tess, a teenage girl, very accurately and with enough wit and smarts to make her downright awesome. The dialogue is snappy and funny, Tess embodies the teenage psyche of someone suffering with mental illness exceptionally well, and Bognanni therefore delivers a story that it multi-faceted in its discussion of issues for teens. The development of the plot does not linger and therefore the story is not long and involved, dragging into the doom of the dark side, as many books on mental illness do. Likewise, the book has an actual plot too, so it does not just focus on Tess’ depression as an ultimate page turner, rather life must go on for Tess, and her journey embodies one of trying to find ways in which to grieve and deal with the difficulties of life, which often seem like they may drown us all.

Tess’ father is great, and not too annoying for a parent figure. There is little over-exaggeration on the parental unit as a clueless entity that has no idea that anything is wrong with their teenager (although that is an issue, it is dealt with concisely and effectively). The introduction of Grace as an adult figure who helps rather than hinders is nice. And the relationship which develops between Daniel and Tess is not to over-romanticisied. In fact, it’s problematic. Even Tess and Jonah’s relationship seems over indulged on her part, which only serves to highlight Tess’ own despair over her own life. In short, the book is less about romantic love and more about the love for people you must let go, and finding ways to love yourself, despite all of the voices in your head telling you to do otherwise.

The book is a great addition to YA fiction on these topics and is a easy, flowy read. You can pick up a copy HERE. While you’re at it, check out Bognanni’s other book The House of Tomorrow which is another page turner.

Keep an eye out for this author. He has a way of writing about and for teens which embodies all of the witty angst experienced by this age group. His writing style and dialogue is peppy and fun, and he hits the point when it comes to teen issues. It’s really good to FINALLY read about a protagonist dealing with mental health issues who isn’t completely useless and falling apart. What a change from other novels which descend their suffering characters into a dark uselessness. This was well written and worth your time.

 

Well, that’s it for me for now. I’m off to celebrate my last day before I must return to work…for TWO WHOLE DAYS…before it’s weekend again. Hope you are enjoying your New Year, wherever you are.

 

 

 

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