Not To Be Trusted With Knives

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#36 – My Earliest Book Memory

http://g-ecx.images-amazon.com/images/G/01/ciu/79/4e/34da1363ada08056ecc1f010.L._AA240_.jpgSo, my guest posters have been *much* better than I have with the whole “Stuff Books Taught Me” theme.  And they’ve written these beautiful, touching, insightful masterpieces.  And me, not so much.  But they have inspired me to talk about the first book I remember: Donkey Daniel in Bethlehem.

It’s a book about the Christian nativity, told from the point of view of Daniel, the donkey who carried Mary to Bethleh2m.  I *loved* that book. I made my parents read it to me over and over and over again.  Until I knew it word-for-word. I knew at which point to turn the page.  I truly, truly believed I knew how to read.  I mean, when people were “reading” they were looking at book, saying words and turning pages.  I was doing that. Thus, I was reading right?  I think I was about 3, maybe 4, at this time – it’s one of my earliest memories.

And then I remember trying to read a different book… I picked it up, opened it and… nothing. I didn’t know what it said!  And I remember this very clearly, I thought, “Oh no!  I’ve forgotten how to read!!”  Seriously, I didn’t think, “Oh, I have just memorized that other book,” I thought “I’ve forgotten how to read!!”

I think I also really liked the book because it had “Beth” in the title1.  I may also have believed that I was the second coming of the Virgin Mary. Because, you know, my name is actually “Mary”2.

It made sense to my 3-year-old brain.

1see, I’ve always been a rampant narcissist!
2Mary Elizabeth.

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#35 – Guest Posting: Just Call Me Osama bin Librarian

Who better to write a guest posting with my theme of “Stuff Books Taught Me” than a librarian? This guest posting was written by the lovely librarian, Rebecca, of  Larocque and Roll.

Last summer, four librarians from Nigeria, Cuba and Iran were denied visas to go to the IFLA [1] conference in Montreal.  While I’m sure the Harper government had VERY good reasons for denying them [2], there was a letter to the editor[3] in the Toronto Star that identified the real reason they were not allowed to go to the conference: librarians are the real terrorists everyone needs to be worried about.

Think about it.  Librarians work in buildings surrounded by books, magazines, music CDs, movies, newspapers and audiobooks that contain information that could be dangerous if it ever got into the wrong hands.  For instance, things like the idea that man evolved from simians, the government is lying to us about the existence of aliens, and the fact that god may or may not exist.  Scary stuff, indeed.

In fact, librarians will go as far as to actually help people looking for dangerous ideas.  Want a book about witchcraft?  It’s over here in the 133.43s.  Evolution?  Check the 576.8 section – there are some books there.  You need some good novels to read on vacation?  Awesome – here’s some you might enjoy.

And you know what?  Librarians will let absolutely anyone, regardless of age, race, religion, sexual orientation or political creed, access this information.  That’s right – anyone can come in, borrow books about Communist philosophy and how-to books for building a web site, and librarians won’t even ask them if they are planning on starting a political group and posting about it online.  Nope, they don’t care. [4]  Will no one think of the children?

(Thankfully, there is a group in Wisconsin who are doing just that – they want some very dangerous books removed from the teen section and labeled as “sexually explicit” for their “gay-affirming” portrayals of homosexuality. [5] [7]  It’s just a small step on the path to making sure that certain people are protected from ideas that other people (who are clearly not those terrorist librarians!) deem dangerous.)

While perhaps it’s going a little far to call us terrorists, we are by no means neutral in the war for your mind.  We stop at very little [8] to help you find what you were looking for, and sometimes things you weren’t.  We won’t hesitate to redirect you if you’re on the wrong path, and we also won’t hesitate to eliminate material that is outdated or old.  Nor will we stand in the way of allowing materials on opposite sides of an issue into the library.  We’re cool that way.

However, if there is one thing we have in common with terrorists, it’s that we love the sound of minds being blown by new ideas.

[1] International Federation of Library Associations.  We’re worldwide, yo.
[2] SURE.  RIGHT.
[3] Note: The letter to the editor was written by my boss’s wife, which we (the staff) didn’t realize for a few days
[4] Seriously.  We don’t.
[5] If that happens, I can tell you exactly how that will end: teens will be FLOCKING to take out the books with the “sexually explicit” label, which will increase the number of teens visiting the library to check out the dangerous material, which will just drive up the circulation numbers.  Way to go, censors!  In fact, maybe the library should go ahead and label them “sexually explicit” to spite them. [6]
[6] That wasn’t a legitimate suggestion.  I was just kidding.
[7] They also want the library to include books written by “ex-gays” which as a librarian (just not the one who is in charge of book-buying), I would say yes to, if only so more people could see how completely deluded they are.
[8] Excessive overdue fines, numerous lost items, lost library cards, etc.

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#34 – All The Books I Currently Have Out of The Library

It’s time for… a list!  Who doesn’t love lists?  Hitler, that’s who.  Everyone else loves lists.  And now I give you one.  It’s the list of all the books I currently have out of the library.  Correction: the libraries. Because I have some books out of the VPL and some out of UBC library.

Books I Have Out of the VPL:

  • Eat that Frog: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time by Brian Tracy (Mp3 audiobook)
  • The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell (MP3 audiobook)
  • Getting To Yes Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In by Roger Fisher (CD audiobook)
  • They Say/I Say: The Moves That Matter In Persuasive Writing by Gerald Graff and Cathy Birkenstein (an actual book!)
  • Getting Things Done by David Allen (MP3 audiobook – I’m on the wait list for this one)

Books I Have Out of the UBC Library:

  • Planning and evaluating health programs: A primer by Charles Hale, Frank Arnold, Marvin T. Travis
  • Doing qualitative research: A practical handbook by David Silverman
  • Enhancing university teaching: Lessons from research into award-winning teachers by David Kember & Carmel McNaught
  • Discussion with more students by Graham Gibbs
  • Sage qualitative research kit edited by Uwe Flick
  • Doing conversation, discourse and document analysis by Tim Rapley
  • Re-thinking science: Knowledge and the public in an age of uncertainty by Helga Nowotny, Peter Scott &Michael Gibbons.
  • Structure of scientific revolutions by Thomas S. Kuhn.
  • Program theory-driven evaluation science : strategies and applications by Stewart I. Donaldson
  • Research methodology for sport and exercise science : a comprehensive introduction for study and research edited by Herbert Haag
  • Evaluating health promotion: Practice and methods edited by Margaret Thorogood &Yolande Coombes
  • Program evaluation: An introduction by David Royse
  • Philosophy and the sciences of exercise, health and sport: Critical perspectives on research methods edited by Mike McNamee

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#33 – At Workspace!

Decided to go for a change of scenery, so Tod and I are now at Workspace, where a slew of other bloggers are Blogathoning!  I’d post a pic but it’s time to post, so this is just going to have to be the shortest blog post of the day!

What’s Workspace, you ask?  It’s this: http://www.abetterplacetowork.com/

Mad props to Workspace for letting us blog here today!

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#32 – Response to Dan’s Guest Posting

So, as I was reading Dan’s guest posting when he sent it to me, I kept saying things in response. Like, outloud. Like, as if Dan were here.  So I figure that will make as good a posting as any right now!  His words in <blockquotes>, my responses beneath.

pants wearing spider

Pretty much the funniest thing I’ve ever heard. Terrifying, but funny.

But who can really blame beer for anything? It’s all tasty and wonderful and full of wholesome goodness.

And B vitamins. It is also full of B vitamins.

In fact, it’s my first blog entry ever. I’m a blog virgin if you will.

It’s an honour to take your blog virginity, Dan. Your bloginity1.

Nervous, because I don’t really know what to write about, and I have a lot to live up to, especially given the awesomeness of the posts that one regularly reads here.

*Blushes*  Seriously, though, you and my other guest posters are totally blowing me out of the water today!

In fact, based on my experience, most people tend to find a reason to leave the conversation if ever I go on a statistically laced rampage.

For the record, I’m not one of those “most people.” I actually email Dan to ask stats questions. Or to rant about other people’s misuse of stats.  Because I am awesome like that.

I find myself a child of the tender age of [insert whatever age one would be in grades 1 and 2]

6 or 7. You are in kindergarten when you are 5. 5 +1 = 6.  Yay me!

book A: Happy Days for Mr. Mugs

Oh Mr. Mugs!  I *loved* Mr. Mugs!

The title spoke to me: “Where the Wild Things Are”. [and all the stuff you write after this]

So, just the other day when Kalev and I went to see the new Harry Potter movie, we saw the preview for Where the Wild Things Are and Kalev was like “Do you have fond childhood memories of that book?” and I was all “I have never even heard of that book in my life!” and he was all “Everyone is talking about how this is like the most important book of their childhood! And I don’t have these fond childhood memories that everyone else seems to have.”  And so when I read your posting I was like “OMG! This is exactly what Kalev was talking about!”  And it sounds like really powerful stuff. And now I totally want to read it.  I don’t imagine it will have the same impact on me now as it did on you then, but I want to read it nonetheless.

1 TRADEMARK!

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#31 – Guest Posting: My Earliest Book-perience(TM)

A guest posting from my Official Statisitian and Tattoo Consultant

Holy crapshite!

I almost forgot to write my blog entry! I’m horrible. But then again, I remembered so maybe I’m not so horrible after all. I blame my PhD, and my Post Doc, and a slew of other academic pursuits for my memory lapse. I also blame the universe for failing to remind me in a timely manner that I need to write a blog entry. Furthermore, I blame pants, spiders and any sort of pant wearing spider. The reasons for this should be obvious. Granted, I probably should really blame the beers that I drank last night, in place of working on said academic pursuits and blogging. But who can really blame beer for anything? It’s all tasty and wonderful and full of wholesome goodness.

So this is my first official blog entry for Not To Be Trusted With Knives. In fact, it’s my first blog entry ever. I’m a blog virgin if you will. So please, dear reader be gentle; it’s my first time. Truth be told, I’m stoked and nervous. Stoked because it is a huge honour to be writing for NTBTWK. Nervous, because I don’t really know what to write about, and I have a lot to live up to, especially given the awesomeness of the posts that one regularly reads here.

So, what to write about? As I sit here contemplating the theme (“Stuff books taught me”), I find myself at a bit of an impasse. Why? Well, despite my love for all things statistical and mathematical, I’m guessing that most readers likely don’t want to read about Bayesian priors, Multivariate Conditionally Autoregressive Random effects, or Poisson Mixture Models, really, ever [1]. In fact, based on my experience, most people tend to find a reason to leave the conversation if ever I go on a statistically laced rampage. I find this especially true when I make the effort to strike up a conversation with family and friends, or that random person on the bus that has that look about them. You know the look I’m referring to. It’s the I-want-to-know-everything-you-know-about-stats look. I’m sure you’ve all experienced that before. Hence, I need to figure out other “stuff books taught me” in order to satisfy the theme of this particular blog-tastic blogathon. But what makes up the “stuff books taught me”?

If I think back to my earliest book-perience [2], I find myself a child of the tender age of [insert whatever age one would be in grades 1 and 2] [3]. So there I was, an innocent [insert whatever age one would be in grades 1 and 2] year old going to the school library. The uniqueness of this particular visit is what makes it stand out in my memory. Specifically, this visit was to extend beyond the typical sit-down-and-listen-to-a-story as read to us by the librarian. In this case, we were tasked with the additional responsibility of choosing a book to check out and read at home. Being the nerdly fellow that I was, I was beside myself with excitement. Which book would I choose? How would I know that it was the book for me? Would people think me weird if I were to choose say, book A: Happy Days for Mr. Mugs, or book B: Where the Sidewalk Ends [4]. I frantically searched through the shelves, looking for that one book that spoke to me. The book that would be My Book. The book that would forever be my first.

This book was too ugly, that one too thin. A book about dinosaurs, that might work. A book about rainbows – no. A book about knights – maybe, but not quite. Fire breathing dragons? Monsters under the bed? Jelly-Belly? Little Ms. [anything]? No. No. No. No. I was losing patience and running out of time. The clock was ticking and I was the only one without a book. My teacher, Mrs. Hannigan, had already informed us that our time was running out. But where was my book? I was lost, heartbroken, confused and frustrated. So many emotions for such a young boy. And then, when I thought all was lost, a glimmer of something. To my left, shoved between two larger, uglier books which surely read of stupid cowboy adventures or saving the damsel in distress, there it was. A thin, simple book. But oh this book! The title spoke to me: “Where the Wild Things Are”. I knew it was love the minute I touched it. The minute I cracked it open and saw the pictures, touched the pages, smelled the ink. They weren’t just pictures, they were more than art, they were images of a place that I knew intimately from my moments of make believe. It was as if someone had reached into my head and made real the world that I believed in, but up until that point thought was only in my mind. This world existed and I had documented proof. While the thoughts that ran through my brain were a blur, I distinctly remember thinking, “I must find this island”. It became my mission whenever and wherever I could, to seek out the “Wild Things”. I carried that book with me all the time. I often hid it in the library behind other books that no one would read so that I would know exactly where it was to check it out and keep it just for me. I had my book and I wasn’t about to share it with anyone. “Where the Wild Things Are” taught me about adventure, about exploration. It made me realize that monsters aren’t scary. It made me love books. It was my first book, and I love it to this day.

So, what makes up the “stuff books taught me”? I think, above all other lessons books have provided, beyond all the questions they have posed, assumptions they have prodded and poked, past the heartbreaks and adventures; above all of this, books have taught me how to stay forever young. For any time I’m feeling too caught up with the world, events of my life, the stresses of jobs, the stresses of relationships, family, etc., I know that I can always, always pick up “Where the Wild Things Are” and instantly be transported to that day in the library when I first discovered my love for books, and the feeling that someone could write not just for me, but to me, about me. That I could always revive the kid in me, and fully believe that there is an island out there just for me and my adventures with the “Wild Things”.

I only hope that the movie adaptation (which is hitting theatres October 16, 2009) lives up to the beauty that is “Where the Wild Things Are” [5] I know that I will be one of the first in line to see the movie and will, without a doubt, be instantly 7 years old again when I watch it. I can’t wait!

Dan
Official Statisitian and Tattoo Consultant of NTBTWK

[1] Although, for the life of me I don’t understand who wouldn’t want to read about that! Go Stats!
[2] Copyright!
[3] I’d do the math, because I’m all I-love-Math-all-the-time, except I’m a little rough due to the beer consumption from the previous eve. Hence, you’ll have to forgive my laziness for not calculating the appropriate age.
[4] Both fantastic reads. Of course, I think the latter holds more value to me than the former.
[5] Check out the trailer here: http://www.apple.com/trailers/wb/wherethewildthingsare/

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#30 – These Are A Few of My Favourite Tweets

Taking the screenshot of my tweet for my last posting reminded me that I totally need to share with you my favourite tweets!

And the favouriting of my own tweets isn’t quite as narcissistic as it looks.  I mostly do it to make particular tweets of mine easier to find when I want to go back to them. And also, because I’m a narcissist.

Related post: My favourite tweets from before Nov 8, 2008.

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#29 – (Brief) Review of Toodledo

Long time readers will know that I’m a *big* fan of To Do lists.

To Do List by you.

Well, Tod recently introduced me to Toodledo, a really cool online To Do list.  Apparently it’s linked to the system in the book Getting Things Done, which I haven’t yet read but for which I’m on the wait list at the library to get the e-audiobook version of.

What I really like about this site is that it goes far beyond a simple written to do list, which is really the only other method that I’ve consistently used (I’ve tried keeping tasks on my Palm Pilot and using Outlook Tasks at work (since I’m stuck with Outlook at work), but both those task lists don’t give you enough to make it worth the effort of entering your tasks into their system).

In Toodledo, when you enter your “to do” items, it allows you to include things like:

  • due date
  • context – where do you need to be to do this task? At the office? At home? On a computer? On the phone? Outside?
  • priority level – is this a high priority? a low priority?1
  • goal – to what goal does this task relate? (and you can list short-term goals that link to long-term goals, which link to lifelong goals). For example, you might have a short-term task such as “lose 15 lbs” that links to the lifelong goal of “be healthy” or two short-term goals of “put $5000 into my RRSPs this year” and “get a raise at work” which both link to the lifelong goal of “be financial healthy”
  • time estimates – how long do you expect this task to take you?

Once you’ve entered in your tasks, you can sort them out in a variety of ways – e.g., when you are sitting at your computer, you can have a list of just things you need to do on the computer.  Going out to run errands? Print out a list of all the tasks you have to do “outside.”  Only have 30 minutes? Using your time estimates, it can give you a list of  things you need to do around the house that add up to 30 minutes.  Want to focus on your top priority tasks first thing in the morning, as Eat That Frog suggests?  It will give you a list sorted by priority2.

I like the “goal” part because it forces you to think about your tasks when you enter them into your “to do” list.  If a task doesn’t fit with one of your goals, do you really need to do it?

It also has a timer that you can use to time how long a task takes (just click it to start the timer and then click again to stop it) – you can use that to compare how long you think a task will take with how long a task will actually take. Being someone who is terrible at estimating tasks, I’m finding this function quite revealing.

The major thing I don’t like about Toodledo?  The name “Toodledo.”  I feel like a total asshat every time I say it.  And everytime I type it I want to spell it “Toodledoo” for some reason.

Oooh, look at this! Someone already took a screenshot and posted it to Flickr with a Creative Commons license!  w00t!

Online Todolist: Toodledo by yashima.

For the record, I have no affiliation with this company – I just like the site and thought I’d share.  But I do have a shameless bit of self-interest here – if you check it out and like it and you want to sign up, use this link and then I’ll get 3 months of a Pro account for free!  Figured it couldn’t hurt to try!

1It even has an option for “negative” priority
2Note that some of these features are only available if you have a pro account, which I don’t yet have (and I can’t remember which features are only in Pro and which I just haven’t tried to do yet). I’ve just been trying it out as the free version for the last few weeks to see if the free version does everything I want, or if I need to upgrade to Pro.

Image credit: Posted by Sonja Pieper on Flickr. She also posted a blog posting on her blog comparing different “to do” lists programs, which I know ‘cuz it’s mentioned on her Flickr photo page. I don’t have time to read it now, but I’m linking it here in case you are interested and so that I can go back and read it later.

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#28 – Resume of da futur

This posting is an idea that’s been floating around in my head for ages after a conversation that I had with my friend and running partner from my first half marathon, Kelly, on one of her subsequent visits to Vancouver.

Perhaps this is a sign that I am now officially an old fogey, but I just don’t get people who send important emails that should be written in a formal way without spell checking and rife with grammatical errors and  IMspeak.  This is what I’m imagining resumes will look like in the near future:


resume of jane doe


contact info

Email: hotchicky69@gmail.com
Celly: 555-555-6969
My other Celly: 555-555-1234
Twitter hotchicky69
Flickr hotchicky69 – but omg, don’t look all those  nakid pics i posted!! lmfao!

objective

OMG, i would <3  2 get a new job cuz my boss @ my job now is a SUCH a jerk.


education

bachelor of sci sept 2009-april 2017
ubc

high school diploma sept 2005-june 2009
main st. high school


employment

R&D, may 2017-presnet
biotronics labs inc.

  • r’ing & d’ing, lmfao!
  • trying not 2 get caught tweeting @ werk

lab assistant, jan – april 2017
ubc

  • prepping lab 4 classes: cleaning glasswear, mixing chemicals
  • assisting undergrads w/lab expts

skillz

i have grate multitasking abilitiez: i do msn, google talk, facebook and watch a vid on youtube all at the same time as i talk on my celly

computer skillz

facebook, msn, twitter, research on wikipedia, i have a wicked myspace page. and i’m a level 7 wizard on WoW


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#27 – Guest Posting: Stuff Gay Books Taught Me

And now a guest posting by Kalev, my Overseer of Deb0rking and Tsar of the Nerdery!  Which is brilliantly written (as Kalev’s stuff always is), the likes of which have no been seen since the last guest posting I posted today. I figured it was time to give you some good writing, since you’ve been so kind as to follow the tripe of decreasing quality I’ve been feeding you all day.

Hello, and welcome to the guest blog post that I promised Beth I would get to her before today and then managed not to.  Even now she’s probably wondering, “Where the heck is Kalev with his guest post?!”

So I wanted to take Beth’s Blogathon 2009 theme, Stuff Books Taught Me (or, as anyone who knows Beth would know she would put it, Stuff Books Learned Me), and put a bit of my own spin on it.  So I figured I had two choices: I could go back to my roots in the misty past and do Stuff Comic Books Taught Me (which granted is an interesting twist because most people just do not take comic books very seriously and probably do not think of them as terribly educational) or I could go for the obvious and do Stuff Gay Books Taught Me.  Because obviously, as anyone who knows me knows, everything about my life is about gay stuff.  (Ok, that’s maybe a little more accurate than my sarcasm would indicate, but shut up, ok?)

Getting back to the point, and I do have one, my relationship to books and what one can learn from books is, I like to think, different from the average person.  Not just because I had a 3-hour daily commute for the last four years of high school and did nothing but read (generally fantasy and sci-fi) but also because a key facet of my entire identity, the way I understand myself in the world… well, it found its genesis in a book.  A fantasy book, to be more accurate.  In fact, my entire coming out was presaged by one fateful moment back in Grade 10, when on page 70 of Mercedes Lackey’s book Magic’s Pawn, the reader finds out the main character, Vanyel, is gay.

The reader in this case was me.  And my initial reaction was, “Oh that’s why I identify so strongly with Vanyel!”

And then the freak-out began.  Well, ok, it wasn’t that big a freak-out.  A big freak-out wouldn’t have let me sweep things under the rug.  I just convinced myself that no, the only reason I identified with the main character was not why I identified with the main character.  And I stayed very deep in the closet (the full denial mode place) for nearly 5 years after that.  But I do give my 15-year-old self a lot of credit, because even though he was so frightened he denied the painfully obvious truth for nearly half a decade more, he did finish reading that book.  And that series.  And further books by the same author, who always wrote sympathetic gay characters.  In fact, thinking about it, it is stunning to consider just how many lives one person can change (and, more than likely, save) through the power of writing.  The power of books.

So everything about me coming out and me being gay (which if you know me, is–still to this day–quite a lot), all of that is bound up in books and reading.  Books and reading are integral to how I define myself, even though to be honest, I don’t do that much reading anymore.  But there is no denying the power of books to radically transform lives.  In my case, books literally taught me how to be.  Because having butterflies in your stomach over your classmates at the all-boys private school is a far, far cry from being gay.  One is not born a gay.  Being gay requires learning to be gay, and learning to be gay requires instruction.  (And no, I don’t mean that kind of instruction, dirty-minded people… honestly, that doesn’t require much in the way of how-to steps.)  But getting from the obvious question, “Why the fuck am I like this?” to the less-obvious one, which is, “Why the fuck do people give a shit that I’m like this?” requires, if you ask me–and since this is my guest post, I’m going to assume you do–well, it requires context.  And books are great for context.  The best, really.  Maybe oral storytelling comes close, in a slightly different way, but books, having things codified, solidified, structured and laid out for people to delve into–books are king.

And gay people?  They love to write.  And when they write, they really write what they know.  I mean, slightly fictionalized autobiography is a staple genre of gay literature.  As are coming out stories.  So for a boy who did nothing much more than read, coming out went pretty well.  All I needed was to do was find the sometimes tricky to find gay books and away I went.

This is all kinda pre-Internet.  I mean, it would have been totally pre-Internet if I hadn’t been studying Computer Science at UBC at the time, because this was 1994, which is about 2 years prior to when the web first exploded into the public consciousness and the public sphere.  In fact, I’m probably one of the very last people to come out pre-World Wide Web.  And I think that’s important to note.  Because as much as I think the Internet is awesome for queer youth trying to figure out who they are, I think the fact it detracts from an already-endangered pastime, the reading of books, is pretty detrimental.  Because if you’re a young queer person and all you do is talk to other queer youth and the occasional queer adult (who for some reason hasn’t been labelled a dangerous predator *rolls eyes*), you do not get anything remotely approaching the whole story.  You lose so much context, and so much history.  You end up with a really shoddy foundation.  And we all know what happens to people who don’t learn from history, right?  Or is that something you can only learn in a book?  But yes, 1930s Berlin always springs to mind these days.

But yeah, in addition to a fantasy novel making me gay, I learned everything I needed to know about how to be gay from books.  What it meant.  What the implications were.  How it might impact how I interacted with my family, my friends, my workplace, my country.

And what stunned me, even then, which was 15 years ago, is how incredibly CLUELESS my contemporary newly-out brethren were.  Like by 2 years into the whole “being gay” thing, I knew more than some people who had been out two, three, four times as long.  And not because I’m particularly bright–these are, in general, all university-educated people I’m talking about–but because I read.  Because I bothered.  Because I made an effort to learn whence I came, in the cultural sense.  Because, in essence, of books.  Because so many of the queer people who came before me made an effort to record their experiences for posterity.  And it is heart-wrenchingly good they did, because many of my favourite authors from the 1990s–which was a definite high point in gay literary history–many of them are no longer with us.  And their stories, I think, are the ones I carry closest to my heart.  Their stories, really all gay stories–they are what connects me to people.  They are my history and they give me my sense of belonging.

Stories, which more often than not end up in books than in any other form of media, stories are incredibly important to queer people, I think.  We still grow up thinking we’re all alone, we still grow up without any obvious queer role models and elders, we grow up raised by people who still far too often have no clue what we’re going through, even if–gods willing–they are less likely to outright reject us these days.  So to me, books are even more important to us than to the general population.  Books contain stories, and stories connect us in a way we often thought was beyond our reach.

So what stuff have books taught me?  Only how to come out.  Only how to find my voice.  Only how to be steadfast, how to be brave, how to live life fully.  How to live honorably.  How it was okay to be outrageous, okay to be out, okay to stand up, okay to fight back.  How it was okay to cry.  How it was okay to be different, and to walk my own path.  Books, more than anything else in my life, taught me I belonged, and in so doing, they showed me how to be Kalev.

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