Honestly, thank heck next month is Pride. After this hellish month, I need a reason to celebrate. I ended up five-starring all but one book this month, and four were preorders that I was very excited about, so that makes me even happier. I’m also wandering my way back toward writing, so it’s really just the personal life portion of the month that kicked my ass, which, wow, thank heck for books.

Mini Book Reviews

Legend
🌈 LGBTQPIA+ characters
πŸ”₯ BIPOC authors
πŸŒ‘ BIPOC characters

Crooked Kingdom | Leigh Bardugo πŸŒˆπŸŒ‘
(4/29-5/3) β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…

I loved it, duh? The second book has both The Scene (iykyk) and my favorite Kaz scene (the slow walk down the stairs of the Slat, UGH JUST KILL ME NOW), plus Wylan Van Eck makes my heart beat in triple time, AND STURMHOND. There’s just so much to love about this book, and most of my screaming is always about the characters, and we all know how I feel about Kaz Brekker–I would 100% have been okay with the plot of S&B just going off the rails if it meant Kaz was going to walk out of that scene in the show–so I’m going to take this small opportunity to scream about the plot. Because DAMN, the mind on Leigh Bardugo! Every time, I manage to forget how insanely complex and involved the schemes are, and I just–as a writer, it’s almost unfathomable to me trying to imagine plotting something like that out. Like, I’d need whiteboards and eight hundred sticky notes and my reader friends handy with all their attention and definitely a lot of pacing. It’s just so expertly wound together in ways that blow my mind every time I think about it, let alone read it, and she’s managed to do it in a way where, even though it’s been four years since I read this, I could still remember the finer details of the plot as I was going back through it now because she made everything count, made every moment stand out. Bardugo is just truly an exceptional writer, and while Six of Crows is a true work of art, Crooked Kingdom is a HUGE flex of skill, and I am hella impressed.

King of Scars | Leigh Bardugo πŸŒˆπŸŒ‘
(5/13-5/17) β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…

Oh, Nikolai. That’s exactly how I started my longer review, which is here! Because yes, I did finally manage to finish my Grishaverse reread, and wow, it wrecked me. I’m so sad that I’m no longer reading in this universe, but it also feels nice to be done. I just adore Nikolai, as does almost everyone in the fandom, so it’s no surprise that I loved this wholeheartedly. I still have the same feelings about the end as I always have, which I go into more detail in my longer reviews, but the tl;dr is that bringing back the Darkling pretty much negates everything Alina went through, so that’s a real bummer and a half. But the rest of this is phenomenal, and I’m just so hyped about the possibility of what’s coming next. Please, please, please let Zoya become queen of Ravka! Please let Nikolai find peace and joy. Please don’t bring back Alina, holy moly.

Rule of Wolves | Leigh Bardugo πŸŒˆπŸŒ‘
(5/23-5/25) β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…

I mean, I literally had to get up and make tea in the middle of the book because I was crying so hard that I couldn’t see the pages, and that hasn’t happened to me since Sirius Black? Those middle fifty pages are rough, but so incredibly well written, and even though I can totally understand why she did what she did, I was absolutely devastated by it, and wow, what I wouldn’t give to reverse all of that. I’m also just so insanely impressed with Bardugo, which I shouldn’t be because I know how incredibly clever she is, but DAMN. At about 350 pages, I just had no idea how Ravka was going to end up free and everyone okay, and, in any other book, I would have just felt hopeless and defeated, but Bardugo’s characters are so clever, and her mastery of plot is so excellent, that I trusted her to carry us through this successfully, but when she did??? I was actively screaming. This was so damn good. It was everything I could have possibly wanted out of this sequel–except for the Darkling, even though I know that he was necessary by the end, I didn’t like any of his chapters or his placement in the story, and, honestly, I’m talking myself into not even liking him at the end because they totally could have done all that without him and just left Ravka in a bit of chaos for a little longer, anyway–and I’m going to be perpetually screaming about this for a long time.

The Mirror Season | Anna-Marie McLemore 🌈πŸ”₯πŸŒ‘
(5/4-5/5) β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…

If I hadn’t started reading this so late at night, I would have read the entire thing in one sitting. As it was, I read 200 pages all in one go because every time I tried to put this down, I wandered straight back to it. I knew, going in, that I was going to love it because it’s a McLemore, so duh, but this may be my new favorite of theirs. This was just–beyond words, honestly. I don’t know how to describe how much I loved this book. The language in it was absolutely stunning, and the characters just ruined me. My heart was slowly breaking into glass shards throughout the entire book, and that ending. Oh, that ending.

The Serpent’s Curse | Lisa Maxwell πŸŒ‘
(5/5-5/12) β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…

This was just outstanding. I knew that the wait was going to be worth it, and though three years was a lonnnnng time, it was more than worth it. Admittedly, I wish I’d reread at least The Devil’s Thief beforehand because there were a few things that I forgot, and I’m definitely going to need to reread the entire series before the finale next year, but wow. WOW. Maxwell is such a phenomenal writer, and she’s crafted such an unique and intriguing story. The way that she weaves through time and still manages to keep everything in order is nothing short of magic, and I am just constantly impressed by how it’s never confusing. It could be, too, considering Esta & Harte are just bouncing all through time in this, but Maxwell takes the space to not only settle the characters–and, by extension, the readers–in each time period, but she discusses the effects of what they’ve done to the history that we know and love. Seeing Esta reflect back on what should have happened, but which very much has not, is such a simple, perfect way to ground each time jump, and though I had to really pay attention not to miss anything, I was just awestruck by the way that she pulled all of this off. What was truly remarkable, though, was how Maxwell handled the historic racism that’s part of the very early 1900s. I would have been satisfied with the author’s note in the back, but the way that she wove that racism through each of the characters in a way that deeply effected their daily lives showed not only the importance of acknowledging our horrendous attitudes toward one another in the past–and, still, now–but gave those characters the opportunities to step beyond the trappings of their time. So many aspects of this were so powerfully written, but that will continue to stand out to me for a long time. I love this series so much, and I don’t ever want it to end, but I also can’t wait to see how this all finally comes together.

Heartstopper, Vol. 1 | Alice Oseman 🌈
(5/13) β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…

In honor of the fourth volume of Heartstopper coming out, it felt only appropriate to carry on what is apparently an annual read of this series now! That, and I finally completed my Oseman collection, so I’ve got a stack of all of them next to my bed, and my plan is to just pick one up every couple of weeks until I’m done. I’ve been reading a lot of huge fantasy tomes right now, and it was so nice to just take a step back and fall into this world for a bit. It was a beautiful day while I was reading, too, so the combo of shining sun, adorable first loves, and queer joy was everything.

Heartstopper, Vol. 2 | Alice Oseman 🌈
(5/14) β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…

This was just wonderful. I love witnessing the beginning of relationships more than I do anything else, and this one, in particular, feels so close to my own heart. I’ve read volume two three times now, but it’s only just occurring to me now how much I identify with Nick, and I’ve fallen in love with him way harder than I have before this time around. He’s such an adorable character, and I just want to snuggle him up with blankets and tea until he’s feeling settled again.

Heartstopper, Vol. 3 | Alice Oseman 🌈
(5/17) β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…

We’re really getting into the thick of things now! I think this is only my second time reading this, so I forgot quite how heavy this gets at times. I’m so curious what volume four is going to be like now, too, with how everything ends in this one–Charlie wanting to tell Nick that he loves him and Nick starting to teeter away from worrying about Charlie and straight into fear for him. There’s so much that happens in this one, both good and bad, and it’s wonderful to see Nick & Charlie leaning on each other for strength in different ways. They’re establishing such a good foundation for a relationship, and I can’t wait to see how they continue to hold each other up in the angst that’s sure to come!

Heartstopper, Vol. 4 | Alice Oseman 🌈
(5/21) β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…

This damn near broke my heart! ALSO??? Did not realize volume five was the last one of this story, and I am so not ready for this to end. Especially after everything that happened in this volume! I really like how Oseman handled all of the trauma that Charlie goes through, and the style of telling it through journal entries rather than seeing it all play out was really well done. It gave a lot of agency to Charlie to tell the story in a way that was comfortable for him. And gosh, but Nick. I’ve just fallen in love with Nick so much more this time around, and it’s not that I didn’t love him before, but that he’s just quickly become my favorite character of this story in ways that I so did not expect, and I just want to squish him into the biggest hug ever. That boy deserves all the tea and blanket snuggles and love in the world. This was so lovely, and I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if you see me reading another Oseman book this month.

A Phở Love Story | Loan Le πŸ”₯πŸŒ‘
(5/18-5/20) β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…

I just adored this so damn much, oh my gosh. Not only was I losing my cool over how much food was in it–I LOVE FOOD IN BOOKS, UGH–but BαΊ£o and Linh were the true stars of the show. They both absolutely broke my heart in all the best ways, and I was just cheering absurdly at the end when they were finally allowed to be together. The Romeo & Juliet vibes in this had me screaming for the entirety of the book, so much so that I started eyeballing another R&J-esque book on my TBR shelf, and I may be picking it up soon. (Yes, it’s These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong, DUH.) One of my absolute favorite moments in this book was when BαΊ£o & Linh reveal that they’ve been keeping secrets from each other, and rather than get all out of sorts and pissed off at each other like happens in literally every other YA contemp ever and is the single-handedly most annoying form of miscommunication in the world, THEY ACTUALLY LISTEN TO EACH OTHER?! Not only that, but they immediately understand why the other kept those secrets because to not understand would be hypocritical since they were both doing it, and they talk things out and figure out how to move forward, and it was just??? Thank you so much, Loan Le, for the expert levels of communication, for not giving us characters that don’t talk to each other just for the drama. This was so much more wonderful because of all of the honest & open communication all the characters have with each other. And yes, there’s still a lot of not talking until the end with the families, but that’s not miscommunication, it’s just literally BαΊ£o & Linh protecting themselves from certain death. (Albeit, not in the style of a dagger to the heart and poison, although they do hilariously joke about that, which was wonderful.) This book was just so well written, and it’s made Loan Le an auto-buy for me.

This Winter | Alice Oseman 🌈
(5/25) β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…

I was about halfway into Rule of Wolves when I had to walk away from my book to make tea because I was crying so hard, and I knew that I wouldn’t be able to read it during my lunch break at work, so it seemed best to read something a little more lowkey. Thus, here we are with an Oseman novella! While definitely along the same heartbreaking vein as ROW, it had a much lighter, sweeter note to it, and it was exactly what I needed as a quick break. It also felt like such a good jumping point for me to launch into the rest of the Oseman unvierse, and I loved the combination of prose + art. This just felt quintessential Oseman, and I’m so excited to finally read beyond Heartstopper.

Yolk | Mary HK Choi πŸ”₯πŸŒ‘
(5/22-5/28) β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…

Gods, this hurt. Like, in all the ways. In every way possible. Honest to Satan, wow. Choi is just one of my all-time favorite writers, seriously. I know I’ve said it eight million times, but I’ve reread Emergency Contact so many times now, and Permanent Record actually eviscerated me in such a way that it took me forever to read it because I was kind of having a panic attack every damn time I picked it up, but like? In a cathartic good way? Who the hell knows. Yolk was a similar all or nothing kind of vibe for me, and it was like being sucker punched every page, and I just–I keep feeling like I should expect this from her because she’s also a Deadpool writer, and his character always manages to knock me on my ass, but I keep forgetting, and she just literally–I heard the most dumbass thing today. “My feet are cold because this knocked my socks off.” And that’s how I fucking feel about this book. It ripped my heart out, and I’d like to thank it.

The Kingdoms | Natasha Pulley πŸŒˆπŸŒ‘
(5/29-5/30) β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…

I so did not mean to read 300+ pages of this in one day, wow. Over the long weekend in the US at the end of the month, I just curled up in bed with my cats, cracked this open, and paused only to eat and watch Pirates of the Caribbean. Because DUH. When you’re reading about a book set on the high seas in the early 1800s, it’s just a given that you must watch something pirate-related. This was truly phenomenal, and it was everything and more that I wanted out of the next Pulley novel. It’s got a tagline that compares it to David Mitchell, too, and never before have I seen a more appropriate comp title. This had such strong The Bone Clocks vibes that I wouldn’t even be a little surprised if Pulley was a big Mitchell fan. I was sad that Mori didn’t make an appearance in this, though I do have some theories, and I’ll have to keep a weather eye out when I reread this. Because HECK YES I’m rereading. I know that Kite is actually a murderer and bordering on total madman, but like? Don’t come near me, okay. He’s awful, I sympathize with Joe the entire time, but also, he breaks my heart, and every scene with Jem just destroyed me. UGH AND JEM! Okay, I figured out the Jem twist about halfway through, and I was literally screaming when it was finally revealed at the end. I don’t usually figure out twists, so I was hella hyped this one turned out to be true. Especially because it makes everything even more heartbreaking. There were just layers upon layers of this book that slowly destroyed me until it was past 1AM, and I was shrieking and clapping as I powered through the last thirty pages. This was a superb everything–anticipated release, next Pulley novel, and end to the month. I loved this so much, and it’s made me want to reread Watchmaker even more, and I am honestly starting to feel about Pulley as I do about Mitchell, which is just next level because y’all, David Mitchell is someone that makes me go true psycho.

P.S. I Still Love You | Jenny Han πŸ”₯πŸŒ‘
(5/22-5/24) β˜…β˜… DNF @ 226 pages

Not gonna lie, I finished this out of pure spite. The first one wasn’t great, but I didn’t hate it, and even though the movie made me sigh in frustration a lot, it was fine. But this? I literally just read a book that was half about Lara Jean’s hot tub video being leaked and whole lot of slut-shaming while saying it wasn’t slut-shaming, and then another half entirely about tag. TAG. Fucking tag. Like, what?? I cannot believe–ABOUT TAG, Y’ALL! Sure, it was an elaborate game of tag, and the entire purpose of it was to make Lara Jean wonder if maybe she liked John better while Peter was just being an utter dick for the entire book, and then she just? Still ends up with Peter? This was horrible. I’m unhauling the trilogy and not reading the first, and there is zero chance that I’ll watch the movies. Wow, what a waste. Even my teenage self wouldn’t have liked this.

Monthly TBR

The last two months have been very relaxed in terms of a set TBR, and though I had some goals in mind that I wanted to accomplish, I wasn’t public about them because I was trying to just take it easy before June because, y’all, I’m trying to read twenty books for Pride.

NETFLIX SENSE8 GIFS shared by Leslie on We Heart It

THAT’S RIGHT, IT’S TIME FOR EVERYTHING TO BE EXTRA QUEER ON THE BLOG! Not only do I have a separate post for my Pride TBR, I’ve got an entire month of festivities planned. All of my discussion posts will contain queer elements AND, DRUMROLL PLEASE–we’re getting four queer short stories. I’ve been working on them over the last month and a half, and I’m so excited to share them with you. I haven’t posted a short story on here in ages, and it was hella exciting to revisit some of these characters and spend new time with others. I can’t wait to post them, so keep your eyes peeled for lots of fun in June! And, if you want to know more about what’s coming, check out my Happy Pride introductory post!

Favorite Posts

I’m a bit ashamed to say that while I kept up with blog hopping this month, I never actually set aside any posts that I wanted to shout out. I was feeling pretty weird this month, and a lot of different things were up in the air, so I am sad to report that I don’t have anything for this section this month.

Writing Updates

I might be getting back into the groove of things? I wrote sporadically for the first half of the month, kind of wandering my way through different things, much like last month. I have a bunch of short stories going up next month, and, all told, I wrote 6,950 words for them this month. I definitely should have written more because now I have short stories to write during June, and I wrote them way later in the month than I meant to, but alas, here we are.

I also weirdly decided I was going to pop back into Andrew for a quick 6,671 foray, during which I rewrote all of the scenes that I’d placed in a non-Andrew POV before I realized that was dumb and didn’t make sense. It was fun, and I thought it was the new thing, but then I wrote all of those words in one day and then nothing else for the rest of the month. OR SO I THOUGHT. Because then the below happened–

However, in a weird fine I will write a short story so I’ll write a novel move that totally worked because I am nothing if not predictable, I pretended I was going to write a short story version of my new novel, which I’m just referring to as sycamore girls right now for no reason I can understand–or, hilariously, just B&E like they’re over here breaking & entering each other’s hearts OH GROSS–got to where I’d left it off when I was writing the first few chapters, and now I’m 8 chapters in at around 22,068 words, which I’ve been working steadily on almost every day for the last two weeks, which was super unexpected, but also very welcome!

And then, because I can’t make up my mind about anything these days, I swung back to Andrew. My writing goals for this year were to do a lot of revision and only write two actual novels, which were Andrew & whatever mess I got myself into by thinking up something on the fly (ie: sycamore girls). Andrew’s novel is not even really just a novel because, well, it’s probably going to be the length of at least three? I’m giving myself total free rein with his story, and I’m trying not to put any word count limits on it because I’m curious to see what the full two thousand years looks like without barriers. However, I also just didn’t outline even a little bit other than who each of his eight lovers were that I was telling the story through, and the combination of not having a word count goal in sight and not having a direction for each lover meant that I’ve been really dragging my feet. Thus, I finally sat down and outlined every scene that I need to write about with his first lover (Alexander the Great, it’s been fun), which meant that I dropped back into Andrew for another 3,357 words, and now my goal is to finish Alexander’s portion of the story by the middle of June. I plotted out how I was hoping to write Andrew’s story, and I gave myself three lovers per month with all of my revision happening in the first half of the year, so I’m actually on schedule? This was really refreshing to see because I’ve been feeling pretty down about my writing, as I think has been evidenced in this section of the wrap-up lately, but actually seeing how I’d planned out the year and realizing that I wasn’t falling severely behind was nice.

My calendar is currently set to have me revising SW2 from January to March, which I did entirely in one month. I was also supposed to revise book one of Freddie during April & May, and while I haven’t done that, I did start in on the spontaneous novel and start work on Andrew earlier. Thus, my original goal of working on lovers 1-3 in June is actually right on track, and that makes me really happy. That does mean that I’ll need to do a lot of writing if I want to keep up with that goal, but I’m about halfway into Alexander’s portion @ 19k, so I’m feeling good about where we’re at.

I don’t even know if any of that makes sense, but I’m feeling better about my writing than I have been lately, and I think these next two weeks are going to really focus me. I’ve got a set goal for what I want to do. I know which scenes I have left to write, and I know whereabouts how long it should be, and when all is said and done with Alexander, I’ll dip back into research for a couple days and then get to work on the second lover. Oh, and I get Rafael scenes in between each lover (Rafael is the ninth & final), and he is a huge motivator for getting through each lover so I can write about him.

Anyway, all told, I wrote 39,046 words this month! That’s about back to my average pre-pandemic, and I’m happy with that.

What I’ve Been Watching

Yes, of course I watched season three of Primeval, I would be not at all surprised if you saw the rest of the show on this month’s watch list, as well. Honestly so grateful for this show, though, because when my second vaccine shot absolutely smashed me to smithereens, I just curled up in bed, watched three episodes of this, and then passed the hell out. This has got my favorite episode, which is obviously the G-Rex one because come on, it’s so badass.

I swear to Satan, I’m picking our next movie for weekly movie night because Erin had us watch Stowaway, which was phenomenal, but which also filled me with such utter despair and existential dread that I just wanted to lay there and stare blankly into the void of space for a while. This was truly a fantastic movie, and the writing as it pertained to space was just perfect, but wow, this wrecked me.

I rewatched Shadow and Bone, as well, for three reasons: (1) to amp up views in its second week, (2) because I didn’t get to pause and rewind like I wanted to the first time, (3) and I desperately needed to witness Freddy Carter as Kaz Brekker again. And UGH, I have half a mind to go back and add on to my original review, but most of my thoughts are going to be the same, just in more capslock because godsdamn this show is so good.

UGHHHHHHH. I’ve been so hyped for Monster Hunter since I first saw the trailer a few months ago, but I’ve been waiting for it to go up for rent on Amazon at a reasonable price, and when it finally did, oh man. I was so ready. My dad and I watched it because it looked like it’d be such a movie that we would love, and I just–I hated it within about 20 minutes. The way I saw it promoted, it looked like it was going to be a bunch of soldiers getting trapped in a fantasy world and having to fight monsters while they cracked jokes, which sounds amazing and was also 100% not what this was. Instead, spoiler alert, the family of soldiers died in the first 20 minutes, which meant the only two Black characters also died. That already left a sour taste in my mouth, but the film then proceeded to heave every negative stereotype and “foreigners are savages” vibe that they possibly could on the Asian characters. To make matters worse, Ron Perlman’s character mysteriously spoke English while his entire Asian crew did not, so he was, of course, made out to be a hero. Even if this movie hadn’t been blatantly and grossly racist, the writing was horrendous, to the point where I was actually rooting for the monster dragon at the end, and I’m still bitter that he lost. This sucked. Don’t waste your time.

Just as promised, we watched Gifted after two weeks of movies that made me question everything good in my life, and we both just absolutely sobbed our way through it. I always manage to forget how much this movie sucker punches me (in a good way), and I haven’t watched something with Chris Evans in it for a while, so we spend a good long time pausing to scream about him every so often. This was just a delight, and it’s one of my top ten favorite movies of all time, so it was wonderful being able to watch it again.

We’re kicking off Pride celebrations early because we can’t double up on days like we did last month, so we’ve got ten movies slated for the next six weeks with three days of double the movies since I’ll be in Maine with Erin in the second week of June. I was feeling pretty ragey, though, and didn’t want anything crazy, so we started with Pride, which was such a joy that I need to make my family watch it, too. I cried so much at the end, and it was just exactly the type of wholesome that I needed to lighten the day. Plus, I’m a huge Joe Gilgun fan, so I was hella excited to see him there, even if he didn’t end up with the Mark Ashton character because I was shipping them hardcore the entire time. This was just so, so wonderful, though, and such a good way to start the celebrations.

Not gonna lie, my second watch of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before wasn’t great. I wasn’t a huge fan of the book when I read it last month, and now I’m even more wary of tackling the second book & movie. The movie definitely reflected a lot of the reasons why I didn’t like the book, which is surprising considering I didn’t like the writing style or how quick everything flew by with little to no description, and yet, the movie somehow managed to do the same thing. It was fine, really, and I’m still going to continue on, but it wasn’t anything special.

We’re gearing up toward a Love, Simon rewatch, but we wanted to watch a few devastating movies first so it felt well deserved and as emotional as it needs to be, which of course means that Erin & I rewatched The Handmaiden. This movie is just truly excellent. It’s easily one of the best movies I’ve ever seen, and I feel like I’m forever going to be stunned by it with each new watch. I saw so much more the second time around, and I hope that we’ve just created an annual thing where we watch this every Pride because I definitely need more of this movie in my life on a regular basis. Like wow, thank goodness we let Tumblr lead us to this chaotically wonderful movie.

Who, me? Starting a Sense8 rewatch the week before Pride? I mean, obviously. I’ve finally got a review for the show going up in June, too, which I’m very excited about because I’ve been meaning to write it for about two years now, and it’s every bit as incoherent as we’re all used to. I just love this show so damn much, ughhhh. It was such a joy to rewatch it, and I could go on and on forever and a day telling you how much I loved it, but let’s save that for later.

To close out the month, Erin and I watched Farewell, My Queen, and WOW. That poster makes it look way gayer than it actually is. Going in, I probably should have told Erin that my knowledge of Marie Antoinette extended to cake and beheading, and that was about it, because ya girl was hella confused. I had no idea what was going on for the first twenty or so minutes until I finally paused it and was like, “Help? Quick history lesson?” Erin & I sit firmly on opposite sides with our history knowledge–she’s AD, I’m BC, and so, while we can get into some pretty cool conversations, we also get lost with each other’s niche interests pretty quickly. She’s got a wealth of knowledge of the Victorian era, and I’m over here like “Alexander died at 32, which should seem young, but he was probably perpetually wasted, and it’s a miracle he lasted even that long.” Anyway, this was fine. Aside from being confused for most of the movie, there was very little lesbian romance actually in it, despite looking like it was going to be a heartbreaking love story between Marie & Gabrielle, and just nothing happened the entire movie that I was starting to fall asleep by the end.

I mean, come on. Natasha Pulley’s The Kingdoms takes place in the early 1800s and features pirates (we can pretend they’re actual sailors in the navy, but we all know what the aesthetic was), and if I wasn’t rewatching Black Sails, I was rewatching Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl. And the way that I went is 100% because I was listening to the At World’s End soundtrack during the middle 200 pages of The Kingdoms because it is an ELITE soundtrack. So here we are, and I have no doubt that I’ll be watching the second and third POTC movies this month. (We pretend there were no others after the third, which is also arguably the best.) I love this franchise so much, and it was an absolute delight to rewatch the first one. It’s just so damn clever, and wow, damn, but ZR Ellor recently tweeted:

And I’m just like yes actually?????

LIFE

It was an emotional month, to say the least. The first half of the month was amazing–I went for a gorgeous walk through the woods with my mom, I started practicing press-ups in my headstand again, and I organized teaching at the rock gym again. I was really, really happy, and I thought I was finally on the other side of all my spine-related pain, and then. Well.

I went bouldering. Real quick, for any non-climbers, there’s three types of climbing. Bouldering is on a ten foot wall with padded floors and no ropes. It’s all up to your own strength, and you usually jump off of the wall when you’re done if you’re gassed and don’t want to try to climb back down. Top rope, which is my preferred type of climbing, is on a fifty foot wall with a harness, ropes, and someone to belay you. You get lowered down after you’ve finished a route, and you can rest more easily. Lead climbing, which I’m not trained to do and likely never will be, is the same as top rope, except you’re in control of the rope. You still have someone belaying you, but they feed the rope up to you, which you hook through carabiners on the fifty foot wall as you go. Our plan was to go bouldering for a couple weeks, start to get our strength back up after over a year of not climbing, and then switch to mostly top rope.

We bouldered for about an hour and a half, and toward the end of that first hour, I was starting to feel some pain in my low back, similar enough to what I’d had before I started going to the chiro that I was getting nervous. Over the next half hour, it clarified and sharpened into what felt almost worse than where I’d been at the start. I was in agony, and I ended up having to go home early. I thought if I just iced it and was careful over the next day, things would be fine. Instead, I spent a week in pain. We climbed on a Wednesday, and, by the time my chiro appointment came around on Tuesday, I was just so full of rage. I’d tried to practice yoga over the weekend, and it was awful. I’d screamed and cried and wanted to just give up everything. I told my body that I would go to war with it if that was what it wanted, and I meant it. I still kind of do, honestly.

When I saw my chiro on Tuesday, he said that the impact from falling, that sudden stop when you hit the ground, had shifted something in my lumbar. It wasn’t bad enough to set me back big time, and I adjusted really well, but he told me that I couldn’t continue bouldering. He said that top rope would be fine since there would be no possibility for that kind of impact, but continuing to boulder would seriously injure me. I was in pain for the next day and a half as I recovered from the adjustment that reset the beginning of the injury, and though I did some yoga, it wasn’t a lot, and it wasn’t what I was getting back toward. I was furious again, but I told myself to wait to try climbing until I was feeling good again. By Sunday, thankfully, I was, and we tried top rope.

I’m happy to report that top rope didn’t hurt in the slightest, and I haven’t experienced any pain since that adjustment. Yoga has been good again, and I’m grateful that I didn’t do anything too terrible, but I’m also still pretty angry at my body’s continue betrayal. I’ve said it a bunch this month, and I’ll keep saying it over and over again–whatever lesson all of this is supposed to be teaching me, I’d rather be ignorant. Both the physical pain and the mental stress that I’ve been enduring for the last several months is not worth whatever knowledge the universe is trying to give me. I don’t want it, and I am all set without it.

Thankfully, the month has looked up a little since then. I’ve been able to see some friends for what felt like almost normal hanging out. I went to Salem a lot, I poured all of my rage into my practice, and I got back to headstands and tiny twists. I’ve been working on heart openers as much as possible to help build flexibility and strength in my spine. I miss being able to forward fold so deeply, but I haven’t lost my press-up headstands, which is one of my favorite things ever. My backbends are getting better, and my low lunges are intense now. All said, I would have gotten to this point with my back without all the pain since my goal was heart openers this year anyway, so again, thanks for the knowledge, universe, but you can keep it.

The long weekend at the end of the month was particularly amazing, and, drumroll please, I had the best day ever!

I’ve talked about Jolie about one million times on the blog, but they finally opened for high tea on the last Saturday of the month! Massachusetts lifted its mask mandate, which I have some thoughts about, but we won’t get into that here. It was so nice to be able to see the staff’s faces, some that I haven’t seen in over a year and some that I haven’t ever seen. They have a kitchen at the new location, so a lot of the items for high tea are done in-house, and it was just so exciting to see everything. I got to hang out with the owner, Amy, for a bit to chat about how everything was going and to start planning something exciting for next year. I was absolutely buzzing with energy, and I stocked up on a bunch of tea, so it was just all the things that I love. Plus, getting to spend the morning with Jen and go to our first high tea together in ages was just amazing!

I’m looking forward to June, and even if it wasn’t Pride, and I didn’t have a reason to celebrate every damn day, I’d still be excited about the month to come. I’m going to see Erin for the first time since last year, I’ve got one million amazing books to read, and I’m hoping to make some serious headway with my writing. It was a tough month, May, and I’m ready to move forward.

How was your May?

Posted by:Mary Drover

she/her | yoga teacher | Tibetan Buddhism | part-time witch | full-time author | astronaut in a previous life

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