Nothing Personal – Nancy Jo Sales

It’s been over a month since my last online date. Nothing bad happened per se, certainly nothing close to what Nancy Jo Sales is describing in this book. I wasn’t pressured or forced into doing anything. I wasn’t manhandled or mansplained to the whole time. I wasn’t even ghosted after. And though it was a slight case of he-didn’t-quite-look-like-his-pictures, I had grown used to that by then. But like Nancy explains, these apps don’t really exist for us to find love—our long term partners, even if 80% of Tinder users claim that that’s what they ultimately want. These apps are designed to be used. They’re designed to be addictive, and they are.

That’s why I needed this book. Though I had never enjoyed the process of meeting a stranger I had been talking to – however decent-looking this person could seem – I just couldn’t stop matching and texting until finally it came time to meet and I’d either push through my discomfort or anxiety in the process or… cancel. These apps really are addictive. And no one was asking me out in person, so it felt hard – almost counterintuitive – to delete my account, since I was looking for love and there were no in person prospects.

This book had the kind of effect on me that I was hoping for, meaning that it helped me stay away from those apps. And like the author says, of course there are exceptions. Not every guy is a sexist player and liar and toxic and problematic – duhhhh – but those are the kinds of men that these apps either appeal to the most or help create. On the other hand, if you are a genuinely good catch, then there is an overwhelming amount of girls or guys who throw themselves at you, and it all feels so mechanical, so dissatisfying, so devoid of magic.

As revealing and valuable as this book is, it is also quite depressing. It’s depressing to read about a culture that focuses on short-term and self-satisfying interactions, rather than long-term, mutually-satisfying and above all meaningful interactions. A hook-up culture that confuses (‘‘so what are we really?’’) and makes it hard for people to really connect. I think the saddest part of all – and certainly something I experienced myself – was the ‘‘who could care less’’ game that the author mentioned, in which neither people involved want to be the one to care the most and so, in the end, no one really does and things fizzle out pretty quickly. From a woman’s point of view, caring about my matches – the ones I talked to the most – was quite instinctual or natural for me, but oftentimes, if I let show that I cared, they would either be freaked out or let me do the whole work of trying to connect. Rarely did it feel equal. Rarely did they reciprocate.

But as sad as this book can get, it cannot and should not be ignored. And as often as it made me feel like maybe romance and love are both dead and I would be better off without men in my life, it has thought me a lot about access control (who I should let get close to me and know me), not feeling so responsible for men’s emotions and reactions and knowing what I want and how I want to be treated and stating both of those things instead of letting the other person decide what they want with me and how they want to treat me.

Thank you Hachette Book Group Canada for the copy in exchange for a review!

The Groom Will Keep His Name – Matt Ortile

I think Matt Ortile should meet Nicolas DiDomizio, author of Burn It All Down, or at least read his blog, and this interview I did with him. I’m saying this because I have a feeling he could learn from monsieur DiDomizio, especially in the relationships department, which is something this memoir does focus on, among other things.

Though I, of course, know little about being a Filipino gay adult male, I do know something about dating the wrong people and almost being attracted, at times, to things that wouldn’t work out or don’t seem to work or couldn’t work out. I also know what it’s like to get attached to someone who knows a lot about you, has listened to you open up about yourself—parts of yourself you’ve never shared with anyone before—and does not reject you for all that you are insecure about. It’s hard not to wish for a future with a person like that and it’s hard to let them go. Whatever your age, you can’t help but wonder, ‘‘Is anyone else going to ever care to know as much about me and accept me for who I am, good and bad?’’ I get you, Ortile.

It would be frivolous, and almost insulting, to not discuss the more political and cultural aspects of this book. Matt Ortile writes about struggling with some of his own Filipino customs, growing up among other Filipinos who bullied him for being different, and then coming to America and almost reinventing himself by trying to be the perfect immigrant student and simply not create tension of any kind. He pauses upon his university experience for quite a bit, as it has marked him profoundly and has made him realize some of his shortcomings, especially with regards to speaking out about what matters to him, regardless of whether he makes people uncomfortable or not.

Probably the best aspect of this book is its tone, which screams, ‘‘Here I am, this is who I am, I am imperfect and make mistakes, but I know that I must do better—choose better for myself and others—and while I am not there yet, I am on my way and this memoir is a testament of my promise to grow into the man that I know I can be and wish to be.’’ I think the journey will be long for Matt Ortile, but I don’t doubt that he’ll exact change within himself even further and perhaps beyond himself.

Thank you Hachette Book Group Canada for the copy in exchange for a review.

Review: Cradle and All by James Patterson

28449181Cradle and All by James Patterson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Received: Hachette Book Group Canada
Publication Date: September 12th 2016
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Point of View: Alternative
Recommended Age: 12+
Pacing: Normal
Genres & Themes: Supernatural, Mystery, Religion, Belief, Sex, Pregnancy

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BLURB:

In Boston, a young woman finds herself pregnant–even though she is still a virgin.

In Ireland, another young woman discovers she is in the same impossible condition.

And in cities all around the world, medical authorities are overwhelmed by epidemics, droughts, famines, floods, and worse. It all feels like a sign that something awful is coming.

Anne Fitzgerald, a former nun turned private investigator, is hired by the Archdiocese of Boston to investigate the immaculate conceptions. Even as she comes to care about and trust the young women, she realizes that both are in great danger. Terrifying forces of light and darkness are gathering. Stepping into uncharted territory where the unknown is just the beginning, Anne must discover the truth–to save the young women, to save herself, and to protect the future of all mankind.

Continue reading

Short Review: Sex Criminals, Vol. 2: Two Worlds, One Cop by Matt Fraction, Chip Zdarsky

23228585Sex Criminals, Vol. 2: Two Worlds, One Cop by Matt Fraction

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Received: Borrowed
Publication Date: February 25th 2015
Publisher: Image Comics
Point of View: 1st Person & Masculine
Recommended Age: 16+
Genres &  Themes: Adulr, Comics, Graphic Novels

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BLURB:

The second storyline from the Eisner-award winning SEX CRIMINALS finds the honeymoon to be over for Jon and Suzie. Once the thrill of new lust fades, where do you go? Come along and laff and love with Matt and Chip as they brimp back ceaselessly against the past.

Collects SEX CRIMINALS # 6-10. Continue reading