Thursday, July 5, 2018

The Mountains Are Calling

Chugach Mountains, Valdez, AK
June 2018

Five years ago today, I first laid eyes on Alaska. It was love at first sight. I've never been the same. 

Believe it or not, Kyle and I first traveled to Alaska in 2013 entirely on a whim. We'd both taken a week off from work and had actually planned on visiting Mt. Rushmore, though we (uncharacteristically) hadn't made any concrete plans. About a week before our intended departure, Kyle mentioned that we should probably book a rental car and make plans for our road trip. Right as he was getting ready to click "accept" on the online rental agreement, Kyle said, "Do you want to go to Alaska instead?" I recall screeching with delight.

On that trip, we traveled to Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan, and Glacier Bay. I fell in love. With the mountains nestled next to the ocean, I felt like I was home. For the first time, I felt like I could breathe. It was there that I gave myself permission to choose happiness: I returned from that trip, quit the job that was crushing me, and applied to grad school. That trip gave me the clarity I needed to begin again.

Since 2013, I have longed to return to Alaska. I've felt that unmistakable pull west with every fiber of my being, with every beat of my heart, no matter how unsuccessfully I tried to silence it. 

"The mountains are calling and I must go," John Muir once wrote. 

"Go, go, go," my heart replied. 

And finally, I listened. 

Just over a month ago, Kyle and I packed everything we owned in a Uhaul and drove across the US and Canada to our new home in Valdez, Alaska. We live here now. Alaska is our home. 

I plan to write more in the upcoming months about this incredible journey, what brought us here, and the joy and heartache that have come with it. I'm so very grateful for the chance to follow my dreams and begin this new chapter on the Last Frontier.

Hello, friends. It's been awhile. I hope you'll stick around. I'm so glad you're here. 

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Sundays in the Park

I've been finding so much peace lately in solo winter hikes. I love the solitude, the crisp air, the crunch of the snow beneath my feet. Michigan winters are dark and gray and isolating, but they're also so, so beautiful. 

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Stolen Car Redux: Or, Conquering My Silence

I’ve been debating about whether or not this is something that I wanted to write about, or if I just wanted to keep it to myself. I have mixed feelings about sharing deeply personal things online, but if I also believe in sharing your story and speaking your truth, even if your voice shakes. My voice feels shaky even in writing, but I hope that peace lies on the other side. 

I want to begin 2018 with an open heart. 

Over a month ago while I slept, my car was stolen off the street in front of my apartment. I was awoken by two police officers knocking on my door, asking me if I knew where my car was. Confused, I said “Parked outside.” 

The officer replied, “No, it isn’t.” 

I looked out of my kitchen window in disbelief. In the glow of the street lights, I could see a gaping hole on the street where my car should have been. “Shit,” I breathed.

The officers informed me that my car had been stolen and involved in a high-speed chase, which ended in a severe crash over an hour away. 

“Did you loan your car to someone?”


“Do you have any idea who could have done this?” 


“Do you know anyone in Northern County?”

“The librarian,” I said. 

The officer gave a small smile. “Well, I think we can probably rule them out.”

After a few more questions, the officers returned to their patrol cars. “Here is your report number,” said one of officers, pulling a piece of paper from a small notepad in his pocket. “One of our detectives will be in touch. Here is the phone number for Northern County. They should have more information for you later today. Good luck with everything. I’m sorry this happened.”

And just like that, they were gone. I glanced out of my kitchen window again. It’s not every day that you see two police cars parked in your driveway. I inhaled sharply as I heard my alarm going off in the bedroom. This was not how I planned on starting my day or the Thanksgiving weekend. Kyle and I rode to work together in silence. “It will be ok,” he finally said. 

“I know. It just doesn’t feel like it.”

The day was a blur of phone calls from detectives and police officers and insurance agents. I answered questions regarding my car, my whereabouts, my home. I was honest, diligent, and in retrospect, entirely in shock. We were given access to a rental car by our insurance company, despite not having that option as a part of our policy--a glimmer of hope in frustrating circumstances. 

Then, from the detective, two names. 

“Do you know these individuals?”


“Does your husband?”


“The suspects are currently being treated at the hospital for injuries sustained in the crash. Our department is familiar with one of them. Charges will be filed in Northern County. We believe there was a third suspect who escaped on foot. We will keep you posted with any updates.”

Two weeks later, a call from the Northern Police Department.

"We've completed our investigation. You're free to retrieve your possessions from the car. When can you come?"


"We'll see you then."

My car was completely totaled, the front end entirely gone. Shattered glass was everywhere, the air bags deployed. I found my extra car key broken in half, lying on the passenger seat. (Our best guess is that my extra key had been stolen out of Kyle’s car while we were unpacking from a vacation over a month prior. Meaning the suspect kept the key and our location at hand, waiting, for weeks.) 

Seeing my destroyed car, my possessions strewn about after the impact and mixed in with the backpacks and purses and clothing of strangers was unsettling; more difficult than I had imagined. Seeing the car, the broken glass, the smell of smoke still lingering, made it all real. I could no longer live in denial. Kyle signed papers with the impound lot to release the car to our insurance company. I completed FOIA paperwork at the police station to request a copy of the official police report. My head throbbed and my hands shook. I went home and crawled into bed, letting the blankets swallow me. I wanted to stay there forever. 

Over a month has gone by and we’re still entrenched in this process. We’ve filed insurance claims. We've read police reports. We've made countless phone calls and filled out pages of paperwork. We're putting off shopping for a new car until everything is sorted out, but we're now paying for the rental car out-of-pocket. The last I heard, the suspects were still in custody. I don't know when (or if) there will be a trial. I don't know if formal charges will be filed. I don't know if the suspects will be allowed to walk free. 

We are nearing the end, but we are still waiting. This is still not behind us. 

I’m still trying to process everything that has happened. Not a day goes by that this isn't on my mind. I’m trying to keep things in perspective and have a positive outlook. I realize that in the grand scheme of things, this is small potatoes. Kyle or I weren’t physically harmed. A car is just a material possession; it can be replaced. Everyone from the officers to the detectives to the insurance representatives to the rental car agency have been kind and helpful. I keep trying to remind myself that I’m lucky. 

“It will be fine!” I say with faux optimism. "I'm fine," I repeat, hoping to make it so.

But if I’m being perfectly honest, this has fucked me up. 

Despite some neurotic tendencies and a penchant for conspiracy theories, I’ve worked very hard to not live my life in fear. I decided long ago that if I’m going to do things like solo hike on remote trails or run in the city alone or watch Forensic Files late at night, I can’t be afraid. I'm cautious and I listen to my instincts; but I try not to let my mind wander to the what-ifs and the worst case scenarios. (Which I fully recognize is privilege-in-action.) 

But since this has happened, I’ve been jumpy and stressed, nervous and paranoid. Afraid to walk my dog at night. Tense whenever I hear a knock on the door or a car in the driveway. Afraid this will happen again. As irrational as all of this is and as much as I hate to admit it, this has affected me deeply and brought up a host of other feelings that I’m not sure how to handle. In a word, I’m scared. So, so scared. And I hate it. 

And yet, I can’t bring myself to talk about it. I haven’t told my friends what happened. Whenever Kyle brings it up, my automatic response is, “I don’t want to talk about it.” And now, over a month later, I still don’t know what to say. 

I have moments where I take a deep breath and think, “Just say it. Tell your friends what happened. Tell Kyle how scared you are. Tell them that you don’t feel safe anymore. Tell them that your sense of privacy and security feels violated because you spend so much time in your car and that they destroyed your safe space. Tell them that you’re afraid the suspects are going to come back and that they’re coming for you this time. Tell them how incredibly angry you are. Tell them you want the suspects to pay for what they did and that you're afraid they won't. Tell them you’re embarrassed how much this is affecting you you. Tell them how this has magnified your grief over your grandma passing away even though it was months ago and has made you question your life choices and what’s really important to you and how all you want to do is watch The X-Files because it's the only thing that calms  your mind and how sometimes the tears just spring into your eyes without warning and your throat swells with emotion and you just push it all further and further down because you’re just being dramatic. TELL THEM. TELL SOMEONE.” 

My brain is screaming. My voice is a whisper.

And yet, the words never form. I’m immobilized by my silence. I (unnecessarily) carry this alone. So I write, because it's easier than speaking. I write, because telling a story is easier than verbalizing my fears. I write, because somehow it feels safer. 

I write this for me. 

Already, I feel lighter. 

Thursday, December 28, 2017

2017 Redux: A Year in Books

Another year, another blog post about all the books I've read this year! I've been sharing my yearly reads since 2012 and it's so interesting to look back and see how my tastes have changed (or stayed the same).  

In 2017, I read 188 books (and counting). I tried to focus on stories written by women and authors of color. I read a lot of Margaret Atwood, Audre Lorde, graphic novels, cookbooks, and finished the Anne of Green Gables series. I also re-read quite a few of my favorites: Tuck EverlastingBucky F*cking Dent, Devil in the White CityTime Windows, and some of my favorites from David Sedaris

I'm so fortunate to have the ability to read and unlimited access to books. This is something that I never want to take for granted. As a librarian, I always want to work to ensure that access to knowledge and information is a right, not a privilege.

All images courtesy of Goodreads

Alex and Eliza (Alex & Eliza #1)
Locke & Key: Heaven and Earth
Locke & Key: Small World Deluxe Edition
The Child Finder
Misfit City #6
Misfit City #5
Misfit City #4
The Super Easy Vegan Slow Cooker Cookbook: 100 Easy, Healthy Recipes That Are Ready When You Are
I Am Pusheen the Cat
The Cancer Journals
A Train in Winter: An Extraordinary Story of Women, Friendship, and Resistance in Occupied France
Misfit City #3
The Dream of a Common Language
Uncommon Type: Some Stories
How Not to Kill Your Houseplant: Survival Tips for the Horticulturally Challenged
Misfit City #2 (Misfit City, #2)
The Mysterious Affair at Styles (Hercule Poirot, #1)
Dear Fahrenheit 451: Love and Heartbreak in the Stacks: A Librarian's Love Letters and Breakup Notes to the Books in Her Life
Practical Magic
All's Faire in Middle School
Lincoln in the Bardo
Call the Midwife: Farewell to the East End
The Tempest
What Happened
Running Out of Time
Murder on the Orient Express (Hercule Poirot, #10)
The Love and Lemons Cookbook: An Apple-to-Zucchini Celebration of Impromptu Cooking
American Crucifixion: The Murder of Joseph Smith and the Fate of the Mormon Church
Time at the Top
The Bridges of Madison County
We Disappear
Anya's Ghost
Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library (Mr. Lemoncello's Library #1)
Paper Girls, Vol. 3 (Paper Girls, #3)
Tell the Truth & Shame the Devil
My Own Words
Dragon Teeth
Alias Grace
When Dimple Met Rishi
Misfit City #1
The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates
Lumberjanes/Gotham Academy Vol. 1
Waking Kate (Lost Lake, #0.5)
Gotham Academy, Vol. 1: Welcome to Gotham Academy
Goldie Vance Volume 1
Goldie Vance Vol. 2
The Blind Assassin
Young Jane Young
Dandelion Wine (Green Town, #1)
Big Mushy Happy Lump (Sarah's Scribbles, #2)
The Rules Do Not Apply
Girl Code: Gaming, Going Viral, and Getting It Done
One Hundred Years of Solitude
Speaking American: How Y'all, Youse, and You Guys Talk: A Visual Guide
A Dangerous Woman: The Graphic Biography of Emma Goldman
The Time Museum
One Part Plant: 100 Meals for a Whole New You
The Night Bookmobile
Starvation Lake
Locke & Key, Vol. 6: Alpha & Omega
My Cubs: A Love Story
Locke & Key, Vol. 5: Clockworks
28 Day Plant-Powered Health Reboot: Reset Your Body, Lose Weight, Gain Energy & Feel Great
Locke & Key, Vol. 4: Keys to the Kingdom
Locke & Key, Vol. 3: Crown of Shadows (Locke & Key, #3)
The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America's Shining Women
Pen & Ink: Tattoos and the Stories Behind Them
Astrophysics for People in a Hurry
Theft by Finding: Diaries 1977-2002
A Beautiful Work In Progress
A Long Way Home
Introvert Doodles: An Illustrated Collection of Life's Awkward Moments
The Story of Moana: A Tale of Courage and Adventure (Disney Moana)
Meanwhile in San Francisco: The City in its Own Words
Norse Mythology
Agatha: The Real Life of Agatha Christie
The Unwritten: Tommy Taylor and the Ship That Sank Twice
Anne of Windy Poplars (Anne of Green Gables, #4)
The All-Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion
The Zookeeper's Wife
Kindred: A Graphic Novel Adaptation
The Book of Unknown Americans
The Sisters Are Alright: Changing the Broken Narrative of Black Women in America
The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains
Tales from Out There: The Barkley Marathons, the World's Toughest Trail Race
Fairy Tales for Angry Little Girls
Ms. Marvel, Vol. 7: Damage Per Second
Lumberjanes, Vol. 6: Sink or Swim
Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe
Our Lady of Birth Control: A Cartoonist's Encounter with Margaret Sanger
All the Missing Girls
The Vagina Monologues
Born to Run
Alia's Mission: Saving the Books of Iraq
The X-Files (TV Milestones Series)
March: Book Three (March, #3)
Every Body Yoga: Let Go of Fear. Get On the Mat. Love Your Body.
All There Is: Love Stories from StoryCorps
March: Book Two (March, #2)
The Cheesy Vegan: More Than 125 Plant-Based Recipes for Indulging in the World's Ultimate Comfort Food
A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea: One Refugee's Incredible Story of Love, Loss, and Survival
Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook
The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well
Freedom Is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement
Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches
Ms. Marvel, Vol. 6: Civil War II
Ms. Marvel, Vol. 5: Super Famous
March: Book One (March, #1)
Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman
Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body
The Collected Poems
The Hate U Give
The Color Purple
Their Eyes Were Watching God
People: True Crime Stories: Cases That Shocked America
Anne of the Island (Anne of Green Gables, #3)
The Whole Town's Talking
Ms. Marvel, Vol. 4: Last Days
Ms. Marvel, Vol. 3: Crushed
Ms. Marvel, Vol. 2: Generation Why
Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person
Princess Leia (Star Wars)
How to Party with an Infant
Difficult Women
Ms. Marvel, Vol. 1: No Normal
You Can't Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have to Explain
Rilla of Ingleside (Anne of Green Gables, #8)
Rainbow Valley (Anne of Green Gables, #7)
Anne of Ingleside (Anne of Green Gables, #6)
Anne's House of Dreams (Anne of Green Gables, #5)
The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit
The Handmaid's Tale
Heroes of the Frontier
The Curated Closet: A Simple System for Discovering Your Personal Style and Building Your Dream Wardrobe
Swing Time
Dead Feminists: Historic Heroines in Living Color
Lumberjanes, Vol. 5: Band Together
Paper Girls, Vol. 2 (Paper Girls, #2)
Don't I Know You?
Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things
Warren the 13th and the Whispering Woods
My Name Is Lucy Barton
Playing Dead: A Journey Through the World of Death Fraud
Mules and Men
Wonder Women: 25 Innovators, Inventors, and Trailblazers Who Changed History
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe (Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, #1)
The Sound of Seas (The Earthend Saga #3)
A Monster Calls
Shoeless Joe
The Mothers
How to Be a Woman
We Should All Be Feminists
Everything, Everything
Bucky F*cking Dent
We: A Manifesto for Women Everywhere: 9 Principles to Live By
Lost Lake (Lost Lake, #1)
American Ghost: A Family's Haunted Past in the Desert Southwest
Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Don't Worry, It Gets Worse: One Twentysomething's (Mostly Failed) Attempts at Adulthood
Assassination Vacation
Case Histories (Jackson Brodie #1)
Stealing Buddha's Dinner: A Memoir
Beautiful Creatures (Caster Chronicles, #1)
The Red Notebook
Brown Girl Dreaming
The Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redemption, and Pee
Station Eleven
Locke & Key, Vol. 2: Head Games
Locke & Key, Vol. 1: Welcome to Lovecraft
Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune
Tuck Everlasting
Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls
Time Windows
Fahrenheit 451
When You Are Engulfed in Flames
The Devil in the White City
Where the Sidewalk Ends
Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

Top 15 Favorites
Blind Assassin, by Margaret Atwood
The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood
Kindred, by Octavia Butler
What Happened, by Hillary Clinton 
Locke & Key series, by Joe Hill & Gabriel Rodriguez 
Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston
Don't I Know You, by Marni Jackson
Shoeless Joe, by W.P. Kinsella
 Sister Outsider, by Audre Lorde
One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
The Radium Girls, by Kate Moore
You Can't Touch My Hair, by Phoebe Robinson
The Hate U Give, by Angie  Thomas
The Color Purple, by Alice Walker

In 2018, I want to read more complete series. I want to reread all of Harry Potter. I want to read more poetry.  I want to get lost in the worlds of Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Zora Neale Hurston. I want to read more "untold" (ugh) stories of women and people of color throughout history. I want to not just read more, but read better. 

What was your favorite (or least favorite) book you read this year? What's on your TBR list for 2018? What should I be reading next year? 

Happy 2018, friends. May it be filled with good books, good views, and good company. 

Follow me on Goodreads or #whatmollyreads on Instagram for more!