Raw by Pamela Anderson & Emma Dunlavey

I think we’ve all been captivated by the Hulu show, “Pam & Tommy” that aired this year – myself included. Having been a fan of Playboy as well as Pamela herself, I got sucked into the details of her story.

Something that bothers me is that a huge part of her story is the fact that her photos, her body, and essentially her privacy were declared public property by a judge. She did not have any control into extremely intimate aspects of her life, essentially because she had chosen to model naked at one point in time. They used her image of sexuality against her in an absolutely disgusting and unfair way. But what bothers me is – how is what Hulu did any different?

Pamela Anderson was not involved in the “Pam & Tommy” series, though she was asked to comment prior and during the filming – as was Tommy. While Tommy was ready to be involved and still continues to see any press as good press, sources close to Pamela said she would not be involved at all, and would not even be watching.

This might be because of how Hulu obtained the rights to produce this series. From my understanding, they bought the rights to a Rolling Stone article that detailed how the tape was stolen. By claiming the series was created based on this article, they could bypass Pamela completely. Sounds very similar to how Penthouse was able to publish her pictures without any consent from her whatsoever.

The saving grace, I’m hoping, is that Pam is currently rumored to be in production with Netflix on a documentary. Assuming this is true, this will hopefully provide the platform that Pamela needs to speak her story in her own words, on her own terms. Pamela is undoubtably fascinating and beautiful, which is why I ended up with a copy of Raw – created by Pamela herself along with friend and confidant Emma Dunlavey.

This coffee table book is a collection of unsaturated photographs of Pamela shown along side her thoughts and poetry. While a lot of the book shows some genuine and insightful sides of Pamela, I wouldn’t go as far as to say this is her completely “raw”. A lot of her words, I believe, are still tailored to the image in which she wants to portray – specifically around sexual roles and ideologies. While I do think Pamela is a very sexually free and liberated individual, I also think she knows her audience and is an intelligent businesswoman. I admire her, I respect her, and I appreciated this unique insight into her during this time of her life.

I look forward to more from Pamela Anderson, as she will never cease to captivate us.

Thanks for reading!

Books To Read – Classic, Iconic Authors

Three books written by some of the best of all time:

1. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
While I know many people had to read this growing up in school, this was my first time reading the famous Maya Angelou memoir. If I had to describe this book simply, I would say that it’s beautifully horrifying. Maya is an amazing writer, obviously, but the story is much darker than I think people realize. While it’s an incredibly fascinating look into her journey discovering the power of words and communication, her life was not easy. She writes about racism, sexual assault, and life struggles, but her language is chosen so carefully that the darkness is hidden behind the layers of beauty in her words. This books was a wonderful exploration of the power of language, and also important experiences that Maya was very brave to share.

2. The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
This was a short read, but a very impactful one. The book is broken up into two letters written by Baldwin, which I believe makes this a work of non-fiction. The first is to his nephew who shares his name, and the letter reads as a warning for life as a black man in America. This theme continues in his second and much longer letter, which is not addressed to anyone in particular, but rather is from a “region in [his] mind”. His thoughts ebb and flow into different ideas and experiences, which also focus largely on religion. He talks about his internal battles, what led him in and out of the church, and attempts to understand his experiences. I love the way he writes, which makes me excited to read his fictional work.

3. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
If I’m completely transparent about this book, it was one of the most disturbing things I’ve actually ever read. While I appreciate the style in which Toni writes, the subject matter and plot were certainly hard to stomach. She starts with the idea of wanting to have all the features that make up the ‘standard beauty model’, but takes it beyond, to the point where the girl believes her misfortune is a result of her lack of blue eyes. The story is wildly sad and dark, and it did not feel good to read. I have to say that I am very reluctant to try more of Toni Morrison after reading this one.

Thanks for reading!

BLM Book Recommendations – Starter Pack

I’ve been making my way through reading material that furthers my personal education about racial issues – especially since I didn’t get this education in school. There’s a lot of action that can be taken to help further the black lives matter movement, and that starts with educating yourself on how to act and what you can do. I’ll be sharing all the books I read here and being honest with my recommendations; and to start us off, I’m going to go through the first set of books in the order in which I recommend them, which is actually the opposite order in which I read them.

1. So You Wanna Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
If you only read one book this year, MAKE IT THIS ONE. Everything I wanted to read, learn, and explore was in this book. I appreciate so many things about this book – specifically how much intersectionality is highlighted. Ijeoma Oluo is an amazing writer, includes her own experiences, and speaks in a way that is truly eye opening. She gets into the good stuff right away, balances topics beautifully from chapter to chapter, and writes for all readers to walk away with insight. She covers areas such as affirmative action, cultural appropriation, the school-to-prison pipeline, the Martin/Malcom dichotomy, microaggressions, hair, the model-minority myth, anger, accountability, and so much more. I will be spending a lot of time suggesting this book on my social media and to people in my life, and I recommend it to anyone who is ready to have productive conversations about race in this world.

Privilege Check from So You Wanna Talk About Race: Are you white? Are you male? Are you non-disabled? Are you neuro-typical? Are you a documented citizen of the country you live in? Are you cisgender? Are you straight? Did you grow up middle class? Did you grow up in a stable home environment? Are you tall / thin / conventionally attractive?

2. White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard For White People To Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo
This book took a deep dive into how white people (even those who don’t consider themselves racist) are hurting and helping, for which I am grateful. I feel like this book held a mirror up to my white experience, down to even analyzing my experience as a white-presenting Hispanic individual. White people can benefit from reading this book because it points out how we fit into the mix, and then acknowledges how we should and should not react to conversations about race. She asks questions and explores ideas that opened my eyes to things I had not thought of before – to the point where I found some areas in which I needed to hold myself accountable. I’d recommend this read for white people, so we can make sure that we are better allies to people of color – there’s a lot to learn here.

3. Uncomfortable Conversations With A Black Man by Emmanuel Acho
While I very much appreciate all the dialogue that Emmanuel put into this book, I would categorize this as more of a “starter” book. The book does a great job of unpacking the basics and explaining things in a way that non-people of color can start to look at the world through a new lens, and there’s a huge reference section of additional reads and resources. However, for myself, a lot of the book was things I very much already knew, although I do appreciate learning some new ways to explain ideas I’ve already digested. I would also give just a small critique that the book was very much written from a straight male perspective; I would have loved more information about what black women specifically deal with, as well as trans and LGBTQ perspectives too. Again, this is packed full of great information and would be an easy read to recommend to your co-worker or relative that is just starting to understand the importance of these topics.

I will be reading so so so many more books, as this is just the beginning. Check back to keep up with all my reads, or reach out on social media for more recommendations.

Thanks for reading!

Books I Read In 2020

booksI set a list of goals in the beginning of 2020, and not quite all of them were met due to the unknown circumstances that 2020 brought on. However, I was able to complete my goal regarding reading. I wanted to read at least one book per month, just as I did in 2019, and I again was able to surpass that goal. Here is a list of all the books I made my way through in 2020:

1.  The Shining by Stephen King

2.   Name Drop by Ross Mathews

3. The Last Black Unicorn by Tiffany Haddish

4 & 5. GuRu and Workin’ It! by RuPaul

6. Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn 

7. Storms Never Last by Joy Elaine McMillan

8. Go Ask Alice by Anonymous 

9. Judge This Cover by Brittany Renner

10. Playground by Jennifer Saginoir

11. Screw Cancer; Becoming Whole by Molly Kochan

12. Bunny Tales by Izabella St. James

13. The Girls Next Door

14. Libra Book

15. When by Daniel H. Pink 

You can find all the books I read in 2019 here. Looking forward to 2021!

Thanks for reading.

Screw Cancer; Becoming Whole by Molly Kochan

An amazing human who I know and love named Nikki Boyer sadly lost her nearly lifelong friend Molly to cancer last year. Before she passed, Nikki was able to document her unique and intriguing stories through a podcast called Dying For Sex. The podcast is a 10 episode series that journeys Molly’s sexual escapades as she simultaneously entered a terminal cancer diagnosis. It’s a story that’s nothing like I’ve ever heard, offering an uncharted perspective. In addition to the podcast, Molly also did some writing as her health declined, which Nikki was able to turn into a book about a year after her passing.

Unfortunately, Molly’s story is somewhat dark, and involves a broken family and experiences of sexual abuse. This affected many many aspects of Molly’s life, which she is able to reflect on in a cathartic yet completely truthful way. Once getting her second cancer diagnosis, it’s like she dove headfirst into the insight of her life and decided actively on how she wanted to spend the rest of it. Her strength is admirable – both in her reflections and in her struggles through cancer.

The way that Molly writes is real, raw, and contains incredible clarity. You can see her thought processes laid out on the pages, and her authenticity shines through. It’s a true gift that she was able to find and share her voice, even if in the last chapter of her life.

To read Molly’s story, you can order the book on Amazon or other various vendors. I also highly recommend listening to the podcast as well, Dying For Sex, to hear Molly’s voice.

Thanks for reading.

Playground by Jennifer Saginor

playground2This is one of my absolute all-time favorite books of my entire life! I’ve read this book multiple times, and probably find my way back to it every several years (just like Go Ask Alice).  I’m a HUGE fan of Playboy, and this book was what opened the doors into all of my Hugh Hefner knowledge. Honestly, no one can convince me that this isn’t one of the greatest books that exists – it’s freaking amazing. 

This is the very real story of Jennifer Saginor, whose dad was a very well-known doctor in LA. He img_2482also happened to be best friends with Hugh Hefner, and was known as “Dr. Feel Good”. He spent ample time at the Playboy mansion, and brought his daughters along with him. Jennifer’s life is never the same after her first trip to the mansion, where she sees a playmate screwing John Belushi at just six years old. The infamous playground and the lifestyle that comes with it becomes intoxicating to Jennifer and starts to swallow her whole. From wild parties with A list celebrities, to a secret affair with one of Hef’s girlfriends, to all the drugs anyone could ever want – the journey is quite a crazy ride. 

carrie leighIn a weird way, this book has wildly impacted my life. The book made me fascinated by all the mansion adventures, intrigued by the LA lifestyle, and absolutely obsessed over the true identity of Kendall (My best guess is Carrie Leigh, but even after hours of research, I’m still not 100% sure!) It’s helped me to escape from reality, understand my sexuality, and gave me unique and amazing insight into a legendary empire. I respect and admire Jennifer so much for everything she’s been through, and for being willing to be vulnerable and share her story. I actually recently reached out to her on Instagram as a fan, and got a really nice response!

img_2483playgroundThis a fascinating, interesting, heartbreaking and infatuating story, and I HIGHLY suggest getting your copy wherever fine books are sold. I’m currently going into a full Playboy deep dive, so stay tuned as I make my way through more books as well as the full series of The Girls Next Door

Thanks for reading.

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

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I’ve heard of Gone Girl, but I wasn’t really familiar with Gillian Flynn at all. I saw that HBO had released a show based on her novel Sharp Objects, I decided to give her a try and I was pleasantly surprised. I’m not well-versed in murder mysteries, but I was drawn right in. Gillian Flynn is a great writer, and I plan on reading more of her novels in the future as well.

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Sharp Objects really holds up as a book. She keeps the story moving and keeps you intrigued, while still slowly setting up the story. Some things are a little cliche, like the small town vibe and the thirst of a journalist looking for the next story. But without giving anything away – the ending is fantastic and something I was not expecting.

sharp objects

She show was almost identical to the book, which I very much appreciated. It was amazingly cast, and I was surprised with how much I liked Amy Adams as the main character. The ending of the show kind of ends on a climax, so you don’t get the falling out details that you get in the book, which I think was a mistake. I very much enjoyed seeing the repercussions in the end and how those around them reacted, and I think those who watched the show were robbed of that. However, I truly have no complaints other than that – it’s really well done.

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You can of course find the novel wherever fine books are sold, and the HBO show is still available to stream via HBO Max or other HBO streaming services. If you’re into this genre, I definitely definitely definitely recommend!

Thanks for reading.

Desert Southwest (WildSam Field Guide)

img_3834This little book by WildSam was given to me as a Christmas present, after I expressed interest in relocating to Arizona. Pocket sized and adorable, just like the person who gave it to me, this Desert Southwest Field Guide was just the inspo I needed. That interest turned into a dream, and now a reality, so I’ve finally been able to read through the entire book and dive into the part of the country that I am ready to explore.

The book is a nice recap of information for individual places such as Santa Fe, Palm Springs, Las Vegas, and of course – my future city – Tucson. There are details of each city and state history as well as state facts and famous residents. I was excited by the list of annual festivals and events, as well as travel recommendations and so much more.

img_3832I took some time to dive into the page on Tucson that was published under the “Cities and Towns” section. Since this is going to be my new city, I was filled with excitement reading about the blend of culture and the beautiful foothills to explore. I already can’t wait to see monsoon season, and I am definitely going to try the Mexican/Seafood restaurant recommendation, Penca.

There was also a ton of other cool and interesting information, such as some history of media and films in the desert areas, and a list of outlaws and infamous figures. I enjoyed reading about different landmarks, wildlife and more things that I can explore. The book also included 14 interviews with various local personnel, artists, and writers. Towards the end, there are three short essays that are placed in Santa Fe. One is about the transience of the city, another the journey of exploring on a dangerous hike, and the last mourns the life of a good friend.

For anyone who wants to go exploring, included are several detailed guided road trips img_3833which break down the best routes to travel to the cities that were listed in the book. This gave me some inspiration for where to take some future trips, even if I don’t follow the recommendations exactly. The whole guide is truly an adorable and thoughtful present, very helpful, and got me even more excited to move than I already was. 

“People don’t take trips – trips take people.” – John Steinbeck

Thanks for reading.

https://wildsam.com/desert-southwest

The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman

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READ THIS BOOK. Take the quiz. And read this book.

This book addresses the fact that different things hold different levels of importance to different people. An act that you consider small may be monumental to your partner. There are so many different ways to communicate, and its important to understand which languages means the most to both you and the person that you love.

5 Love Languages:

Words of Affirmation

Quality Time

Acts of Service

Physical Touch

Giving Gifts

I took the quiz and made Ryan (my boyfriend) take it as well prior to reading the book. Just looking at the five love languages, I could spot mine right away: Words of Affirmation. I mean, I was a Communications major… words are important to me. Still, I took the quiz and was validated in my suspicions. Ryan’s answers were surprising in some ways.

My Responses:                          Ryan’s Responses:

9 Words of Affirmation           8 Quality Time

7 Physical Touch                       8 Words of Affirmation

7 Quality Time                           7 Acts of Service

6 Acts of Service                        4 Physical Touch

1 Receiving Gifts                       3 Receiving Gifts

The book speaks about spouses, but I don’t think this applies only to married people, or even just people in relationships. I think that the way you communicate in love says a lot about who you are and can help you to learn more about yourself and your relationships.

I’ve learned that I am extremely sensitive to words. When Ryan and I are able to communicate well and tell each other all these nice things, I feel good. And on the flip side, if words exchanged are negative, I hold onto them for a long time. Luckily, my need for Words of Affirmation is frequently met through meaningful text messages, small notes, and daily “I love you”s. I still think it’s important for Ryan to recognize that Words of Affirmation is my primary love language for whenever we get into fights or arguments. Knowing that words are important to me means that he can say things like “I’m sorry” and “Everything is fine” a few times and my demeanor will drastically change. I am definitely influenced largely by what is said to me.

Even though Ryan’s top two are tied, I think that Quality Time suits him best. It means a lot to him when we share experiences together or spend time doing things at home. Since Receiving Gifts clearly doesn’t hold a lot of significance to either of us, a lot of my birthday and Christmas presents involved tickets to something. We also enjoy doing small, cheap dates on Friday nights such as dinner and/or the movies. I know that planning and spending time together is something that means a lot to him (and myself as well). On the flip side, he gets upset when we are together but I am not present. There are nights where I will fall asleep early, and the next day he will tell me that I was a zombie. I try not to spend too much time on my phone when we are out or on a date, except for taking a couple pictures for Snapchat.

I would love to dive more into what makes Ryan happy after he reads the book. He doesn’t enjoy reading as much as I do, but has agreed to read sections of the book that I block off for him.

What’s important to remember is that what will make a difference in a relationship is effort. Ross Mathews has a theory about relationships, saying, “You need to meet me 100% at the 50 yard line.” Both parties need to be willing to say, Hey, I care about you and our relationship and doing what I can to make it a good one. I’m lucky to have this, but the author of the book is a marriage counselor and often talks about his theories saving marriages. I definitely think it’s possible to apply his theories to positively influence your relationship (or marriage, or love life or whatever), but only if both parties are willing to put in the effort.

Once the effort is there, a little goes a long way. 

More to come after I block of sections for Ryan and get his feedback. Thanks for reading.