Five for Friday

December 4, 2020

Friday! Huzzah! Although, to be fair…

  1. I have a hard time remembering what day of the week it is. Not because I’m jobless (friendless, hopeless, helpless!)(No, put down the panic buttons – it’s just [just?!!!] Vizzini, the world’s greatest, most hapless Italian.), but because it’s so rare that I have a day off from all three jobs at once. So I wasn’t only wondering if it was a Friday, but also if it wasn’t a dream. [Bonus bullet: I doubted my spelling of Vizzini, mostly because of the Red Squiggles of Death, but also it looks odd having the double consonant at the beginning of the word, followed by a single consonant. So I looked it up, and good gosh god dang if I wasn’t right! Never doubt a Princess Bride fanatic when honor is on the line! Ahem.]

  2. My friends and I have undertaken a fun distraction for the month of December, in which we pick songs for each day, according to the rules. Like a scavenger hunt. So, December 1st was “A Song from Your Childhood” (Jelly Man Kelly, performed by James Taylor on Sesame Street); December 2nd was “An Underrated Song” (Pearl Jam’s Come Back, which I’ve been playing on repeat lately.  It just hits me in my feels! Pearl Jam will never be my favorite band, even though I wish I liked it better because one of my best friends is DIEHARD Pearl Jam); December 3rd was “A Song That Makes You Cry” (“Edelweiss” from Sound of Music, because I remember so clearly watching The Sound of Music with my Mum whenever it was on TV, and later when it was on VHS, so she could watch it in the living room while she ironed and sang and we made fun of her. Oh, Mum. I can’t even tell you how much I miss you and how much I wish you could listen to me and help me with the girls right now. See? Songs that make you cry, indeed.); December 4th was is “Song That Makes You Think of Summer”, which is an interesting prompt. I thought of sooooo many songs, most of them from mixes I made for when the girls and I traveled back to Massachusetts and New Hampshire for summer holidays; and the rest from when I was in high school and things were so much happier/simpler/amusingly sad in easily fixable ways. I ended up going with Rude!, by Magic! from one of those mixes. I just think the beat is quintessentially summery.

  3. I’m working on solving a creative problem with one of my favorite craft items. My highest demand item is my shatterproof globe ornament – a round, clear ornament that is filled with hand-selected lines from different books. I can’t even name them all – like, actually, literally can’t because I have more than 300 different books that I’ve used! But to give you an example, I’ve been working on a few Charlotte’s Web ornaments this week. I love Charlotte and Wilbur and Fern and Templeton and all of the other barnyard galoots! I love choosing each line to fit with the theme and feel of the ornament I’m working on, and I especially love picking out quotes for the specific ornament. My dilemma is that when I have one title that is sooo in demand, I run out of times I can clip the title from obvious and inventive places so that I can include it in the ornament. I’m trying a new technique where I type out the title on the closest color cardstock I can match, and in the samest (is-too a word) size font, and see if that will work. I hope so, because then I can also focus the quotes I use for each ornament! If you want to see other ornaments and book-ish crafts Bee and I offer, you can come visit us at Bee Crafty on Etsy (really, it’s called BeeCraftsShop on Etsy, because Bee Crafty was already taken. Le Sigh.) There’s a sale going on, just to tempt you. Ha!

  4. There was a surprise tornado here last week – or maybe the week before? – during one of those weird winter storms when the weather feels like spring/early-summer, and the two weather feels start arguing. I was at work – the work that requires me to actually be somewhere – and everyone kept commenting on our earpieces that it was raining, and then that it was really raining, and then that it was ohmygawd raining, to come see it. But we were slammed, so while I fully intended to go see it, I forgot all about it about 2.5 seconds after it was mentioned. Then I thought I heard thunder. And then the lights flickered for a second. But that was that. Until I checked my phone an hour later and saw that there had been a tornado warning! Not for where I was, or for where home was. But still! And then there were reports of storm damage. Bad storm damage. I looked at the pictures on the news, and checked on friends who lived almost directly in the path, but I was still surprised to hear that the Powers That Be announced it was an EF2 tornado. That was, until I was driving in the area where they said the damage was located. From the street, you can see the tornado’s path through the apartment complex, across the street, and through some fences and into the houses at the end of the street across the way. It’s insane! I couldn’t help but think of how you hear that the storm skips this house and that house, but hits this one; how narrow and despicably discrete the damage path really is. It’s mesmerizing.

  5. Amends time: I’m sorry my posts are so sporadic. I think of what I want to say all the time! But committing thoughts to paper…okay, well, that part has always been crazily easily for me. What’s difficult is committing myself to finding time to do it. Creating healthy habit. Forcing structure into my life. And if life would bless me with the right 9-5 (8-5? 7-5?) job, I promise it would be a lot easier. Manifesting greatness! – that’s been my 2021 motto that I decided started right after the election. We’re making things happen NOW! So that job should feel free to call me back on any one of my resumes I’ve submitted. Or a surprise Meant-For-You! job at any time from any direction. It would be just the chapter I need to finish off my book!

With that! I hope you all have a wonderful weekend, and enjoy yourselves thoroughly. Just remember to do it in a safe, COVID-anti-spreader type way. From separate homes. Not travelling. Not eating out. Just chillin’ from your Zoom-zone. Mmkay? Mmmkay.

Friday! Huzzah! Although, to be fair…

  1. I have a hard time remembering what day of the week it is. Not because I’m jobless (friendless, hopeless, helpless!)(No, put down the panic buttons – it’s just [just?!!!] Vizzini, the world’s greatest, most hapless Italian.), but because it’s so rare that I have a day off from all three jobs at once. So I wasn’t only wondering if it was a Friday, but also if it wasn’t a dream. [Bonus bullet: I doubted my spelling of Vizzini, mostly because of the Red Squiggles of Death, but also it looks odd having the double consonant at the beginning of the word, followed by a single consonant. So I looked it up, and good gosh god dang if I wasn’t right! Never doubt a Princess Bride fanatic when honor is on the line! Ahem.]
  2. My friends and I have undertaken a fun distraction for the month of December, in which we pick songs for each day, according to the rules. Like a scavenger hunt. So, December 1st was “A Song from Your Childhood” (Jelly Man Kelly, performed by James Taylor on Sesame Street); December 2nd was “An Underrated Song” (Pearl Jam’s Come Back, which I’ve been playing on repeat lately.  It just hits me in my feels! Pearl Jam will never be my favorite band, even though I wish I liked it better because one of my best friends is DIEHARD Pearl Jam); December 3rd was “A Song That Makes You Cry” (“Edelweiss” from Sound of Music, because I remember so clearly watching The Sound of Music with my Mum whenever it was on TV, and later when it was on VHS, so she could watch it in the living room while she ironed and sang and we made fun of her. Oh, Mum. I can’t even tell you how much I miss you and how much I wish you could listen to me and help me with the girls right now. See? Songs that make you cry, indeed.); December 4th was is “Song That Makes You Think of Summer”, which is an interesting prompt. I thought of sooooo many songs, most of them from mixes I made for when the girls and I traveled back to Massachusetts and New Hampshire for summer holidays; and the rest from when I was in high school and things were so much happier/simpler/amusingly sad in easily fixable ways. I ended up going with Rude!, by Magic! from one of those mixes. I just think the beat is quintessentially summery.
  3. I’m working on solving a creative problem with one of my favorite craft items. My highest demand item is my shatterproof globe ornament – a round, clear ornament that is filled with hand-selected lines from different books. I can’t even name them all – like, actually, literally can’t because I have more than 300 different books that I’ve used! But to give you an example, I’ve been working on a few Charlotte’s Web ornaments this week. I love Charlotte and Wilbur and Fern and Templeton and all of the other barnyard galoots! I love choosing each line to fit with the theme and feel of the ornament I’m working on, and I especially love picking out quotes for the specific ornament. My dilemma is that when I have one title that is sooo in demand, I run out of times I can clip the title from obvious and inventive places so that I can include it in the ornament. I’m trying a new technique wherry e I type out the title and

Silly and tasty, that’s me.

November 10, 2020

I’ve been on a yogurt kick lately. For breakfast, for a quick snack, for when I can’t put on my big-girl pants and wait for whatever’s in the oven (or, um, microwave – yes, I’m weak) to finish cooking. They’re delicious! And so my jam right now.

Which all explains why I was browsing the yogurt aisle, right? Noosa is by far the tastiest – but probably because they have half a bag of sugar in them. Mostly I’m alright with that, because – tasty. So I compromise and get the Oikos Zero. Guess I found my big girl pants after all. But don’t congratulate me too much, because I also like the Oui ones because they’re tiny and they come in glass jars that I can wash and reuse in my crafting. Yoplait Strawberry is good for those nostalgic hankerings. Chobani is a delicious compromise between Noosa and (the still incredibly tasty!) Oikos Zeros. And then there was one I tried the other day that was touting its protein count.

And then, I found this. The Icelandic delegation to Yogurtlandia! It’s Skyr Icelandic yogurt. The flavor is Strawberry and Lingonberry. I can delight in Lingonberries without the guilt of the pastry it usually comes on…or the $300 I spent at Ikea to get a taste.

Speaking of taste, I have to say, I was quite pleased. While the portion size didn’t quite hold me over until lunch was ready (a mere 12 minutes away), the taste exceeded expectations and would be a go-to. The strawberries were sweet enough to soar, and the lingonberries gave them an equally delicious – but quite different – sort of base. Like it tethered it. Not quite the savory to the sweet, just…lingonberry-esque.

I hope Iceland decides to widen its portfolio and bring me things like breads and ice cream and all sorts of cheeses. My taste buds are dancing at the mere thought of it. Silly…but sweet. I’m grateful for those little moments today.

Who knew they were right?

November 9, 2020

How many times, when you were down, have you heard: manifest your destiny! Act as ye have faith, and faith shall be given to thee. Get down on your knees and pray, every morning to thank God (in whatever Universal form you’d prefer) and humbly ask Her for that which would help you be your best you.

It’s getting a little woo-woo in here, so let me just shorten to this: Fake it til you make it. And Readers, I think I’ve just done that.

I’ve manifested myself a side-job. One I desperately need right now. For my sanity, for my pockets, and yes – I’ll say it out loud so someone out there won’t feel like they’re the only one – a little bit for my dignity, too.

It’s a great big little thing. It’s a reminder that Someone is listening to me. The Universe is not all out to get me. Things will get betterthey are getting better. And I am very grateful for those gifts that apparate at just the right time.

The one with elections, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and #NonFicNovember

November 5, 2020

Good morning, good afternoon, good evening – we no longer recognize time here at Casa de Katie, because I’m pretty sure it’s been Tuesday for almost 72 hours now.

But if it isn’t actually Tuesday the Third, then that means it’s Thursday. And on Thursdays, we review books we’ve read! And since I’ve been both blogging and reading when I haven’t been voting, let’s talk about books.

I’m not sure if #NonFicNov – or #NonFictioNovember in its longer form – is still a thing, but it doesn’t matter, because it’s still a thing in my heart. I never seem to wander past the New Releases section of my library, so designating a month for a concentrated effort in non-fiction is a good thing.

Since I’ve only read two books so far this week, I might dip back into recent reads for an extra review or two, but it’ll be recent, I swear. So let’s go…

Just the Funny Parts: And a Few Hard Truths About Sneaking into the Hollywood Boys’ Club, by Nell Scovell (Dey Street Books, 2018, 320p). The thing is, right now I find Hollywood gossip very, very attractive. Or maybe I should say distractive. It’s helping me forget about the recession, and every job I interview for but lose out to someone else, and stress that’s piling up, and yes, even the election. Because I read it all on Tuesday afternoon when during what I call Project Being Patient: Day 1. Nell Scovell is obviously an incredibly talented writer, and she is aces at being funny. She’s so smooth with the transition, like all of a sudden you’re trying not to pee your pants and wondering where the hell that came from. She’s written for an untold number of hit shows on television – of which you’d all know most of the names – and sadly, she reports on the ugly underbelly that goes with all of the happy-funny stories. (Except for The Muppets. YES, she wrote for them, too!) I wanted to hear more of the “Funny Parts” – the account read like a warning for every aspiring Hollywood writer, and that’s fine. It’s an important story to be recounted out loud. I just wish Scovell had flipped tHhe title so I knew what I was getting when I sat down to distract myself, is all. (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)

I Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen Brushes with Death, by Maggie O’Farrell (Knopf Publishing, 2017, 304p). I just finished this book this afternoon. I had such high hopes for it, and really wanted to read it every time I saw it on my TBR…but kept forgetting to actively seek it out. On my mission this week to surround myself with non-fiction, I found this gem at the library. Yes, I said gem. The book is divided into, as promised, 17 stories. A childhood illness. An encounter with a murderer (I’m not kidding). Incredibly poignant and vulnerable stories about her daughter’s own journey – and Maggie O’Farrell’s as her mum. It was hard to put it down. I mean, it was so good that I forgot about the election while I was reading. That good. O’Farrell’s writing is like if Cheryl Strayed and Anne Fadiman had a little story baby.I highly encourage you to seek this collection out. It’s philosophizing mortality and the goodness of a sunny afternoon while just, you know, writing a quick thing you might tell you dinner partner – honest, compelling, but not gushy or emotional. Gah! Just go read it. (5 of 5 stars.)

Uncensored, by Zachary Wood (Dutton, 2018, 272p, read Oct. 2020). This review makes me feel a bit uneasy. Imma just just in. I’ve read a lot of books about race relations, racism, classism, the politics of social constructs, the politics of America, memories written by minorities living in America, and African American culture. I have a minor in African American Studies. I’m not by any means saying I’m an expert; I’m no where close. I’m just saying, I’ve read a lot. So when I say I am not a fan, it’s not because I think Zachary Wood doesn’t know what he’s talking about, or his experiences aren’t valid, or that he’s a poor writer. Although, okay, yes, a little bit the latter. I’m just saying I have a deep pool of other reading experiences to which I can compare my reading of Uncensored. Here are my problems with the book. First, Wood has an incredibly inflated opinion of himself. Every person he met, talked to, wrote about – he explicitly compared every single one to himself, and found them all wanting. Not once did he self-critique or offer up vulnerabilities or ways he might need to improve. Similarly, while Wood constantly pleaded for others to not judge him – which, okay, valid ask – he always judged others around him! It was so omnipresent, it was painful to witness. Secondly, the tone was depressing. There was no mechanism to elevate himself (well, in a constructive manner, not speaking of raising his status as others’ see him, which he was interested in). He was always woe-is-me. He survived a terrible childhood, his home life wasn’t great, they certainly were poorer than poor. But like, here’s a good example: while his family was financially destitute, Wood opted to not seek a job to earn money for himself or for his family for the stated reason that he wanted to read more. To explore academic pursuits. It’s great to have dreams, baby, but that’s a luxury. And if you don’t want to see it as such, you can’t paint it as an example of how bad life is, and how broke you are. I was left wondering: So what? Yes, Wood certainly deserved to have had a better childhood, a better educational system, a better sense of supportive community, and it’s amazing that he was able to graduate from college given his experiences. But his writing never focused on any one thing. I honestly don’t know if even Wood knows why he wrote the memoir, unless the chief goal was to have a book – any book – published. The “so what” feeling at the end of a book is not something you want a reader to be left with, not if there was any other purpose. (1 of 5 stars)

So there you go. I know I used to have more, but three reviews is a lot more than I’ve been publishing on Thursdays as of late, so I’m going to quit focusing on my failures, and instead be grateful that I’m reading, grateful that I’m writing, grateful that I’m creating – and sticking to – structure in my life. (And also that it kept me from staring at a map for even just a little bit.)

Why? Is something going on today?

November 3, 2020

Today’s…fraught. It’s fraught with tension and anxiety and I’m feeling so many different kind of ways.

But even though I am both popping onto news sites and trying to distract myself so I won’t glom on to them, this weird thought hit me. I’m…well, I’m grateful today that I feel this much.

For real.

Some people don’t care. Or care, but not enough to vote. “Eh, one vote won’t matter.” “Nothing’s going to be decided tonight.” “Whoever wins will still be there in the morning.” I’m sorry. I might not have two dollars to rub together right now, but my head is straight. And more importantly, my heart is straight. Both care very much about the outcome of the elections.

I have feelings. I have plans. I’ve even bartered with the Universe so if the Very Bad Thing happens, I’ll have a trade that I’m convinced will happen. (And the lottery isn’t a bad consolation prize.)(I’m kidding!!)

It’s not easy, feeling all the feelings and trying to be patient when that’s the least used muscle I have, but I’m pretty sure that means I’m supposed to work at it, right? So here I am. Waiting. Feeling. Stressing. And being thankful that I care about things that matter, and not the meaningless things that used to steal my attention.

Just a gazillion more hours, and we’ll have an answer! Who’s waiting with me?

Even on a Monday.

November 2, 2020

It’s Monday. I’m trying to re-adjust to having time and space being a constant, definable construct for how I am in the world. …And so of course it so happens that it’s Monday.

Of course. I remember Mondays. I’m familiar with Mondays.

And today’s not just any Monday. It’s the Monday before the election. A stressful, tense, hold-your-breath kind of Monday.

But even in all of this, even though I recognize every hiccup that might bubble up in front of me, there was this thing that happened that made me more grateful to be right here than maybe anything else.

The girls reached out and texted me something. A small blip of a something, but it was something all the same. A big something if you’re sitting in my shoes. And so when I journeyed to the post office to drop off all of my packaged-up orders, I swung by the House-on-the-Hill and dropped off some Halloween plates.

Just a small, teeny-tiny little momentito in my day. But one that has me smiling, Monday and all!

The happy little blue whale things.

October 28, 2020

Sometimes – oftentimes – it’s the little things that reach out and grab you, even if they’re hiding on the bottom shelf of a busy toy aisle. He was just sitting there, not trying to bother anybody, facing a main aisle customers use to hop between store sections.

But I swear I saw the little guy, and my heart went BOOM!

Blue! Happy blue! Really more of a shiny, smiley turquoise.

We didn’t have cute little suckers like this guy when we were little. The closest we got to hopping along, playing pretend on the Ultimate Toy that made all your friends jealous and your heart explode was this:

Hippity-Hops: 80s kids’ nostalgia boomin’!

And maybe that (but probably not) is why I fell in love with Fizzy. Yep, I named him. Fizzy the little blue smiley, happy whale who made me smile big and stop traffic.

I love you Fizzy. And I am grateful for the burst of joy.

19.

September 11, 2020

I’ve written about different tragedies in my life. Personal tragedies, like my divorce. Communal and global tragedies, like: The Boston Marathon; The Orlando night club shooting;. Sandy Hook (and too many other school shootings).

Looming over all of them is 9/11. Personal, communal, global – it’s every tragedy rolled into one; everything that just kind of whomps you upside the head every year.

I worked it. I was there when our planes hit. I was there when wives, and employees, and pilots, and Board of Directors called, worried out of their minds. I was watching in our president’s office when the second plane hit the Tower, and then the third collapsed into the Pentagon and I lost my mind.

I never once thought that nineteen years later I would be sitting here, writing that we’ve endured. Well, I knew that we would endure; but I thought that my children would never know a world that consisted of an everyday (relatively) free from terrorist attacks. This was not the world I pictured them living.

Each year is an achievement.

A wonder.

A fucking revel.

And my hat’s off to every single one of you who made it happen.

Where she stops, nobody knows…

September 2, 2020

Remember the tiny metal-and-air merry-go-rounds we used to ride at the playground?

Not the fancy ones you might be thinking of – not the ones made of horses and dragons, ones that would go up and down, and parents would take pictures, and a grown-up would take tickets for admission. Oh no. These were no-frills metal playground equipment all the way. A circle platform of sorts, topped with metal pipes that came out of the center and divided the merry-go-round into 8 pieces, or there abouts. If the playground was fancy enough (and the equipment was new enough that the paint wasn’t worn through), the different sections of the platform would all be painted different colors.

Yes – those merry-go-rounds.

I feel as if I just climbed off, and my brains are still scrambling around, shrieking just like the kids would. And just as my vision adjusts and I have my bearings…I stand up, turn 90 degrees to the left, and plonk myself down again.

My brain isn’t scrambling anymore; my heart isn’t scrambling any more. I feel so absolutely different. And…at peace.

I just wish I could tell them that I’m okay. This fundamental shift is okay.

Book reviews: The one with the delusional gunman, delusional grandmas, and a soldier who knew how to stand up for us all.

June 20, 2019

Just because I’ve been quiet lately doesn’t mean I haven’t been reading. My goal is 250 books this year, and I might not make it, but so far Goodreads says I’m on pace. (Barely on pace, meh meh meh.) The thing is, it doesn’t feel like that because so many of the books I’ve read this year have barely made an impression on me. They’re bland. Or stupid. Or so not my thing.

Despite all my whinging, I’m pretty sure I can find a few to review for you.

A Small Revolution, by Jimin Han (Little A, 2017, 208 pages, digital, Kindle Unlimited). I’ll confess: the reason I was first drawn to Han’s debut novel was because it featured a shooter in a college setting; the way I process these atrocities is to submerse myself in fictional reiterations so I can play it through to the end and find the answers. It’s whack, I know. But it’s one of my solutions. This short, compact novel was both jam-packed with details, beautifully authentic college-aged vignettes filled with things two people of that age, who were in love, would say to each other. It examines the “third wheel” scenario in Yoona Lee and Jaesung’s love story, and why Lloyd – poor, delusional, cuckoo-in-the-membranes Lloyd – insists holding Yoona and three of her friends hostage is how to solve his problem. His problem? Dead Jaesung isn’t dead. It’s a lot of information, but Jimin Han handled the nuances with aplomb found usually not until the author is far more experienced. The way Han bounced between flashbacks of how the three (Lloyd, Jaesung, and Yoona) met in South Korea, and scenes of the tense stand-off led by the crumbling madness of Lloyd and increasingly terrified hostages. I ripped through the pages, rushing towards the present. Maudlin and tense, intense and beautifully care-free and innocent. And yet, full of violence.  4 of 5 stars.

Louisiana’s Way Home, by Kate DiCamillo (Candlewick Press, 2018, 240 pages, paperback. Middle-grade readers). I picked this up during my Mother’s Day splurge because it had a beautiful cover. The barrette, like the ones my sister and I used, it sealed the deal. The plot: a girl (Louisiana by name) deserted by her Granny in a town off the map (but really in Georgia), somewhere between Florida (home, where Louisiana must return!) and Kansas, where their family’s curse originated and must be broken. Lousiana’s grandma sounded pretty YaYa, the way she stuffed Lousisana’s head full of colorful stories – like that her parents performed in the circus! and how they met and fell in love! and, and, and – only all of the stories Lousiana’s grandma told her turn out to be Not True. Louisiana had to figure out if this mattered and changed who she is – or not. DiCamillo poured so much magic and grace into her characters, and a bucket of spunk into Louisiana. Questioning who she is and who she wants to be is a question many kids handle – and DiCamillo snuck lessons into her characters’ adventures the way parents sneak nutrition into their kids’ food. The result is as wholesome, full of laughs and heart bumps along the way. 3 1/2 of 5 stars.

Formation: A Woman’s Memoir of Stepping out of Line, by Ryan Leigh Dostie (Grand Central Publishing, 368 pages, digital library loan). Wow. What a gut punch. I had to stop for a minute and just breath. Dostie’s memoir is proof of how women are punished severely for doing, saying, even looking at or like someone at the wrong time. We aren’t in charge. Not only are the assholes who are raping us sending this message home; it’s also the Chinese handcuffs set like traps throughout the system that men set up to report when men (or anyone else) stepped out of line. Dostie saw this. And was brave enough to step out of how she was supposed to act, yanked her finger out of the chinese handcuffs, and said to hell with this. I WAS RAPED. AND MY GOVERNMENT, MY COMMAND, MY POST, MY MILITARY – NO ONE CARED. No one stepped up to help her. She stood up. Helped herself. And spoke up. It was one way to help battle the PTSD she suffered from on the outs. No one seemed to be in her shoes. Reading about Dostie’s journey filled me with so many emotions – admiration, awe, shame, anger, anxiety, triggered, wanting to fight. Good stories do that, and Dostie’s narrative had me from the first page to the last. Trigger Warning, obviously for rape, for PTSD. But if you want to read a story about a soldier who deserves every bit of admiration and support – Formation is a damn good book to start with. 5 of 5 stars.

What books have you been reading? Send me your best recommendations – I’m feeling  a little antsy to mind my Next Great Read, something that will light me on fire the way YaYas did, or Evelyn Hugo did with all seven of her husbands. Tell me! And I’ll be back next Thursday to tell you about a few more of mine.