Archive for the ‘Bookishness’ Category

Jumping back into the water – all of me, all at once.

April 22, 2018

Hello. It’s me. I’ve been wondering if after all this time you want to hear me. But I want to write. I need to write again. I need to feel like me and it’s time to add this piece back into the mix.

So how do I do it? I spent the past week thinking about it, casually, and then I contemplated it more often and seriously this weekend. How do I write out loud, on my blog? How do I return? Dipping my toes back into the water doesn’t seem like a good idea: it always feels colder and draws out the uncomfortable part. Just jump back in, Katie. The water will feel warm and you’ll get your breath back in just a minute or two.

Still, it’s a weird feeling – being gone so long from my blog, and then just being here, in one fell swoop. Or jump, I should say. I wonder if anyone will notice, or if I’m just shouting into void, voicing words that won’t even be heard. But that thought, even though it echoes back frequently, doesn’t hold much weight. I write for myself. I always have. It’s why I shrug my shoulders when what I’ve written causes trouble (because heaven knows I’ve tripped backwards into trouble so often it’s like an old friend), because what I write is me trying to figure out what I feel, what I’m going through, how I should act and react. It’s how I process so much of what I go through in my life.

Okay, this is getting maudlin and more than a little cheesy. Just jump in, Kate!

So what’s going on in my life? What the incredible, impossible-to-ignore urge to write? Let me tell you a little bit of it. It’s all way too much to write about in one go. So for starters…

I’ve all-of-a-sudden gotten a giant promotion at The Place That Shall Not Be Named. It came at exactly the right moment when I thought I would implode from burnout and…okay, I’m going to stop there because we don’t talk about things at The Place That Shall Not Be Named. Talking about work is not what you do in public, in writing. Suffice it to say that I’m incredibly happy to be noticed and rewarded. I’m overwhelmingly challenged to think and improvise all day, every day. And so I’m exhausted and barely able to move at the end of some days. But it feels like the best unexpected blessing right now. So I’m just going with it and trusting in my angels that they know what I need.

Then there’s the girls. Gracie is turning 14 on Thursday. Four. Teen. That is, if she makes it! We’ve hit a bit of a rough patch, the girls and I. Bee-girl is turning 12 in a few months and she’s full of hormones about to explode. Every time she asks to talk to me, she starts with an epic eye roll and “No, I didn’t start my period.” Because she’s been so acting like it lately that I maybe possibly might ask that question a lot. Oof. But we’re surviving. A little bit ago I thought we might not. Show me a parent of two teenagery girls who didn’t think that once or twice! But something I didn’t expect and no one told me – when your girls hit this age, this hard-to-parent, oh-my-goodness, pass-the-wine, oh-no-you-didn’t! kind of age, your love for them grows even fiercer, like you might explode with love and protection instincts, and you just want to smother them with mama love and talk their ears off, and show them every card game you know, because you want to spend time with them, but it has to be sly and sneaky, or else they’ll disappear into their rooms. It’s a tricky time, but we’re managing. I’m managing. By the skin of my teeth some days, but we’ll be okay.

My reading life has come back, and I am rejoicing! It’s what keeps me going when things get dark, and I am so grateful for it! I’ve already topped 125 books for the year and some of the books I’ve read have been shout-from-the-rooftops! kind of wonderful! Exit West, by Moshin Hamid; The Chalk Man, by CJ Tudor (Oh, I can’t wait to tell you all about it in my Thursday book reviews!); Allegedly, by Tiffany Jackson; The Sun and Her Flowers, by Rupi Kaur; Love, Hate, and Other Filters, by Samira Ahmed. And speaking of Samiras, I’ve finally watched Orange Is the New Black after four or five attempts, and Samira Wiley, my god you guys! I need more of her in my life! For reals. And surely that show counts as literature, yes?

Other creative outlets are afoot. Bee-girl and I have started an Etsy shop, and as soon as I get a few items in there, I’ll set you guys up with a link and beg you to take a peek. Bee has slime, slime, and more slime. Finally, a place to ship everything she creates! And ohhhhhhh does that girl create a lot of slime! She’s a connoisseur of all things slime-related. Isn’t it normal to have industrial-size containers of Borax on your counters? And shaving cream. And food coloring? I’m blaming Uncle Kene for introducing my mad scientists with the wonders of Borax. As for me, I’m selling needle point creations of literary quotes and political jokes. I have baby blankets. And so. many. Christmas ornaments! Corrie and I spent an entire weekend making Christmas crafts, but we might need to wait a few months before our Christmas Shop hits the markets. Let’s just say we’ll be ready!

And running! I’ve started running again, using the Couch to 5k method. I’m on Week 3  and about to embark on Week 4 – 12 minutes of walking and 18 minutes of walking. I’m doing great! I’m so proud of myself. I told you I was crawling back into myself, and running is definitely a part of me. I started running because a dear friend PHYSICALLY MADE ME, and I will always be beholden to her, to use an Anne-ism. Running is something to strive for. It gives me goals and an outlet to pour myself into! When I get a bit better, there’s a running club I want to join. Maybe there will be cute, sarcastic, bookish types who flounder near the back of the pack, like me. Who knows?! But I can’t wait to find out! Goals are good. They’re fantastic! And I’m reaching for them.

So yes, I’ve been up to a few things. Just a few, because these past few months have been sort of dark and depressy. I’ve been missing for a reason. But I’m glad to be back. The water is warm, jumping in took a courageous moment of fuck-it proportions. But my water-wings are nearby if I need them.

But mostly I just need to write.

 

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How to display a million, zillion Funkos.

January 30, 2018

I don’t understand when people say that tweens and teens are hard to buy gifts for. I’ve had a blast buying things for my two – or maybe it’s just that my girls are easy to buy for because I know them so well and they’re engaged with so many interests it’s hard not to trip over so many tiny little things they’d like.

One of those things is the Funko Pop! figurines that everyone is crazy over. I can’t remember the first one I bought for Gracie, but it might have been Harry Potter. She, of course, went nuts for him (Gracie loves being a dedicated and loyal fan almost more than she loves the subject(s) of her adoration), and the rest, as they say, is collectible history.

Gracie’s Funko addiction (for that is what it is, now) has grown to include the Harry Potter group – including a nose-less moldy Voldy, a truly creepy dementor with gauze-like material covering them, and a Hagrid whose size really does dwarf everyone around him (Huzzah for details!); a lone Katniss to represent her entire imaginary world; a Doctor Who or two (and maybe a Dalek, don’t hate); mini- Gandalf and Frodo (who were supposed to be keychains, I think?); and so. many. Stranger Things characters that my heart bursts with happy!

The question that had been nibbling at the back of my head became more insistent – what do you do with Funko creatures once you have more than one or two? Gracie used to have them arranged on the top of her shoe cubbies, and that worked…until she got about a half-dozen more for Christmas and over the tipping point she went. We needed a creative solution. And Gracie’s Auntie Kim loves to tackle problems such as these. Shelves, of some sort, would make a fantastic Christmas present. And if she found a great deal (she did), she would throw in a gallon of paint to re-do the accent wall in Gracie’s room.

Eventually, the shelves I found were all summarily dismissed and instead Kim decided we should go with a bunch of distressed wood crates she’d found at Michael’s. I agreed that I could live with them, did a few measurements to make sure they’d function and everyone (eh, except maybe Hagrid) could fit, and off we went.

A few design suggestions were proffered, and we went with a modification of the one Auntie Kim liked best. I love the spiral look, but the proposal had all of the crates touch and to me, it looked scrunched. Call me crazy, but since it’s mi casa and I’m the one having to look at it all day, I’m not going to greenlight something that drives me buggy. I’m happy to shrug my shoulders or greenlight lots of other things I’m neutral on, or things that don’t actively make me think of nails-on-chalkboards. Otherwise, I’m pretty sure we can come up with something everyone’s happy about.

Besides – how awesome does THIS look?!!

I can’t decide which of the new Stranger Things is my favorite: Hopper with his mug of coffee (to go with his contemplation), or Eleven with her Eggos and smudges of coffee, or Dustin with his Ghostbusters gear?Gracie might lean towards Hopper because she also did this thing with her lightboard, clearly proving that I am Raising Her Right:

Funko4

Yep. That kid is definitely a keeper.

Gracie had an extra Joyce (silly Santa, forgetting which he’d already picked up), which we were going to exchange, but then someone took it out of its box and recycled said box. So. I decided to keep it, paragon of feminist barely-keeping-it-together-but-don’t-EVEN-go-after-her-kids Mom of the Year that she is. This particular Funko Joyce is Season 1, and is carrying a ball of Christmas lights, hoping they’ll lead her back to Will. And so…I did a little thing to fix it. I present…

Funko5

Am I right?!!

Awesome feminist moms aside, once Gracie’s display issue was settled, we did also repaint her wall, as promised. I know it’s a little anti-climatic, but I *do* love the way the peacock blue pops, and I know it’ll match her gold-white-peacock blue color scheme to a T.

I still miss the purple, but it’s her room, I don’t hate the blue, and I can repaint my own room in purples and greys, now that the nearly-robin’s-egg-blue color experiment is officially dead. (Hey, it still beats painters-white.)

Not a huge reno project, but sometimes it’s the small things, guys.

#24in48: Challenge Complete.

January 29, 2018

Wheeeeeeeeeeeew, what a weekend! It was filled with books and reading and social media commenting and more reading and scrambled eggs and library books and still more reading. But I did it! Between midnight Friday night and ending at exactly 5 p.m. Sunday night, I read for 24 hours, well within the 48-hour window. Let’s see how I managed to pull it off.

Keeping track. I used a cool checklist that I mistakenly attributed to someone else (who, it turns out, stole the idea), designed originally by Kristin Isabelle (@FierceFabFemme), let’s give credit where credit is due! Somehow I finished my checklist last night, and then forgot to snap a pic! Gah! And managed to leave my planner on my desk at home. Good one, Katie. Here’s one of my earlier check-ins, though:

24in48CheckIn

Check-ins and Challenges. I had a blast on social media! I participated in 4 or 5 challenges, and checked-in via the 24-in-48 web site, my blog, Facebook, and all. day. long. on Twitter! In fact, I had so much fun cheering everyone on that I asked our hosts if I could help admin the next one. SO MUCH FUN!

Here are two of my challenges:

FirstAndLast

That was for the first and last books on your shelves. No dead white authors on these shelves. (Okay, there are but love that there aren’t that many in the pool.)

Readathon4

Here we have favorite and least favorite covers. I would frame a print of Wolves. But the Rebecca is sooooo bland! Who would want to pick that book up?!

And speaking of check-ins – here’s a picture of me at my battle station. I have about four books open, my laptop booting up, my Book of Books (my reading journal/master list) and my planner with my checklist are all open. Plus a whopping plate of scrambled eggs precariously balanced on top of everything! Love it!

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Bookish clothing: Yeah, I got myself in the mood by rocking some rad bookish gear. Saturday I wore my Hermione shirt that reads, “When in doubt, go to the library.” (Which is exactly what I did on Saturday.) I had on my blue library card socks, too. On Sunday I wore my red “Read more books!” shirt from BookRiot, and my “Let the wild rumpus begin!” socks, but I didn’t take a picture of my shirt, alas.

 

Mugs. I started out each morning right: with a pot of coffee and a different bookish mug. I have about a dozen bookish mugs (mugs are my weakness), so it was difficult choosing my victims. But coffee was hanging in the balance, so it didn’t actually take me all that long, you understand.

 

Books, pages, and all that stuff. In the end, I read six whole books, most of another, and half of yet another.

  • The Polygamist’s Daughter, by Ana LeBarron (3 of 5 stars)
  • A World Without Whom, by Emmy Favilla (3 of 5 stars)
  • We Are Never Meeting in Real Life, by Samantha Irby (4 of 5 stars)
  • Search and Rescue, by Christopher Van Tilburg (2 of 5 stars)
  • Dream Big Dreams, by Pete Souza (5 of 5 stars)
  • 84, Charing Cross Road, by Helene Hanff (4 of 5 stars)
  • Most of Turtles All the Way Down, by John Green
  • Half of My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry, by Fredrik Bachman (re-read)

That’s…okay, I’m not really going to tally the pages for you. I thought I was going to, but no. Nope. Not gonna.

I had a blast! I read a lot of books. It was great motivation to put my foot up and actually rest it. I don’t know that I would have done that without the 24-in-48 Challenge. Honestly. So thank you, ladies, for hosting, and I can’t wait for the next one! (Seriously…is it this weekend? Huh? Can it be? please??)

#24in48 Check-in (and Challenge!) post.

January 28, 2018

It’s been a night (and a day and a night) filled with lots of lovely reading, so I thought it would be a good time for a check-in post!

(Also, there’s a challenge that requires a bit of photo-posting, so what better place?)

First, the check-in:

24in48CheckIn

That snap was taken this morning, so I am actually 19 hours in, 3 challenges (plus the one to come here in a minute), and 6 check-ins.

I’ve read half of two books – John Green’s Turtles All the Way Down (which I thought I’d finish first) and a re-read of Fredrik Backman’s My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry; and all of three others – Pete Souza’s photo-memoir, Dream Big Dreams; Helene Hanff’s 84, Charing Cross Road; and Anna LeBaron’s The Polygamist’s Daughter. I guess this was one of those readathon’s when you read everything except what you thought you would. SQUIRREL!

In between all of the reading, I’ve done a lot of cheering online to keep my motivation up. I’ve also participated in a few more challenges than I usually do, which was another one of my goals for this go-round. Including this one: post a picture of the first and last books on your bookshelves. Keeping in mind that my shelves still aren’t reassembled from Christmas, when I move everything so I can show off the Christmas decorations, here’s what I currently going on right now:

firstandlast.jpg

My top shelf is filled with copies of my All-Time Favorite Reads. Harriet the Spy will always make that list, even if I do rather wish the copy I owned weren’t a movie tie-in. (Lesson: never, ever loan you “real” copy out to friends in a bid to make them read it. Buy loaner copies.) That shelf is pretty static. My last shelf, however, will change after I rearrange my shelves into their usual year-round selves. But right now, my last book is Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch. I’m half-tempted to dive into it now, because have you heard about the casting for the movie adaptation?! I am over-the-moon with excitement!

How is everyone else faring? We’re nearly to the finish line, keep your heads down in the books and your spirits up!

#24in48 Readathon Update: Hour 15.

January 27, 2018

I SURVIVED!

No, not the readathon – we’re not even halfway through with that yet. I survived a trip to the library while using my crutches! (I am serious about trying to get this Jones fracture to heal itself!) Not only that, the library police let me live to loan another day. Double score!

And wait til you see my haul!

LibraryHaul_20180127

So many awesome titles! It was one of those weird days when some books I’d been longing for – like Artemis by Andy Weir or 84, Charring Cross Road by Helene Hanff – were finally available, sitting there, just waiting for me. Others, like Search and Rescue and A World Without Whom I didn’t even know I needed.

But here’s the crown jewel, the one that nearly caused me to topple over, because I couldn’t carry it and crutch and carry a backpack filled with all my other books! But I managed. Truth be told, I would have crawled for this:

LibraryHaul2_20180127

That’s possibly the best library book I’ve ever lucked into!

And so now if you’ll excuse me…I’m gonna go try not to drool on it…

It’s here! It’s here! The #24in48 Read-a-thon, that is.

January 27, 2018

Anyone who has been around me knew exactly what I was shouting about at the first “It’s here!” I’ve been drowning everyone with my own excitement for the read-a-thon since I realized how miraculous the timing of the event was. I mean, I’m down for whatever reading challenge you have whenever you have it – yeah, yup, uh-huh, pretty accurate. But a reading event that challenges me to sit still and stay put with my broken foot propped up on a pile of pillows? And the angels did sing, you guys.

The #24in48 Read-a-thon is basically just what it sounds like: participants are asked to read in whatever fashion, at whatever speed, timed together however they want, with the ultimate goal of reaching a total of 24 hours read within the 48-hour parameters of the read-a-thon. The official kick-off happened last night at midnight and I was totally awake and ready for it! HUZZAH! I read for two hours and then decided around 2 a.m. that reminding myself to open my eyes every paragraph wasn’t the point of the game. I still had plenty of time (and I do!) to cross the finish line. Of course then this morning I slept in for the first time in weeks! I love sleeping, I do…I’ve just been terrible at it during the weekends. I pop awake at some ungodly hour and then…just can’t sleep. And so not that I wanted to be sleepless this morning, I was just sort of counting on using those hours towards my reading tally. But now I’m well-rested and ready to slay!
I won’t post every hour like I’ve attempted in the past, or even every few. I’ll make updates on Facebook and Twitter, and probably do an update post or two, so you’ve been warned! If anyone of you are participating, let me know! And if you have any good book recommendations, PLEASE chuck them at me! I’m always looking for the next book that’s going to knock my (bookish-themed) socks right off!
 

Alright. That’s enough jawin’. Time to get back to the books. Let’s do this!!

24in48Coffee

Five for Friday.

January 26, 2018

Friday: I could kiss you right on the mouth for showing up today. It’s been a pretty good week (did you notice I wrote three blog posts this week?!), but I’m still ready for the weekend! To usher it in, let’s find four or five things to talk about, shall we?

1. I’ll be missing my girls this weekend. With my broken foot, they’ve really stepped up to the plate: cooking me dinner; loading and unloading the dishwasher; doing laundry and putting away clothes; cleaning the house. Not to mention all of the fetching they’ve been doing for me. I’m supposed to stay off my foot if I want this low-chance miracle to happen, so something tells me there will be a lot of hopping around on crutches with the girlies gone.

2. Last night there was zero hopping. Of course the very first night of my new Broken Foot Game Plan there was a career fair that Bee-girl was All About. We walked around for more than an hour, but I was so glad we did! I mean – completely stoked kind of glad! This high school/trade school program will get Bee completely certified and trained so that she will be able to enter the work force at a high level as soon as she graduates. The teacher we talked to last night said there’s such a shortage right now of chefs in our area that they can almost guarantee jobs to their kids. The school even runs shuttle buses back and forth to home campuses so we won’t have to figure out how to get Bee there and back. It was so amazing and Bee’s face was so lit up that I am willing to sacrifice so much to make this happen. Why can’t this kid be in high school already?!

3. Gracie-girl, meanwhile, also had a pretty good day yesterday. Her instagram post about Australia Day was immediately liked by one of the pretty, pretty lifeguards from Bondi Beach Rescue, causing my teen to nearly hyperventilate. And then her choir class won the solfege spirit week competition, in part because of last-minute poster boards she made, and because of the flash mob she designed. Yes, flash mob. Several kids in the hall started with a we-love-solfege chant/hand-clap, and more and more joined in…or however she designed it. I don’t remember the details. But it was awesome and it won them some bragging rights, and so everyone was happy at my house last night. Win!

4. I am covered in hives on the right side of my belly and hip/waist area from one of the meds I was given. I am itchy as hell and waiting for my steroid and Benadryl to kick in. God bless medicine…although, wait – it’s the perpetrator. Damn you, medicine!!!

5. In an epic act of miraculous timing, this week is the 24-in-48 Readathon – have you signed up?? So I will be spending nearly all of my awake time reading, with my foot up. See how magical? I don’t really have anything picked out for it yet, other than finishing the new John Green. Oooh, and maybe the second Bear and Nightingale book that came out last month, because the first book was one of my favorite reads of last year! And my books are library-police level overdue, so I suppose I’ll bring those back and get new ones. That doesn’t sound like staying off my foot, but I promise to use my crutches! Also: the french fry place is conveniently next to the library. What a coincidence! But the point is reading, reading, and more reading – so if you have any good book recommendations, shoot them to me!

There you go, folks! We’re one step closer to the weekend. BRING IT!

Book reviews: Tournament of Books style

January 25, 2018

In my attempts to get my crazy whacked life back on track, I’m making more of an effort to blog every morning [Have you noticed? in, like, my two attempts?] and if you remember, Thursday was for books! The reading bug has bitten me once again (THANK YOU JEEBUS) so I have quite a few books to choose from. I’m sorry: I can’t review all 23 in one column.

The Tournament of Books finalists have been announced, and I’ve been reading like crazy so I could catch up with them. I had only read four (The Book of Joan; Exit West; The Idiot; and Lucky Boy), so I had a few to catch up on. Don’t worry – I’m on the case!

HomeFireHome Fire, by Kamila Shamsie (Riverhead, 2017, 276 pages, library loan). Okay, guys, I’m already cheating. Home Fire isn’t in the TOB, but it should be! This was my first read of 2018 and it was pure. fuel. Isma leaves her semi-grown younger siblings behind and immigrates to Amherst, Mass. where she’s attending college and learning from her mentor. But her younger sister won’t forgive her for abandoning them, and Isma’s brother has left to join ISIS. It’s an extraordinary novel about responsibility, the tug between self and family, about outside-in-the-world self and which parts we keep to ourselves. The pace keeps rocketing and the plot kept exploding – I seriously couldn’t put this down. Who doesn’t love reading one of your best reads of the year right off the bat? 4 of 5 stars.

DearCyborgsDear Cyborgs, by Eugene Lim (FSG Originals, 2017, 163 pages, e-loan). This book is a perfect example of why I love borrowing Kindle books from my library – and why I adore the library system to have such a wide selection. I was attracted to this story about two Asian boys, outcasts in a stereotypically small Midwestern town, who bond over comic books. Meanwhile, there’s an actual band of superheroes throwing down and discussing philosophy. It’s a book about resistance, evil, and what it means to live in, push again, and be the “bad guy” in a society that’s totally jacked up. Kind of like how we’re living now. The problem is that I never felt the warmth or connected with any of the characters. So while I clinically appreciated the aim of the book, I couldn’t get into the story at all. It just wasn’t for me. 2 of 5 stars.

SingUnburiedSingSing Unburied Sing, by Jesmyn Ward (Scribner, 2017, 285 pages, library loan). This is one of the contenders I would love to see win the TOB rooster. I mean, Jesmyn Ward, you guys! I would read her grocery list. Because you know it’s going to scour the earth with well-deserved social criticism and yell at us in a way like our grandma’s did, making us want to stand up straighter and be better. Uh…can you tell how much I love Unburied? It starts from the perspective of a teenage boy, Jojo, who has to care for his younger sibling because his mama is a crackhead and his daddy’s in jail. His grandparents are raising him, but they’re dying (and oh, that will crush your heart). So how does Jojo grow up? Why is everyone the way they are? The point-of-view changes throughout the book and while it was jarring because I wanted to stay with Jojo, Ward handled the voices carefully and wielding their words like arrows. Because of course she did. 5 of 5 stars, you guys – I ain’t playin’.

GoodbyeVitaminGoodbye, Vitamin, by Rachel Khong (Henry Holt & Co., 2017, 208 pages, library loan). That was a good library haul. I didn’t think I was going to like this story, but I got sucked. in. Ruth is a mess, contemplating mid-life with her failures (and few successes) as she moves in – temporarily, she swears – with her parents because her father is suffering from the not-so-beginnings of dementia. This was a hard book to read because so much of it struck raw nerves, with my mom’s dementia and the mess my life is in right now. But Khong’s sneaky ninja voice keeps you turning pages, needing to find out what happens next. She’s not flashy, but she is exactly what you need in that moment. And she perfectly GETS all of the complexities of so many real-life struggles. TW if you are dealing with a loved one with dementia, otherwise: read it! 4 of 5 stars.

PachinkoPachinko, by Min Jin Lee (Grand Central Publishing, 2017, 496 pages, e-loan). Ughhh, I hated this story. Everyone else raves about how amazing it is, but I just couldn’t stand any of the characters. Pachinko follows several generations of one Korean family, examining their choices in spite of what fate hands them. There’s a lot of shady hook-ups and farmings and business and talking about familial obligations. I just – you guys, no. I only finished it because I had to. 1 of 5 stars.

I hate to end on a bad note – and I have other books to rave about, but I’ll save them for next week. Although, oh dear, the 24-in-48 Readathon is this weekend, which means I’ll have a metric book-ton of books to tell you about next week, and…I’m never going to catch up, am I? Never fear – we shall try.

Have a good day, everyone! Send me your favorite reads!

Five for Friday.

January 12, 2018

It’s noon-time: what are you eating? Are you eating? I can goes days without wanting to eat, I mean, like everything sounds like it will taste like cardboard, and then all of a sudden I want to eat everything not nailed down. Last night was one of those glutton-fests. Today, I’m forcing myself to eat a cup of noodles.

I hope your lunch is tastier (and contains far less sodium) than mine.

Let’s see what other bits of randomness are floating around in my brain, shall we?

1. My foot. Oh my mother-flippin’ foot! I rolled my ankle this morning. So you’d think I’d be complaining about my ankle. But oh no. Somehow when I rolled my ankle, I fell off the curb, down to the ground, skinning my knees and everything. Somehow in the process, I think I snapped a bone on the side of the middle of my foot. It’s slightly bruised, very swollen, and it hurts to stand on it. I think it’s swollen even on the bottom of the foot. So that’s gonna be fun to monitor this weekend.

2. I can’t get it x-rayed tonight because I volunteered to help with All-City Choir auditions. So I’m spending two or three (or six) hours tonight at the middle school, doing heaven knows what, but I’m guessing it involves a lot of standing and shepherding teenagers around. FUNTIMES. I hope there’s fries for that.

3. After I survive the endtimes auditions, Gracie and some of her friends are sleeping over. I’m wicked excited that I get to steal my girl for another weekend (that’s why I volunteered to help at auditions: so I could see her, even for a little bit), but I’m a little leery of all the chaos that means will be happening at my house. Plus: no x-rays.

4. And tomorrow there will be no x-rays because after I shoo the teenagery peeps out of the house, I’m shlepping myself northward to visit the wonderful and gorgeously talented Andi! First we were going to meet up for shenanigans, but then she had to work. But I am good at co-working! So we are meeting up for responsible grown-up shenanigans. In other words, we’re going to write like motherfuckers. And maybe vlog about our bullet journals. Who knows! 2018 is fire and gasoline, baby! [I’m trying new slogans.] The idea of vlogging scares me, but I’m with friends who make me feel safe, so why not? We will burn the motherfather down with our awesomeness. And then we’ll get some more work done. Because we’re amazing.

5. I’m thinking of trying minimalism. I’m tire of my house looking like a firetrap. Like a closet of toys exploded all over it. Like the kids are running the asylum. On one hand, I don’t really care. On the other, I bet I’d feel a whole lot calmer if it were cleaner. So lets see what would happen if it were cleaner. And you know what would make it cleaner? Donating or trashing half the stuff in it. So Imma challenge myself: throw away (or donate) 50 things. Yes, you’ll see a post about this, just to keep me honest.

So there you go! Five thoughts. Five of many more I could keep tossing, but, hey – I have things to write. Great big things. Here I go…

Year-end Catch-Up Posts: Read Harder Challenge 2017

December 26, 2017

Morning, all! I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas! Our was filled to the brim with laughter and happy (and maybe a viewing of Stephen King’s IT), and so naturally today I’m feeling all of the productivity. So I thought why not use the day to catch-up on some posts – like letting everyone know how I did with my Read Harder Challenge?

At my last check-in, mid-year, I had nearly finished the challenge, but was bemoaning how I didn’t really want to read at all. The political sludge and general sense of doom and catastrophe was leeching my will to live or do anything enjoyable. I’m happy to say that while I might not have rediscovered (yet) a desire to blog every morning, but my ability to read on the daily came back to me, and I finished the year just slightly north of 200 books.

Still, even with my newly rediscovered joy for reading, it took a while for me to knock out the few remaining challenges. Still – that’s so much better than not crossing the finish line, which is really where I was worried I’d finish the year when I was assessing my lack of give-a-damn earlier this year.

Let’s peek at how things shook out for me. You might recall, too, that I add a personal spin to Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge and insist that each book must be by an author of color. I’m consciously trying to raise my overall percentage of AOCs – and I have, from 11% is 2014 to 44% this year. Challenges like this are one of the ways I make it happen. So, what did I read? I’m so glad you asked!

Read a book about sports: Sudden Death, by Alvara Enrigue. This was part of The Morning News’ Tournament of Books. Not my favorite book, but interesting debating it for the brackets.

Read a debut novel: The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas. Who hasn’t read this book this year? Goodreads reported it was the most searched for book this year. It’s also vying for my favorite read of the year.

Read a book about books: My Soul Looks Back, by Jessica Harris. I cheated a little – it’s about authors more than books, but meh meh meh…

Read a book set in Central or South America, written by a Central or South American authorFicciones, by Jorge Luis Borges. This was my first Borges. I’m not sure if it was because of the short story format, but I wasn’t terribly drawn to his style. I can see the genius; this collection just wasn’t for me.

Read a book by an immigrant or with a central immigration narrative: Lucky Boy, by Shanthi Sekaran. This book was heartbreaking. I have a lot of close friends who struggle with adoption issues and I cried through most of the novel.

Read an all-ages comic: March, by Rep. John Lewis. Rep. Lewis’s three volumes took turns circulating through all three members of my household. And then we bought copies to donate to the girls’ schools. Because yes.

Read a book published between 1900 and 1950: Passing, by Nella Larsen. This was a bit of a cheat – I’d read selections of the novel before, but never the entire thing. If you haven’t, you must. Just thinking about the injustice of racial discrimination and how far we haven’t come has me seeing red and I haven’t even had breakfast yet.

Read a travel memoir: An African in Greenland, by Tete-Michel Kpomassie.

Read a book you’ve read before: The Chaneysville Incident, by David Bradley. One of my favorite books of all time. I cringe at how misogynistic it is, but the brilliance of the storytelling sucks me in every time. And every time I read it, I want to call up my old professor and debate the ending.

Read a book that is 100 miles of your location: Monster Hunter International, by Larry Correia. This is a perfect example of reading outside my comfort zone. I never would have read this otherwise. Not my cuppa tea – I’m picky about crime books and I don’t do paranormal. But finding a book set in Dallas or close to it? Not gonna happen when you also impose filters of “AOC” and “Not previously read.”

Read a book that is set more than 5,000 miles from your location: The Association of Small Bombs, by Karan Mahajan. Another book up for Best of 2017, this one knocked me in all my feels. And that cover!

Read a fantasy novel: Version Control, by Dexter Palmer. This was another Tournament of Books book, otherwise I would have ditched. I’m not much into fantasy, but I couldn’t deny it was well done. Just not my wheelhouse.

Read a nonfiction book about technology: Hidden Figures, by Margot Lee Shetterly. Now this I could read all day long! The girls got the movie for Christmas and I can’t wait to see if it’s as good as the book!

Read a book about war: American War, by Omar El Akkad. This has interesting an apocalyptic, fantasy spin, but the pacing was broken up and hard to follow at times.

Read a YA or middle grade novel by an author who identifies as LGBTQ+: The Inexplicable Logic of my Life, by Benjamin Allire Saenz. I read two books by Saenz after discovering him this year. That’s what this challenge is all about, isn’t it? Finding new-to-us books and authors who become favorites?

Read a book that has been banned or frequently challenged in your country: This One Summer, by Mariko Tamaki and Jill Tamaki. My daughter read this after I did (she’s a sucker for graphic novels) and she and I were both gobsmacked that this could be challenged. Then we had a great talk about sexuality and how perception of it has changed from when I was a kid to now.

Read a classic by an author of color: Amiable with Big Teeth, by Claude McKay. I wasn’t a big fan, but I recognize the giant contribution of Mr. McKay to his field. I much prefer his poetry.

Read a superhero comic with a female lead: Rani Patel in Full Effect, by Sonia Patel. I make my own definitions of what is and isn’t a superhero. An outsider, a woman, who steps up and finds her voice? Superhero.

Read a book in which a character of color goes on a spiritual journey: When Dimple Met Rishi, by Sandhya Menon. It’s a matter of time before this book becomes a movie and I am HERE for that!

Read an LGBTQ+ romance novel: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Universe, by Benjamine Allire Saenz. The second of his novels I read, and my favorite of them. I get all the hype – it’s deserved.

Read a book published by a micropress: Fish in Exile, by Vi Khi Nao. Not my favorite voice, but I wanted to read more Asian authors, something I need to do more of.

Read a collection of stories by a woman: Speak Gigantular, by Irenosen Okojie. A quick read, but powerful, filled with jabs and uppercuts.

Read a collection of poetry in translation on a theme other than love: Milk & Honey, by Rupi Kaur. Pretty much my favorite poet at the moment. I will read anything she writes.

Read a book wherein all point-of-view characters are people of color: The Sun Is Also a Star, by Nicola Yoon. This is a bit of a stretch. At no point in the novel does the text explicitly state every character is “of color”, but at no point are their clues, context, or straight-up evidence that they aren’t, either. So, by default, I’m saying they are. And who’s to say otherwise?

So there you go! Another reading challenge smashed! I can’t wait to jump in and challenge myself to read bigger and better in 2018. If you’d like to play along, Book Riot already has their Read Harder challenge for next year up and running. I can’t wait to plot out what I’ll read!