Archive for the ‘What did I get myself into?’ Category

Losing heart: don’t do it, don’t you dare!

June 24, 2021

I was so taken aback, my jaw dropped. Just me? Has any of you ever found this kind of fortune in your Chinese take-out?

losing heart

Losing heart. What the hell?! Who gets a fortune like that? First of all, that’s not even a complete sentence. Secondly, …okay, I’m sorry, I’m back to what the hell?! again. It hits a little close to home.

I’m trying to remember that no matter how many times I have to climb the mountain in front of me, it’s going to stand there until I get past it. It’s my mountain, and it’s just my luck. Some people have their houses burn down. Some people lose their children, or lose parents at an impossibly early age. There are so many different kinds of trauma or hardship.

My mountain is my mountain. Sometimes it’s easier, sometimes it isn’t.

Don’t lose heart, Katie-girl. You can do this.

The girl went over the mountain…

June 14, 2021

It’s rainy together. Rainy and miserable. And to be honest: it’s kind of put me in a funk.

To be more honest, I started out having a bit of a Jonah day. I have some custody stuff that bubbled up over the weekend, and…. I keep making hard decisions and tough choices and wondering when the terrible, awful, no-good, very bad hurdles will stop showing up. I’m doing my best to build myself back up, but at some point… Man.

So! Because I’m having a bit of a moment, a bit of a day, I decided to post something that I did this week. Another thing that made me feel deep happiness: I reached the top of Mount Wachusett.

There are a ton of hiking trails, all of which I want to crawl into, and explore, and see wildlife. They’re the kind of trails that make me want to sing Girl Scout songs at the top of my voice. (But that would scare the wildlife and the hikers.) So I haven’t. Yet.

The pictures don’t do it justice; the views are phenomenal, even in all the haze. There are helpful signs at the top of the firepost-climby-tower thing. They show you which mountains are which, and where they’re located. Did you know that you can see Mt. Snow in Vermont? Or mountains and ridges in New Hampshire? Obviously you can see Mt. Manadnock. That bit that’s circled red in the picture? You can’t make it out as well as in person, but that’s the Boston skyline! It’s stunning!

I can make it over the mountain. I know, sometimes, that it seems like asking for help and getting things in order creates more of a problem that never seems to end. But this is the life I’m meant to be living, and if there’s a mountain in my way? Well, then there’s a mountain in my way. It only holds the power that you give it and allow it to have.

So I’m going to be sad if I need to be sad. But I’m also going to remember that I can go back to that mountain top at any time and remember that I can do it.

I can do it.

….the girl went over the mountain, because that’s what was next.

This is the song that never ends…

May 28, 2021

…yes it goes on and on, my friend! Some people, started singing it not knowing what it was, and they’ll continue singing it forever just because this is the song that never ends…

Yes. Well. This, except with my posts. How many times have I pledged that I was going to pick up the blog and run with it again? Last night optimism, I suppose.

But here’s the thing: I think I need some sort of touchpoint while I find my way in my new (old) stomping grounds. I write blog posts in my head nearly every day. So why not just…write them down?

As I’m interviewing for job after job, and applying for about a hundred zillion times more than I’m called in for, I keep myself busy. I’ve written two 350+ page novels; plucked away at my memoirs; dissected my life with my girls, and tried not to think too much about them because my heart weighs 6,000 pounds when I do; created 100 versions of my resume; and adventured.

I should clarify: adventuring here – my adventuring, at least – is rather mild. It consists of venturing out into the sunlight at least once daily, so I don’t get stuck in the comfy and familiar nest I’ve made for myself in my room, and tried to find at least one fun or odd or picture-worthy something out in Woo or the surrounding towns.

Since I’m just back in town, there is roughly a billion-gazillion choices for me. I can’t decide what I love more: when I stumble across something nostalgic and preternaturally magical, or when I find something new that I didn’t know existed.

Whichever it is, that’s when I start writing the blog post in my head. (For the record, you’ve all loved hearing about everything I’ve found and pointed out. I have a dazzling track record and a dizzying intellect, if I do say so.)

And so, dear bloggy audience, I’ve picked up my pen again to actually reach out, to try to satisfy the gremlins in my brain who are begging me to scratch their itch. It’d help if they told me how to solve that problem, but I’m hoping this will do it for now.

If you’re familiar with the area and have suggestions for my travels, or pictures you’d love for me to post, go ahead and yell out your answers – no need to raise your hands.

Thank you for sticking with me as I re-combobulate my life. It’s a difficult task at 40, but sitting and crying in limbo waiting for the Universe to fix it doesn’t seem to be working. Time for me to carve out a little life for myself. That answer was the same at 21 when I moved cross-country and gambled on this random dude I found in a chat room on the internet; the same at 25 when I found myself married for less than a year and pregnant (with the first love of my life); 30-something when I found myself single and mom to two loves of my life; 40 when I asked for help climbing out the hole I found myself in; and 40-something when asking for help backfired, leaving me with…

…Well, with a sense of adventure.

I don’t know what I’m going to call my blog, but it turns out that you CAN get there from here, but it’s a hell of a worm-hole and I don’t know that I’d recommend it.

I’m still gonna keep walking towards that place I had in my mind all those years away from family and home. And apparently getting there right now includes day trips and fun pictures of home.

I’m clicking my heels together three times…. There’s no place like home. Because home has all these weird places and stories you get to brag about…

Is there a patron saint of job searches?

February 23, 2021

It’s been a tough week. I miss my girls. I miss them in ways I can’t even enumerate. So I keep busy. I keep busy by doing crazy things like applying to every job that looks like I might be even remotely interested. Working on my book. Driving for hours around the city, letting familiar sites and haunts soothe me. Visiting my Mum every chance I get.

And you know me – whenever I’m doing something social like, say, visiting my Mum, I talk.

I talk and talk and talk and talk. And when I’m not talking, I’m making offhand comments. Ha! Tricked you! Because, still: talking. But this one time, it may have paid off.

See what happened was, I was visiting my Mum like I said, The home where she’s staying was nice enough to re-open for limited family visitation. Strict guidelines must be followed, such as guests being escorted out by staff members. I was walking out with one of the very nice ladies, who asked if I was Mum’s daughter from Texas. (Not how I like to be known, but I have to admit that it’s a distinctive qualifier.) After I admitted that I was, she asked if the move was permanent. I thought of my girls and god it was surprisingly hard to say that it was, but I admitted that too.

“Yes! I’m home full-time, just enjoying being here again and looking for a job. So if you know of any….” I couldn’t help but joke.

And that was it – that was the little off-hand comment, one of hundreds of funny little jokes I make that my daughters would make my daughters cringe, and make me laugh at myself; but this time I was surprised by the answer.

“You wanna work here?” my escort was quick to retort. “We’re looking for someone in activities.”

“Sure!” I answered even faster.

This time there was half a beat. “Are you serious?” Half joking, half amazed as I was at how quickly this conversation had turned.

“Are you?” I retorted, delighted.

It turns out that yes, yes she was. It may be nothing, dear readers, but I’m keeping fingers, toes, and curls all crossed that this leads somewhere. I may be crazy to entertain the idea of spending all day repeating myself, distributing bingo dobbers, convincing cranky dodgers and crazy old broads (whom I aspire to be) to join in the fun, and it won’t be half as glamorous as the resort in Dirty Dancing – hey!, do you think they’ll let me teach dancing and have after-hours staff-raves? Do you think I’ll meet a cute son of a resident and let him carry a watermelon? – but somehow it feels like the Next Right Thing that the Universe and God are putting in my way.

So if you’ll say a quick prayer to the Patron Saint of Job Searches that this works out in the best way, I think I’m gonna double down and throw my hat in the ring. Exciting news (hopefully) to follow!

Five for Friday.

February 12, 2021

It’s Friday! Wait; Is it Friday? I think it’s Friday. Somebody check for me! Friday! Yes. We’re pretty sure. One of a gazillion reasons I need a grown-up job with grown-up responsibilities: a grown-up Monday-to-Friday schedule.

And you know what Friday means? Five for Friday posts! I am ridiculously excited about my “Five for Fridays” posts. Just five random thoughts that may or may not have been big enough for their own space. So here we go!

  1. One of the toughest things about being “home” again – “home” being in the house where I grew up, and where my brother and father live – and my baby sister temporarily moved home at the end of August because of a COVID eviction, so her too – is not so much that I’m in a house filled with people; it’s that we’re all on different schedules. Like I said, the number of people doesn’t faze me, because I’ve always lived in a small house with a big family, with scores of people always underfoot. It actually makes me feel more comfortable. Homier. But my dad goes to bed at 7 or 8 p.m. He has insomnia like me, god bless. So he tries to follow a strict sleep schedule. So I’m very conscious of this, especially because I have the insomnia issue he was kind enough to pass along to me. Le sigh. My brother, whom I affectionately call the Grown-Up In Residence, also carries the Insomnia Gene, but he just rolls with it. He’s been laid off for more than a year, but has been the one taking care of my father, and also my mother when she was still living at home. He’s been sleeping on the couch so he can hear if my father falls during teh night. That’s why it’s “easy” that I take over his room upstairs. Joe stays up til midnight. 1a. 2a. Somewhere in there. So I know any accidental bumps coming from my room isn’t going to bother him, but I do know that despite fitting into most of the stereotypical “guy” attributes, he is very sensitive to sounds that might disturb my father. Because then he has to listen to it all the next day. Heh. So our house “shuts down” every night, ridiculously early,, at 8p. It sounds simple, doesn’t it? Unpleasant, but straight-forward. No phone calls after 8p if I can help it, because the house was built in the late 1800s, so the insulation is laughable. You can hear a conversation on different levels and across the house better than you can in if the person was in the same room! And then the bathroom situation is…
  2. Okay, the bathroom. How many of you have lived in a house with multiple people – grown-up, actual people, not childrens – and only one bathroom. I know it’s not that uncommon the city, in older housing.Mostly I feel bad because I’m not the only one with sleeping problems. And when you hear more than one person tramping up and down the stairs at night – over and next to your bedroom, that can’t help. But! It does help your mindfulness, and when you’re lying very, very still in the morning
    listening for your sister to come out of the bathroom, it’s a good time for morning reflections and prayers.
  3. I don’t want to spend a lot of money on my* room here at my dad’s house, but a happier heart is going to keep me from falling into a deep depression. And to be honest, given the situation with my daughters, who are never out of my mind, I’m teetering, and have been So I want to do what I can’t to keep me right side up. Cheering up the room might fall into that category.

    Here’s how it looks now…

    I’m thinking maybe something mandala-y? Definitely something cheerful and happy. Warm tones. But I don’t want spend too much. My girls bought some tapestries at the old house. Gracie asked for some for Christmas, and helped pick some out for Santa. Bee was – IS – the queen of finding the cheapest sales online and avoiding scams. So I crossed my fingers and asked them for help. Sometimes I don’t get a response because: teenagers. Sometimes they don’t answer because…well. That’s a different story, and a sad one, and I don’t know how to fix it. But! I did get a quick answer about the tapestries and I’m trying to decide. So hit me up with suggestions!
  4. My head is a mess. Yes, that’s the most succinct description of me anyone has said in the history of psychoanalysis. In this week’s episode of WTF, Katie?!, we’re looking at why in the world I can’t seem to get it through my head that I don’t need to do timezone math anymore. I know – laugh all you want. It’s the silliest of little things wrong with me. I’ve been tethered to my best friend Corrie since we met. You know, 15 years ago. She’s been a huge part of keeping me sane through the move. And before the move. And every day even when nothing was going on. You get the picture. And sadly, I haven’t been able to deploy my Kidnap Corrie To Keep Her Happy, With me, And All of Sane because of the craptastic weather we’re experiencing not only in the north (expected), but in the deep south of Texas. We’re they’re getting six inches of snow. Because I’m gone!I Sheesh.What a slap in the face! “Dear Weather Gods, can I please have some snow? No? Oh, but now that I’m officially moved out, now Texas is getting snow? Oh. Okay. Just checking.” !!?!>#$#()_!!! For the love of Pete! But! Getting back to the tiniest of little points that I had, an entire paragraph ago, when I talktext Corrie, it’s still an hour behind. Cool, cool. But then when I go to talk to any of my aunts, the nursing home, my friend Juls, or really anyone else, I don’t need to do any math! NO MATH! I hate math! Why would I try to layer in any unnecessary math?! Insanity, I tell you. SOMEone please get that through my head.
  5. COVID. COVID COVID COVID. Please. You really need to stop now. Because now that I’m all up here in my cozy, cozy homeland, having completed this rather insane and intense cross-country drive all by myself, with a carload of shtuff… And now that I’ve unpacked that carload of shtuff and gotten myself as settled as can be for now… the distractions are wearing off and I really, really need to visit with my family, now that I’ve driven 1500+ miles to be with them. The people of Massachusetts are taking this “hunker down” direction seriously. As we should! But I would like to see my aunts and uncles, now that they’re across the city. And I’d love to be able to hang out with my cousins. Maybe a rowdy card game with everyone all at once? Tough to pull off, but I don’t mind being the details girl and organize it, if COVID WOULD JUST GO AWAY! Ahem.

And that is pretty much where my headspace is on this fine COVIDy Friday night. LOL And what are YOU all up to? Whatever it is, I hope it’s something that leaves you in better shape to be ready for bed when the time comes. No more 4a visits from Father Sleep. Or panicked 12:30p wake-ups the next day. But it’s fine. It’s FINE! Because it’s Friday. And after Friday, comes Saturday. God bless.

And good night!

*my brother’s

Finding your way back.

February 4, 2021

And so it was, that after one rescue plan after another petered out, our heroine finally admitted to herself that perhaps it was time to admit that her twenty-year Texas experiment was over.

She’s not against returning again; if God decides she needs to be there, who is she to try to stand in Her way again?

But, for now, our heroine is back where her story began. Back where she always said she would return. Back home.

Home, with her future lying wide open in front of her – waiting for her to start getting to it already!

Yep, sounds about right. Sounds about right for me.

The real reveal: Bee’s bedroom renovation!

June 18, 2019

Bee has been waiting such a long time for this moment. It crushed my mama’s heart every time Bee asked, and explained logically why she “deserved” a room renovation, and then I had to tell her we couldn’t do it right then, because I didn’t have the money. Saving up, pennies here and there, and finally being able to say “YES!” was one of my happiest moments as a mom.

Seriously. Bee worked hard. She was patient while she waited for funding to come through. She worked to keep her room clean for an entire month before I would commit to a renovation. I wasn’t spending all of that money and carrying out all of that work and have her entire wardrobe on the floor, mixed in with the contents of her closet. Not the look I was going for.

Finally, she worked hard with me to empty her room, bagging clothes that didn’t fit, and donating toys she has outgrown. She (and I) worked hard to get to this: a completely empty bedroom:

I shampooed and steam-cleaned that rug twice; even got out a pretty large paint stain that little Miss Craft Girl didn’t want to confess to Mom. Thank goodness I’m magic!

While that was drying, the girls and I unloaded 23,942 boxes from the back of the car, and IKEA delivered the other 6 huge boxes that contained the bed. My living room looked like a cardboard box city!

For an entire week, it was me and an allen wrench against the world. No joke – Bee’s loft bed nearly killed me. I could lean one side against one wall, but then I had to get the big I beam from the loft to screw into a particular place on the other side piece. The VERY HEAVY side piece. And nothing was working the easy way. So it only took me four hours. Doesn’t every first step of building a bed end at 2 a.m.?? But I did it. And thankfully, Gracie was soooo into helping me and arranging the room that she put together a lot of the bed after I got the frame hooked up. Finally, between the two of us, we had Bee’s loft bed all put together!

My favorite part is that the bed actually fits in the space. It ends just before the window. [Bee-Tween didn’t understand why I wouldn’t let her bed block the window, or why a second exit from a room was important. I was afraid she was just asking the universe to send a fire in her room. Geez!] The space at the top is a little tight, but as long as the ceiling fan isn’t on, it’s fine. It really only overlaps by three or four inches, but its enough that the person up there could sit up and get their head whacked.

I wish I had a picture of Bee’s mattress going up – I even thought to have Gracie help me put on the mattress protector and the fitted sheet before we hoisted it. Good god – that nearly killed us too. Why are bedroom sets so deadly??!! Golly! We added sheets, her white comforter. Bee was set for the night and so! excited! It was really happening! Wish I had a picture of THAT, too!

The next day while Bee and Gracie were at their dad’s, I rushed to put together the drawers, the bookcase, and attach the two legs to the desk top. Bee had texted me and said she knew my back was bad, and if I had just done the drawers, she would help with one more thing when she got home that night. She didn’t know I was nearly done! I raced to finish the rolly-chair. I staged everything, added the fancy light and the iPhone holder. I anchored the extension cords with velcro strips. I plugged in the longest iPhone charger cord I have ever seen – Bee would definite be able to plug her phone in while she was up in bed. I anchored the mirror in the wall (using my new drill! yay!), and added a few things on the bookcase as a final touch.

My heart – when Bee came in and saw that I had finished her space….! I can’t even describe the happy that was swirling all over my crazy, fantastic, beloved daughter.

 

Wait – there’s one more bit! As kind of a check-in a few weeks (or just a week) after Bee’s bed/desk/office space was finished, just like they do on the home renovation shows, Bee and I looked at what we had done, and decided to add one more piece: she needed somewhere besides her closet to keep her clothes. The bureau she had didn’t match her aesthetic, so she nixed that. Bee decided to use the cubbies she had in her room before, I found some new fabric drawers that would match, and voila! The last perfect piece for Bee’s Magical Renovated Bedroom. You can see her new hamper, the perfect place for her full length mirror, and her body pillow that serves as seating. It’s all perfectly Bee!

Cubbies

Enjoy, Bee-girl. Love you with all my heart…love the way you fight for your funky little differences – like this alterna-drawers for clothes.

Keep being you!

When Bee-Girl got her room back.

June 13, 2019

You guys remember How Stella Got her Groove Back? That movie was a Moment for me. I was in junior high and seeing women empowered like that, encouraged to feel their feelings and act on them, to be who they really were and get other people to really see them – that was formulative. Discovering Terry McMillan right after that further fueled those feelings, and that Moment that my girlfriends and I had then turned into a Movement. It changed how we saw and interacted with the world.

Now I want you to tuck that bit of insight away, but not too far away.

Bee-girl is having a moment. She’s moving on up from Bee-Tween to a marvelous, majestic, empowered teen. [One who seems to be resisting a nickname, but that’s another story.] You know how she is.

She’s been planning and scheming her room renovation for more than two years. It was a fun distraction at first – measuring the room, picking out what kind of furniture she’d want, blackout curtains, colors, and whatnot.

Then her room became something more. Gracie got a room “renovation” a few years ago because she moved out of the girls’ shared room and we needed to actually build her a room in the former guest/craft room. [Great googly-moogly – I love our set-up now, but gawd I miss that space!] Two Christmases ago, two pivotal things happened that twisted Bee into knots. One: the new bed. Auntie Kim bought a new bed for that room because she visited a lot and that was her bed when she was here. (Gracie got bumped into the spare bed in Bee’s room.) Auntie Kim paid for the bed frame, which Gracie picked out with only a few vetoes; I paid for the super-awesome memory foam mattress that I kind of wanted to steal. Heh. The bed was one thing; the other was the new paint. Gracie had been begging to paint her room a different color, now that the room was hers. So Auntie Kim gave her a gallon of paint for Christmas. The accent wall is now peacock blue, and it’s lovely!

But it was also super-problematic.

Those two purchases made it seem like Gracie got a second room renovation. Bee hated her room – she felt it didn’t represent her style, her personality, everything was hand-me-down. She felt less-than. Two renovations less-than, in fact. And because sometimes life is difficult, and sometimes those twists and turns happen at the worst possible time, Bee didn’t get her promised room renovation for quite a while. I promised her $500 for her budget – the problem was finding time when we could afford that bit of luxury.

Finally, about a month ago, I finally saved enough to turn all of Bee’s schemes and Pinterest pins and mad-hattery ideas into motion. The sparkle on her face when I said Yes was one of Those Moments that you stockpile as a parent. A moment you’ll call up in the hard times to shore up your spirits. A moment when you and your daughter sincerely understand each other’s point-of-view. God bless therapy. And patience.

And, of course, IKEA.

I have so many pictures and stories to show you! The desk. The mirror. A rug. Curtains. A new drill and drywall patching kit to make curtains possible! Heh. An interesting wardrobe solution. More allen wrenches than this world really needs. And the bed. Oh heavens and stars, Bee has been searching the world over for the loft bed she had created in her mind. Thank you jeebus she found it! I just had to make it fit in her tiny, tiny room of dreams.

It’s glorious!

But this part is really my favorite part. This story about why Bee’s new bedroom was so meaningful. How she had transferred a lot of feelings into this idea, but then how she used her power to communicate that to me, and worked with me to make it happen. I’m really proud of Bee for doing that! Almost-13-year-olds rock pretty ducking hard, I’ll tell you what.

Bee-tween got her groove back. Just wait til you see!

Bee-tween

Read Harder 2019: Check-in Post.

May 30, 2019

On Thursdays, I write about books! If you guessed today is Thursday, well…I really hope you’re correct because I’m writing about books anyway.

I thought I’d do a check-in on my progress for the Read Harder 2019 challenge. For those playing along, you know the good people at BookRiot (Hello, Rachel – you’re lovely!) put together these challenges to encourage us to read outside our comfort zones. As such, if you need to tweak a prompt – go ahead and do it! If you’re not sure what it means, and want to interpret it a different way, or your way, or however which way – go ahead and do it! The world will not tilt off it’s access if you go a bit wobbly on one. I promise.

All right! Let’s dive in:

An epistolary novel or collection of letters: I was planning on reading Barack Obama’s Of Thee I Sing, a letter to his daughters. But then I tripped over a similar book, David Chariandy’s I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You, a letter to his daughter about parent-kid wishes for who and how they’ll be, but also about what it means to grow up different in today’s world. Chariandy gorgeously balances infusing hope, happy, and stardust in with the warnings, tips, and survival tactics. But the happy outlives the woe. Reach for the Better. 5 of 5 stars.

An alternate history novel. I chose Dread Nationby Justina Ireland. Fantasy, alternate realities, anything Kindred-esque and I’m a brick wall. Not my strength, you guys. Fortunately I have a little black book stuffed with books I’ve heard about here and there. And one of them was Dread Nation. It’s a book about a slightly apocalyptic world, walking dead, you know – white people end of the world crap. And where young people elect to go to  training centers in Washington, D.C. instead of university. They learn to fight, defend – basic survival tactics. Picture Hunger Games, but with dreads, and zombies. Ha, ha! It’s the first in a series if it’s your bag. It was a fun romp, difference in a sea of sameness, but still not for me. 3 of 5 stars.

A book by a woman and/or AOC that won a literary award in 2018. I think everyone here knows, but in case they don’t – all of the books for my challenge are written by an  AOC. About half of what I read is written by an AOC. It takes a little more effort to find the books because publishing companies suck, but it’s definitely doable. And enjoyable. This was a fun category because it felt like a freebie. Still, I chose My Sister, the Serial Killer, by Oyinkan Braithwaite. MStSK was SUCH a fun book to peel back, layer by layer. There was the on-top discussion of sisters and hos-before-bros and what not. A YA blockbuster. Then you dig deeper and wonder if it’s not a toxic, dare I say symbiotic relationship. Soooo many things to discuss! But I don’t want to give any of it away. DM me when you’re ready to talk! 4 of 5 stars.

A humor book. I have to admit, dear readers – I have no plans for this category. Wait, wait, wait – that’s not quite true. I have a plan, I just don’t have a book. My plan is to go back through the Goodreads Awards selections for the past few years, and I’m sure to find one or two.

A book by a journalist about journalism. This one I thought would be a tricky. Tricky!, but enjoyable. Surprisingly, I found a book rather quickly. At the library, months ago, I stumbled across How I Resist: Activism and Hope for the Next Generation. And while Maureen Johnson, a white woman, is listed as primary author, the collection is co-authored by: Jacqueline Woodson,  Malinda Lo, Sabaa Tahir, and others. The essays are short, but powerful. Quick jabs of hope! Undercuts of joy! Their words implore us to write our way out of this prison! Vote our allies into office! USE YOUR VOICES! Yes!! 5 of 5 stars.

A book by an AOC set in or about space. I am straight-up stumped here. If you guys have any suggestions.

An #OwnVoices book set in Mexico or Central America. My choice, The House of Broken Angels, is narrated by Angel, the patriarch who grew up in Mexico, and moved his family from Mexico to Southern California. Angel is dying and he often thinks back to his Mexico, the place where he grew up. Yeah, it’s a bit of a stretch to fit it in this category. But I loved this book with all my heart. It’s a modern classic, and I’m still upset it didn’t win the Tournament of Books! 4 1/2 of 5 stars.

An #OwnVoices book set in Oceania. This book popped into my mind as soon as I heard the category. Isn’t it funny how some books just do that? America Is Not the Heart, by Elaine Castillo. Another Tournament of Books entry, another protagonist, Hero, who grew up some where else (this time in a very violent Philippines), and then she came to America, because she was running out of lives to shed, and everyone, EVERYONE said America was the answer. Guess what her #ownvoice said?  Plot was great, but the story – it was too structureless for me. I had to do all the heavy lifting and I just couldn’t right then. 2 of 5 stars, but that just might be me.

A book published prior to Jan. 1, 2019, written by and/or translated by a woman. Ohhhh. This book! Andres Barba’s Such Small Hands. Translated by Lisa Dillman (check), and published in 2017 (check,check). Although I “cheated” a little because the book is written by an AOC, so the fact that the translator isn’t, is okay. And really, really is okay. Because: The book is billed as Shirley Jackson meets Virgin Suicides – and it lives up to the hype! It’s short, just 105 pages, so you can knock it out in a sitting. But be prepared to be chewing it for quite. a. long. time. 4 of 5 stars.

A book of manga. I don’t imagine this will be difficult to find; it’s just not a category I’m racing to prioritize

A book in which an animal or inanimate object is a point-of-view character. This is a GREAT category, and I can’t wait to see the selections, but I’m still looking at the moment.

A book about someone who identifies as neurodiverse: Again, GREAT category! Slaying it with stretching readers minds! I haven’t worked on this one yet, but I am so looking forward to the adventures of finding something! What have you guys read?

A cozy mystery. I hopped across the globe and tried Journey Under the Midnight Sun, by Keigo Higashimo. To be honest – and I feel a little ashamed confessing this – because I was unused to this cultures naming schemes, I had to use note cards to keep track of who was who. I felt like when I was reading Russian literature in high school, or that summer I binged Downton Abbey. Once I got past that part, the story was a straight up mystery, just like you order them. I like ’em enough to read them when they come my way, but don’t keep up with the latest. So take my taste into account here: 3 of 5 stars.

A book about mythology or folklore. I was going to use Call Me Zebra because the protag – who we never learn the name of – creates her own mythology. She thinks she’s a god and tramples all over the world to prove it. But there’s also Marlon James’s The Night Woman, a POWERFUL novel that explores the suffering slavery imposed. But from that pain, or maybe because of it, Lilith has this power, a reckoning kind of power, and Lilith taps into this mantle of connection, the African-American experience from the first ship of slaves, straight through to the last. There’s collective memory, explored like this in Beloved. But Lilith got it. No one can take it. And she can’t shake it. Oof. 5 of 5 stars. Wow.

An historical romance by an AOC. If you’re fulfilling the challenges in list order (I’m not), this is a soft, squishy place to land after the brainful of the mythology challenge. And you know what? I’m stretching the rules here, too. I haven’t ready it yet, but right now I’m planning on reaching A Bollywood Affair, by Sonali Dev. She’s a great write, and what I love is that this Bollywood romance series, you can pick up any book and just GO! if you want to. There are so few authors who do that any more. I can’t wait to sink into this book. There are so few romance authors who write for smart people., ya know?

A business book. Oh, this one I have no idea who I’m about to read, or about what. I’ll go and find it – unless you want to throw one my way?

A novel written by a trans or non-binary author. I’m going to sink my teeth into the YA thriller, The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore, by Kim Fu. I don’t know much about them, but I did a bit of research when I was trying to pick something, and everything I find out is YAAAAAASSS!!! And the first chapter of the book flew by fast! I can’t wait for the rest!

A book written in prison. I’m up for some suggestions, but right now it’s looking like Prison Letters, by Nelson Mandella, might be the winner.

A comic by an LGBTQIA creator. You all know my reading proclivities, and comics really aren’t on there. But read them I shall! for that is the point of this adventure!

A children’s or middle grade (not YA) that has won a diversity award since 2009. I just recently had the pleasure of reading One Half from the East, by Nadia Hashimi. I’ve read several (if not all) of Hashimi’s work. It’s solid, but I was waiting for this – the emotions broil over in this story and you feeeeeeel the characters! The youngest girl, Obeyda, longs to be a boy so she can climb trees, play in the dirt, be outside the house even! So she becomes Obeyd: a bach posh. “She’s” allowed to be a “he” and have all the freedoms a boy would. Hashimi finally climbed up into her own, as well.   4 of 5 stars.

A self-published book. Getting your book notices isn’t easy sometimes. Just because a book is self-published – isn’t that assigned the same label and “expectations” we’re trying to undo? I read After Disasters by Viet Dinh, surprising no one who knows me. It’s a compelling story about five different stories, five differing protagonists trying to help after the disaster, but also trying to repair the hurts in their own lives. 3 of 5 stars.

A collection of poetry published since 2014. Poetry also isn’t really my thing. Just like short stories aren’t; you can tell me more! explore the back stories! Luckily for me, I happened across Lin-Manuel’s collection of G’mornin’! G’night!:Little Pep Talks for You and Me that was brilliantly illustrated by Jonny Sun. I felt like I was reading Shel Silverstein, but for “grown-ups” – whatever those are. 5 of 5 pepped up stars.

That’s it from me, twinkletoes! Send me recommendations and send me on grand adventures!

Is that a sunburn or the plague?

May 28, 2019

This is turning into the semester I couldn’t do anything right – including sunburn, apparently. Did you all have a wondering Memorial Day weekend? Did you stuff yourself with hotdogs and hamburgers, macaroni salad, and grilled peaches? (YUM!)

Predictably, I also stuffed myself with a bunch of great books [eight books this weekend! Chipping away at the gap, I am]. And for one of them, I even took myself outside, soaking in some vitamin C.

Except…Vitamin C won this round of Slapjack. With me being Jack, apparently.

My sunburn isn’t even that bad! I was only outside for an hour before I finished that book [a re-read of Bachman’s The Long Walk], and came inside to switch out my book, but then stayed for the air conditioning. All of that is to say, my burn is from only an hour of sun exposure. And while I’ve always been fair-skinned and prone to burn easier, SPF 60 usually takes care of me for at least an hour or two.

The photos aren’t going to do it justice, but here – look:

It’s not even that my burn is that terrible – it hurts, sure, and way worse than it should hurt. I’m more squicked out by the fact that it’s less of a burn than an…attack of some sort.

No! I know that sounds crazy! but LOOK! It’s not a consistent blanket of burn. My chest looks the most like that typical(ish) sort of burn. But the rest of me! It looks like the sun was a mosquito and it attacked the shit out of me! My legs aren’t even uniformly attacked! My right leg has way more splotches than the left one. But my left side was the side turned towards the sun. It’s not even because it was sun-ward. And I have no idea why the right side would be 10x the severity of the left side.

So what’s going on? Anyone have a clue? Right now I’m going under the assumption that I’m allergic somehow, and so I’ll sit indoors as much as I can, and then sneak outside under a giant beach hat and…a…trench coat, or something.

But really, I have no idea what’s going on. I’m just going to add “Can’t sunburn correctly” under my 2019 column. The year is nuts, you guys. For real.