#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!

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#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!

A tale of two girls.

January 23, 2018

You may have heard: I broke my foot.

With significant (snort) injuries such as these, the best you can do is follow the doctor’s orders, wear das boot when you must go out, elevate, ice, and rest, rest, rest. (Even if your heart wants to run, run, run.)

It helps when your girls are kinda, sorta really frickin’ awesome and do so much for you that you break down in tears a time or two. The teen and tween years might break me, but in between the moments (and LAWD do we have moments), there are times when your thirteen-year-old empties, fills, and empties the dishwasher unasked, and surprises you by cleaning out and completely reorganizing the walk-in pantry. And your eleven-year-old, she does washes, dries, folds, and distributes five loads of laundry over the course of a weekend.

With all of that unprompted work, you know there had to be a little rest involved. Doctor’s orders, remember?

Here’s where my girlie-girls diverged on the path in the yellow wood.

Gracie-girl and I…well…we may or may not have watched coughcough:eleven:coughcough hours of Bondi Beach Rescue on Netflix over the course of a lazy Sunday. Beautiful, bronzed lifeguards with Australian accents and not a plot in the world to try and follow? Sometimes that’s just what you need, baby! I don’t think my foot lifted from its feathery pillowed perch twice all afternoon. We giggled, we bantered, we were utterly ridiculous trying to keep names straight and pretend we weren’t hoping for broken backs and gory shark attacks – I’m not even going to sugar-coat our pathetic selves. Pure, mindless fun!

And the Bee-meister…well, she may be finally succumbing to crushes and batting her eyelashes at the men-folk and the lovely ladies, but that chica of mine will let her silly sister and eye-rolling mama watch all the fluff she wants. And when she’s stored up enough points, she’s going to cash them in – by asking to watch It. Yes, even if it means having a sleepover because she knows I’ll get scared. And even if it means an entire week of them because she knows that’s an excellent way to communicate how desperately she wants to watch something, anything else…especially if it’s scary and delicious and spine-tinglingly full of plot and cinematography. “It’s like watching comic books, Mom!” she says to me. And I can’t say she’s wrong!

I didn’t give in to Bee – the girl is brilliant, but she needs to be smarter than asking me at 9:42 p.m. on the night before school week starts again. We settled for watching the trailer – she hadn’t even seen that – and my little smooshie faced twinkle-star [don’t tell her I called her that out loud] hid her face behind a pillow for half of it. I promised we would watch it – It – for our next movie night. Gracie squealed and objected and created lists of counter-arguments, but after ELEVEN hours of Bondi Beach, I wasn’t overly concerned that she was outvoted.

Two very different young ladies, two very different tastes in television, two very different ways of making sure their mama was well cared for, well rested, and well on her way to recovery.

How lucky am I?

Just call me hopalong.

January 22, 2018

It’s kind of funny really.

Every time I’ve injured myself running, if I’ve done the responsible thing and had it looked at right away (when such things seem to be called for), I get the “oh, it’s badly sprained” response, a bit of side-eye (as if I should have known) and sent on my way. Last week, after rolling my ankle…and, um, sprawling flat on my face in true Katie fashion…I used rest, elevation, ice, and all the Tylenol my kidneys could safely ingest to keep moving.

By the end of the week, my foot was feeling much better – unless it was in a shoe, and then only the one shoe I could stand to wear. The bruising started spreading to new places (perhaps because of the pressure from the boots?), and I was starting to wonder if maybe I should have it looked at.

Yep, I snapped my fifth metatasal. And by snapped, I mean fractured. Not split clear in two – thank god. Still: busted foot. Two weeks into my new Couch-to-5k Sanity Redemption training program I’d started. Right after a reprimand for having too many doctors’ appointments. For which I told my co-workers I would gladly take a Patriots’ L on Sunday if it meant that some of the craziness would simmer down already. The trade for which I was trying to console myself when my team was losing for most of the game, but it’s hard to take an L at any point, especially to a Tom Coughlin team.

The Pats won. My foot’s still busted, and I couldn’t exactly hop around the room with joy, but you know, whether or not it’s an omen of the karma surrounding me for the next week or two, I’m just going to take my small victories where I can find them. A game won. A small blog post written. A bone fractured, not snapped. I’ll heal.

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…

Current parenting mode.

January 11, 2018

Gracie-girl got all the Funkos for Christmas. Seriously: she had most of the Harry Potter ones from before. And for Christmas she got Stranger Things everything. Including two Joyces. So she gave me one.

And I fixed it.

Joyce

Because me right now.

January 2, 2018

Resolutions. I have issues with the concept. To resolve is to promise of ourselves – a beautiful concept, a flowery phrase, the give very best of intentions and of ourselves – but for me it’s also a concept that bodes of anxiety and constant worrying about whether I’m doing enough, whether I am enough. [Hey, you know what? More people should be honest about this. I’m not saying everyone feels this way; I’m saying that some people do. I do.]

So my resolutions are offered lightly. They’re goal I’m aiming for, not hills I’m willing to die on. And you know what? As I check in with myself, they might change. So be it.

That said, here’s what I’ve been thinking about…

I resolve to try to stay more organized. Santa brought me a giant tote bag for Christmas. I have a small wallet I can grab to run into a store, so I’m not pissing off my chiropractor by carrying around this behemoth all the time. It has my planner, the book I’m reading, a pouch for semi-essentials (hair ties, chapstick, etc.), pens for my planner (those obviously need a pouch), my iPad if I’m going somewhere to work, room for my lunch bag… This way I’m not walking into work carrying eight different bags. I feel so much more together!

 

I resolve to bullet journal, even if it’s a little more work, instead of running off to Erin Condren to bail me out. It’s a lot cheaper to use the $10 journal I found and practice some of the hand-lettering than it is to order a fancy pre-sorted journal. And look at the cool layout I’ve already designed!

BuJo

 

I resolve to focus on my writing. I’ve made such wonderful strides in 2017 – perhaps the only good thing to come out of 2018 – and it’s something I want to continue and grow in 2018. I’ll keep smashing through the connections I’ve already made, submitting writing and strengthening ties, and I’ll reach out to new organizations and opportunities. My confidence in myself has always been there, I know I am a catch…I’m starting to think my writing is worthy, too.

Lastly, I resolve to get rid of the damn clutter! My house is currently a disaster zone, and while normally it doesn’t bother me, it’s starting to. I understand that I’m a single mom and I prioritize making sure our family unit is strong, my girls are taken care of, and we take care of each other first and the house second. How.ever. The house is starting to look like something from Annihilation, and so now it’s a bit of a priority. I’m going to read a book on minimalism, and then a book on hygge, and in between all the lines, I’m fixing my dang house. And keeping it fixed. Bit excited about it, too.

If you’re one to make resolutions, blessings and patience on you and yours! Let me know what you’re working on, because I’m so curious about this resolution thing – I’m always looking for unconventional ones. And if you’re not – good on you! Don’t let anyone pressure you otherwise. And to all – HAPPY NEW YEAR! We made it through 2017. Let’s smash and resist our way through 2018!