Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Friday Five’ Category

I have read some really great books this month. I have only been sharing the things I plan to read but I seldom really talk about what I learn or what I love about them. So I think I’m going to start making the last Friday of the month (ish – maybe sometimes the first Friday of the next month) the top five reads I’ve enjoyed (with maybe the occasional “save yourself” PSA if I run into a book that I really didn’t like).

But today I want to talk about stars. Not the actual stars, although those are nice (I see you, full moon in Pisces on Monday), but rather the star ratings that I use when I log my books on Goodreads. I know that there are generic meanings, but I think that people pretty much ignore those for the most part. And by people I do mean me. I ignore them.

Here’s what my ratings mean instead:

  1. One star – Yuck. I’m embarrassed on behalf of humanity that this book exists. I don’t have this reaction often, but when I do, it’s visceral. I felt this way about Twilight (which I read – all four books – just so I could explain IN DETAIL exactly what I didn’t like to people who were like “How do you know if you haven’t read them?”). Also Bridges of Madison County. How anyone ever read that terrible book and thought, “Let’s prolong this drivel by making it into a movie” is beyond me. I have a copy that I use for blackout poetry, which greatly improves it. These books lived rent-free in my head for a long while, and they made me want to turn off my give-a-damn about my love of reading.
    [Aside – if you enjoyed either of those books, great for you. Read what you love; just keep reading. I’m sure you despise something that I love, and that’s ok, too.]
  2. Two stars – Meh. It may have taken me a long time to finish this book because it did not hold my attention at all. I many not have even finished it, which doesn’t happen very often. A lot of my two star reviews are classics which, admittedly, may just not be my preferred style but it felt like they in particular droned on and on. Anna Karenina is one such book – a few nice descriptions but overall too tedious to finish. Plus, I don’t think Tolstoy liked her (or maybe even women) that much. A Woman of Substance was suspiciously lacking in substance itself. Madame Bovary made me want to drop out of my honors humanities course from sheer boredom (I didn’t…thank goodness we only spent a week on it).
  3. Three stars – Good. Or…it was fine. Meh+, maybe. I don’t have vast complaints about this book. I may even be able to understand why other people liked it or why they thought I would. It didn’t quite live up to the hype for me, though. The most recent book I gave three stars was The Midnight Library, which I really wanted to love, but alas, no.
  4. Four stars – Great (or at least very good for what it is). I recommend it, particularly for people who like this genre. Most of the books I read fall within this category.
  5. Five stars – I LOVE IT AND EVERYONE SHOULD READ IT EVEN IF THEY NEVER READ THIS GENRE. I definitely own it and have probably bought additional copies to give away to reader friends. If you mention it, I will likely clap enthusiastically and perhaps hop around in joy a bit. I just can’t help myself. It’s possible that this book will make anyone who reads it a happier/better person. I may have cried when I finished because I was sad it was over. I felt this way about Their Eyes Were Watching God and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. Anxious People is my most recent 5-star review. Stop what you’re doing and go read it now.

Do you track and rate the books you read (do you do it on Goodreads? Are we friends so I can see your recommendations?)? If so, how closely do you stick to the generic meanings on your ratings?

Read Full Post »

This week is heavy. Here are five ways to help:

  1. Donate to Mutual Aid Disaster Relief.
  2. Donate to Imagine Water Works.
  3. Donate to TEA fund and/or Frontera Fund.
  4. Buy gift cards/donate to GoFundMe for your/my favorite bookshops (or restaurants, or other small businesses) in flooded states.
  5. Help Afghan refugees.

Bonus: drop other helpful links in the comments.

Read Full Post »

This week has been a little intense (some health things, some practical things, some Texas-summer-is-the-worst things), but I’m looking forward to the next couple of days. Maybe you want to enjoy a few of these things, too?

  • Playlist for The Magicians – Any time I really love a show or a book, I want a playlist that reminds me of it. The Magicians has a great soundtrack. I went to make one and found that there are already so many out there. This is a nice list to start with but this is definitely my dancing/reading/vegging vibe for tonight.
  • Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Readers’ Weekend – Minimal structure, maximum reading. Basically, the perfect weekend.
  • Suits Season 1 – I am rewatching this adorable show, starting this weekend. Yay!
  • Reconciling in Christ – our group is meeting on Sunday, and I’m glad my church is pursuing being more intentional about inclusion. This learning structure is not as…assertive…as I tend to be, but it’s a start.
  • Nectarines – I had a nectarine/cherry upside down cake at lunch and I forget every year how much I love nectarines but I think I’ll need some tomorrow. Maybe also apricots….

Hope you have a nice weekend as well!

Read Full Post »

This was my first week back in the office after working from home since last August. There was quite a bit of adjustment, but nothing I didn’t expect. At least there were no surprises?

I expected that my focus would be down with other people around, and that has been somewhat true but it’s not been as bad as I thought it would be. I expected I would not like getting up even earlier in order to commute. Accurate. Commuting is a ridiculous use of time. Consoling myself by listening to Blackberry Wine by Joanne Harris on audio during the daily drives.

Five things I have enjoyed about coming back to campus:

  1. Automatic daily walk. Depending on how far away I have to park from the building (I’m not buying a permit for three and a half months because 1) no and 2) stubborn), just by getting from my car to the building and back to my car I am automatically getting in an extra 10-15 minutes of walking a day.
  2. Random free snacks. In related news, I have a new donut place near my house I need to visit some weekend.
  3. Seeing coworkers face to face has been nice.
  4. Not hearing every. step. my. upstairs. neighbor. takes. all. day. Last night it was as loud as usual, and I didn’t even care because my psyche had not been beaten down all day long by unnecessary stomping noises. Note to self: next time I work from home, make sure the job pays well enough that I can live in a building with no one else above me.
  5. Since our phone system is now through MS Teams, I have a headset. This is the reason my focus has been better. When I’m not doing anything in particular, I can still hear through them but if it’s loud in the office when I’m trying to do something, I just play some soothing music to drown it out.

Overall, not too bad a week! Have a good weekend!

Read Full Post »

Today is the last day I will be working from home. I go back to the office tomorrow to staff the spring closedown/summer opening transition. A lot of transitions are happening right now.

Here are five things I’m particularly into/experiencing this month:

  • The fox family living in Susannah Conway’s backyard. I am so in love with these little darlings. Today we were happy to learn that, after a brief absence, the mama fox is still with them. I am riveted. One of them may or may not be my new background on my phone.
  • Drinking more water. It’s amazing (and by amazing, I do mean just basic biology) how much better I feel when I’m hydrated. To aid with this goal, I made a sub-goal of drinking a full bottle of water (20 oz.) first thing in the morning. This sometimes goes well and sometimes I lean back on “well, at least a full bottle by the time I finish my first cup of coffee.” That works really well, unless you take into account days like today where I put off taking the last swig of my first cup of coffee until mid-afternoon so that I can still meet my goal (see below). *sigh* Baby steps.
  • Coconut ice cream/gelato. I just love it. Specifically, the Talenti Caribbean Coconut. So good.
  • Easing back in to gatherings. This past year, I have learned a lot about myself and the people around me (metaphorically, as there have been few people actually around me). I have learned the difference between a barrier and a boundary. The next few weeks bring some long-awaited in-person reunions, and I’m very excited about that.
  • Knitting something I might actually wear. My box sweater has become longer and it’s so soft. I’m halfway through, so maybe I’ll get around to finishing it soon.

What are you into lately?

Read Full Post »

Books and mascots and dressing up for the intrawebs

That may be the most introvert-y title I’ve ever written.

In a lot of ways, this pandemic/work/socialize-from-home situation has been rough. My mental health is not its best self ever. Or, rather, it has been more work to take care of it. I don’t think prolonged isolation is good for anyone, and I’ve definitely had challenges that I expected as well as those I did not. I have needed to take many more precautions and call on more support than usual in order to function.

Other distinct pockets of my life have (dare I say it?) flourished. After the initial shock wore off (this is the theme, really), I have been able to adapt in several ways that sort of flow together but also are each their own separate issue:

  1. Reading – For a few months, I wasn’t able to concentrate to read at all. But now that I have at least an extra hour per night to add to my regular reading time that I was spending just driving from work and then to-and-from whatever meeting I had on that particular evening, I am reading about 100 pages a day. My reading goal took a hit from those missing months, but I may still read more books than I read last year.
  2. Productivity – Working from home makes me super efficient. Having more control over my work setting allows me to get through emails much more quickly, and I don’t feel rushed on phone calls. I miss my coworkers, of course, but my productivity (and thus my motivation) is thriving. We are closing one of our buildings at the end of the semester, and I was able to give significant help in getting those students moved over, and this would have been a lot harder/more stressful in the office.
  3. Sense of self – It’s been interesting to see the habits that have dropped off and stayed gone and the ones that I have either continued or picked up. I was surprised to see the things that I do, say, wear, etc., to make others more comfortable and things I do, say, wear, etc., to show up as who I really am. It will be interesting to see how (or if) I adjust back to old habits that I find stifling once I’m out in the public again most days.
  4. Consistency – Each month, I make myself a chart that has goals I want to focus on that month. It’s usually a mix of habits I want to build and the things I know I need to stay grounded and at peace. If you’ve been around here a while, you know my goals tend to be…lofty. But I’ve been meeting them better than usual. In fact, the last time I was this consistent with eating well, dancing, playing the keyboard, exercising, etc., was in my early to mid-twenties when I was performing regularly. While I’m not performing right now (well, not a lot – I do have a piece in the virtual SPIDERDEAD show tomorrow night), I am excited about how well I’ve been staying on track with things that are important to me.
  5. Creativity – All the others kinda lead in to this one. When I have the time (and the ability) to focus on what I want in life, my creativity thrives. I have so many project ideas, and I’ve been consistently writing toward my NaNoWriMo project. I also have a 31 days blog series coming up in December that I hope you will enjoy. I look forward to getting to collaborate with people again, but for now this will do.

I hope you are finding some moments of joy or clarity or focus or whatever you are needing right now.

Read Full Post »

gallery_export_1589592239_1589592294

My desk in my home office has become the place where I both work and play. Not at the same time, of course.

I’m eight days away from being home for two months. I have enjoyed parts of it. Other parts of it? Not so much. But I have made some changes.

  1. Becoming infinitely pickier about the people I take advice from. This pandemic has rekindled an old inclination that I had almost forgotten. I am all for free speech. But while everyone may have a right to their opinion, as easy as credible sources are to come by, there’s really few legitimate excuses for not using them, and failure to do so will likely earn my disdain. Therefore, not everyone’s opinion matters to me. If someone really wants me to hear them out, I will probably listen. But they have to earn my trust and belief, two things I no longer give out easily.
  2. Spending less time on Facebook. My Instagram feed is pretty well-curated to include only things I enjoy and people I love and want to keep up with. My Facebook feed is a hot mess. It only takes a couple of swipes to run into some sort of foolishness I absolutely cannot abide. Yes, I could unfriend them or snooze them, or I could engage with the posts by posting my opposing opinion civilly. But is that really a productive use of my time? I don’t think it is. I am keeping Facebook for my groups, the pages I run, happy birthday messages, and maybe a couple of quick feed perusals a day, just to see if there’s anything worthwhile in those first few seconds before I hit a wall of dumb. So if you’re seeing fewer likes from me than usual, don’t fret. It’s probably not you. It’s probably all those other assholes.
  3. Cursing more. Arbitrary language etiquette is ridiculous, and I just don’t fucking care anymore. You’re welcome. [I’ll try to hold back if there are children afoot. But that’s it.] [I reserve the right to look back on this in the future as a phase. Language choice is important. I do believe that in general. But currently? See note above re: I don’t fucking care.]
  4. Supporting local businesses more. When given the choice, I already tend to favor local businesses over chains. They make Denton what I want it to be, and I am a big fan of voting with my dollar. I’ve gone a bit into overdrive lately, though. Every Sunday (and beyond – I actually have plans for the next three weeks already), I list at least three businesses I want to remember to support that week. Monday and Friday nights are designated as potential takeout nights. The majority of my groceries have been purchased from local farms or businesses that are offering curbside or delivery as one of their temporary services (although I would be fully on board with this becoming a forever thing. It’s fantastic. Note to self: find a great co-op to support.). Both wine and fancy cheese are being delivered to my doorstep on a regular basis. This summer, I want to add more greenery with houseplants and maybe tomatoes from local stores and nurseries. If you’re local and you need a suggestion for something, I probably have one.
  5. Taking better care of myself. When I started doing my temporary work-from-home thing, I was like, “Hey, I’ll go walking more.” I have not gone walking more. Walking alone is dull, and Texas is hot. Instead, I have been keeping active with some modified (because my floors are hard and my knees are old) Pilates classes, living room dance parties for one, and a strengthening challenge (although that, too, quickly exceeded my ability to keep up with it. With one exception. Two-minute plank? I got you. It took a year and a half of regular Pilates practice, but I got you.). And because I’ve been intentionally focusing my financial support on local places, I have had no fast food in two months and have been cooking more (because omg so many vegetables in a farm box). I have been dealing with my regular stomach problems and allergies and anxiety (and some days are worse than others. Looking at you, today. You jerk.), but other than that, I feel amazing.

Have you made (intentionally or not) any changes recently?

 

Read Full Post »

text placeholder

It’s the International Day of Happiness. This week has been w.e.i.r.d., to say the least. I’ve had a few panic attacks, and I’m still at work as we try to accommodate students who have nowhere else to go and figure out what in the world we’re going to do next (I would welcome faster decisions here…I’m just sayin’.). But there’s also been so many opportunities for joy. Just in my little corner of humanity, there is so much goodness. There are also so many fun things online. Here’s a list for times when you’re feeling more anxious than happy or just want something hopeful.

  1. Italians singing from their balconies.
  2. Lots of love happening on the ‘gram. Nikki Mayeaux is posting a daily creative prompt called Poem Passwords. The pictures on #seeninquarantine are spectacular. Between her early start for April Love and purrs from her sweet cat, Susannah Conway is soothing my soul. Julia Turshen is posting daily foodie prompts. I love this list from worn_ware of people offering yoga, meditations, etc.
  3. Tessera Arts Collective in Philadelphia closed the gallery for now, but they are still on for installing a street art campaign throughout the city this Sunday.
  4. Local businesses that can’t afford to shut down completely are making the best of it with delivery and curbside pickup. The Dentonite is keeping a running list. I love watching local business owners figure out how to take care of their employees by offering alternate earning opportunities and giving devoted patrons the ability to still tip their baristas/servers (*cough* support Golden Boy *cough*). Also…Golden Boy has key lime and coconut pie right now, which are in my top three favorite pies (blueberry is the third, if you’re wondering).
  5. Aid Network Denton and the city of Lake Dallas are keeping up a list of ways to get help or get involved if you can give help.
  6. Nature is delightful. The canals are clear and the swans are back in Venice. And penguins at the Shedd Aquarium enjoy a tour of the zoo.
  7. Since you can’t go in person, many field trip locations and entertainment venues are coming to you. You may also be able to watch the stage production of your favorite musical online. The Metropolitan Opera is streaming. Andrew Lloyd Webber tweeted himself playing “All I Ask of You”, and Lin Manuel Miranda responded with his performance of “Everything’s Alright”. Yale is offering their course on The Science of Well-Being for free (audit only).
  8. For artists whose income is impacted by all the cancellations, here’s a list of places that may be able to offer support.
  9. Books resources! I didn’t know how much I needed Betty White reading Harry the Dirty Dog in my life until this week. In fact, many children’s authors are reading their books online this week. And one that made me salivate – download from a selection of over 300,000 books for free from the New York Public Library through their reader app!!!
  10. Debbie Allen is teaching online dance classes! So is Chloe Arnold!
  11. Joy the Baker is just a delight. As usual.
  12. People are putting their Christmas lights back up to spread joy.
  13. All the Julia Child is streaming!!
  14. What am I doing this weekend? I’m so glad you asked! 24in48’s Social Distancing Readathon!

I’m sure there’s more. What are your favorite things people are doing right now?

 

Read Full Post »

text placeholder

It’s been a busy week that has followed another busy week, and I’m handling it but I also am really looking forward to sleeping in tomorrow. Here are some things that have helped.

  1. Speaking of (not) sleeping, I feel this in my bones – NPR on the sleep issues of Gen X women.
  2. What can you get out of dance training (besides, you know, dance)? A kick-ass work ethic.
  3. Love to Maggie and Michelle (even though you’re closer, you’re still so far away from me) and other long distance friends.
  4. Middle-aged success stories that make me feel refreshingly like a larva.
  5. Jenny Lawson’s thoughts on hard days. ❤

Where have you gotten help this week?

 

Read Full Post »

IMG_0052

I’ve been needing an extra dose of both kindness and grace (both in remembering to give them and also in wanting to receive them) lately, so it makes sense that these five items stuck out to me over the last few weeks.

  1. I often find both in Haruki Murakami’s work. This musing over how he writes women was intriguing to me. Favorite quote – “The narrator of ‘Sleep’ was the first woman in fiction I could truly recognize as a person.”
  2. I can’t verify the journalistic prowess of Daily Live Online, but even if this story is totally parabolic, it still makes a nice point.
  3. THE BABIES IN THE MR. ROGERS SWEATERS. I just don’t have enough hearts to love this as completely as it deserves.
  4. An interpretation of the Mary and Martha story that doesn’t make me want to punch Jesus in the throat (sorry, Jesus, but…you’re familiar with me. You know.).
  5. I love Jenny Lawson so much. So proud (is it weird to be proud of someone you’ve never actually met?) of how she handled this.

Tell me kindness stories. What have you noticed this week?

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: