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Archive for the ‘What I’m Into’ Category

You may remember Michelle from the approximately 2,342 times I’ve mentioned her over the years, or at least from her cameo on Tuesday’s post:

Today is her birthday, and I’m so happy she was born.

We met on the MRMB (Michael Rosenbaum Message Board – ah, fandom), where I knew her as ravenluvslex (raven for short, which is still the name she’s listed under in my phone). I met Michelle when I still had my first blog on livejournal (RIP). We traveled to Kansas City together to meet up with other fans where no one turned out to be a serial killer and we sang happy birthday to Michael Rosenbaum’s face on a cake.

We also met back before I carried a phone that takes pictures everywhere I went, so most of my documentation of our early days is in writing or in a picture album somewhere. Or on videos taken by other fans that we don’t really need to see.

I still have a lot of pictures of her sticking out her tongue (see above and below).

(Aw, orange couch)

(aw, Bochy’s)

There are so many things I adore about Michelle.

She’s always up for a good time.

She lets us take group pictures of feet even though she hates them (feet, not group pictures, to be clear). 

She loved going to the club as much as I did.

(It’s not blurry. It’s ARTSY.)

(We should go again sometime. I promise to only spend a minor portion of the evening crying about the old place.)

She gave Nelly Cat a great life.

(Aw, Nelly Cat. *pets*)

She helps me locate Billy Boyd when necessary (the world is just better knowing that somewhere, he is).

And sends me pictures of her face when I tell her I miss it (which is even better than Billy Boyd).

She also made this super cute kid:

I love Michelle’s passion, her compassion, her boldness, her humor, her honesty, and her insight. I love that we have just as much (or more) fun together binge-watching TV and sharing delicious snacks as we do going out. 

Michelle/Raven/Rupert, I love you. So, so much. Happy birthday, friend.

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I met Maggie when she was a student working in the building where I was a night desk clerk, where she fit in really well with our weird staff.

She endeared herself to me pretty quickly because:

  1. She would work the night shift on the weekends, which were otherwise horribly difficult to schedule.
  2. She often hung out at the front desk with me when I was working, but in an unobtrusive way. Just the right kind of company.
  3. She was the mastermind behind the original Suzanne-a-thon, an all-night appreciation event, which I appreciated in return.
  4. She liked and encouraged my choice of nicknames for her, which mostly consisted of words that begin with “Mag.” Magnanimous was the one I used most often.

Soon, she was promoted to night desk at another hall. We IM-ed all night during our shifts, and we sat by each other at Friday staff meetings, where she totally wore green.

Soon we became good friends, which doesn’t typically happen quickly for either of us, but we seemed to click.

We shared similar hobbies.

We went shopping together.

We often enjoyed brunch with messy coffee (hers) together.

We even saw the Smurf movie. I really, really have to love someone to watch the Smurf movie with them.

And she must really, really love me, because she got up at ridiculous hours and went outside to go running with me when I forgot my personality and decided I wanted to train for a marathon.

She liked (most of) my friends and got along well with (most of) them. One in particular:

Maggie and Michelle and I lived together for a while, and that was so much fun. Well, for most of us.

Then Maggie moved to Houston, but we still text and IM almost every day. The first time I visited, we had pie.

And, of course, brunch.

We don’t see each other very often, but when we do, we make the most of it with delicious food and (sometimes) matching pjs.

All this is to say that, although my view of Valentine’s typically mirrors the words of another Maggie, the day always makes me think of my favorite Maggie.

The best Maggie.

The only Maggie for me.

Happy Valentine’s Day, Magamemenon.

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It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these posts, but there are several fun things I want to share.

To Listen:

  1. Usually, I’d rather chew my arm off than listen to someone ramble and “um” at me for long periods of time (i.e., most podcasts) (short periods of time are fine – it’s really the prolonged, coulda-been-ten-years-shorter-without-the-fillers monologues that get to me), but the Talkville Podcast in which Michael Rosenbaum and Tom Welling (and various guests) are watching episodes of “Smallville” and giving commentary on them is really entertaining. It will be more entertaining if you were in this particular fandom when the show aired, but I suspect others enjoy it, too.
  2. BILATERAL STIMULATION. So soothing. So engaging. Use headphones for the full (i.e., bilateral) effect.
  3. Tiger D – my friend Sarah’s show on Kuzu on Tuesday nights. You can listen (tonight!) from 8-10 (CST) on kuzu.fm. I’m typically book-clubbing or working during most of it, but I occasionally catch it on the drive home or if I have a rare night off when no articles are due the next day.

To Watch:

  1. In addition to rewatching “Smallville” with Lex and Clark, I’m also rewatching “Alias.” I think I’m at the part where I stopped watching the first time, because so far, nothing in Season 4 is familiar. I still heart Marshall the most.
  2. “The Good Doctor” is good overall. I will watch anything with Richard Schiff in it, so there’s that. I’m not very far in at this point, but it’s interesting enough to keep watching.
  3. And I’m not technically into this yet, as I have not started it. But I trust Maggie’s judgment, and she loves “The Sex Lives of College Girls.” So I may start watching that soon.

To Eat:

  1. It is gourd season. I am in the mood for squashes, and there is a significant pumpkin presence on this month’s meal plan. Specifically, Joy the Baker’s pumpkin muffins and some kind of pumpkin/cannellini bean soup. Maybe also pasta with pumpkin sauce. We’ll see.
  2. It’s also roasted veggie season. Most sheet pan dinner recipes contain some sort of meat, but I just don’t know how they find the room on the sheet pan with all the bounty of fall produce. A pile of roasted veggies (a warm salad, if you will) makes a quick, delicious meal with plenty of leftovers. And it’s a nice balance to the cheese-on-everything I tend to eat otherwise.
  3. Breakfast for dinner has been happening at least four times a week lately. It’s just so easy. I lean toward savory breakfast foods, so we’re talking egg and cheese burritos, frittatas, fried eggs over roasted tomatoes and rice, and toasted egg sandwiches. Happy.

To Do:

  1. NaNoWriMo! I have a new character and a new story, and I like both so much I may turn this into a series. I hope to get most of the first draft of the first book done this month.
  2. Performing with some friends at Rubber Gloves next week. Should be fun! You should come if you’re in the area!
  3. Quiet, quiet, quiet evenings. I remember now what a regular writing practice does for my schedule and my mental health. This has been good for me in so many ways.

What are you into these days?

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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?

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The tree is officially up and plugged in. And that’s it. No decorations yet. Just twinkly lights. Happy.

Our small group on Monday night talks about the lesson for the next Sunday, so my appetite for Advent has been whetted. Although Advent is one of my favorite seasons, December is not usually my favorite month. It’s usually too busy. That is not the case this year, though. Events are either canceled or virtual, and I think most people have (more than usual) an attitude of just making it through to the other side.

Students have already started leaving for break, since UNT classes are going completely online for the rest of the semester. They’re welcome to stay here, but they also have the option to go home and stay with their families for the holiday season, and many have chosen to do so. Can’t say that I blame them.

This December, I have a little more time. Rather than add extra things to it (with the exception of a blog series – more on that next week), though, I’m going to focus on savoring things I enjoy.

Cozy mysteries (just re-read Publishable by Death by A. C. F. Bookens this weekend, and it was just as much fun the second time around).

The above-mentioned twinkly lights. Just staring into them. Also candlelight is nice. More sparkly-lit rooms, please.

Soups and toasted sandwiches.

Baked goods of just about any kind. Sweet, savory – I love (most of) them all.

Dancing. Stretching. Dancing again.

Playing old records while sipping warm beverages.

Practicing hope. Practicing love. Practicing joy.

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Everything is fine

Yep. I feel that. I miss you, sunny, happy mug of yore.

This is the third time I’ve started this post. The laptop I’m using has that annoying button between the G, H, and B. I’m sure there’s some noble reason it’s there, like some accessibility purpose, but it is the BANE OF MY EXISTENCE. Twice I have typed out this post. Twice, a subtle breeze from my finger has blown over said button as I was typing in its vicinity, which was clearly its cue to erase everything immediately. And WordPress helpfully saves the very last draft…which was nothing. *sigh* So now I’m typing in Word, where I can save properly on my own terms, and we’ll see how it goes. Third time’s the charm? Who really knows if you’ll ever read this.

This experience perfectly sums up my life right now. It’s nice that I’m able to type to you on an actual keyboard in the comfort of my home office. I’ll be musing over that fondly, and then suddenly…blank page like I didn’t do anything at all and have to either quit or start all over.

[Sometimes I quit. It’s okay. You can quit some things sometimes.]

I figure I’m feeling this way because *gestures broadly* but also because I’ve been making some positive changes, and some of the habits I already had established don’t know what to do with that. For example, I’m usually pretty up for cooking any given night. But lately, on a lot of nights, it’s cereal and probably also ice cream while bingeing Revenge (I’m on the Justin-Hartley-shirtless-punching-a-speedbag episode. 10/10, highly recommend, and you’re welcome), and I may eat the cereal dry out of the box because bowls are too much work and they refuse to clean themselves (rude).

So here are some food hacks that I’ve found helpful in keeping me from eating four boxes of cereal a week (problematic because you know I do not buy the sensible, healthy kind) and maybe you will find them helpful, too.

  1. Big batch meals. Specifically, I’m really into pasta skillets these days. My favorite is a cheeseburger skillet that I base loosely on this Budget Bytes recipe (you can sub black beans if you don’t have/eat meat, but add garlic and a little chili powder if you do. You know what? Add garlic and chili powder anyway. Garlic and chili powder and whatever other spices you use on your homemade hamburgers are delicious.) You can turn anything into a one-pot skillet meal. Tacos. Pizza. Egg rolls. Options abound. And it makes a lot that you can tuck away in your fridge (or freezer) in serving-size, microwaveable containers for nights when you would rather snack on a handful of gravel than cook something for real.
  2. Soups. Normally, I don’t feel the urge for soup unless temps are at least down to the 60s outside. But this is 2020. Up is down. Dr. Pepper is scarce in Texas. I eat soup in summer. My current favorite is the red lentil soup from Marsha Mehran’s Pomegranate Soup. Lots of onions, red lentils, garlic, turmeric, cumin, nigella seeds (I didn’t have any but subbed by going a little heavy on the cumin and adding some freshly ground black pepper, and that was fine), broth. Let it simmer for a half hour while you crisp up even more onions (like…crisp, crisp. Crunchy crisp) to use as a garnish. Simple and also amazing. And it makes a ton. I suppose that makes soup another example of a big batch meal and thus better suited for the first category, but this is not the time to point that out, reader. We’ve gone too far to go back now. It’s done. The point is written. Let’s move on.
  3. Enchiladas. My very favorite way to make enchiladas is to pretend I have a family to feed and order a big pan of them to pick up curbside at Milpa, which I can then graze on for days. As an added bonus, I grab a couple of their specialty frozen margaritas – one for me, one for my imaginary partner who graciously insists I drink them both. But if I’m at home and not wanting to leave but also not wanting to prep and then roll a pan of enchiladas, I use a hack I learned from my friend Michelle (*waves*). Frozen taquitos, enchilada sauce, and cheese. My favorite combo is currently the chicken taquitos, tomatillo salsa, and an abrasively sharp white cheddar. Layer it in a pan and bake it. That’s it. If I’m feeling some extra don’t-wannas, I just throw a few frozen taquitos on a plate and cover them in sauce and cheese and microwave it. Takes two minutes. Little soggy if you get too liberal with the sauce, but a margarita made with frozen limeade (or your juice of choice) and a healthy pour of tequila and triple sec will make you not care about that at all.

There are other ideas, but I feel like I’ve given you sufficient insight into my current state. Feel free to drop more food hacks in the comments. Or recommend your favorite cereal combos (because you mix them up, right? DO IT.). Or a cocktail you think I should try (note: if “muddle” or some similar high-maintenance nonsense is in the instructions, I’m gonna go ahead and look forward to trying that for the first time at your house in the future. Thanks in advance for the invitation.).

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About half the current list

This month has been a great reading month so far. I’m looking forward to diving in to the rest of these selections.

For book clubs:

  • Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid – I read the ebook on this one, and I like the structure of the writing. Our book club decided that we need this band to be real.
  • The Naturalist by Andrew Mayne – The audiobook was well done, so I highly recommend it on this one. This is the first of the series, and I will need to read the rest of them. I found myself staying up later to listen to it, which is unusual for me, as it usually takes me forever to get through an audiobook. This one held my interest, though.
  • Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi – I haven’t read a graphic novel in a while, and I already love this one. It’s funny and poignant, and I’m excited to talk about it with my Spiderweb group.
  • Funny in Farsi by Firoozeh Dumas – This is the supplemental read for Spiderweb, and I’m looking forward to starting it when it arrives in the mail.

Other reads:

  • Stay Sexy & Don’t Get Murdered by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark – I loved this book. It’s written (and read – I know! Two audiobooks in two weeks! Who even am I?) by the two women who run the true crime podcast My Favorite Murder.
  • The Inquisitor’s Tale by Adam Gidwitz – This is a cute book about three children and their adventures. A book club friend described it as “The Canterbury Tales meets Harry Potter.”
  • Don’t Overthink It by Anne Bogel – I love Anne’s online persona as The Modern Mrs. Darcy, and so of course I pre-order every book she writes. I look forward to starting this treatise on how to make more confident decisions. I’m not really indecisive, but sometimes I overthink things because of who I am as a person, so I’m sure there will be something in there for me.
  • The Blue Salt Road by Joanne M. Harris – I picked this one up because it is written by the author who wrote Chocolat, which I love (also…I just now discovered that there’s a cookery book with recipes inspired by Chocolat and I must have it immediately). Other than it being marketed as a modern fairytale, I don’t know much about it, but I’m sure it will be a good read.
  • The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory – Second book in the series after The Wedding Date, this is going to be a fun read. I love this author, and I plan to tuck into this one this weekend.
  • Dining In by Alison Roman – I have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to cookbooks that I’ve checked out of the library, so I’m trying to work my way through them. I am skimming most, but this one has a lot of ideas I like, so I’m spending a little more time with it.
  • Nothing To See Here by Kevin Wilson – My third (third!) audiobook of the month. I’m not sure if I’m just getting better at choosing good audiobooks or if my ability to focus is improving (wow, that would be awesome), but I like this one so far. I’m only about 30 minutes in, but the story has already grabbed me.

What are you reading right now? Should I add it to my future TBR list?

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First page of new planner. A reminder for when I forget.

I love resolutions. Even the ones I abandon halfway through the year (although I would not mind getting to a place where I don’t get all riled up about something just to fizzle out). I like looking forward and fostering hope for making new magic and dreams (and yes, a little madness). I have a lot of small goals for the year, but they all center on a few themes:

  1. Reading – I exceeded my original goal of 100 books last year (by two!), and so I’ve upped the challenge to 120 this year. I have three book clubs, because I love talking about books with people. I think it would be nice if I did that more here, too. Possible posts to look forward to are periodic recaps of what I’ve read and what I’m about to read. I really love what Brenda at Don’t Stop Believing did here, and I really adored some of the things I read in 2019, so you may see something similar around these parts soon. For this year, my focus is going to be on actually finishing the book club choices before we meet (I did this about 60% of the time last year) and reading some of the hundreds of books on my own shelves that I have squirreled away for “someday.” Someday is 2020.
  2. Writing – I finished Fishbowl in 2018…and then I edited it. Now I need to finish it again, because as it turns out, I have no problem killing my darlings. I may enjoy that too much, actually. So this year’s main writing goal is to get it ready to go to beta readers (yes, Maggie – you first)/an editor. I also have a short story project that I am working on, and I want to continue my microfictions on Ello (anyone else on Ello?). I haven’t posted there in a while, but I have a few that I should be ready to upload by the end of the month. I anticipate writing (maybe performing) something in collaboration with Spiderweb Salon this year, too.
  3. Health – I need to be better at keeping up with doctor’s appointments. Just…all of them. I’m terrible at this. That’s a big goal for the year. With my Pilates practice last year, I re-discovered how good I feel when I’m paying attention to strength and flexibility and alignment (hello again, dance!), so I want to continue to build there.
  4. Work – I want to continue to explore the next direction my work life should go. I don’t have a lot of answers here, but I have lots of advice and guidance. Sifting through all of that. We’ll see.
  5. Word of the year – I wasn’t going to have a word of the year, but then I kept seeing quotes about coming alive or being alive and every one of them made me tear up a little bit so now my word of the year is “alive” and I’m pretty enthused about it. My gut reaction for how to pursue this is through music, dance, learning new things, making beautiful things and feeding people, but I’m leaving the possibilities open. I have a short-term bucket list for the year that includes things like “read a book in Spanish with minimal need for a dictionary” and “start learning sign language” and “walk/run more miles each month”  and “brush up on music theory” and it will be fun to see how many of those I stick to. In related news, I may be in the market for a French horn or trumpet soon. You’re welcome, neighbors (but let’s be honest, you kinda have it coming).

Do you make resolutions? If so, I’d love to hear them!

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I am not what anyone would describe as an early adaptor. It’s not a point of pride for me. I see the benefit in upgrading to the newest model of a device whenever one can. It’s cool if you do that. I just am not that person.

Having said that, I am having a bit of a honeymoon with my new phone. I’ve named her Mona. She is sleek and sexy and looks super hot in her stripey Kate Spade cover.

Mona is an iPhone X (yes I know it’s not the newest but it’s the one I wanted so let’s all move on). We met at the Verizon store after I told the sales guy I was there to upgrade my phone. He was utterly professional until he saw my old phone and realized just how old she was (like…they don’t even make the adaptor for it anymore). Then he made a face. He pulled it together quickly but I know in his head he was still sniffing derisively at Margeaux.

I forgive him. He probably had the very latest phone the moment it came out. He just doesn’t understand a long-term relationship like the ones I have with my devices. I get it. I didn’t used to get attached.

My first two cell phones were bare bones models. No frills. Just the calls (and the texts), ma’am.

Then I met Cherry O.

Cherry O was a red LG. Still not a smartphone but so, so much fancier than what I had before. The camera was better than the digital camera I had, so I was able to get rid of my camera, and I’ve never gone back. I assigned everyone their own custom ringtone. Cherry O and I had a great run. Then one day she died. Just…out of the blue. No warning (well, no warning other than the myriad of pointed emails I got from Verizon telling me to hurry and upgrade already).

I was devastated, but Margeaux helped me through it.

Margeaux was my first smartphone. She, too, was an iPhone. Margeaux helped me get over Cherry O by introducing me to Instagram. I love Instagram. I follow some really delightful people there. Margeaux let me do that. I also joined Duolingo, which is a super easy way to practice my Spanish and German and gently ease in to French and Italian.

This week, though, Margeaux and I broke up. It was amicable. There are no hard feelings. It’s not her, it’s me (it was totally her).

Enter Mona.

If Mona were a person, she’d be CEO of her own company that she dreamed up and built from nothing. She would live in a Cape Cod style home with a huge backyard. She would grow her own vegetables, make jam, and have friends over for supper every Sunday night. She would know how to tango and provide her own tech support. She would do all of this and make it look easy.

I love all the storage I have on this phone. I love how much faster it is than my last phone. I love that it supports all four (five?) of my book apps. And I love it allows me to type this post out to you from the comfy chair in my living room without having to wrangle my laptop.

I am smitten. I think Mona and I will be together for quite some time.

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Friday Five 4

Hello! This weekend, I am embarking on a 24in48 marathon of luxurious reading. After the 70- and 80-hour work weeks I’ve been having, I am very excited about adding extra money to my Aspiration account, but I am also really looking forward to this much needed break. Here are some things I’m into.

  1. First, lists of books and book shops. I love fantasy novels .  I also find this list intriguing – a particular book to read at each age. Someday, when I have time off, I may do a few days of just rambling through bookstores in the area.
  2. I have a confession. I’ve always loved Cats. Some people sang 80s songs into their hairbrushes. Me? McCavity: The Mystery Cat. [I mean, I totally sang 80s pop. And punk. And…I like to sing.] It’s strange and confusing and of course it is because that’s what you get when Andrew Lloyd Webber adapts T. S. Eliot poetry into a musical. I cannot wait for this movie to come out. If you go see it with me, prepare yourself for the moment when Jennifer Hudson sings Memory on the big screen, because I will cry. Already teared up just during the trailer. It’s just gonna happen.
  3. I joined a cookbook club, and it’s one of the best decisions I’ve made this year. We meet once a month, each bringing a dish and the cookbook we found it in to share with others. One big decadent potluck. There are daily posts on the group page about things like classic pasta dishes and the best lemonade ever.
  4. I’ve already signed up for next year’s writer’s retreat to be held at Maplehurst. If you’ve read any of Christie Purifoy’s books (I’m currently soaking in Placemaker. Highly recommend.), you are probably familiar with Maplehurst’s story. You should join us.
  5. I’m officially moving my yearly Hemingway party to the fall. I had it later last year, and that was nice. It makes sense. Work is less busy in September or October, and it’s cooled off enough that I can actually bake without it taking 14 years for my apartment to cool off. As I’m planning, I hope to keep this advice in mind.

What are you into these days?

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