Archive for the ‘Work’ Category

This is the second closedown day/summer move-in weekend at work. This one is a little slower than last week, so I figured an update was in order. I know that to everyone else it’s Saturday, but I definitely woke up to an alarm and I’m wearing shoes and sitting at my desk at work, so it’s Friday in my heart.

This week’s edition includes recipes of things I have been tinkering with and a few books I have finished in the last couple of weeks. Enjoy!

  1. One of my book clubs met last Tuesday, and we usually each bring a snack or some type of food to share. The snack I brought this month was margaritas. My go-to recipe is one I found in one of the Sweet Potato Queens’ books (I believe it was The Sweet Potato Queens’ Book of Love), because it’s four ingredients I can pour together, stir, and call it a day. Well, I like Triple Sec in my margaritas, so my version is technically five ingredients. And the grocery store didn’t have frozen limeade on Monday night, so I used the Simply Limeade, and now I have a new favorite way to make them that’s not quite so syrupy sweet. Anyway, combine 12(ish) oz. each of tequila and/or triple sec, Corona (or a Corona-esque beer – they’re actually better with Sol if you can find it), 7-Up (not Sprite or any other lemon/lime drink – it makes a difference), and frozen limeade (or Simply Limeade that you’ve slightly frozen). Stir, serve, and enjoy. It’s the perfect hybrid of frozen and on-the-rocks margaritas, and it is potent
  2. I’ve been dabbling with no-churn ice creams, and I took two flavors to Cookbook Club last Friday – Nigella Lawson’s no-churn coffee ice cream and Eric Kim’s no-churn Scotch ice cream. In related news, I enjoy boozy ice creams. And the no-churn is so easy to make (it’s essentially frozen whipped cream). This may become a habit. Cottage cheese ice cream is the next experiment.
  3. The Seven Stones: The Seastone by Robb Arbuckle – This is the first book in a new middle-grade series, and it’s a pretty standard good vs. evil, magical academia trope. It incorporates a lot of mythology and elementals and historical references, so it’s also pretty ambitious. I’m interested to see if many of those things will become significant to the plot of the series or if the author will focus on a few of them to tighten the narrative (I can see clear arguments for both, depending on what the author wants the story arc to be, so this interest is curiosity rather than criticism at this point). It made me want to read more of the story, so it was a successful first installment!
  4. I Wish You All the Best by Mason Deaver – This was my second time reading this book because I recommended it for my church book club. I loved it just as much the second time (and listened on audio, which is also good). The main character is nonbinary, and this is the story of their coming out and finding the people who love and support them. Deaver does a great job of showing the anguish and self-doubt that often accompanies this process. I wanted to fight everyone who hurt Ben throughout the book.
  5. The Bullet That Missed by Richard Osman – I really love the Thursday Murder Club series. I was feeling puny Sunday so I was not up for much else but lying about and drinking tea and reading this book. I started and finished it that day.

Added bonus – a morning routine is so important, and this kid is going places. But not until he’s had his morning lemon and honey constitutional.

I hope your weekend is going well!

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Hello, friends! We are heading across the street for lunch today because it’s staff discount day in the cafeteria and also because there are empanadas there. We are going a little early because it’s Reading Day at UNT (i.e., no classes are held), and we want to make it to the cafeteria before it is teeming with the students who are hopefully using this small break before Finals Week to sleep in and catch up on some rest.

It’s also Cinco de Mayo (i.e., the reason for the empanadas, probably). Please consider supporting local Mexican-owned businesses (particularly if they make tasty drinks because yay Friday) or donating to one of the following organizations:

I’m so happy it’s the weekend (soon). Here are five things I enjoyed this week:

  1. As an aspiring older female writer, I’m excited that people are seeking them out. Keep seeking, folks. I’m coming. Also, I love all the books listed in this article that I’ve read (e.g., if you haven’t read Lessons in Chemistry, you’re missing out), and I expect that June’s TBR is going to include some of the ones I haven’t.
  2. An excerpt from Maggie Smith’s memoir You Could Make This Place Beautiful. Have you read Goldenrod? I’m so glad she wrote it. 
  3. Carrie Fisher is being honored with a Hollywood Walk of Fame star, which was appropriately announced on May 4.
  4. Nigella Lawson’s Cook, Eat, Repeat is the audiobook I’m currently listening to. Nigella reads it herself, and I love how her humor comes across not only in her words but in her voice. I wouldn’t usually listen to a cookbook (and honestly, I skipped right through the recipe for black pudding meatballs just like I would if I were reading through the print copy because the description was already sufficiently vivid and…yuck), but I am enjoying this one. I’m going to need the print copy, though, because I’m now craving some of these foods. Just not the meatballs.
  5. And finally – I have jumped on the Substack bandwagon. Eventually, I want the paid portion (which is not active yet, so everything that’s there can be perused for free) to be an opportunity to share some of the fiction I’m writing. But for now, I’m having fun musing about how to be/feel like/identify as a writer when you have multiple jobs/gigs, a full-time job, children, volunteer work, high-maintenance pets, or other time-consuming responsibilities. I’m currently posting once a week on Wednesdays, so subscribe if you want to hear more!

I hope you get a chance to do something fun today. Have a good weekend!

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I had a readathon this weekend, and I forgot how nice and relaxing they are. I needed that. I didn’t realize how much I needed it until I looked at my calendar Friday evening, saw that I only had one additional thing scheduled the whole weekend (dinner at my friends’ house where I was plied with delicious food and wine and got to see their dog Charlie and catch up with them and watch TV – so, even the one thing was super low key), and burst into tears of relief. 

Welp, that’s telling.

In mental health news, it has been noted that I am describing a greater number of stress responses than usual in sessions. There are probably several factors. First, it’s the end of the semester, and transitions between application periods always have the potential for instability and extra wackiness. Even when the work week is reasonably calm – like last week was – just the awareness that this time of the year is particularly prone to changing in an instant is stressful.

I am also – once again – trying to do too much and not taking the time I know I need for proper rest and restoration. The writing project I’m focusing on is deeply personal and is uncovering some things I probably need to address in future sessions. And then there’s the ongoing, underlying theme of my brain’s particular neurospicy cocktail, which ensures that common elements in several environments I frequent often trigger an acute stress response, just as a matter of course.

A reasonable question might be, “Can’t you just avoid environments that hurt you?” As we discovered during the stay-in-place times during the height of the pandemic, the answer is yes – absolutely I can. That is technically a possibility that I could put in place if I really needed to, as these responses are rarely triggered at home. But since the aforementioned environments do allow me to do nice things like pay for food and rent or engage in creative pursuits and also socialize ever, they’re not really situations I would want to avoid, even if, technically, I could.

Up until recently, any time someone would mention the concept of fight vs. flight, I would state that I’m almost all fight. But while that may have been true at certain points in my life, I don’t think it is anymore. I still occasionally react in a tight jaw/tense muscles/knotted gut sort of way, but even then it tends to stay bottled up and internal, in ready-to-fight mode. More often, I get fidgety, which is more flight, or preparing to run away.

To my great dismay, though, the most common acute stress response I have these days is fawn. Particularly when the stressor is social. And it doesn’t have to be a big stressor – just something catching me off guard, conflict (even mild ones), someone talking more loudly than I can readily process, a slamming door (i.e., the doors at work all day every day), etc. I turn into this over-the-top people pleaser, which is not at all my usual personality. I switch into accommodation mode, giving the other people/person in the situation whatever they want or letting them control it completely. I become overly complimentary, saying things that, while they are truly what I think, are also in that moment specifically spoken to soothe their stress and, by extension, my own. I do anything I can to appear compliant, non-threatening, gracious, and useful. 

These things are not bad ways to be in general. But because I know it’s a stress response, and thus that the intention behind it is more about avoiding further stress than actual helpfulness, it doesn’t feel good. It’s not an honest interaction, but it seems to come across as one. It feels phony, and it’s hard not to judge myself harshly for that, even though stress responses are typically harder (impossible? I wonder) to control. At any rate, it’s my least favorite version of me, especially when I comply by doing something I didn’t actually want to do, but did do, and then felt compelled to either keep pretending that I wanted to or end the madness with an awkward conversation where I say all these convoluted things out loud and utterly confuse/hurt/disappoint everyone involved.

[That last sentence is what everything in my brain sounds like right now.]

Also, my skin hates it when I feel this way, and it’s acting out. That’s annoying. And itchy.

So that thing I was doing during Lent – taking the two time-outs per week instead of just one? I’m going back to that. It requires some creative corralling of my schedule for my second job, but it’s so worth it. I look forward to being myself most of the time again.

What are some things you do (or stop doing) to relieve stress?

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Tomorrow is my dad’s birthday (and also Earth Day). And the phone call I make to him may be the only thing I do tomorrow. Last weekend and this week have been full of fun things, but at this moment, the keyword there is “full.” I need a day. Well, I need a month. But I get a day, and I’ll take it.

Speaking of fun things, here are a few exciting happenings that are coming up soon (like, tonight soon) and a couple of books I had feelings about.

  1. Tonight! Our duo (Sarah and I), They Say The Wind Made Them Crazy, is playing at Rubber Gloves. In fact, the whole show is going to be great. If you’re local, hope to see you there!
  2. Dr. Devon Price’s book Laziness Does Not Exist has been on my TBR for a while, so I’m delighted that this program about creating adaptable educational environments to make them more accessible is coming to UNT next week.
  3. Spiderweb is hosting an open mic night at Rubber Gloves next Tuesday. I haven’t decided if I’m going to read one of the pieces I’ve been working on or just observe, but it should be a good time.
  4. Where the Rhythm Takes You by Sarah Dass – What this main character needs is a sounding board. Someone she will actually confide in (as she already has many people she could confide in if she could put aside her pride long enough to do so). Because I wasn’t prepared for it to be me. Oh, I tried. I listened sympathetically as well as I could. Several times, I said (yes, out loud – you’re welcome, neighbors) that she should stop being clueless (you know things have to be hella obvious if even I pick up on them) and just have a conversation with the dude. Or her father. Or her best friend. Or maybe find a nice grief counselor. But alas, she could not hear me as we are both fictional in each other’s worlds. So instead, it was hours of repetitive whining about not knowing where she stood with other people, particularly the guy. I believe the audiobook reader captured the character’s voice perfectly. Unfortunately, her voice is super melodramatic, which grated on my nerve, because it’s hard to sustain constant, invested empathy, which is what seems to be expected when Every. Word. Is. Stressed.  Even when she’s just walking somewhere and sees someone in the far distance she has even the slightest twinge of beef with for any reason, it was told with Big Feelings. It is especially difficult when the character’s main conflict is her own stubborn insistence on making assumptions and thus constantly getting in her own way. It seems like I didn’t enjoy it, but I didn’t have any trouble finishing it. I did have to take a nap when it was over, though.
  5. One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus – We read this YA selection for our church book club, and we all seemed to like it a lot. The plot moved along at a good, steady pace, and I found myself rooting for (almost) all of the characters. I would have five-star loved this book in junior high/high school, but it was thoroughly enjoyable even in my jaded adulthood.

What are you looking forward to the most this weekend/upcoming week?

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This week has been an experiment in balancing fun and rest. I took both Tuesday and Thursday nights off. Tuesday was very restful. I came home, laid down on the bed to cool off for a minute, and woke up four hours later. I got up, ate a bowl of cereal, watched an episode of Veronica Mars, and went right back to sleep. Last night, however, I couldn’t slow my brain down, so although I technically took the night off, I can’t really say it was relaxing. I finally just gave up and worked on a project I need to have finished soon.

Wednesday, we painted rocks at work (fundraiser for We Care We Count). That night, we worked on a percussion part that we’re doing on Sunday before choir practice, and then I got to go to this month’s Molten Plains at Rubber Gloves. The show was phenomenal. 

Tonight is cookbook club. I’m taking a lasagna skillet because I don’t have time to make a full lasagna in the slow cooker, and it is now officially too hot to turn on the oven in Texas.

Here are five things I enjoyed this week:

  1. A list of the best bookstores in every state that I found on Pinterest led me down the rabbit hole until I also found 13 beautiful bookstores I need to see. I like having lists like these in my proverbial back pocket just in case I find myself in one of these cities with an afternoon to kill. You never know.
  2. The Spite House by Johnnie Compton – The audiobook was great and appropriately creepy. It’s not scary in the jump-out-and-get-you way, but rather a slow, eerie burn, which is the type of scary I prefer. The fact that I could only listen to the last half of the book during the day is a testament to its spookiness. The story was well-told and moved along really smoothly.
  3. Balefire: Poetry for the End of the World by Elizabeth Wilder – I took a poetry class several years ago from Elizabeth, and it was so helpful. I enjoyed this collection. One of my favorite things about it is the spare use of language that marks every word as intentional and full. Added bonus – it’s free today on Amazon! I’m not sure how long that will last but grab a copy if you can.
  4. This is a succinct synopsis of some of the best advice I’ve heard about pitching to a literary agent. Just in case you or anyone you know is interested in that kind of advice. In related news, I’d be a great literary agent. *ponders*
  5. I love this piece on how to fight for your library, particularly as many are being threatened with defunding for simply operating as libraries are meant to operate.

Tomorrow is a busy day. I have book club at the library (we’re discussing paranormal fiction) in the morning. Then I have lunch with my friend Karla and a birthday party for another friend afterward. I’m practicing with Sarah during the evening for our performance next Friday. May definitely need a nap and a whole lot of downtime on Sunday. I took Monday morning off because we were going to go to the club, but we postponed that outing. Am I giving up my morning off? Absolutely not.

I hope you have a fun and relaxing weekend and find that beautiful, elusive balance!

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Happy Friday, friends! I took Monday off as a continuation of my birthday commitment to do absolutely nothing but what I want for a few days, and it was nice. I made a pasta salad, which I’ve eaten all week for lunch (and sometimes also dinner – it makes so much), and binge-watched Veronica Mars most of the day. It was great.

Having a four-day week this week was also nice. We should do this always. Well, always until I retire. Then it’s “I do what I want” all day, every day.

Here are some things I’ve run across this week. Enjoy!

  1. This list of tips on how to read more was written in more pandemic-y, home-alone times, but they’re still applicable. My favorites are the ones that lean toward “read what you like and ignore the haters” and “schedule reading time like an appointment/job.” I also find that connecting with other people over books makes me want to read more and also introduces me to fascinating new things I wouldn’t have read otherwise. Also writing reviews/reflections helps. You know what? All of these tips are solid. Take the ones that sound like they’d be useful to you if reading more is on your vision board.
  2. I love everything about this column, included in Roxane Gay’s Audacious Roundup (which you should also follow). I especially like the shout-out to Marcella Hazan and the story about Nonna eating peppers out of the jar. I’m excited to see future updates. 
  3. In working through my Audible library, I ran across something I picked up a couple of years ago – Courting the Wild Twin by Martin Shaw. It reminded me of some of the discussions we had in performance classes in grad school, with lovely moments such as “Myths are a secret weapon. A radical agency for beauty in the age of amnesia – an agency far beyond concept and polemic.” I enjoyed the nostalgia. Lots of connected-but-still-badly-in-need-of-more-editing tangents, so maybe the print copy would have been an easier read than the audio.
  4. We had our annual Equity and Diversity Conference here yesterday, and it was probably the best one I’ve attended. Hina Wong-Kalu was my favorite speaker. 
  5. And finally…they had me at “Stanley Tucci.” A peek inside his pantry was just what my week needed. Also, I’m 100% in favor of pasta for breakfast.

I hope you’ve had a great week and have an even better weekend!

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It’s Staff Appreciation Month at my job, and I’m choosing to be appreciated in the form of taking a lot of fun classes and a lot of time off. Yay – more time to read!

Book Clubs

In my Rise and Shine book club this month, the theme is science and technology, so I’m mostly gathering suggestions rather than choosing a specific book to read. I mean, I have some science fiction recommendations…but I’m not sure that’s what they mean.


I start compiling these posts two or three months in advance, so there’s plenty of shifting by the time I actually post it. And by shifting, I do mean the occasional “no, on second thought, I don’t really have any interest in reading that at all” but mostly “hey – I want to read that, too!” And thus the TBR expands. This section was four books…until the last couple of weeks.


I have multiple Girlxoxo selections for this month, and they are all from the collection at home. 

Have you read anything exciting lately? Tell me about it!

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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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After what was a glorious spontaneous week off due to an ice storm in Texas, we came back to work, Land of 10,000 Emails, this week. That has been less than glorious. But here are some things I’ve enjoyed despite being so far behind at work I may never catch up.

  1. Speaking of emails…“Hi, anxiety is a fucking prison that I can’t escape and now it has literally been ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY ONE WEEKS SINCE YOU EMAILED ME…” is the solidarity I need right now. Thanks, Jenny Lawson.
  2. So you know how everyone has been talking (for a couple of years) about how Only Murders in the Building is super cute? They’re right. Just a few episodes in, and I’m hooked.
  3. There’s nothing wrong with your personal library.
  4. Yep. Definitely hiring someone to lug around the boxes and boxes of books I own next time I move. Although, that was a pretty good workout….
  5. I finished Marissa Meyer’s Gilded last night. This is a retelling of Rumplestiltskin, and I really love what Meyer does with it. I had three versions going – ebook for reading on my desktop at lunch, audiobook for listening in the car, and a hard copy from the library for at home. Because once the story got going, I couldn’t wait to find out what happened next. I’ve already checked out the ebook of Cursed in anticipation of this need for the second part of the duology. Fantastic. Highly recommend.

Saturday, I’m performing some microfiction at a show at Deep Vellum. You should stop by if you’re in the area.

I hope you have a great weekend!

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February TBR

This is Day 3 of this year’s (hopefully only) Icepocalypse. So far this week, I’ve slept in, talked to my mom and dad on the phone, made biscuits, submitted several articles for my writing job, started cleaning out the coat closet, and done some strength training. Right now, I’m cozied up with a cup of tea in my most comfortable chair. We have already received notice that the university is closed tomorrow as well. 

I’m so glad I bought coffee on Sunday.

I have also finished three books and plan to finish two more by the end of tomorrow. So I’m making an early dent in this month’s list!

Book Clubs

An issue that I vaguely foresaw when I made my reading goals this year is where to categorize the ongoing massive overlap of titles. Technically, everything in my collection that I haven’t already read is on my to-be-read list. That’s why I own them – for reading. So really, they’re all TBR. And I’m never sure whether to include ebooks and audiobooks as part of my TBR or my collection. I mean, I have purchased them, but I still think of them as TBR, as they’re not physically in the limited space of my home, with their own spot on the shelf. 

I guess the deciding factor is “Can I loan it to you (without violating the stingy fine print I agreed to when I signed up for the subscription)?” Collection – yes. TBR – probably not. So there we go.

Of course, all of this is a moot point this month anyway, because except for three of the books listed above that I will own as soon as they arrive, I’m focusing solely on the TBR.


I have a lot of library books out, and they’re all just sitting there on my shelf, begging for attention. Reminding me that someone else could be reading them if only I wasn’t selfishly hoarding them (someone else could also put a hold on them if they really wanted to let me know they’re dying to read them right away, so it’s possible this is all just a problem I’ve made up in my head). When Rory Gilmore chastised herself for not taking a book back to the library on time because it robbed someone else of the pleasure of reading it that week? I felt that. Anyway, this month is going to be a heavier focus on reading through most of those and getting them back into circulation where they belong. Fortunately, they’re all on my TBR list (which is why I checked them out to begin with), so I can do this without it pausing my goals for the year.

I’m so excited about this month’s reading list. Never fear, library books – I’ll be with you shortly!

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