Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thanksgiving Thoughts

On this day of Thanksgiving
in this month where we list what we are thankful for
I'd like to implore you to practice gratitude daily if you don't already.
Every day of the year, even - no, especially - on days that suck, days where nothing is going your way, days you think you will not survive. Find a plain rock on a turd beach and be thankful for it.

I can tell who doesn't practice daily gratitude. They say why me all the time not in a joking manner and think the world is against them. The world not against is just not interested in throwing anything else good someone’s way because they don't appreciate what they already have. When we spend more time looking at what is right in our lives, we simply have less time to spend on what's wrong.

Pain in this life is a given. Suffering is optional, and the length and depth of your suffering is often completely up to you and your reactions (systemic repression not included). Find something to be grateful for because practicing daily gratitude will turn things around for you faster than anything else and will make those inevitable nothing is going my way days easier to bear.

Does daily gratitude keep bad things from happening? Hell no, you guys. This is life. It’s not perfect or without wrinkles. There will be hard and terrible things. There is absolutely no shield for that. There will be days so dark we can’t see our way out of them. On those days we have to dig so deep for something to be grateful for that it can feel like turning yourself inside out. Personally I need to be inside out every once in a while to grasp the depth of my power to keep my life on my terms, if only in my mind. 

There is no limit on gratitude, so you can extend it as often as you are able, even on those horrible life feels like it’s ending days. Let gratitude over something small and seemingly insignificant be the rope you use to pull yourself out of the abyss. When we lose people who are of life sustaining importance, there’s a reason one of our first reactions is to thank the people who stood beside us in our pain. Gratitude connects us to each other and to the universe. 
Nothing has had a greater impact on my life than practicing gratitude daily. Nothing.

Thanks for reading here, friends. Happy Thanksgiving.

And happy happy birthday to my longtime great friend Gwen.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Thanksgiving Eve Thoughts

1. I am filled with euphoria every year on Thanksgiving Eve. My company rocks so I get an early dismissal if I'm working (which I am this year) and I'm super pumped about the days off ahead. I'm in a good mood the entirety of Thanksgiving week. Everything feels full and I always make sure I do something(s) for someone else and spend some quiet time by myself, reflecting. Clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose and all. I am privileged and fortunate and I don't allow myself to forget for a second that others are not and that it is my responsibility as a human being to do what I can for those people.

2. Gift guides are not my favorite but I love Shelby's every year on Big Hungry Shelby without fail. It is one of my holiday must reads. Shower me in Trader Joe's Everything.

3. I mailed out a lot of books to new homes yesterday. Well, MFD mailed them out for me. Hallelujah. He has been the MVP of errands last week and this week. My mom is getting pies I ordered from Jen and making stuffing and pumpkin bread and dropping everything off to me too which is all an enormous help. Team work makes the dream work. There are a lot of moving parts to get this show on the road.

4. I picked up new books from the library yesterday. It was the first time I've been to the Philly library in a while as I've been relying heavily on the abundant OCNJ library. All the work in front of the old Family Court Building and library itself is done. The walk is much nicer than it's been over the last year. Looking good, Philly.
5. Also apparent from my lunch walk yesterday: Philly has the fever, big time.
6. Stack 'em up.

7. Okay last stack reference, I swear. Don't forget that Amazon will be running its $10 off $25 books sale this weekend like they do every post-Thanksgiving weekend. Treat yo'self or get some gifts loaded in your cart so you're ready.

8. Things I'm not thankful for: this fucking tax scam. It is an absolute disaster for all of us. Please contact your Senators about this shit sundae. Call, write, mail a postcard, send a fax via text through ResistBot (text RESIST to 504-09), hire a skywriter...whatever. Let it be known loudly and clearly that this tax bill will hurt the middle class and the poor. We'll all be in debtor's prison together. It's Robin Hood in reverse in which they steal from the poor and middle class people to pay the rich and the corporations and, of course, themselves. It is vile. There is no other explanation for 1) student loan interest not being deductible while private school tuition is 2) supplies teachers buy out of pocket not being deductible while maintenance on a private jet and I can't keep going because it makes me fucking ill. Read this Forbes article on it entitled GOP Tax Bill Is The End Of All Economic Sanity in Washington. This tax bill is horrifying and will hurt all of us, especially our kids still in the education system. Kids of democrats and republicans and independents and non-voters. Do something. Democracy requires participation.
9. Reminder:

10. E-card of the week: it takes skills to make a mostly beige meal appear appetizing. May the odds be ever in your favor.

I will have a post up tomorrow. If you are not checking in, have a very happy Thanksgiving! 

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Things that might surprise you about me

Or not. If you've read here for any solid amount of time you know a lot more stupid shit about me than I know about you. It’s not easy to surprise people when you’ve been blogging for six years. I stole this idea from my friend Sara at Journey of Doing and decided to try it on for size anyway.

1. I don't like high thread count sheets. 400 is fine. 

2. The only reason I changed my last name when I got married is because I was sick of spelling my maiden name every time I said it. It is now legally my middle name but if I didn't have to spell it all the time, I wouldn't have changed it.

3. I’ve voted for local Republican candidates in the past. I can barely believe that myself because I haven't seen a moderate Republican candidate in years.

4. I am very no bullshit in written and oral communications, but my thoughts on things out in the ether are decidedly more in line with my pisces sun sign. I consider myself a child of the moon and water. My animal totem is the dolphin. I don't believe we are ever out of touch with people who have physically died. I also don't believe in coincidences. Given that I love tie dye, maybe these hippie notions do not surprise you, but they are a stark contrast to the part of me the world sees daily.

5. I think ice breakers are the stupidest waste of time ever.

6. I have become a person who doesn't like board games. Perhaps I've always been this person but just convinced myself otherwise.

7. I hitched a few rides home from the bar in college. That was before cell phones, Criminal Minds, and murder mysteries. Thank God I didn't cross the path of any serial killers. Sorry mom.

8. I wore glasses and/or contacts from 1990 to 2009. Many people forget I ever wore glasses and I am one of those people until I think about it. Lasik is the best thing I've ever done.

9. I have a pact with Lori to take care of my chin hair if I'm ever in a coma. I had that in place before I had my living will in place.

10. I totally misread Catcher in the Rye in tenth grade. I can still remember my english teacher looking at me like I was a complete idiot. And reading it again and thinking she was right.

What might surprise me about you?

Monday, November 20, 2017

TWTW - the one before the turkey

A quick stop at Sam's then on to Jimmy & Jackie's for our annual Friendsgiving. They had their house all decorated and Jimmy even set up a lounge out back with lights and heaters. Everyone brought an app or dessert and it was nice to be able to linger longer than if we were in a restaurant. We're not all in the same place a lot but when we are we laugh like mad. I’m happy and grateful to have had these friends for over 25 years but the stars of the show were Wyatt, Lucy, and electronica music. Just kidding on the last one but totally serious about the first two. We didn't get home until 1:30 and I was up until after 2 but it was worth it! Also, exhibit A of the fucking terrible graininess of the 6S or whatever version of the 6 iPhone I have now. It's like they want to force an upgrade.

Bruce DGAF what time you go to sleep, he still gets up at 6. I went back to sleep from 7:30 - 10:30 because I knew I had to be out in public later and didn't want to be Bitcherella. When I finally got up I jumped right into action cleaning out and reorganizing the coat closet (but not painting it, which it has needed since 2009) under the watchful eyes of all three dogs. I also went through my drawers and closet and culled a bag of clothes. Aside from making bacon mac and cheese bites for later, that took up most of my day. FYI people: Target is beta testing restock, which seems designed to compete with Amazon Prime Pantry. I ordered at 3 pm on Friday and my stuff was there by 11 am Saturday morning for $1 less shipping than Prime Pantry. Your move, Amazon. 
Saturday night was Aubrey's sprinkle. My nephew will be here so soon, I can't believe it. I can't wait to meet him! And yes, all I ate this weekend was cannoli cake and I'm not sad. 
I got home around 8:30 and read a little and watched some Indiana Jones thing with MFD. I don't think I've ever seen one of them all the way through.

After contemplating a plan of attack for the day while the dogs lounged in the style they are accustomed to, I set to work work work work work on Sunday. Stacey picked up a bag of donations to take to Mitzvah Circle so that had me in the mood to get rid of more shit. I addressed some Christmas cards until Bruce decided that was enough, put Christmas gifts in bags (reusable bags for all this year, ho ho ho mother earth, this is my atonement for sending paper cards), was supervised everywhere by Gus who must've been trying to make up for Geege being gone, made chicken for chicken lettuce wraps and scrambled eggs for breakfasts, packed up food/house stuff and my clothes for the upcoming long weekend at the shore, and went through a bunch of shit in the basement and reorganized or got rid of it, including books (thanks Instagram!). I also did seven loads of laundry and put what was mine away. MFD left his laundry basket downstairs for two weeks constantly in my way so I said fuck it and did his laundry too. Sunday night I finished the Christmas cards aside from stamps and a few missing addresses and watched the new Will & Grace. 
My people are awesome. Jackie got us a Geege keepsake, Stacey picked up a reusable pug Christmas bag for me, and my Mom gave me some perfume and a nice note. All the warm fuzzies. 

And soon, all the turkey.

How was your weekend?

Friday, November 17, 2017

The Gift of Friday

Happy Friday my friends. Are you ready for the quickest days of the week to come and go before you can blink?

G is for get your shit together. My to do lists have to do lists and I am jamming some shit out today, come hell or high water. MFD bailed me out on two separate errands yesterday because I fucked up the times.

I is for I want a new phone, all of my photos look like shit and I swear they did that on purpose to make people want to upgrade. I'm thinking of a Google Pix 2. I've only ever had an iPhone. Will the switch be horrible?

F is for Franken. You didn't think I'd let this go without comment because his politics match mine, did you? I'm disappointed in groping Al, but as a 40 year old woman who has lived on this earth and had countless incidents of uninvited touching in bars in my early 20s, many by guys who are otherwise nice, I can't say I'm surprised. I like the work Al has done in the Senate, but I believe the woman. The bullshit women have put up with since the dawn of time is not a partisan issue, in fact it's not even a political issue. It's a human issue.

I think this is a good conversation to have, and I think a lot of us are having conversations. Me and MFD are, me and my BFFs are, it’s topical in my progressive groups. We are all approaching this from different directions, similar to the conversations we're now having about pervasive and systemic racism.

Where is the line? What do we want going forward? All of this has made me think of so many things I’ve forgotten about for years. I don’t want to crucify any person who grabbed my ass in a bar without permission. As a logical person, I recognize an ass grab in a bar is different than sexual harassment in the work place which is different than sexual assault etc etc.

The patriarchy is on shaky ground but most positions of power are still occupied by men. It feels like the system is folding in on itself while those in power claw to keep it. It's alarming in that it's the only thing we've ever known so the toppling naturally frightens us because on the whole we fear change; and it's awesome in that everything can change: all the attitudes and the behaviors. I think we're on the cusp of something huge but women AND male allies need to keep smashing...even when it hits people they like.

Just to be clear, no one expects another person to have never done or said anything wrong. We are human. We are imperfect. We fuck up and we hurt each other. I hear a lot of grown men being like man...I should not have done that in my teens/early to mid 20s, I know better now. After acknowledgement, that's the key - you know better, so you do better. I don't want to berate you or shame you for not knowing better then. That does nothing for me, you, or the world. You atone by teaching your kids and your male counterparts how to support and value women and actually supporting them with your actions, not just your words. Of course I hear some What, now that's wrong? They can't take a joke? We can't flirt? etc. from those clinging to the old ways. You can flirt. You can still talk about WYLTF without devaluing and debasing them as people, without it being okay for it the conversation to devolve into grab her by the pussy (sad that that's like a national American phrase now), implying force or against will. I think that's the line, isn't it? Everyone is a sexual being. It's how you value the bodily autonomy of others. And it's teaching that concept of bodily autonomy at a young age, to ALL kids regardless of sex.

What you cannot do is touch someone without permission, and you are learning that there are consequences to doing so. Finally. You also cannot ever ever ever engage in anything remotely sexual with a minor. That…that is definitely in the set the world on fucking fire zone and I’d rather pee on the scorched earth next to you than give you a drop of relief. Equating Roy Moore's multi-offense pedophilia with Al Franken's boorish groping shows how partisanship in this country has eroded our decency and common sense and highlights our desire to be right and win at all costs - even when the  cost comes on the backs of women and young girls.

We're ALL learning - we were all raised in a misogynist culture. Women battle the same long-held cultural and societal notions of what they should just deal with as men battle those things that are okay for them to do. Things are changing and there will be growing pains all around. It's going to be uncomfortable but it won't be forever. It will be easier if we give ourselves and others trying to find new ways of being some grace.

Maybe we could start by not having magazines like W name a 13 year old as sexiest actress? Come the fuck on now. Hand me my hose of fire.

T is for toodleoo, mofos. Incidentally I learned from Lauren yesterday that MFD's Venmo name has MOFO in it. I got a good laugh out of that. I hope you have many good laughs this weekend!

Happy happy birthday to Denise, who has been framily to me since she was born.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Thursday Thoughts - it's not your lungs this time, it's your heart that holds your fate

1. When your husband puts away groceries in a cabinet that has room, but contains no food. What is it people in the south say? Bless his heart. At least he didn't eat any of those boxes? I need them for a recipe this weekend and usually I warn him not to eat something when that's the case.
2. This photo sums up how I feel by 7:30 pm every night since daylight saving ended.

3. Wednesday I experienced first hand one of the ways a foreign entity could torture me to extract information: put me in a chair where I endure a dental cleaning while donald trump plays on a TV directly in front of my face for an hour. No cavities and the fluoride treatment was tops though.

4. To balance that horrible experience, I did get to have dinner with my oldest friend Jen last night. As in longest friendship (37 years) not oldest friend person,  you understand. We followed it up with a trip to Target where we roamed around like wild hyenas who broke out of the enclosure. We got to see cousin Cindy at On the Border as a bonus. Mid-week bliss until I got home and spent two hours putting the house back together from dog chaos that erupted throughout the day. These dogs need jobs. I did get them a gift: Urine Remover. Props to Clorox for not mincing words. 
5. Women and male allies are throwing their middle fingers in the air this week. I dig it. Just a reminder to keep us all honest - if you question why someone who has been abused waits five minutes or five years to come forward, you cast doubt on a victim immediately and people like you are, in fact, why people who are abused do not come forward. So when you question their reasons, you need look no further than your own doubting heart. Victims are afraid no one will believe them, especially if their abusers are in positions of power. Abusers actually tell them no one will believe them to keep them quiet, and then that comes true because you throw fire into their path with questions and insinuations that you don't make towards the accused. Don't be so worried about false allegations that you trample over someone who has been harmed, sometimes irreparably, in the process. Start believing victims. It is that easy and you don't need background info. You've probably chosen to immediately believe abusers with no background information so making the switch shouldn't be that hard. As a society we've believed and excused abusers for long enough, it is literally how we were raised to react to these situations. Don't make a fuss, make it go away, don't destroy that person's life or career. Fuck all of that. The pendulum is shifting. Move with it. Have you seen the opinion piece Brave Enough to Be Angry by Lindy West in the New York Times? Links are not working here for some reason so apologies for the full URLs. Check it out here: Drawing below by Courtney Privett: 
7. If you can't recall jack shit you need not be the chief lawyer of the United States of America. Speaking of things we don't need, the GOP tax plan. Did you see the video of CEOs admitting they won't increase capital investments like the GOP says they will for the additional tax cuts corporations will get on our backs? Good times. I hope you've been on the phone screaming about this bill because I don't know any rich people and we're all going to take it up the ass on this one.

8. I'm getting my end of the year charities lined up. So many good opportunities to give back at this time of year, and I really love hearing about how other people are giving back so let me know what you're doing! It gives me ideas for the next year. MFD and I are making Thanksgiving dinner for a family from Missouri living in OCNJ for eight weeks while they get treatment for their sick child. We are also a giving partner for Covenant House again to fulfill some of their Christmas wishes through Holiday Express, the organization Laura does a lot of work with in the North Jersey area, and we bought gifts to help a local single mom who took in four additional kids this holiday season. Thanks to our friends at McCarthy Real Estate for organizing that! New to us this year: donating wreaths for Wreaths Across America to be placed on the graves of veterans on December 16. Thanks to our friend Jeannine for the link for that!

9. Reminder: Shared by my Aunt Maria this week and 100% true. Don't overthink it. If you see a way to be a helper, just be a helper.

10. E-card of the week: 

If you've never noticed, most of the time the end of the Thursday Thoughts title is song lyrics. 

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Show Us Your Books: Sweater Weather with a side of reading

The title was going to be reading weather but hello all weather is reading weather.

Ahoy fellow booknerds. Thanks for looking up from your pages to join us today. I have some housekeeping items:

1. Once again in December Jana and I will host TWO SUYBs - the regular link up on December 12 and the special Favorite Reads of the Year for 2017 (click on that to see my post from last year) on Tuesday, December 26. Yes, we know it's the day after Christmas. Merry Christmas to all of us! This is the gift we will give to the readers of the internet and holders of the Christmas gift cards burning a hole in their pockets already, one day in. I'm going to prepare my post ahead of time. fa la la la la la la READ BOOKS
2. For your grabbing pleasure, may I direct you to a new Show Us Your Books button on my sidebar that Jana worked on with Tanya? That photo of me and Jana is from college and yes, that is Boone's Farm.
3. Last month was our three year anniversary - congrats to Steph G at Insert Classy Here for winning the $25 Amazon gift card + $25 donation to Children's Literacy Initiative.
4. Happy happy birthday one of my BFF sister resistors, Melissa.
5. The fat man walks alone.

Linkup Guidelines:
This link up is the second Tuesday of every month. The next is  Tuesday, December 12, 2017 with the special Favorite Reads of 2016 Show Us Your Books on Tuesday, December 26.
1. Visit and comment with both of your hosts, Jana & me
2. Display the button and/or link back to us on your blog post
2. Visit other blogs who've linked up and talk books as booknerds are wont to do

Here's what I've read since the last linkup.

Engrossing Reads

I Am Watching You by Teresa Driscoll - I was totally glued to this book. Lots of loose ends. Creepy throughout. And you know I do love a creep. You might not know that I'm obsessed with things that should be, in my mind, contracted. I would have liked I'm Watching You better.  Free copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

Lie to Me by J.T. Ellison - I was very impatient to know WTF was going on in this novel. Sometimes suspense books aren't super suspenseful. That was not the case here. I couldn't put this one down. One of those no one is likable but it doesn't even matter books.  free copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

Deep Freeze (Virgil Flowers #10) by John Sandford - That fuckin' Flowers has done it again. If you read the series, you get why I called him that. The Virgil series is very reliable for me. OCNJ library hardback

Daisy in Chains by Sharon Bolton - Well, I was completely taken off-guard by how this shit went down, which is a very, very good thing when you're reading a book like this. I liked how Bolton gave you a little something easy to figure out relatively early on and saved the sucker punch for the end. Good stuff. OCNJ library hardback

Passed the Time Just Fine

Dead Certain by Adam Mitzner - I can't even remember where I got this book, how I heard of it, if it was on my kindle or a library book. It was fine. A little too tight. A little weird and not in a way that I Liked.

The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine - This book is straddling all the lines between my very scientific categories. The second half of the book is definitely engrossing - I stayed up until midnight on a Sunday night to finish it. The first half passed the time just fine/was not worth it. It seemed like a really long build up and the repetition was starting to annoy me. I wish you could just read the last half of the book, but that's not how this works. OCNJ library hardback

Y is for Yesterday (Kinsey Milhone #25) by Sue Grafton - The 25th book in the alphabet series. The series definitely needs a relief pitcher, but I will of course read the 26th and will miss the prospect of more Kinsey. I love that cranky lady who is so set in her ways. OCNJ library hardback

Triptych (Will Trent #1) by Karin Slaughter - A new to me series, recommended by one of you...Erin? Anyway, Will is quite a different character for the detective/murder genre and I'll keep with this. OCNJ library hardback

Fractured (Will Trent #2) by Karin Slaughter - See? OCNJ library hardback

Not Worth It

The Seven Rules of Elvira Carr by Frances Maynard - This reminded me of a weak version of either Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine or The Rosie Project - both books I enjoyed immensely. To be fair to this book, I was comparing it to how enjoyable I found those two. This felt like it took forever to read and was really surface when it could have been much deeper. Kindle e-book

Did Not Finish

Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan - I read the first Beach Street and liked it fine. I couldn't face the prospect of the similar formula of this one a few pages in. It might be better in the summer, so I will keep it in mind. OCNJ library hardback

Red Clocks by Leni Zumas - I couldn't finish this one. I'm disappointed because I liked the premise. I thought it was very hard to get into. Free copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 

And you? What have you been reading? 

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