Wednesday, December 25, 2013

You know it's cold when...

A Minnesota Smoker's Winter Lament

You know it's cold when
...the snowflakes that fall gently upon your cheek don't even melt.
You know it's cold when
...the mug full of hot coffee you take outside with you is coffee-flavored ice cream when you go back inside.
You know it's cold when have to light your second cigarette with the burning ember of the first one because your lighter won't work.
You know it's cold when burn yourself and don't even know it until you've been back in the house for 20 minutes.
You know it's cold when takes you 10 minutes to get bundled up to go outside for a 5-minute smoke break.
You know it's cold when stand outside thinking of all the cold comments you can make on a blog post.
You know it's cold when reminisce about the "good ol' days" when it was 20F outside.


You know you're a smoker when go outside to have a cigarette even though it's so cold that freezing to death is entirely within the realm of possible scenarios.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

"I Hate Christmas!"

I've been called a Scrooge for saying this, but this is my chance to issue a rebuttal.

First of all, anyone who says "I hate Christmas" probably has some very good reasons for saying something like that, and maybe they really want you to ask them why.

If they say, "I just effing do, alright? Back off!" then that is your cue that they don't want you to ask them why. You may continue to think of them as a Scrooge, but maybe keep it to yourself.

Because 'tis the season for lists, I'm going to LIST my reasons for being one of those people who says "I hate Christmas." But I want you to keep reading, because after that list, I'm going to switch gears and talk about something positive. (That's called a "hook." Did it work?)

Why I Hate Christmas

1. I am generally miserable when it's cold outside. And I hate snow. I don't think it's pretty. I think it's slippery. And I don't like falling when I'm walking on it, or skidding into a ditch when I'm driving on it. And since I live in the Northern part of the Northern Hemisphere, Christmas and cold/snow/ice/falling down go hand in hand.

2. Commercials. I don't watch a lot of TV, but when I do, it makes me sad. I hate the commercials, reminding me of the following:
     a. I don't have anyone buying expensive jewelry for me (never have, and please don't--if you want to spend ridiculous amounts of money on me, just take me to Target--I'm in DIRE NEED of underwear, jeans, a pair of winter boots, and make-up/toiletries).
     b. I don't have money to buy anything--NOT A SINGLE THING--for my family, but according to ABC commercials, I should be getting them cars and copious piles of clothing and oh yeah, more diamonds and gold heart-shaped key necklaces and dangly bracelet thingies. I can't even afford to get to the mall to use the coupon I have for a FREE PAIR OF EARRINGS!
     c. Vacations are not happening. Don't show me pictures of people sunbathing on cruise ships and frolicking at Disney World.
     d. No one is proposing to me, thinking of proposing to me, or wishing they could propose to me but I'm already taken. I'm okay with this, except during this "Every kiss begins with GAG" season.

3. Christmas music is everywhere, and it's so falsely cheerful or over-the-top worshipful that I pretty much want to stab myself in the ear drums.

4. Charity work is at its highest, which is awesome. But charity workers are at their pushiest, which is NOT awesome. Quit calling me! Quit asking me to throw you some spare change. I just spent $17 in Food Stamps for a TV dinner and a frozen pie and I don't have any change to give you. If you want to help charities out, why not do it all year long? Did you know that the people who are hungriest are also hungry the other 364 days of the year?

5. I don't have special candles, plates, dishes, silverware, table runners, doilies, scented after-poop spray, and napkins for the Holiday Season. I use the same stuff in December that I use the other 11 months.

6. Holiday parties. Make sure to bring a gift for the hosts. No gift? Oops. My bad. Make sure to bring your own booze. But I'm already spending my last $20 on gas so I can get to your house for the party, I can't afford a bottle. Guess I'll stay home. I don't have a special Christmas dress anyway.

7. The stress of decorating isn't really an issue this year, as we just moved into an apartment and there's barely room for even the smallest of additions, but in the past, it was A LOT of work to do all that decorating, and really not that much fun. Especially since I don't have fancy candles to light and booze to drink and I don't want to listen to Christmas music while I'm trimming the damn tree anyway.

8. Carolers. I'm sorry if you're a Caroler, but people walking around singing Christmas songs with smiles plastered on their faces are one of the worst things in the world. I'm not saying YOU are, as a person. You're probably wonderful. But I cannot appreciate caroling. Not one bit.

9. Big expectations, huge let-down. Christmas is like cocaine: you get all jacked up for a few hours, top of the world and all that, and then you crash. And when you crash, it's ugly.

10. Shopping is bad enough the rest of the year, but when I can't even get the few things I want/need (toilet paper and cigarettes and occasionally food) without a barrage of holiday stuff everywhere I turn, it makes me think violent thoughts.

Okay, now that you are all convinced that I am Scrooge, let me share this picture of me and my dog Emma, taken in 2004.

That's me trying to get in the Christmas spirit. I try, at least a little bit, every year. Why? Because I don't want to be Scrooge!

I feel those things listed above MOSTLY because I am poor. I don't even have a credit card I can use so I can pretend I'm not poor for a few weeks! I'm not asking you to feel sorry for me, it's just the truth. I am monetarily (that means "MONEY-WISE") very, very... really poor. And that's okay.

Here's the part I hoped you'd stick around to read.

I love my family and my friends with all the love that is in my heart. There's so much love for them that I've had to grind it up into dust and let it settle in the broken, cracked parts so that I could make room for more. I love to be with my family and friends. I love to hear their laughter. I love to make them laugh. I love to have discussions and debates and deep serious conversations. I love to be the goofiest one in the room. I wish I had the money to travel everywhere, to see everyone all year long. If I could, I would spend my whole life on the road, living out of a suitcase, going from loved one to loved one and sharing in the laughter and the tears. I think about this all the time, but when the Christmas season starts rolling around (sometime right after Halloween--if we're lucky, it holds off that long), the fact that I can't do what I wish I could do is thrown in my face repeatedly.

I want to decorate. But I don't have the room, nor the money to buy the decorations. I have a lot of decorations already, from Life Accumulation, but you know where that stuff is? In a cold storage locker 20 minutes away. And like I said, nowhere to put it.

I want to go shopping. I want to buy everyone I know whatever I think they would love most. And I'm pretty good at picking out gifts. I notice things. And if I had the money to buy for my friends, I think they'd like what I bought them.

I want to give to charities. Not just at Christmas, but every day of the year. I offer my time when I can muster the energy to do so, but even that's a challenge for me. And this time of year... it's more chaos than comfort, at least from my perspective.

Honestly, I wish I had the special napkins and candles and bathroom spray and glasses and silverware and plates. I wish I had the table runners and doilies, and I wish I had a stereo to play Christmas CDs (or even tapes!) on, because if I had all that other stuff, it would probably be fun to listen to a little Christmas music. But only in short bursts. Don't get crazy on me now.

And you know what? I really don't want a diamond on a ring of gold, presented on bended knee. I really don't want that. I wouldn't mind having someone special in my life, but it's not the most important thing to me.

I HAVE the most important things. And that's why I am RICH in ways that have nothing to do with money. You hear people say that a lot, don'tcha? Especially this time of year. But it's true. As sappy and ridiculous as it is (more sappy than pictures of your drooly kids on Santa's lap at the mall), it's also true. I still have my parents. I have my amazing brother and my sweet loving sister-in-law. I have two nieces who are the great joys of my life (and the reason I can no longer say I hate Christmas programs--how could I possibly hate Christmas programs, when they are in the show?!). I have so many wonderful, awesome, funny, not-so-funny, brilliant, stubborn, glorious, talented, goofy, ridiculous, loving, caring, understanding unique friends. And you are my friends even though I can't buy you Christmas presents or bring a bottle to the party. You're my friends even though I have serious issues about Christmas.

I love you all.

Unless you're a caroler. (Unless you do it like this.)

Aubrey, Elyse, & Me - Christmas 2011

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Ghost of Thanksgiving Past

One of my favorite relatives is my great-aunt, Winnie. She passed away a little over a year ago, and I miss her presence frequently. In memory of her, I am going to share with you a Thanksgiving story I posted back in 2006, on Myspace (remember Myspace? It was so awesome, until Facebook came along and left it to rot in a shallow grave).

Anyway, here is a picture of my awesome Aunt Winnie, pictured here with my awesome nieces and their dog, Patches. Then, the Thanksgiving story circa 2006.

Aubrey, Winnie, Patches, & Elyse, 2009
The original title for this was "Dogwalkers & Coppers." (November 24, 2006)

So, Thanksgiving was yesterday, for us Americans anyway. I went to my mom and dad’s house, enjoyed the family time, ate too much, and brought home a load of leftovers. This is a good thing, because until the leftovers entered the picture, my refrigerator had the following items in it: a pitcher of water, ketchup, a half bottle of Sake, and ice cubes in the freezer section. But alas! While I was putting away the leftovers, I noticed that somehow, I’d ended up with a Tupperware container of dark meat turkey instead of white meat turkey. I don’t like the dark meat. It tends to be gristly and slimy, and I don’t like either of those adjectives for my animal byproducts. I immediately called my mom to inform her of the horrible error. She calmly told me that my great-aunt, Winnie, probably had the white meat in her possession, and it was a simple mistake.

This is terrible! I thought to myself. How can I make delicious white meat sandwiches with gravy and tons of pepper if I don’t have white meat? Not nearly as upset about it as I’m making it seem, I went to bed, slept for 10 hours, and then called my dear Aunt Winnie this morning to see about making a trade. She, of course, was fine with that. Since she’d intended on taking home the dark meat anyway. She only lives about five miles from my place, so I told her I’d be right over.

It’s the day after Thanksgiving. Remember? People who own businesses call it “Black Friday” because they are assuming/hoping that all the After Thanksgiving Christmas Present Shoppers who have the day off work will put their accounting books in the black for the first time all year. Yay for them, no more debt! I don’t do shopping much (see aforementioned comment on refrigerator contents for an explanation), so this doesn’t concern me. No crowded parking lots. No long lines. No accrued debt. However, I live in an apartment building that has, within reasonable walking distance (if one was so inclined as to walk) about eight shopping centers—two of them quite large. It took me... oh... 10 minutes... to get out of my parking lot (it opens onto one of the main drags). It took me three light changes to turn onto the road I needed to get to for the 5-mile trip to Winnie’s. The light, by the way, is about 100 yards away from my parking lot. Traffic was obscene, to say the least.

Thirty minutes later, I was almost at the end of what should have been a 10-minute journey. As I turned the corner into my Aunt Winnie’s parking lot, I realized I’d forgotten a vital ingredient on this pilgrimage: the dark meat. Doh! With tears in my eyes, I turned around and headed back toward the madness of my neighborhood.

I returned, ran up the stairs, got the meat, ran back downstairs... and waited ten minutes for the cop car to move that was blocking my exit. Ugh. Got back onto the main drag, and another cop drove by, lights flashing. Which, of course, completely stops traffic for a good ten minutes. Once I was out of the rush of the mall section of the city, I relaxed a bit. The cop cars and shoppers were eerily replaced almost at an equal ratio by dog walkers. Chihuahuas in sweaters, Alaskan Malamutes wagging their Hulk-squirrel tails, Poodles (usually in pairs, oddly enough), English Springers prancing along like they were at a show, fluffy little mutts walking fast to keep up with the kids that seemed to always have THEM on the other end of the leash... they were everywhere. It was cute. Yes, I said cute.

I arrived at Winnie’s and made the trade. I know she wanted me to stay and visit, but this trip had already taken me an hour longer than anticipated, and I’d left my apartment with lights on, an icy cold Sprite on the computer desk (the cat probably knocked it over by now), and having just thrown on dirty clothes in order to get the job done. She commented on my hair (it’s short now, and I didn’t “do” it today, so it’s, like, major bed head style going every which way, stickin’ up mostly on one side, that sort of thing). She also gave me three newspaper articles to read (she clips them and sends them to everyone she knows). One on dogs—because I like dogs; one on homeless people—because I do volunteer work with them; and one on single women in their 30s—because that’s me. It’s nice that she’s thoughtful about specifics. I wouldn’t want to read articles on mating season in Bangladesh. Well, maybe I would. But that’s another topic.

Anyway, I left 15 minutes later. Saw more dog walkers on the drive home. Many of them. As I approached the ramp to get back onto Snelling Avenue, I saw that the bridge I’d soon be crossing had a lot of flashing lights. Then I saw that the ramp was blocked off by two cop cars. So I had to take an EXTRA 15 minutes to drive down to the next road that would get me going the right way (Saint Paul city streets were built by drunken Irishmen). On this alternate route (Dale Street, if you must know), there were less dog walkers (but still a few) and lots of cop cars. All of them parked alongside the road, but with cops inside. It was almost creepy.

Back to my neighborhood. A fender bender happened about a minute before I arrived at the street before my apartment building. I had to take ANOTHER detour, through a Target parking lot, and wait at two more lights. Finally... finally... I got back to my apartment. I rolled up the window, turned off the ignition, got out of the car, lugged my butt up to the third floor, unlocked my apartment door, kicked off my shoes, noted that the Sprite had not been knocked over... and realized I’d left the Tupperware container full of white meat turkey in the car.

Forgetaboutit. It’s as cold as a refrigerator outside. It can stay there for a bit.

Happy Thanksgiving! And remember: Be grateful every day.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


With as little prejudice one way or another, take a look at this picture for me.

I'm guessing most people would know who this is, even if the title of this blog post was not his name. I'm going to go on the assumption that you know this is a drawing of Jesus. That's our jumping off point for what I'll be saying the rest of the blog entry.

This is Jesus.

This is an image that I have seen pretty much my entire life. This particular image, in this particular frame, hanging on various walls. I had this picture as far back as the age of 3. Somewhere along the way, it got lost. But my brother gave me another one about a decade ago. This one. I have it hanging on my bedroom wall, next to my hand-painted owl (Fred) and a chalky, somewhat faded, sepia-toned photograph of my great-great aunt, Frankie. Here's a picture of them. 

Fred and Frankie

This is my story of that particular image of Jesus. But first, a little background.

When I was born, my parents were living in Portland, Oregon. My dad was in seminary (think "preacher college," if you are wondering what exactly that means). Shortly thereafter, my dad got a job at his first church, up in Westport, Washington. A few years later, he got his second church job in Pine Bluffs, Wyoming. A few more years later, and he got a job working at a nursing home in New Brighton, Minnesota, as a chaplain. Needless to say, I grew up hearing all about Jesus. Loving Jesus. Talking to Jesus. Wanting to make Jesus happy. Assuming Jesus loved me back. Believing it. (There have been many bumps and detours and rants along the way, but that's another story.)

My point is, I liked Jesus, and I believed he liked me, too.

I am 41 years old. That picture of Jesus (the one up there at the top of the page) has been in storage for the past few years, and when I brought it out and hung it up on the wall in our new apartment just this August, I realized something that I had not realized before.

You see, as familiar as this image is to me...

My entire life...

I looked at that image, and (putting words in Jesus's mouth for a moment) thought he was saying, "Oh, Dana. Really? *sigh* I cannot believe you did [fill in the blank] again!" That's right, I thought Jesus was holding his head in his hands and sighing in frustration.

Look at it again:

In August (four months ago), I looked at this picture, and had myself a good ol' fashioned light bulb moment.

I realized Jesus was being depicted in this drawing as praying.


What the what?! PRAYING?! 

You mean he's not disappointed in me?
You mean he's not frustrated with me?
You mean he's not judging me?
You mean he's not wishing I was a different person?
You mean he's not regretting loving me?
You mean... he's praying?


Maybe... Oh my goodness, could it be?

MAYBE I'm not the only one who has misinterpreted what I've been seeing in front of me my whole life.

MAYBE I've been taking my experiences with the people around me, with my own self-talk, with things I've read and heard and seen... and not seeing it the right way.

I'm not saying I'm right.
I'm not saying I'm wrong.

It just struck me that, even though I grew up actually believing that this guy Jesus loved me, I still thought this picture was him shaking his head at me.

The bigger picture here is, anything and everything can be misinterpreted. It can all be seen from a different perspective. Maybe it's not Jesus. Maybe it's heavy metal music. Maybe it's science fiction novels. Maybe it's Michael Jackson. Maybe it's Valentine's Day. 

Whatever you name, I guarantee you that your perspective on it is not the only one.

I'm super glad that light bulb went on for me. I hope it happens again. I like light bulbs.

Friday, November 22, 2013

I Am... Who Am I?

I am going to challenge you, the reader, to do an assignment for me. I'm not going to grade you or fix your grammatical and punctuation errors (unless you want me to). I just want to see what you come up with. When I was teaching at Promise Program, I had my students do this as a final project. It always amazed me (and them) at how different each one was, and how revealing they were, no matter how simple or flowery.

The “I Am” poem was introduced to me by my ninth grade English teacher, Mrs. Nagolski. I have loved it ever since. The idea is to use the beginning phrases below to complete thoughts, usually one sentence per phrase (but it’s poetry, so it’s obviously open to interpretation).

Don’t worry if you’re not a poetic person. All you have to do is finish the sentences (keeping the “I am” line the same each time, although this rule can be broken if you really want to do something else). You don’t even have to think about whether they “go” together, and PLEASE don’t feel you have to make them rhyme (although you can if you want).

Below are two samples. The first one is my first one, written when I was 14. The second one is a more recent attempt (I do one approximately every 3 years--it's cool to see the differences in my personality, and in what mattered more to me).

Here are the lines to use for your I Am poem:

(Pictured here with just-graduated student Sari & her daughter,
Promise Program Class of 2006.)

I am
I wonder
I hear
I see
I want
I am
I pretend
I feel
I touch
I worry
I cry
I am
I understand
I say
I dream
I try
I hope

I am

Sample One

(Written at age 14, 1987)

I Am #1

I am a dreamer on a rainy morn.
I wonder what others think and say.
I hear the cry of a falling star.
I see a rainbow from the other side.
I want to believe that I’m loved.
I am a dreamer on a rainy morn.
I pretend the rain is angel tears.
I feel myself floating on the clouds.
I touch the sunshine as it passes by.
I worry about how my life affects others.
I cry when God’s grace is revealed to me.
I am a dreamer on a rainy morn.
I understand what it means to love.
I say what I mean, but it could be a lie.
I dream of traveling to faraway places.
I try to see the good in things.
I hope for true peace in this world.
I am a dreamer on a rainy morn.

Sample Two

(Written at age 35, 2007)

I Am #6

I am a teacher and a student.
I wonder how I’ve made it this far.
I hear the voices in my head
—positive ones telling me how strong I am
—negative ones telling me I’m worthless—and
I see how they influence my reactions to the situations in which I find myself.
I want to be above all that
—to be immune to any persuasion that is not pure—but

I am a stubborn, persistent soul, and lessons like that are hard-earned for me.

I pretend I don’t really care; tell myself that I’m tougher than everyone else, but what
I feel deep inside beneath the surface of my tough exterior is almost more than I can bear.
I touch that unbearable darkness in the solitude, when I allow myself to listen to the depth;
lower than the voices…
lower than the persuasion…
lower than the knowledge I think I’ve learned.
I worry—oh, how I worry—but only for brief moments…
moments that threaten to leave me breathless, and
I cry hot, angry tears at my inability to stop the pain, the sadness, the darkness
why can’t I stop these things?

I am not omnipotent.

I understand that we are all here in this universe for a reason,
and I really do believe that (most days), but when
I say that I feel as if I don’t belong in this time and this place…
does anyone out there know what I mean?
I dream of continuing to learn,
of flying with great minds in ancient lands,
of talking with ancient souls in great detail, and
I try to remind myself that I have already done that and
survived the enlightenment as well as
overcome the blind belief and
hardened joy and
mind-numbing sadness.
I hope…
and that, in and of itself, is a miracle,
because there was a time when I lost all hope…
when I chose to be “safe” in my cynicism in order to keep out the darkness, but

I am still learning that it is better to hope
and dream
and swallow the joy this world offers
than it is to grow so cold and bitter that I
cease being able to share what I have learned with anyone else.

Even if you choose not to share it, I encourage you to try. They have a cathartic quality to them. Some of my students' I Am poems were very to the point, in the moment. Things like "I hear my kids yelling from the other room" and "I am so tired." It doesn't have to be fancy. It just needs to be you. Enjoy it!

Confessions from my Big Adventure to New England

I posted these confessions of my big adventure on Facebook first, one a day after returning from my most amazing trip. I thought I'd post them here, too, since these are what kind of instigated the whole blog thing, most notably the title.

At any rate, these are my ten trip confessions. I started with number 10 because it's the most important ones. The rest are frivolous and/or silly, with a little bit of depth thrown in. They are all true, 100%. Maybe a little hyperbole here and there, but nothing blatantly false.

Dana's Big Adventure Confession #10: I honestly did not know if I would get to New England until I stepped off the train in Massachusetts, into the waiting arms of my dear sweet friend Heather Drake. Not because I didn't want to (I did), but because as someone who lives with chronic pain, bipolar, and severe anxiety, I was scared to death of getting hurt, or lost, or embarrassed because I had a meltdown in unfamiliar territory. But I'm here to tell you, not only did I survive, but having worked through all the fears (both real and imagined), I feel empowered by it. This was my first big leap on my own, swimming totally into uncharted waters. What kept me going was knowing I had a safe harbor at both ends of the journey. And now that I've done the (almost) impossible, watch out. I may start actually venturing out in other ways that I believed were too "risky" before. 

Dana's Big Adventure Confession #9: Because my knees actually hit the door in the train bathroom, I almost always used the handicapped water closet.

Dana's Big Adventure Confession #8: I renewed my passport before leaving and brought it with me, just in case I decided to keep going!

Dana's Big Adventure Confession #7: I farted in the jacuzzi! 

Dana's Big Adventure Confession #6: I brought home with me every single complimentary item at my disposal (i.e. shampoos, soaps, notepads, pens, and all the coffee and tea sundries I didn't use).

Dana's Big Adventure Confession #5: When circling the sample table at the Cabot Cheese Shop in Vermont, I used the same toothpick more than once per cheese chunk (the toothpick has two ends, duh!)

Dana's Big Adventure Confession #4: In Vermont, it seemed fairly common-place for someone to reply to my "hello" with "Whatta ya know?", which is what the guy on the left said to me. Being the literalist that I am, I replied, "I know it's a beautiful day for laying carpet!" WHICH IS WHAT THEY WERE ACTUALLY AND FOR REAL DOING. Honestly, the one on the right just about choked on his toothpick. And the other guy bummed a smoke from me when they took their break 20 minutes later. (I cannot make this stuff up. Well, I could. But I'm not.)

Dana's Big Adventure Confession #3: my seat mate from DC to Chicago had obviously managed to sneak on a bottle of vodka. She was drinking it out of a coffee travel mug. When she left her seat to go to dinner, I took a swig. Just because it smelled really good and I was curious.

Dana's Big Adventure Confession #2: I thought about purposely missing my train so I could continue the adventure.

Dana's Big Adventure Confession #1: While at Union Station in Chicago, I was actually naked for a few minutes. (I'd been on a train for approximately 28 hours. I lugged everything into a handicapped stall, stripped down, used wet wipes to take a layer of filth off, reapplied deodorant and make up, and changed my clothes. It felt very weird and a little scary, but oh-so-refreshing!)

Here's the bottom line: I would do this vacation again in a heartbeat. It was so fun. It was empowering. It was exciting. It was miserable. It was joyous. And now, I feel like I can do ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING

And, I confess, I plan to try doing just that with the rest of my life (everything). 


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

What do you believe?

I self-assess a lot. I think about my favorite things, my beliefs, why I believe what I do, why I do what I do... pretty much always thinking about stuff. 

Stuff is a horrible word. But I'm tired. The rest of this post isn't even brand new out of my head. It's a creed I wrote up back in 2011. It's still true, but don't for one minute assume that this covers everything. 

So go ahead and read it. And then maybe think about what you believe. And if you want, share. Because, you know, I like to think about stuff.

-I believe in seeing a situation from every possible angle, and deciding only after that what to do or say or take as truth.

-I believe that the grime we get on us from driving down the dirt road of life is always able to be washed off one way or another.

-I believe no one enters our lives for no reason.

-I believe in not holding onto regret, but to learn from our mistakes and move on.

-I believe in the power of choice – we are never without options, even if those options are limited.

-I believe in the alchemy of love. You may not change the world, or people, or keep “stuff” from happening, but love will always manage to change you.

-I believe in the tenacity of humanity.

-I believe in the Power that generated this Universe, and all that it can do.

-I believe that the line between contentment and complacency is drawn with self-worth.

-I believe that we are dynamic beings, and that it is far more natural to be a flowing river than a stagnant pond.

Monday, November 18, 2013

A Book Worth Losing Sleep Over

I read almost constantly. If I could read while in the midst of socializing, I would, but that'd just be rude, and I haven't reached that stage in my old lady-ness yet. As a result of this constant reading, I'm always looking for new things to absorb, and I have a three pages long list of recommendations that I am crossing off far too slowly.

One that I crossed off today, however, is this one:

FANGIRL by Rainbow Rowell.

I'm not even done with it yet, and it is already on my "Favorite Modern Fiction Books" list. (I have several Favorite lists, with subcategories, because I have far too many favorites to only have one list.) Anyway, I purposely chose to stay awake last night (as opposed to all the nights I don't choose it) because I really and truly almost literally could not put it down. I did put it down, and then I'd pick it back up almost immediately. I did this several times. Finally, with sandcastles in my eyes and a deep fog settling over my brain, I closed the book at 4:00am.

But then I dreamed I was still reading it!

I dreamed I was reading part of the book that wasn't even in the book. This is a little ironic, because the book is about a young woman who writes FanFic, which is what I was doing in my dream. I had created the same characters from the book and was reading a whole new story, in my dream. Pretty cool. 

Sometimes, I truly love my brain.

Rainbow Rowell, by the way, is a GENIUS. I was going to go see her a couple months ago. She had a speaking engagement thing in Anoka, but they cancelled it because of some fuddy-duddy types. I'm not going to go into the why of this, because it makes me angry, and this post isn't angry. This post is extremely happy and motivating! (At least for me.)

The coolest part is, this book was recommended to me by a young lady I met at the train station in St. Paul back in August, someone who writes FanFic herself, and as I'm a fan of FanFic, this seemed like a reliable recommendation. Plus, as it turns out, I might actually be her real mother.* The stranger sitting next to us while we awaited the by-now-six-hours-late train looked over at one point and said, "I cannot believe the two of you just met."

So thank you, V. Thank you with all the thanks I have in me.

What books have pumped you up recently? Or ever?

*Although the age deferential makes this possible, the fact that I have never given birth would make this highly improbable. Except in the land of FICTION--it could happen. Hmmm....

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Is this really happening?

Okay, I'm doing a blog. I kinda sorta tried doing a blog back in the dark ages of Blogdom, circa 2004, but it wasn't nearly as popular as it is now, and I thought I'd give it another whirl.

When I signed up for this blog page, I immediately found myself overwhelmed, frustrated, and as a result, acting like a toddler. I don't really know why it was bothering me so much, so I'm going to blame my Bipolar. A lot of people think that's a cop-out, but here are my reasons that blaming a cranky, ranty mood on my mental illness is NOT a cop-out:

1.) Having Bipolar is a legitimate problem, and reacting to seemingly insignificant events (or non-events, such as not liking the formatting style of a blog site) is part of the MO (that's modus operandi, in case you aren't up on your Latin abbreviations).

2.) I talk in parenthetical statements (and go off on tangents) a lot, so I apologize if this is hard to follow.

3.) That really shouldn't have been point #2, but too late. I haven't found the delete button on my keyboard yet.

4.) Oh, wait, I totally know where the delete button is, I just don't feel like censoring myself (which is also part of the MO for someone with Bipolar!)... and we are BACK ON TOPIC! YES!

5.) (or 2, really--please see paragraph two above to remember what this list is for.) Other people blame their actions/reactions on stuff all the frickin' time; i.e. "Oh, I don't like guys with beards, but I was drunk, so that's why I kissed you for an hour" or "I totally meant to be on time to work this morning, but I had to poop finally after not going for three days because of all the pain killers I take, and I did NOT want to miss that opportunity" or "I swear, I would've called you, but my phone was out of minutes and then I lost it and by the time I found it the battery was dead and then I couldn't find the charger and then it was two months later and I couldn't remember where we met and that would've been awkward." Um... so yeah, if those excuses can be used, so can mine. Which is legitimate, if you refer back to #1.

6./3.) I am a perfectionist. It may not look like it, but that's because I'm that other type of perfectionist. I learned this in Freshman Year Psychology (which really doesn't mean anything at all, because I might not be remembering it correctly). Anyway. There are two types of perfectionists. There's the perfectionist who will continue to strive for perfection until such heavenly state is achieved, or death happens. I am not this type of perfectionist. Obviously. The other type of perfectionist is what I'm like. I want to do things perfectly. I would strongly prefer to do things perfectly. But I am a Realist, and I know this will never, ever happen. Therefore, I don't even try, beyond the first attempt. This isn't always true. But it is for most things. Like playing the guitar, for example. I picked it up thinking, "I already play the piano and know the notes and besides I play by ear so this is going to be a piece of cake!" but what happened was, I picked up the guitar and it felt like I was holding an object from another planet, something I'd never seen before in my life, and what came out when I strummed the strings was not a melodic, acoustic version of "Total Eclipse of the Heart," but instead sounded more like I'd just dropped my cat on a chalkboard. So I gave up. I (almost literally) threw the guitar back at its owner and said, "This is DUMB!" and for the rest of my life, I will have to live with the knowledge that I can't play the guitar ever because it's, obviously, not possible for me.

7./4.) Some of these blog sites really are tricky to figure out, especially when one is going on very little sleep and may be just a wee (wee!) bit hungover. Also, I am a Realistic Perfectionist and Bipolar, so BACK OFF.

I totally lost my train of thought. Totally.

Oh yeah. Why I don't think using my Bipolar as an excuse for my reaction to blog-making is not a cop-out. (Thank goodness I know how to scroll up and read what's at the top of the page!). I think this list is the answer to the question, don't you?

So, here's my first blog post, in the blogiverse. Remember this day. It will forever be my blogversary. Oooh, I should write a poem, to commemorate and stuff.

I once knew a chic from the North
Who chose to boldly sally forth
into the unknown...

Nope. That's not working. Limericks are DUMB!

O Bloggy Blog!
O Bloggy Blog!
How spacious are your blank boxes!
O Bloggy Blog!
O Bloggy Blog!
I really like that band called "Fleet Foxes!"

You know what? I'll write a poem some other time.

If you think they can handle it, tell your friends about this. I WANT TO SEE NUMBERS!!!!!!

P.S. Here is a cute picture of my cat, CC. Because 3/4 of the Internet is used to view cute cat pictures.