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Friday Five2

Title reference – The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Well, I did it. I turned 42, which really does feel like an answer to something. Getting through this year has felt like an accomplishment. I wonder if this is how every year from now on will be – more aches, less patience with the world and its ridiculous ways, more unlearning and relearning. It’s not so bad, I guess.

Last year at this time, I was freaking out over my blood pressure being high for the first time ever. This year, I am happy to report that it is back to normal (but my heart rate still runs high…because anxiety…working on it) and that my food and activity choices have had a lot to do with that. I have a number of pounds lost, which will make my doctor happy, but I’m happier about other things.

Today’s list is made of stories with which my 42-year-old self identifies.

  1. Addie Zierman’s Of Lent and Emptiness – On fasting/not fasting and Whole30, which I still refuse to try but if I were to try it, posts like this would be what would change my mind. Also, I weirdly miss fasting for Lent.
  2. Shawn Smucker’s On Seeing a Neighbor Hit Their Child, What Maile Did Right, and What I Would Do Differently – I’m mentioned Green Dot training fleetingly, but it is not fleeting in my mind. Scenarios like this go through my head all the time with questions of what would I do, whom would I call, how would I respond.
  3. Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls – Our church is starting the second annual collection of books for our Book Bag Project. We give three or four books to graduates of a local preschool to encourage their love of reading. More and more, I am convinced that writers (and artists and musicians and etc.) have incredible power to unlock story and innovation and progress, and I want to be a part of that.
  4. Cat principles. This is basically a to-do list. Also…I remain resolute in my coffee consumption (just…shhh…).
  5. Sometimes, Ray Palmer is my spirit animal. Also, I love Legends of Tomorrow. And Flash. And even Arrow. And especially Supergirl (i.e., Cat Grant)And will always rewatch Smallville and will always, ALWAYS be angry at Season 4. Fandom squee for life.

Hello, 42. Happy to meet you.

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Friday Five2

I didn’t strike on International Women’s Day, because reasons and also because today begins a series of days off to celebrate my birth month. I am getting my hair chopped today and treating myself to my favorite shampoo that I never buy because it’s hella expensive. But happy birthday to me. And so today I thought I’d bring you places I love/will love and recommend that you check them out, too, as well as a couple of gems from International Women’s Day that I particularly enjoyed.

[These are all Denton-y or Denton adjacent. Sorry, folks who live afar.]

  1. Salon LaPage – Everyone here is awesome, but I especially love Meredith. I’m picky about hair, so once I found her, I pretty much followed her wherever she went.
  2. I’m so excited about trying Kimzey’s Coffee. I am a sucker for a cute coffee shop. There may be a post about it if I loooove it.
  3. There will be brunch at Abbey Inn on the square. I think I want steak and eggs benedict. Or maybe chicken and waffles with bacon pepper gravy. Or maybe I just go multiple times so that I don’t have to choose just one.
  4. Karen Gonzalez via The Mudroom – My Single Life or Why I Love Women’s Day.
  5. And some ridiculous levity from the Reductress – 4 Men Named Kyle Who Have No Idea There’s A Women’s Strike.

Have a lovely weekend!

 

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Friday Five2

March is my birth month, and you should know that I tend to be obnoxious about the celebration of me. So Fridays on the blog this month are going to be celebratory in nature. I want to highlight things that make me happy to be alive. This may look like, “Look at this awesome person and what they’ve accomplished and also buy all their things in rampant support of them.” Or it may look like, “I love this cause – please donate.” Or it may look like, “This is a simple way to brighten your day. Enjoy!” Or it may look like cute animals, because who doesn’t need more cute animals in their life?

Speaking of things you need in your life, that’s how we’ll get started:

  1. Today (March 3) is National Moscow Mule Day. Do with that what you will. Also, bring me one. But, you know, after 5:00. Because it’s impolite (i.e., against the rules) to drink at work.
  2. MISTY COPELAND HAS ANOTHER BOOK COMING OUT. First, a few words about her. She’s the first African American female principal dancer with the American Ballet Theatre.  She calls people out, particularly those she works with, to hold them to the role model standard to which she holds herself. She has founded her own brand of dance wear, called Égal. I’ve already pre-ordered my own copy of her new book, but I recommend it and everything she does ever. It’s called Ballerina Body: Dancing and Eating Your Way to a Leaner, Stronger, and More Graceful You.
  3. Also, if you use Amazon, go ahead and use Amazon Smile. They donate a portion of every purchase to your charity of choice. If you need a charity of choice, I humbly recommend Christ the Servant Lutheran Church of Denton, Texas. 🙂
  4. Support my friend Emily’s GoFundMe for her surgery.
  5. The Float Spot – they stick you in a floaty pod with water and Epsom salts. I want to do this! I feel that water massage would kick traditional massage’s butt. If I do it, I’ll report back.

Happy my birth-month to all!

 

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2015 Year in Review

photo (11)This was a year of abundant expectations followed by abundant distractions. Looking back, there’s no way I could have planned the year I had, but I am satisfied with it in general.

From a numbers standpoint, I didn’t come close to meeting my reading and writing goals. I barely read half the number of books I intended to read, and I didn’t finish either of my works in progress. As usual, the extent to which I read was directly proportional to the extent to which I wrote. That’s something to work on next year.

However, I diversified my reading list quite a bit, which was the reading goal that I considered the most important. And although I didn’t set out to do so, I can see a marked improvement in my ability to make and attain reasonable small-range goals with my writing, which will help with the long-range goals eventually, so I’m happy about that.

My word for the year was fun. I learned five things about myself and fun this year.

  1. Fun is not something I can force. At the beginning of the year, I spent a lot of energy making lists about what I thought fun should look like, and apparently I forgot that I have a full-time job and that I am not independently wealthy, because the things on those lists definitely reached beyond my time and funding resources. Frustrated that I couldn’t make my lists happen by sheer force of will but unwilling to be thwarted, I became determined to find the fun in everything I did, no matter how mundane it seemed on the surface.

Y’all. Some things are boring, and they don’t magically become less boring just because I try to make them fun. In fact, trying to do so is the exact opposite of fun; it takes dull to a whole new level. Just as there are always going to be fools who don’t love me regardless of how utterly delightful I am, there are going to be things in life I need to do that aren’t going to be the best thing ever. And that’s okay. Not every experience has to be a barrel of monkeys.

  1. I don’t understand spontaneity. For me, it is a stealer of joy. I have the soul of a planner, and I embrace it. I revel in the anticipation of upcoming events. Even if it’s something as simple as a whole glorious Saturday spent at home, knowing that it’s coming makes my whole week better.

But then the call comes. 9:00 a.m., Saturday morning. “Hey, what are you up to? Want to get breakfast?”

Yes. Yes, I do. Breakfast is – hands down – the best food outing, and you are my beloved friend. Delicious meal + spending time with you = a double dose of my favorite things. Of course I want to get breakfast with you.

The problem is that, knowing I had the whole day to do it, I put off doing laundry until I had no clean clothes left, and I just finished hand-washing all my bras, because I didn’t have plans to go anywhere. So I will show up for breakfast in clothes from the least smelly pile, looking like a toddler dressed me and wearing the old jogging bra that is a size too small. And that last mound of laundry will stare at me, judging me, throughout the next week, because a sudden outing means that I no longer have time to finish it all.

Had you called on Thursday and made plans for Saturday brunch, I would not be in this predicament. I would have happily done a couple of loads of laundry Friday night, giddy with excitement about seeing you the next morning. I could have worn normal things to have breakfast with you and still finished all the work I wanted to finish.

I could have had it all.

Spontaneity not only robs me of the joy of looking forward to having plans with my friends, but also robs me of time needed to accomplish what I meant to do instead. I don’t understand what’s appealing about that, and a year of trying to understand has not cleared it up.

  1. I don’t think I’m in the minority on this subject. Many of my friends who claim to love being spontaneous do not actually behave accordingly. I call bullshit.

Early in the year, I made an effort to adjust to them. Just because I don’t like spontaneity doesn’t make them wrong. They can like what they like. And it didn’t seem fair to expect them to always do things my way. So for a couple of months, I intentionally pared down my schedule to the basics. I left as many weeknights free as possible, and I was able to free up almost all the weekends. If no one called me to do something during my free time, I picked something to do and texted someone to invite them. Worst case scenario – I would have a reading night if nothing came up.

The results? If I had followed these guidelines for six months instead of only two, I would have reached my reading goal this year.

I didn’t see any of my friends more often than I usually do. In fact, I spent a lot more money at coffee shops than normal, because when I stopped making real plans, I hardly ever saw anyone. I would go to the square just to be around people, which is out of character for me. It takes an extreme amount of solitude for me to get tired of it.

I have more fun when I make plans, and I don’t think that’s rare. I think most people feel more valued when their friends go to the trouble to set time aside for them.

  1. I have a harder time having fun when I’m alone in public. The only exception is spending the occasional afternoon reading at the coffee shop or wine bar, although I won’t actually be alone there for long. Strangers love to talk to me when I’m reading. They just can’t help themselves.

When I go to a movie, I want to go with a friend. If I’m going to sit still in the same place for that long, I want someone I know sitting beside me. I don’t always need to talk about the movie afterward, but I want to have the option to do so.

If I’m shopping for clothes, shoes, or books, I want someone I know to be in the store so that we can engage in immediate celebration when I find something I love. I have zero interest in delaying that particular gratification.

Grocery stores stress me out, but if go shopping with someone, my anxiety level is significantly lower. I sometimes don’t even have to remind myself not to hyperventilate.

Going to a party by myself? NOPE.

One concern I had at the first of the year was that I had become more reclusive, as evidenced by my spending more nights at home by myself. As I began to make more of an effort to go out, I discovered that it wasn’t my disposition that changed; it was my company. The people I used to go out with when they, too, were single are now spending their evenings at home with their families (which is healthy – I don’t begrudge them that). If I really want to go out more often, I just need to find more people.

  1. Not teaching this semester has been fun. Really fun. I thought I would miss it, but I haven’t missed it at all. I miss the paycheck but not the job. And now that I’ve joined the church choir and have taken up TV nights with Tammy, I’m not sure where I’d even find the time. I don’t feel that fond nostalgia you get when you are at peace with moving on but still enjoy the memories. The memory enjoyment phase may be on its way, but it hasn’t shown up yet.

This sheds a curious light on my plans to get a PhD. That’s a lot of money to spend on a degree if I would be earning it just to have it. I know that the value of an education extends far beyond getting a job, but there are less expensive ways to further my education. And if I am changing careers – if I really am done with teaching – and the new career doesn’t require the diploma, I’m not sure how badly I want it anymore. I also feel a little panicky at the thought of deciding to let it go, so I’m not ready yet. But letting it go for good is now a maybe that I haven’t considered before.

 

So that’s my year in review. How was your year?

 

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Language

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I have always been told that I’m good at languages.

I’m not sure exactly what that means, but hey – it’s something I’m good at – I’ll take it.

I took a couple of years of Spanish in high school, four semesters of Latin in undergrad, and three semesters of German in grad school. Of course, I still have all the books.

I’ve also added to them. I will often buy books in one of the languages I’ve taken to practice my skills. I will also purchase books in languages I have absolutely no training in, because I like the title (In Praise of Yiddish) or because I recently read a book (by Murakami) and thought, “That was a nice paragraph. I bet that was beautiful in its original language” (and thus had to buy a book of Japanese phrases). I have several books on Portuguese because I want to travel someday to Brazil, and I am trying to learn Italian (and they said the Latin was a waste of time!) because I not only want to travel there but also because I found a cookbook that I need to read.

I’m obsessed with Duolingo.

I know that I will probably only become marginally proficient (I can ask for the bathroom and order coffee in at least five languages), but it’s a fun pursuit.

I’m writing 31 Days of Shelfies.

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31 Days of Shelfies

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My project this October is going to be 31 Days of Shelfies. A shelfie, as defined by MacMillan Dictionary, is  “a picture which is taken, usually by a smartphone or a similar device of somebody with a bookshelf or bookshelves behind them,” or just a picture taken of bookshelves. I am going to take broader liberties and define shelfie as “any picture I take that has a shelf in it.”

Don’t worry – it’s not just going to be shelves. Not that there would be anything wrong with that.

The way I usually put together a blog post is to write the post and then find or take a picture to complement the post. This month, I am practicing the reverse. I am writing posts from photo prompts. Picture-taking (and the visual arts in general) don’t come naturally to me, but that doesn’t mean I can’t improve what tiny skills I have. This month, I am going to practice taking better pictures and noticing what makes each picture better. This month, my content will be at the mercy of my pictures.

These photos (and their subsequent posts…ideally) will fall into four basic categories:

  1. A bookshelf + me. I thought of doing just 31 days of selfies, but I couldn’t get excited about it. I don’t really understand selfies. I mean, I support other people’s choice to take them for whatever reason they want to do so. But for myself, I’m usually left thinking, “Why?”  Unless there’s something new that I’m doing with my hair or something I’m wearing, I look pretty much the same as I did the last time I took a picture. People know what I look like. They don’t need a daily selfie from me, and I don’t require it for myself. But myself plus a bookshelf? I can make that interesting.
  2. A bookshelf by itself. Who knows where this will lead? I anticipate that I will be writing book reviews and telling stories about specific books that have meant something special to me.
  3. Friday five – a stack of five different books each Friday that I have read or am reading and why I recommend them.
  4. Non-book shelves. Because books – while wildly important – are not the only things in life. On the weekends, I will be showing other shelves to remind myself to take my nose out of the books every once in a while.

I hope you enjoy it!

Master list of posts:

  1. Master page (this one)
  2. Friday Five: Five Favorite Stories From Childhood
  3. Cape Cod Shelf
  4. Warmth and Well-Being
  5. Banned Books
  6. Sweet Valley High
  7. The L Shelves
  8.  My Books
  9.  Friday Five: Five Books on Moving
  10. Fandom Friends
  11.  In Defense of TV
  12. Cooking for One
  13. Manners!
  14. Have Food, Will Travel
  15. Happy Hour
  16. Friday Five – Five Favorite Food Writers
  17. Homebody
  18. (break)
  19. Hanging out with Allende
  20. Virtual Shelfie
  21. Schooling
  22. For the Love of Libraries
  23. Friday Five – Five Voices that Shaped Me
  24. Memories and Inspiration
  25. Reformation Sunday
  26. Friends of the Library – Fort Worth
  27. Read This Next
  28. The Play’s the Thing
  29. Language
  30. Friday Five – Five Books That Have Changed Me
  31. Acknowledgements

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I have noticed my attitude about my neighborhood changing lately. And I am grateful.

Yes, it’s loud. Yes, that’s annoying.

Yes, it gets the short end of the stick (I’m looking at you, impending DME Substation. By “Other sites…weren’t viable,” they do seem to mean, “Other neighborhoods would have cost too much money to demolish. Let’s screw the low-income people.” Or at least that’s how it looks.)

It’s also multicultural. The loud music that vibrates my windows? I never know what it’s going to be. It could be country or bachata or rap. All of these things (and everything in between) ring through my neighborhood on a daily basis. And I think I’m the minority in my apartment building (numerically speaking, at least. The socio-cultural essence of minority status has little to do with the numbers).

It’s also within walking distance from my main job. That’s pretty convenient, even if I never, ever walk. Because Texas. And construction.

I dream of having a house with a yard so I can garden and have a grill. I would love to have room for a piano (and also a home with a ground floor on which to put it). I covet other people’s pantries and kitchens. But I have everything I need in my little apartment, and lately, I have found it charming.

So I’m going to stop procrastinating when it comes to things like putting up the towel rack in the bathroom and the coat rack by the door. I’m going to sweep off her stoop and buy her a new doormat. I am going to buy frames and hang more pictures. For the foreseeable future, I’m going to make my apartment my home.

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