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This month has been a gift so far. I have had sufficient free time (which is no small thing for an introvert), I’m out of my writing slump and back into a good rhythm, and I have been taking advantage of all my birthday deals and coupons.

Also, it’s like the Internet knows it’s my birthmonth. Here are my five favorite things on the Internet this week:

1. A story about Denton PD’s unique relationship with the city’s homeless

2. Wildfires have destroyed a large portion of the Panhandle, and ranchers across the state are driving hay bales to feed livestock, so much so that there has been a temporary hold on doing so. And while I am not generally a fan of Abbott’s, I appreciate that he was quick to cut through red tape to make this process go smoothly. Friends have set up GoFundMe pages, and officers have stopped trucks carrying hay that direction to help pay for the gas needed to get there (Texas is big, y’all.).

3. Great article in Teen Vogue about Green Dot active bystander training and its effectiveness in reducing incidents of interpersonal violence.

4. I spend a lot of time thinking about first lines in my own books and stories. I might start a blog series with titles taken from some of my favorite first lines.

5. And finally, Beauty and the Beast comes out this week, and I’m excited, but I’m not sure it’s possible for me to enjoy it more than I enjoyed the James Corden’s crosswalk version. This is my favorite thing on the intrawebs this week.

What has made you happy this week?

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Books, coffee, and wine. Yep, sounds about right. Books pictured: Furiously Happy and A Man Called Ove. 

February is one of my favorite months, because I get to celebrate some of my favorite people. Officially, I mean. I can celebrate them any time, really. But they were born in February.

Michelle and I hung out one weekend for Galentines. There were movies (Both Pitch Perfects and Antman), wine, and junk food. And then my sister’s birthday was this last weekend. We went to see La La Land (meh – see below) after trying to see it for a couple of months.

In related news, February is also when I watch more movies than usual.

La La Land was what I expected. It was cute, and there was singing/dancing, which I enjoy. I also like the 10,000 nods to old films. But also – the savior of jazz, should ever such a person actually be needed in the world (i.e., such a person is not. Jazz is fine. It is both respectful of its roots and excited about its future. It is wild and vibrant and often experimental – *cough*aswereitsroots*cough* – and it doesn’t need saving) is probably not going to look like Ryan Gosling, adorable as he may be. If the roots of jazz are really what his character wanted to go back to, it might have been helpful for said character to remember that jazz was born of struggle, so maybe white, straight male is not the most appropriate face of that.

I have watched less TV this month, but what I have watched is still superhero-y and This is Us. I can’t get enough of that show. I love seeing a depiction of what it’s like to live with anxiety. I love the cast and that they play with the fans. I love their sorry/not sorry video, although what they really need to apologize to me for is Jack Pearson. TV has been waiting decades for Jack Pearson, and frankly – so have I. Except…he’s fictional. So basically I’m never getting married because this show has raised my already lofty standards, and a Jack Pearson sort of guy, if such a person does even exist, is probably already married or dead. Either way, he’s unavailable, so I’m going to be alone forever. Thanks, This is Us.

I didn’t finish a lot of books in February, but I read excerpts of quite a few. I currently am reading eight different books. James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room and bell hooks’s Killing Rage are on my nightstand, and I recommend both. I always love Jenny Lawson’s work, and her Furiously Happy is no exception.

You may have noticed I have not been into blogging this month, which is funny, since I’m talking about blogging at my mastermind writers group tomorrow. I also haven’t been writing a lot. I blame the ridiculous springtime weather we’ve been having. It always inspires me to withdraw (because allergies and because spring is hard for me). This is where the discipline of writing comes in handy, because I scheduled two writing nights this week, and they were more productive than the rest of the month put together. It was a good reminder that I don’t have to wait for inspiration to do the work of writing.

I’m linking up with Leigh Kramer. Hop over and read some other posts, and share with us what you’re into this month!

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When all else fails, raid the recycling bin.

January was intense. A lot has happened in our world and to my friends this month. While I have been active and keeping informed, I’ve also enjoyed some downtime.

Books

This month, I finished up some books I had started and read another book by someone who is becoming one of my favorite authors.

I enjoyed The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery (Cron and Stabile). That is, I enjoyed it after reading the part about Ones, which I am now 97% certain I am. I can’t really call my experience through that chapter “enjoyment,” but it was helpful.

My favorite book I’ve read this month is Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman. I have a whole separate post planned about this book, but for now I want to talk about this author. I love his characters and how he develops them. I need to buy all of his books and study them with fervor. I want to write characters that well.

TV

This is Us. I am firmly seated on this bandwagon. Stupid awesome show. It makes me cry and cry. I love  them all, but Randall is my favorite. Also, I am happy to see Milo Ventimiglia and Justin Hartley throwing off shirts again. I support this.

I’ve also been on a superhero kick (I mean…even more than usual). So clearly I am rewatching/binge-watching Arrow, Flash, Supergirl, and Smallville. For some reason, I see the need for heroes these days. And by heroes, I do mean Cat Grant, Iris West, and Felicity Smoak.

Life

I had…fun? That’s not exactly it. I had moderate anxiety and the tiniest of panic attacks graciously buffered by camaraderie and humor and overwhelming kindness and the joy of seeing both old and new friends at the Women’s Rally/March in Denton. I enjoyed lunch and dinner with friends to talk about it, and my hope was given a little boost by those conversations.

My parents visited last weekend. We ate a lot, and my mom and I watched romantic comedies, and before they went home, my friend Margarett brought them a puppy to take with them. His name is Butch, and he is corgi/shepherd, and he has got that whole puppy eyes thing down. I’m sure there will be pictures aplenty in the months and years to come.

I’ve taken up my seasonal knitting habit again. It’s so calming. This year, I’m obsessed with blankets. If you visit, I might try to pawn one off on you. Many of them will be going to supplement the United Methodist Church’s donations to homeless shelters, because how many blankets do I really need? I am currently working on one in blues and grays that will act as a bedspread:

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Writing

I totally skipped my January newsletter this month, but I had something to share at my Mastermind group, so there’s that. I am working on about four very different projects. I think I can finally admit that having several projects going at once is the key to my sticking with a writing schedule and ever getting anything done. I am exhausted, exhilarated, and happy.

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I’m linking up with Leigh Kramer – hop over, read what others are into, and share your own post!

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Hello, June. You look pretty. And delicious.

Note that there are no pictures of my move in the collage above. The place I was really excited about fell through, but now I have a place I’m even more excited about and I GET TO PICK UP MY KEY TODAY!! Specifically, I get to pick up my key in two hours. I’m very excited. I don’t have time to actually get any moving done today as I have book club tonight (because please – like I’m going to miss book club for any other reason than being out of town), but I am squeezing in a little bubbly to toast the new place with a couple of friends beforehand.

I feel like I’m mostly into cardboard right now, because that’s what my apartment looks like. Boxes everywhere. I miss my books. Soon, we will be reunited, and how glorious that will be!

I have an idea for my NaNoWriMo project in November, and it requires (REQUIRES) watching and reading a lot of film noir. So I’m going through this list. I look forward to getting higher on the list, because right now these selections are working hard to talk me out of writing in this genre.

After seeing Amy Acker’s Q&A at the Dallas Fan Expo, I needed to see Dollhouse, and I ended up really liking it.

I haven’t been reading as much as I usually do during the summer, but A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson was my favorite thing I read last month.

I’ve been eating simple food that does not require me to cook, because 1) Texas heat and 2) moving. I’ve had a lot of nachos and cereal lately. Luckily, I love nachos and cereal. I mean, not together but…you get it.

What are you into this month?

I’m linking up with Leigh Kramer. Join us?

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March really is the best month of the year in my life. I get at least one week off during Spring Break, it’s Staff Appreciation Month, and it’s my birth month!

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My birthday was relaxing. We had a leisurely brunch at Crickles and Co., shopped in the afternoon for books and shoes (cue My Favorite Things), and had a great dinner at Greenhouse. If you are ever there – Mahi-Mahi tacos with mango relish. Do it.

I spent the first part of Spring Break at my parents’ farm. We mostly ate delicious things, some of which we picked right off the plant. This is the only acceptable reason for spring coming early this year.

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Anyone else think Brussels sprouts look like a sea creature when they’re growing? No? Just me, then.

I also watched from afar while Mom fed the neighbor’s donkeys.

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I tried to watch from a-near, but, well, you see the side-eye I’m getting from that one on the right. They don’t know me. That one still wasn’t too sure I wasn’t going to jump back up there and try to touch it again. That’s fine, donkey. I’ll just keep your treat.

I’ve been slowly watching a few shows. I read Year of Yes earlier this year, so I had to (HAD TO) watch Grey’s Anatomy. I don’t know why I resisted so long. I love this show. I love Christina and Bailey. And George. I love the characters so much that I find myself praying that their patients survive. On reruns of a TV show. This must be how atheists see praying all the time.

I’ve also been watching Alias and The X-Files for the first time. I have to watch them earlier in the evening before the sun goes down, though. I’m apparently easily spooked. Not enough to stop watching, of course.

I’ve been doing a lot of reading, but what I’ve been reading is Harold McGee’s On Food and Cooking. You can do a lot of reading and still not be done with that book. It’s glorious. I need it for my very own. I’m also currently reading...a lot of things. I have books stashed everywhere.

What did you watch/read/do this month?

 

I’m linking up with Leigh Kramer – join us!

 

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Whew. It’s been a rough week for fandom. Saying goodbye to David Bowie was saying goodbye to part of my childhood. And Alan Rickman inspired me with his late-start-but-still-phenomenal career and as a person in general. I can’t even go on Facebook right now because I am at work and a damn professional, and I am mainly working very hard at not sobbing into my keyboard.

Yesterday, The Bloggess posted her tribute and thank yous in a beautiful way, and I want to do something similar here. There are a lot of people, like Bowie and Rickman, whom I will mourn along with the world when they pass. But there are roughly a dozen people whom I’ve never actually met whom I will mourn as if I have. Whoever my boss is when those terrible days come – be advised I will take a few days off. Trust me – you’ll be glad that I do.

I have a lot of fandoms, so it was difficult to narrow down the list to six, much less five. But here they are:

Bernadette Peters – I have loved her since I could barely even love anyone. She played Lily St. Regis in the 1982 Annie, and in my 7-year-old mind, she was so fancy. I love her grace and the way she just takes over the stage. My favorite thing she’s done was her performance as the witch in Into the Woods. When I saw the newer version last year, I missed her. I mean, Meryl Streep is awesome – would that we all developed and displayed our talents so brilliantly – but I missed Bernadette Peters in the role. In my mind, it will always be hers.

Michelle Pfeiffer – Confession: when I grow up, I kinda want to be Michelle Pfeiffer. From reenacting her rendition of “Cool Rider” in Grease 2 in front of my friend Ginger’s camcorder to her depiction of Catwoman to her marriage to David E. Kelley (lucky guy…and sure, also a fantastic writer and producer…who gets to be Michelle Pfeiffer’s husband), she has the sort of career/life I would want if I were an actress. She has an impressive body of work that I could gush about all day.

But seriously –

 

Peter MacNicol – He played my all-time favorite television character on my all-time favorite show. I can’t see him in anything without thinking of Ally McBeal‘s John Cage. He delivered my favorite lines and my favorite speeches from the show. When people ask what fictional character I relate to most, unlike most writers, who will name someone from literature, I name a character from television – John Cage. I will be inconsolable when anyone in the cast of Ally McBeal dies, but his death will be the hardest.

Michael Rosenbaum – I teared up even typing his name. He’s only a few years older than I am, and frankly, I hope I go first so I don’t ever have to deal with his death (after we’ve both lived long, happy lives, hopefully well into our late 90s, of course). Michael Rosenbaum played Lex Luthor on Smallville, and while he’s done many awesome things since then, that was his role that actually has had an impact on my personal life. I love his portrayal of Lex. I loved it so much that I joined his message board to talk about it with others who loved it as much as I did. And then I followed a lot of them to Livejournal to discuss it even more in-depth. Thus I began my first blog – my first regular writing practice. So when I become published, Michael Rosenbaum will be in the acknowledgements of people whose work was instrumental in getting me there.

Then I met some of the people whom I knew from the message board and from Livejournal, and I still keep in touch with a lot of them today. Some of them, I’ve never met in person but still consider good friends. Some of them, I have met in person and consider some of my best friends, like my friend Michelle. I can’t imagine not knowing these people, and I have Michael Rosenbaum to thank for that as well.

Nathan Fillion – Need I really explain this one? Firefly. Castle. Dr. Horrible’s Singalong Blog. Nathan Fillion’s awesomeness is pretty apparent. He makes an excellent TV boyfriend. I love him in everything he’s been in, but I might love his Twitter best of all. Some days, it’s the only reason I still have a Twitter.

I would join his message board so hard (if I were still in my twenties and had oodles of time to spend on the Internet. And if message boards were a thing people even did anymore).

And because five is not enough…

Lauren Graham – Lorelai can never die. Neither can Sarah Braverman. That’s the rule. You hear me, universe? I won’t stand for it.

After this week, I’m in serious need of a weekend of self-care, which specifically will consist of a vat of roasted veggie soup and Veronica Mars (oh, God. Kristen Bell. YOU BE GOOD, UNIVERSE!).

 

 

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In no particular order, here are the highlights of my December.

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 1. Advent –

Quite possibly my favorite season of the liturgical year. Or maybe it’s just the only one I’m good at. I understand what it’s like to wait. Oh, how I understand waiting and all the complications that go with it. I put journal prompts in the pockets of my Advent calendar, and I got to go to mid-week services this year, which at least made the waiting less lonely.

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 2. A lesson in carols –

Our choir prepared extra songs for one of the services. It reminded me of being part of Christmas cantatas when I was younger. I didn’t even know I had missed doing that until this month.

 3. Person of Interest –

I LOVE THIS SHOW. I have watched through Season 4. If I cave and get cable, this show might be the reason.

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 4. Holiday snacks –

Another great thing about this time of year is the delicious snacking. I have had a ridiculous amount of sugar this month.

 5. A finals week without finals –

Finals week was pretty much just another week at work. It was a little busier with people handing in their keys before they left for the break, but no classes meant no grading, no constant barrage of emails from students who waited until the last possible moment to care about their grades, and no voice messages from the department secretary telling me that a student called because I hadn’t answered their email (that they sent an hour ago) and could I please call them back. It was such a peaceful week. I could get used to that.

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 6. Poetry class –

I am loving Beth Morey’s Poetry Is course (and her My Fearless Year 2016 mini-course – check it out – only $12) and the books that go with it. I have had sort of a dry spell with reading, but Poemcrazy and Writing Down the Bones have been an indulgent retreat.

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 7. Stephanie getting married –

My friend Steph got married! I am so happy for her and thrilled that I could be there for her special day.

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 8. Spending time with family –

Growing up, the picture you see above never would have happened at my parents’ house. Animals belonged outside, and if you wanted to play with them, you would just have to go outside, too. Now, Lola has her own special spots in the house where she likes to sit. Dad’s lap is one such spot.

 I went shopping with Tammy yesterday and found all sorts of treasures (Christmas tree – $20!). Then we spent the evening watching Once Upon a Time. We’re almost through season three. I cannot handle how much I like this show.

 9. Two weeks of vacation

I’ve had a restful (well…more restful. My neighborhood is loud and obnoxious) two weeks. Monday, I go back to work and have a little over a week to ease back into being there before the residents return.

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 10. Not putting up a Christmas tree –

Apparently, I used all my decorating energy on the Advent calendar, because I could not get motivated to put up a Christmas tree this year. About a week before Christmas, I finally admitted that it wasn’t going to happen. The candy canes on the curtain rods would just have to do.

 

 I’m linking up with Leigh Kramer. Hop over and tell us what you’re into this month!

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