In which I remember I have a blog

(and steal the title from a favorite indie bookstore, shout out to The Bookshelf! I need to come visit you more – well, my checking account doesn’t agree but whatever)

All. I have a blog. A fact I apparently forgot about. Well, that’s not quite true. I remembered. And totally meant to write and then 2019 kept going and then I had guilt and went through a reading slump and then a cooking slump and then I was like, maybe it’s time to just let it go? I mean, I was never very prolific and did this because I wanted to and it was fun (heaven knows I’ve never made a dime). But, I missed the act of writing and sharing books and recipes and any other random themes that came onto my radar. So much so my Evernote is filled with half-finished nonsense notes which are mostly brain dumps. And, I want to write more so…here it goes.

How to get back into the swing of things? I love my planner. I love plans. I love calendars. I love writing things down and then being too tired to do any of it and pulling a Scarlett O’Hara and saying, I’ll think about that tomorrow (truth: I loathe that character so the fact I apparently am like her in this way is enough motivation to get me back on track right now). So, I’m putting on my planner hat and making a plan. And I’m sharing it so I have to stick to it and maybe then, I’ll hold myself accountable (and if I’m lucky, the occasionally family member who reads will keep me honest too).

So, I have a plan. A loose plan. Making liberal use of all kinds of journal prompts I found when I googled “journal prompts.” Like any good information professional, Google is both my friend and a hated enemy. I will resolve to write two times a week, at the least. I will write ahead if I am traveling. I will use a book-based prompt or book review for one post and another prompt and/or a cooking post for the other. I am also trying to actually use all my streaming services this year (each has been assigned its own night of the week) so potentially reviewing what I’m watching will help here as well. We’ll call that a bonus post per week if I’ve got one.

Let 2020 commence!

A moment

[Note: I started this post right after Charlotteville but kept holding back on sharing it as I worried I was rambling too much and missing facts and in general not making sense but I still feel the need to share so here it is.]

I often struggle to put into words what I feel at times like this. I tend to keep politics off this blog but every once in awhile, I feel the need to comment. I have a hard time saying what I want to say though articulately and in a way that doesn’t just sound like an impassioned outburst of emotions rather than something thought through logically with facts. But I’m not sure I can do that for this one.

A woman died over the weekend. She was my exact age. She died because she was standing up and speaking out when she saw something was not right. I wish I was more like her. I find myself often tongue tied with the current state of affairs. So sunk in rage and depression and shame I retweet articles rather than write my own. Others seem to be much better equipped to say what I feel in my heart and know in my mind. But if she could do it, stand in the actual face of the problems of our country, the least I can do is write about it from my safe desk in my safe apartment.

This is not normal. John Oliver asked us to remember that after the election last year. I find I say it to myself daily as I watch the news, read the tweets and watch in disbelief as our country becomes the worst parody of itself. America and its democracy have always been a double edged sword; freedom of speech means freedom for everyone, even those you would spend your life screaming about how wrong they are. But you can scream and so can they. It is when one side begins to take action to limit the other from speaking that we have our problem. However, in the case of Charlotteville, unlike our president’s opinion apparently, I stand firmly in the camp that that sort of speech, the speech meant to incite hatred and violence, is wrong and should not be protected. There are very clear sides in this case and only one side that is right. We have fought wars, American men and women have died, over this sort of hate and now it’s apparently being tolerated by our administration on our own soil.

I find I must admit I just do not have it in me to understand. How can you have that much hatred for people you have never met simply because they look or believe something different from you? How can this group of people, arguably the most privileged in the world, feel that disenfranchised? That under attack? That scared? I know I come from an extreme place of privilege, the one tick against me being my gender, so I always try to remember that as I process things like this. But no, I’m sorry, there can only be one response which is both logical and emotional…THIS. IS. WRONG.

Wrong on so many levels, I cannot begin to delineate them. These are people who are living their lives, trying to raise their families and move ahead in the world, same as you and me. They have done nothing to you. The problem is not them, it is you and whatever twisted path you walked to come to this point. I am sure you have excuses. They are lame. This behavior is inexcusable and perhaps worst of all to you, un-American. We are supposed to be the land of the free, the home of the brave. The land that takes in those who cannot find refuge elsewhere. Our country would not be what it is today without the many immigrants and outcasts that have found a place to call home on our shores. This used to be something we celebrated. When did it become something we were ashamed of, something we wanted to forgot or actively denounce? In making that reputation for ourselves, we made mistakes. We have never been as free as we liked the world to think. There have always been caveats. We’ve closed our doors to certain groups out of fear, bigotry, pride in the past and we’re doing so again. Perhaps what history should teach us better than most is there is no closing the door. No going back to an isolated existence. The world is at our doorstep and the doorbell is going to keep ringing.

Ironic in many ways that those who marched this weekend may be descendants of those who were once shunned as immigrants in those earlier waves. Those greeted with signs of “No Irish.” My ancestors were. What happened over the weekend was about more than immigrants or racism or gender or religion or sexual preference. It was about a bunch of people who are scared and therefore want to make sure everyone else is scared with them. That fear and ignorance and willful hatred helped last November happen. So, I will not be scared. I will be angry that we allowed this to happen and fight to make sure we do better, that we are better. But I will not let them scare me. They are wrong and they will not win.

Having a Sense of Humor about my Work

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LOL, if only and not one wearing a cardigan (Cassie maybe is – it’s hard to tell) [Originally from The Sci Fi TV Site]

I just finished the second season of The Librarians. I’ve been making my local library buy the seasons on DVD. Sadly, season 3 isn’t out yet on DVD and I am currently avoiding the temptation to just buy that season on iTunes and call it a day so I am caught up when Season 4 debuts later this year. We’ll see how long I last.

I have always adored these types of movies and shows. The original movies that inspired the series, the National Treasure movies, Warehouse 13. Even the Dresden Files (tv show, not the books. It was one of the few times where the books disappointed after the show) had a touch of the artifact/library/book to it. They are ridiculous and nowhere near close to the actual work of librarians, curators, and archivists. And I like to think most people understand that considering all of them include elements of magic. And to some extent, it is fun to think someone out there thinks I’m more Flynn Carson than Marian the Librarian.

However, at a recent conference for archivists, there was an entire panel about the Archive and how that word is being appropriated more and more and seems to mean less and less. They even pulled out the best Princess Bride quote that shows up in my library’s Slack feed every time someone uses the word “archive” – “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” So, as much as I would love to tell you all I work in a super secret magical library and hunt down lost artifacts all day long while saving the world…I sadly do not. But that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate why everyone thinks that idea of the “archive” is cool.

Out vault at work is not as impressive as the word “vault” would have you believe but I do get a tiny little thrill every time I get to go in it. And don’t tell me what’s in there isn’t magic. I don’t get to work with the classes or tours much but when I do, the look on people’s faces when you say to them “this is a signed first edition of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species” or “this is a rare copy of Napoleon’s Death Mask” or “this is a book which still has its chain on it” never gets old. The fact I get to work in a place where anyone can come and interact with those types of things? Never gets old. Bonus? I get to be the one to put those out on the web where anyone with an internet connection can see them. Let’s call that my super power. I guess those are my magical artifacts after all. Now…where’s my Excaliber?

In which I hope May is better than April

Last month was pretty rough for a number of reasons. May so far is so-so. My body continues to hate me with a passion so the fun burning in my chest from what they say is an esophageal ulcer followed me into this month. But, there is travel and fun and vacation on the horizon so we’ll keep moving forward in the hopes of better days.

I am at least adoring my new apartment. It has a brand new kitchen with appliances so new I often don’t work my oven right because it doesn’t have a simple dial to turn like every other one I’ve ever had. I am enjoying having carpet back too. No more acres of tile to scrub constantly in an attempt to keep it clean. I am looking forward to getting my balcony screened in so once it is slightly cooler than the surface of the sun outside, I will have a lovely bug free place to eat and read. I am already hunting for a comfy reading chair for it. It’s been nice to want to spend money to make home more comfortable for sure.

My reading this year has been sporadic; I am so far off my year reading goals at this point, I am just going with the flow for the moment. The disorganized reading though is throwing me off. Figures my leisure reading not being structured would be a point of contention for me. I’ve enjoyed running a book club this spring and it’s introduced me to books I never would have read before so that’s been a nice change of pace for sure. Look for an upcoming drive by book review post!

A partial retreat from paperless

It seems there is nothing more satisfying that putting a line through a task on a piece of paper. I have tried.

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I got this last Tuesday so clearly my first week with it was productive.

Six years ago, I decided not to buy a paper planner. I had technology! So started a paperless experiment. I am calling it a partial failure.

For the most part, all my mail comes to me through email. I pay my bills online. I keep track of my finances online or in spreadsheets on my computer. My calendar is in iCal and Outlook (personal and professional respectively). My grocery lists and recipes are all in Evernote as is almost everything else of informational importance to me.

However, at the end of the day, I still just wanted a list of things to cross out. A place to jot notes to myself to look something up, add something to Evernote, actually bring check to this event or, heaven forbid, cash to that one. I am a major “jotter” of notes. I often have an array of post-its and index cards littering my desk, reminding me to do something, follow up on that thing, email this person about that. I have a digital counterpart (a much more organized and intense project mgt software that I also keep a work to-do list on) but that is for tracking the big things. I’ve never gotten over feeling slightly silly taking the time to type up “Call home” and setting an iCloud Reminder for it. I’ll write it down on paper no problem though.

So, I am trying a paper experiment now. I heard about a fabulous planner idea last year. I was too late for the Kickstarter at the time so I am joining the bandwagon now and I am adoring my VOLT planner so far. It lets me keep lists! Lists everywhere! A list for the year, a list for the month, a list for the week. It has a built in way for me to take on a month-long “challenge” which I’m hoping will help me knock off some multi-step projects this year (February is to finally finish all the metadata creation for my own digital photos. It is a personal digital archive fail at the moment).

So, may the trees forgive me and we’ll see how this goes!

In need of some inspiration

Last week was long. I was away from Tallahassee, traveling for work and it was just the week that would not end. In the middle of it, I needed inspiration so I started thinking about my fictional spirit animals; the fictional ladies I want to be when I grow up. In times of trouble, I admit, I retreat into fiction. I’m trying very hard not to do so here. So, I’ll post this here for inspiration, for those days my news feed will make me cry and remember these ladies. They may have been afraid sometimes, discouraged, annoyed, angry but they always acted as they saw fit and made the tough decisions when they needed to. So, my fictional hall of fame:

Agent Peggy Carter

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Seriously, when I grow up, I want to be just like Peggy. She is smart, resourceful, bold and is not afraid to tell it like she sees it. But, she also knows how the game is played so she has to be extra clever to get around all the ridiculous male misogyny in her line of work. We need more Peggy Carters front and center for girls and boys to see what is possible, regardless of gender. I know the character isn’t going anywhere but I was bummed that the TV show wasn’t more successful. Her portrayer, Hayley Atwell is also #lifegoals so it was a win-win in both fiction and reality!

Leslie Knope

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Leslie Knope is a spirit animal of sorts. The woman can do things with binders and organization that made me actually get teary at times watching this show. But mainly, she is eternally optimistic and sure that she can make changes in the world around her. She refuses to get bogged down by all the naysayers and traditionalists around her but continues to work and fight for what she believes in. She even wrote a letter to America after the recent election and folks, it gave me life.

Amelia Peabody

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Amelia doesn’t have a movie or tv show yet; criminal really. I’ve always cast Kate Winslet for her in my mind though and Tom Hardy for her rapscallion husband Emerson. Amelia is a take no prisoners sort of person. She is happiest when organizing the lives of everyone around her and solving murders while she does it. She is brilliant and independent; her marriage proposal to her husband is one of the best things ever. And their marriage a thing of beauty; Amelia never loses herself in it but I think becomes the best version of herself. (which is a common thread for my fictional role models; all had strong partners for love interests. Example A: Ben shaking his head next to Leslie in the above gif).

Anne Shirley

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Anne is a bit of a mess at times but she always pulls through. Smart, funny, and still sensitive after living a life that would have hardened most. Her imagination is perhaps the thing I love most about her; the world is a stage for her mind to go wild and she’s another optimist for us to aspire to be like. The type of friend who sees the rainbows through the rain.

Belle

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My first bookworm role model; the heroine who taught me what it was to be a heroine. To fight for those you loved even against crazy odds (and to always have a book on hand). The Disney princesses can be problematic, it’s true; but Belle has a backbone on her and never lets the world and the little minds she’s surrounded by get her down. She always dreams of adventure and does not settle for less than what she wants.

This morning

I am sure many will use this trite metaphor this morning but I need to write it down so I remember what this feels like. It was like watching a train wreck. After awhile, the result was foregone, no matter how much you stared at it in disbelief and horror and yet, you kept watching. Hoping against hope something would happen to stop what you were seeing. You are baffled as to how it could have started. There were people, smart people, who’d engineered the train, the tracks. There were people, trained people, running the train itself. There were people, qualified people, monitoring the train, its trajectory. There were people, skilled people, who’d performed maintenance, checked for mechanical problems, before it left the station. And somehow, there you stood, watching this thing – this massive, impressive, terrifying thing – skew from the tracks going 100 miles per hour, taking out everything around it. And all you could do was watch as the train came careening right at you, at everything you stood for, everything you believed in, and then, then after you stand there watching, it slams into you. In that moment, you suddenly know that nothing you thought was true. Everything you’d thought could not possibly happen, not today, not in this country and this world which is supposed to be better, happened. And in that moment, you’re suddenly ok that the train is about to take you out because you’re not sure you want to deal with what comes next.

We don’t have that luxury. We survived the train wreck. What we do now, what we do next, and for the next four years, is incredibly important. It is OK to despair for a moment, to realize something we’d taken for granted was wrong. To realize we clearly were not where we thought we were to prevent the wreck. Now, we have to learn, we have to rebuild, we have to understand how we got here and how to fix it. I am feeling terrified and I am feeling motivated. I don’t know my country right now, I’m not sure I want to this morning but this morning will pass and tomorrow will come and the day after and the day after that. We need to fight, we need to work and we need to fix this system, this culture, this country which watched the train wreck with me. We can do better, we will do better.

Fall

I miss you. Like, a lot. I was never one for sun and heat and somehow, I ended up living in a place that often resembled the face of the sun to me. I am tired of the sun. It’s so…unrelenting. I want a crisp, cool morning with grey low-hanging clouds, maybe a bit of a mist in the air and if there could also be just a touch of woodsmoke hanging about, that would be heavenly.

Instead, it is will be 93 today. 91 tomorrow. If I’m lucky, we may get a thunderstorm through which means the sun will be gone for a few minutes but when it moves on, it will somehow be hotter and more humid than before even when I didn’t think that was possible. So I will leave these images here and drink my pumpkin spice latte and pretend for a moment that it’s fall outside my window and not a never ending summer.

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The Class I’ll Never Forget

 

I always meant to write a post about French class here. I have mentioned it in several posts, even shared my college essay inspired by Van Gogh and French class but I’ve never sat down and really explained what that class meant to me. Watching The Little Prince tonight on Netflix, I started to remember.

It took me a long time to realize that it wasn’t so much the language I adored. Although beautiful, and when I used it right something that made me feel more accomplished than all my other classes combined, I was never good at it. I would get frustrated with it. I wanted to be able to say what I wanted to say and not trip over myself getting there. I lacked the patience of a true linguist. I would write my essays in English and then translate them back into French, utilizing my dictionary, 501 Verb book and a very early version of Babel Fish when the books failed me. But I loved French class. I loved the stories, the culture, the food. The holidays and history were fascinating; the resulting country even more so. Madame understood this; it’s why she taught the language as she did. How could you understand and appreciate a language if you did not understand the people and the countries who speak it?

I had found French rather boring until 11th grade. My teachers, while very good, had been uninspiring. It was a class that also made me anxious. I lived in dread of the moment the teacher would call on me to speak. It was a combination of tripping over my own tongue and not wanting to butcher a language that had done nothing to me. I also hated to not be right in class; the perfectionist in me didn’t like that the words that came out of my mouth didn’t sound like they did in my head.

I was nervous when I started class with Madame. Her reputation proceeded her. It took me only about a period and half before I adored her and that made French both wonderful and stress-inducing. I didn’t want to fail her or have her think I wasn’t smart enough. I always tried hardest in French of all my classes but I never did get it to sound right coming out in the end. Instead, I learned to love what it gave me outside of the sometimes tongue twisting sentences and headache inducing numbers (math was involved just to count…I didn’t stand a chance. I still have the cheatsheet Madame finally gave me). French gave me Le Petit Prince, the Impressionists, and Amélie. It gave me Normandy, Paris, Carcassonne. It gave me an appreciation for the traditions of a storied country, with all its own fairy tales, myths and legends that was so different from my own.

So as I teared up watching The Little Prince tonight, and everyone should go watch it ASAP and cry with me, I also remembered what else comes along side the story of the little prince who left his rose behind to travel the stars: the classes on verbs and speaking exercises, of listening to bad ’80s French pop songs and writing our own adventures for the little prince. We wrote our own fairy tales, learned the words to La Marseillaise and looked forward to La Bûche de Noël in December. The Little Prince reminded me of why I adored French class and everything it continued to give me since leaving school. All these years later, it is a class I think of all the time and use often. I have chased paintings across oceans because of that class, lectured friends through the Louvre, bought board books of The Little Prince for friends’ children and sacrificed DVD settings on laptops to watch Notre Dame de Paris one more time. It is not so much the language perhaps but the tools the class and the study of French gave me through which I can appreciate, understand and revel in the world around me in a way I would not be able to do so otherwise. Merci.

I may have rented the Money Pit…

As some of you may know, I recently moved. I was so excited about it. It was out of apartment complex living and into a duplex in a quiet neighborhood. It had tile floors and two bedrooms complete with a lovely back patio. It was going to be awesome. Well, I am two weeks in and I am fairly certain I rented the Money Pit.

Luckily, I only rented it but now have to live through them trying to fix everything they apparently didn’t notice after the last tenant moved out (which I might add was almost an entire MONTH before I moved in so what they are doing, I am not sure; my faith in their ability to manage is quite low at the moment). I am also having to deal with an apartment that had a former tenant, as well as a cleaning crew that supposedly cleaned the place twice (before and after I had the keys), that clearly did not define the word “clean” as I do. Scrubbing floors by hand has been a weekend pastime since I moved in…and I’m still pulling up dirt like the floors has multiple layers of it so I’ll keep at it.

I adore the space; I do. The size of it is perfect for me. And I knew there would be challenges to a garden apartment in Florida. Logically, it shouldn’t exist but Tallahassee is one of the only places in this state it could. However, I wasn’t quite expecting the level of entertainment I’ve had so far. It will be good someday; I know it will. I just need to grin and make it through. In the meantime, they pushed back the date for wall construction so I’ll make it through a weekend where it feels more like I am camping out in the place rather than living in it. I think that might be my biggest issue so far. I can’t get settled or comfortable in the space because I can’t finish with it yet. I had gotten my office/library into some semblance of  order only to have to basically re-pack it all up again last night to find out I could have done that Sunday since they won’t be there until Monday now.

Oddly enough, for someone who has moved around as I have, I don’t actually handle change well. I plan for it; plan it to death in fact. So, when the plan doesn’t work and chaos ensues, I might not handle it well (read: I do not handle it well). At all. I don’t like what I cannot research, plan and make lists for so that I am prepared. Some would say then this is a good thing, I should learn to deal, but not when it comes to my living space. I am one of those people that adores going home at night, to my space, to hide out for a while from the rest of the world, so it’s important that that space is safe and clean and organized and….mine. It’s an introvert thing big time. This move is just…never ending it seems and my introverted self is on a short fuse (and yet always incredibly polite and not yelling at anyone).

So, in the meantime, I am trying to get back to my schedule, my routines, in the hopes that will keep me sane. So, look for my usual reviews soon!