Friday, Fri-yay: October 12th, 2018

& (1)Hey yo, it’s Friday!

I’ve been having an uncharacteristically productive week, creatively, and hope to have a good balance of work/pleasure this weekend, the highlight of which will be my cousin’s wedding tomorrow evening.  All in all, things seem to be moving along pretty smoothly, but I’ve gotta say, it’s still pretty great to hit the weekend.  So, Bear is in bed, I’m sitting here, munching on some homemade empanadas, sipping on some Grand Mariner, and enjoying the quiet.

This week:

Last week I mentioned that The Good Place was back, but did I mention Forking Bullshirt was back, and have I ever mentioned the official The Good Place podcast I love Bullshirt because I love the geeky fan discussion (from the perspective of geeky fans!), and I love the official podcast for the behind the scenes insight and how lovely and adorable the cast and crew all are.  If you are at all interested in the show, you might want to check out the podcasts.

NaNoWriMo prep is starting full-force, and I’m so excited to give it a go this year.  I’m trying my hand at… I guess it would be categorized as magical realism, and I’m kind of nervous but also really psyched to try something different from my usual lit!fic attempt.  I’ve been reading the forums the last few nights and need to find time to incorporate NaNo prep work and NaNo socialization into my schedule.

Did anyone else grow up watching a lot of magic on TV?  Because I recently found a few  old David Copperfield specials on YouTube.  Ahhhh, I don’t have a lot to say about this, except, maaaan I remember these so vividly, and I remember those nights those specials aired on TV being like, a big deal in my house, when we all settled in together to watch them.

I got a lovely compliment at work today from one of our SLPs, who had been talking to one of the school psychologists who had done an observation in one of my classrooms, and was apparently very impressed with how good I am with the kids and how well I work with all of them.  I don’t want to sound snotty – I know that I’m good at my job – but it’s so, so nice to hear someone appreciate my efforts.

I think that’s all for this week.  What’s been carrying you all alone lately?

Friday, Fri-yay: October 5th, 2018

& (1)So, I think I’d feel worse about being “behind” on OctPoWriMo if I was actually behind on OctPoWriMo, but I’ve actually been working on some poems — I just haven’t been able to pull them completely together yet.  Tomorrow I’ll probably write up three separate posts for each of the entries (the two backlogged poems, plus tomorrow’s entry proper) but get myself back on track.  Weirdly, Inktober, which I expected to be so much harder, has been going really well.  Maybe because I’ve never, ever identified myself as a visual artist, and my expectations are lower?  Anyway.  This is a Fri-yay post!  Let’s yay!

Number One can be that Inktober is going well!!  I’m not a good artist, but I at least find myself sitting down and working on something everyday, and honestly, I’m discovering I’m actually not as hopelessly terrible as I thought, and maybe — through daily practice, even in short exercises — I can actually get better.

Number Two, The Good Place is back!  This actually should have been posted last week, but uhh, I fell off the bandwagon a little with posting lately (and so much else, but that’s another post).  We just finished episode three, and it is so refreshing to be watching a show where I look forward to speculation, but don’t want concrete, long-range spoilers.  I love that this show can surprise me, and that literally any plot twist feels very genuinely on the table.  Also, this show is a multishipper’s dream come true.

Number Three, I have a three day weekend with no plans!  I will probably clean, catch up on poetry, and online shop, which leads me into Number Four…

…It is the first week in October and I am about halfway done my Christmas shopping!  Which probably sounds crazy to some of you, but I’m so, so sick of agonizing over what to do and what to get, and I always wind up waiting until the last minute, and the holiday devolves into a stress-fest, and no thank you.  I love Christmas, and I have a young son; the holidays should be a fun, festive, relaxing time.  If I can be proactive about making that happen, I will be.

Number Five, I saw Hamilton last week!  I honestly don’t even know what to say.  The whole evening felt like a throwback to my theatre-geek high school days, where my friends and I (we went with my best friend and her boyfriend) get dressed, go to dinner, have a sleepover, go out to brunch — you know, we make the night An Event.  I feel like that doesn’t happen often anymore.  We all took the day following the show off, and went out for brunch at an Irish restaurant near our house, and it was damn near perfect.  The show itself was stunning, and the perfect culmination to a season of theatre.

What’s been keeping you in good spirits this week?

Keep It Busy

This past month was great, but didn’t really feel like I had any down time, probably because, um, I didn’t.  The last weekend in August hit, and suddenly over Labor Day weekend, we had four non-stop days of parties, festivals, and social gatherings, and from there, we never really lost steam.  We had theatre tickets, apple-picking, bridal showers, game nights, social events, and while it was fun, it was also go, go, go, pretty much non-stop all September.

I find myself — as I’ve gotten older and grown more into my identity as an adult who is actually able to make their own plans — feeling like I need to fill every possible opportunity with activity, and I’ve found that’s become doubly so since having my son.  I can’t tell you exactly why that is – or, I guess, I don’t think I can narrow it down to one thing.  Part of it is that I lived a fairly sheltered and socially deprived life as a child and young adult, and I often feel like I need to “make up” for all the freedom I never got to have during my formative years.  Part of it is, when I have down time, it’s really down time; I wind up being almost entirely sedentary, and my ADHD keeps me from doing anything really constructive (even those things I want to do and enjoy doing).  Having a place to be or an activity to do that is externally scheduled and structured is one of the few ways to guarantee I get out and engage.

But part of it, more and more, is that I feel like I need to be proactive and conscientious about not saddling my son with the stagnant, asocial childhood I had.

I didn’t have anything resembling a social life for, well, most of my life.  There were never any sports teams, never any dance lessons, or swim lessons, or gymnastics.  No Girl Scouts.  A lot of it was because my parent’s didn’t have the money for so much of what makes up a busy, structured youth – our grammar schools were tiny and private (read: where all the money was going), and didn’t offer any extra-curriculars; dance and gymnastics were pricey; and my folks had neither the time, energy, nor inclination to have to put forth the effort for something like Girl Scouts.  Even trips out to eat or to the movies were few and far between.

And I get that.  Bear is an only child and loves to sing and dance, so I’ve sat and priced out a number of music and dance academies, and I can appreciate how my parents – who had three kids and were already also paying tuition for our private schooling – must have felt overwhelmed by the potential cost.

But there were also no bike riding lessons.  There were very few trips to the park, or to the pool.  There weren’t many festivals or fairs, very few events, activities, or parties.  Trips to the library were sporadic at best, and I ha only one friend whose house I was allowed to visit.  I didn’t go to a birthday party until I was thirteen, and I had to fight tooth and nail for that, years after most of my classmates had given up inviting me to parties I was never allowed to attend.  Hell, there was barely even any plying outside. We could get hurt on bikes and skateboards and everyone in our neighborhood was looking to do us in, if you were to believe my parents.  Our time even in our own yard was infrequent.

And I don’t want that for my son.  I don’t want my son to be the kid who is never allowed to go out, and never learns age-appropriate social skills; I don’t want to be the parent that turns around and uses the fact of their lack of social skills as reason why they shouldn’t be allowed to go out.  I don’t want my son to grow up and realize at thirty-six he has virtually no memories of his childhood because he basically didn’t have one, because had so few stand-out moments and formative experiences.

I feel like we’re doing an ok job.  My son’s goes to parks and fairs and parties, and at 3, has already been on a plane more times than I had by the time I was 30.  We go to restaurants and the library, and while I hesitate to spend $14 on a movie ticket when I’m sure he’ll spend most of the time climbing on the seats, he’s been to several free outdoor movie nights.  We’re doing ok.

We’ll see what opportunities October brings, and what memories we can make.

So It Begins

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I started back up at work on Monday.  This year, I don’t know, felt different – in a good way.  I don’t know if I was just feeling especially good after having finally gotten the house under control, or that I was feeling particularly rejuvenated after actually getting up with my alarm, having a nice shower, and having time to apply makeup and eat a decent breakfast (while listening to one of my favorite podcasts), for once.

But whatever it was, I just felt, I don’t know… on.  Like, on form; sociable, confident, relaxed (or at least as relaxed as I ever get, which, granted, is several notches above baseline for most people).  I felt productive, I felt connected to the students and staff, and conversation was fun and fluid, all of which are often challenges for me.  I don’t know if it was my resolve to start changing these things about myself, or the scaffolding I put in place to make the mornings (and subsequently, rest of the day) run more smoothly, but whatever it was, it apparently worked.  It was a great first few days back.

And I am so, so glad I have a four day weekend, because damned if that shizz didn’t drain all my energy.

But I feel good.  I feel like things on the job front have gotten off to a good, fresh start, and I’m happy to return Tuesday to my new assignment, and to resume my vocational duties (one of my favorite parts of my job) later in September.  And it leaves me free to divert the energy expended on school prep the last few weeks back to things like creating and maintaining a managable schedule for my hobby time, and for my weight management (both of which fell by the wayside – again – in the last few weeks).

To those of you fellow educators recently returned to work, I hope you likewise had a smooth transition back to the daily grind.  To those parents sending their kids back to school after the summer, we are ready for them.

2 down, 178 to go.

Sense Memories

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Let’s be real:  with a pre-schooler, some of the only guaranteed “me” moments I get, I get in the bathroom.  If I sometimes take a little longer than necessary to indulge and get some damn reading time in, sue me.

Generally, it’s on my phone; it’s 2018, and I’m on Facebook, Twitter, Insta, and I’ve got this blog, obvs, plus e-mail, Buzzfeed, and about a dozen other time-wasting sites in my phone’s bookmarks.  But every once in a while, I go old school.

My folks, who are in their mid-60s, are old-school when it comes to bathroom reading. They still have magazine subscriptions, and still keep back issues in the bathroom.  I was flipping through one a couple of days ago – an old (like, 2016) issue of Reader’s Digest, which has been a staple in my folks’ house since I was a child.  One of the features in this issue was a Reader’s Question: what sound best encapsulates your childhood?

There were a variety of answers – the sound of playing cards in the spokes of a bike, the sound of chocolate milk being slurped with a straw, the sound of shuffling cards and rolling dice.

I started thinking; I don’t think I have a particular sound that fully encapsulates my childhood, but there are so many other lingering, powerful sense memories that harken back to the weirdest, most obscure moments or times in my life, but a lot of the recollections are likewise sensory snapshots, not narratives:

Mandarin Orange Body Spray, Unknown Brand
Late summers, early college; eighteen or nineteen years old.  My cousin Nikki practically lived with us; there were few weekends where she couldn’t be found camping out at our house.  During one stay, she forgot a bottle of mandarin orange body spray that I loved because it was warm and floral and spicy, all at once.  My sister and I sprayed it on our pillows before Nikki finally reclaimed it, and sometimes I can still smell it – 1 am, watching shounen-ai anime on VHS, camped out in the living room.  Matresses and sleeping bags lined up on the floor.  We had notebooks with hand-written RPG-style stories that we passed around, and hidden word documents with thousands of words of yaoi and slash fic that we wrote.  Listening to the Queer As Folk and Velvet Goldmine soundtracks, and watching Dragonball Z at midnight.  I sometimes wonder if there’s any chance Nikki’d remember what brand it was, or if it’s still made, but we’re talking almost twenty years ago, so I’m not especially hopeful.

Land O’ Lakes Flavored Hot Chocolate
Christmas.  Always, always Christmas, and Christmas break.  Christmas Eve, standing in the doorway to the bathroom in my bathrobe and tights while my mom curled her hair.  The Animaniacs “Little Drummer Boy” segment. Playing Five Minute Mysteries while we waited for my parents to be ready to go out.  The faerie-light illuminated drive to my Aunt’s house, the holiday themed riddles and brainteasers that we always played.  Novelty Christmas songs.  Snowflakes that melted on the windshield before the wipers could wipe them away.  Late nights, watching the snow fall.  Waking up on Christmas morning at 3am, the house quiet.  Sneaking into the living room to explore untold treasures.  An old, creaky pull-out couch (with a bar that absolutely killed your back if you didn’t lay on it just the right way), watching old episodes of Beavis and Butthead, and the music video for Bruce Springsteen’s “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.”   For some reason – and I haven’t actually had any of it in years and years – I occasionally crave the Chocolate Raspberry one, even though I feel like at the time, it was not one of my favorites.

“Stars,” from Les Miserables
Summer, age fifteen.  Calisto and Caslon Antique fonts.  Writing late at night and feeling completely creatively unfettered for one of the first and last times ever.  Self-insert fanfics where I am completely inappropriately cast as the romantic interest.  My sister and I drawing fanart for our own stories, multiple illustrations over multiple chapters.  Kate M’s “Uncharted Stars,” and La Javert’s Flying Homepage.  Sitting outside after midnight and sharing headphones.  Drinking tea and watching soft-core pulp films on Showtime.  Trolling the AOL Playbill theatre forums and making fast friends with anyone under eighteen.  Handwritten letters and elaborately decorated envelopes.  Cassette tapes mailed halfway across the country where we talked and sang and played If-Cubed.  The echo function on Nikki’s karaoke machine, and the theme song to VeggieTales.  Videos filmed on an on-loan camcorder that weighed nearly as much as we did.  Nikki as Little Cosette, eyeshadow smudged like dirt on her cheeks.

What are some things – a taste, a sound, a flavor – that bring back memories, whether they are full narratives with a distinct plot arc, or likewise hazy snippets of visceral sensory recollections.  What conjures up something you thought you’d long since forgot?

Friday, Fri-yay: August 24th, 2018

& (1)It’s my last Friday before they, like, actually start meaning something again.  Honestly.  I meet the end and the beginning of the school year with equally mixed feelings – on the one hand, I feel better with a schedule and a routine, and I kinda sorta have to have one foisted on to me, because I suck at self-regulating.  But at the same time, I miss late nights to myself, staying up late reading fanfic, or doodling, or Facebook messaging stupid memes to my sister.  I miss pool parties and beach days and not having to cart a 30lb. coat everywhere, and not taking an hour to get all Bear’s snow gear on in the morning.

But – fall is pumpkin spice and apple-picking and cinnamon scented candles and taking Bear trick-or-treating and having weekend crafternoons where I serve finger foods and hot apple cider, you know?  And on top of that, I get a routine.  So, yeah.  Sad to see summer go, but I am pretty ready for fall.

And so much is happening!  I literally already have myself booked through September, and we still have a week of August left.  No clue how that happened.

Anyway, this week:

I guess the first big “yay” is just having such a busy schedule the next few weeks – getting back into the routine and the daily grind is always easier when I know I have non-work fun stuff to look forward too.  This includes a festival and a party tomorrow, a local feast/street festival next Friday, a trip to Connecticut next Sat., a pool party next Sunday, and a birthday party on Labor Day proper.  Throw a few more events in there throughout the month, and then cap the month off with both Welcome to Night Vale Live and Hamilton.  September will be busy.

Second, Pumpkin Spice Lattes are back on August 28th.  Yeah, roll your eyes ;it’s over-hyped, it’s so cliche, yada yada yada.  I’m too old to either feign ironic interest in things I genuinely enjoy or pretend to be somehow “above” stuff that I like.  I love lattes, and I love pumpkin spice.  Call me basic.  I’ll be over here sipping my delicious damn drink (also, for further exploration into how you’re not better than me – and almost certainly have your own PSL – see Jim Gaffigan’s McDonalds bit).

Third, Barefoot wine has a sweet red blend that has been the jewel of my evenings this past week.  It’s been a while since I branched out from reisling or moscato, and it was worth it.

Anyway, it’s later on Friday than I’d wanted to get this out, but I got it out – ha ha ha!  Take that, crappy executive functioning!  What’s been good in your week?

Manic Energy

I’m having one of those days where I want to take on everything, but wind up doing nothing.  That stagnation that results from having too many things to do rather than nothing at all.

Today hasn’t been a total bust; I’ve wrapped up a few small projects and got brainstorming on a few others.  But I’m ping-ponging around from one to the other like crazy – I get no sustained momentum on any of them, just fits and spurts and sudden bursts of activity for each one in succession.

Every once in a while I have to get up and pace, because I’ve lost focus, but not drive.  It’s maddening.

Sometimes I think these moments would be less frustrating if I had an infinite (well, infinite-within-our-finiteness) well of time from which to draw.  If I had no other obligations – no job to get to, no chores to do – then I could just ricochet endlessly from project to project and maybe, eventually, see some of them through to fruition.

I guess I’ll never know.