Dec 172014
 

Once upon a time, I used to write. Not blog posts but fiction. Short stories. And then one day, probably around the time I began writing my thesis, I stopped writing fiction. My writing became academic in nature, focused on specific purposes – graduating, publishing, achieving. I miss those days of writing fiction every once in a while. But maybe every once in a while, I’ll post a snippet. Something to keep my hand in the game. Dialogue. A scene. Eh, we’ll see. [Notice:strong language ahead.]

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He lay on his back in the grass, the blades pricking his skin. Her dog crawled all over him, lapping at his face. He could feel her approaching, could feel her hesitate as she neared him.

“Do you know what eternity feels like?” he asked her.

She sat down next to him, carefully curling herself so that none of her skin touched the grass.

“No, I don’t,” she answered.

“It feels fucking horrible. And every eternity makes me want to just end it, make everything go black.”

“But if it’s every eternity, then it ends, right? It’s not eternal.”

She didn’t get it. No one got it, and it’s partially why he had to scare them.

“I brought a knife to my face. I tried to cut myself, but I couldn’t. Because I guess even though eternity is the absolute worst thing, your brain or something in you still wants you to live. How fucked up is that?”

“Wanting to live is fucked up?”

He ignored her and played with the dog, his eyes narrowing as the dog stopped to search his face. The dog licked his nose, and he licked her back.

“See that? People think dogs are dirty. But I’m an animal. I’m dirty.”

“Well, technically, we’re all animals.”

“Nope. Not true. Some of us are much more animal than others.”

She hugged her knees and turned away from him, and he knew she was finished. No one could listen for long, not even people he paid to listen.

“You know what it’s like?”

“What?”

“Eternity. It’s like waiting in a fucking doctor’s office when you’re sick. And it’s cold, and you feel like shit, and sometimes you shake, and no one fucking cares. They’re there to take your money, which they always do first, and then they make you wait. And you start playing games with yourself. Maybe by the time the little hand gets to the three, you’ll go in. Except it doesn’t happen, so you make something else up. And of course you don’t have a book with you. A book would help pass the time. It would take your mind off the waiting, but in this kind of waiting, you just sit there, miserable, waiting for something you have no control over.”

His voice broke. “And you just want to feel better.”

She reached across the grass and touched his arm, and he gripped her hand.

He hadn’t slept in days. He thought it was about eight days, but at this point, he had no way of knowing. Day turned into night turned into day, and he walked the streets or rode his bike through the light and the dark, only pausing to ask for something to drink, like now. He mapped the neighborhood according to friends who would still speak to him, bright spots on a map, but even those were dimming.

She was bright now, but he could feel her light flicker. Each time he said something harsh or something he knew she didn’t like, her light dimmed, and even though he knew he could control that, he couldn’t stop it. He was a god. He saw parts of people they had no clue existed.

“Your light’s gone. You’re not real.” She took her hand from his.

“What do you mean I’m not real? I’m sitting here, talking to you. Doesn’t get any more real.”

“But you’re not real real. Your light’s gone.”

He avoided her eyes, knowing what he’d see. She was scared of him, and he hated her for it.

“I’m Satan. But Satan’s not bad. I’m Satan, and all Satan is is a dude who wanted to be something. A dude who knew he was really good. And that makes him bad. And nobody gets that.”

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Dec 102014
 

Happy end of the semester! Oh, you don’t count your time like that? Whoops. I’ve thought a lot recently about marking time. My brother got married a couple of weeks ago, and the weeks and months leading up to that were thrilling. My entire family looked for places to stay, watched flight prices change ever so slightly, and hunted for dresses and clothes for the event obsessively. So obsessively, I’ve worried we might be depressed by the time it was all over. But here we are, and we’re all doing just fine. For me, though, it’s necessary to have points on the calendar to look forward to, places delineating the time before and the time after, special dates with friends and family.

Once upon a time, I had a Dilbert planner. And by Dilbert planner, I mean a black agenda with a foldover latch in the shape of Dilbert’s head. Inside were snippets of the cartoon and stickers in the shapes of the main characters, and I. Freaking. Loved it. For several years they had the refills for sale, and I would fill out my mail order form and get the next year to put inside. And then they discontinued that line.

For a few years after that, I wavered. I didn’t know what to do without Dilbert and tried the mini-purse-calendar route, which was largely unsuccessful. Then I found Pam Socolow’s Family Facts On-the-Go Organizer. It had everything I wanted – monthly calendars, the week on two pages, envelopes to store receipts or business cards, stickers, pen holder…and it went out of business after I used it for three years.

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I then entered what I call the “Dark Years” – the absence of a stable, reliable planner hit right as I entered my adjunct years, a dark dark time.

So last year when I got the job as Writing Center Director, I knew it was time to step back into the world of serious planners, but I couldn’t find anything I liked, so I just created my own planner from supplies I found at Target – essentially I found a spiral-bound planner that I liked and ripped out the pages to insert it into a much cuter and more functional mini binder. But it was homemade and started acting like it. My punched holes weren’t perfect, and some of the pages pulled out. The binder itself didn’t hold up well, though of course, I had used it daily since January.

Then in August, I got a request for a series of presentations in January and then in March. And no planner in which to mark these dates. Plus, my job includes both duties as a program director and a faculty member and faculty senator, and that sort of schedule gets crazy. I panicked and spent an insane amount of time over a few days in August searching for the best solution. There’s the Day Designer, the Simplified Planner, the Erin Condren Life Planner, the Plum Paper planner, and so many more, but these are all costly and only last for one year. I went deeper down the rabbit hole and discovered Filofax. And the heavens sang.

Filofax A5 in Nude

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I had a case of serious, serious lust and finally gave in to it, after making the boyfriend listen to me debate it for days. This bad boy is patent leather and a classic. Plus, it beckons to my much less classy Dilbert self of 12 or so years ago with its ability to last over the years. And this Filofax is sexy. It’s like Eva Green, best Bond girl ever. It doesn’t even have to whisper “I’m the money.”

So this is an investment at $105, but the refills are about $12 (and I actually designed my own and printed them at Kinko’s). There is an entire world of slightly crazy people who basically ‘roid up their Filofax like scrapbooks, but I’m not so into that. I want it to be cute and customizable, but I don’t want to spend the kind of time and money some people do. (Really, Google Filofax obsession.)

And I must say, I absolutely love it. This may be one of my favorite purchases ever. I love bringing it to meetings. I love leaving it open before bed and checking it first thing in the morning (to see if I need to dress up extra special for meetings). I love opening it up each morning and laying it on my desk. It’s just about perfect in every way.

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I thought perhaps my devotion to a planner had to do with aging, since I also bought a watch last year and now can’t believe I lived without it. But I think it’s more than that. As I recall the planners of yore, I think about when I recently redid my office and had to part with those old inserts, counting down the days until important trips, marking thesis deadlines. I also think about the days I marked with stars with no idea now what so special happened that day. Maybe it’s the tactile experience, but at least for me, time seems more meaningful this way, or at least more intentional. And it’s nice to know that at some point down the road, I’ll look back at these days, thinking back on the excitement, remembering days of heartache and joy, and wondering exactly how I got where I am.

 

 

Dec 082014
 

Anyone who creates – and I mean this in the broadest sense possible – understands that what you set out to create and what you actually end up with can be very different. Sometimes those changes come from within: as you create you realize ways in which your creation can be better. Often those changes come from without: criticism and conversation can affect the process. Then there’s this weird space that combines these two pressures – pressure from within compounded by what we think others may think/desire/want.

Last spring, my blog went kaput. I changed hosting companies and lost my entire design. For those more computer savvy than me, it might not have been such a big deal. But I had spent weeks on my design the year prior to that and to lose what I had worked for felt devastating. Each time I logged onto my blog, all I could see was how ugly it was, how unlike my vision it had turned out in the end. Plus, my life had changed quite drastically, and my job no longer left me with time to sit and play around with it, learning as I went.

So I stopped blogging. I missed it, but more than anything, I felt such a huge sense of guilt and anxiety surrounding my blogging. I missed the community. I didn’t feel I could comment on other people’s blogs because I wasn’t contributing in any way. And my reading slacked way off because I felt backlogged on reviews.

The last year’s extremely sporadic posts taught me a couple of things: 1. I pile guilt on myself way too easily. 2. I missed reading without pressure. 3. I wanted to blog, but not just about books.

This is such a common refrain. Over the nearly five years I have been active in this community, I’ve seen a lot of bloggers apologetically confess that they just don’t want to only blog about books. It’s nothing new. But there is a sense of guilt and shame I always feel when I read these posts. That we, as book bloggers, have a responsibility to post book reviews and that if we don’t, we can’t claim the title.

But my life is about more than books. It always has been, and my blog has always felt – to me – to be slightly different than the others because I had my Fridays at Home posts. But again, I felt they had to be relegated to a certain day, a way to indicate: oh, I enjoy this, but it’s totally separate from books. Or I felt the need to connect it somehow. (See! It’s bookshelves!)

At this point, I’m sure many of my blogger friends and readers have stopped visiting me, and that’s ok. But I want to get back to blogging, just on my own terms. So this space is transitional. I have some really odd posts scattered over the next couple of weeks, posts that haunted my drafts folder because they didn’t quite fit here until I realized that of course they fit here. This is my space. I enjoy interacting with all of you, but it’s my space, a reflection of me and my wacky mind, and I’m ok with that.

 

Dec 052014
 

This is the tale of an ugly duckling. A very ugly duckling (and please excuse the awful quality of the photos):

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A decade ago, I really disliked mid century modern furniture. Of course, much of what I had seen was in really bad condition, with really bad colors. But in recent years, I’ve fallen hard. But I’ve also been on a budget, and mcm furniture usually isn’t cheap. So when I found this beast at a local vintage place for $50, I snapped a photo, sent it to my vintage-shopping partner in crime for approval and felt like a criminal when I left with it. I was in the midst of painting and updating my guest bedroom/office and knew I wanted something with a bit of storage.

It was in bad shape. Baaaaad shape. The veneer was ripped off in lots of places, and I considered just painting it as is. But then I came across this post on repairing damaged or missing veneer, and I knew I was down to try this with some Bondo.

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This Bondo is messy stuff, but it’s also pretty miraculous. (And no, they aren’t paying me to say that.) I Bondoed like crazy. This stuff dries pretty quickly and makes a huge mess…er, actually that was me making the mess…but it was worth it. After I sanded it down and started to paint, I knew I had made the right decision.

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I boldly went where I never thought I would go – fuschia. And not just fuschia, but high gloss fuschia. I’m not a pink girl, but I had just repainted the front bedroom/office bright white and knew I needed to inject a good bit of color in that space. Well, look no further. I used Clark & Kensington’s Calypso Beat in high gloss.

I tried primer on one of the drawers, but it didn’t make much difference. The key to a high-gloss finish is patience. Of which I have little. But I did it! I painted three coats in all, waiting 24 hours between each one, and I absolutely love the finished product.

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I also spray painted the pulls. They’re brass, but cleaning ten of them proved to be a ridiculous amount of effort, and they would eventually just tarnish again.

So this was my most recent house update, and I love it. I painted the room bright white, and now it’s a room I love going into (which is always a plus).