Archive of ‘unquiet things’ category

Ghost Hugs From Exile: Self-Care, Solace, And Sanity For Shut-Ins

Johann Georg Meyer, Young Woman Looking through a Window

Johann Georg Meyer, Young Woman Looking through a Window

Ok, so if we’re being honest, I’ve been self-isolating since the late 70s. And it must be noted that I wrote that sentence last night and in opening this draft again early this morning, I misread that as “…self-loathing since the late 70s”. Also true. But not why we’re here today.

It’s a scary, lonely, and possibly boring time for a lot of folks right now if you’re keeping your distance from others, working from home, and just hanging around your house, waiting for this madness to pass. No happy hours with co-workers, no bookclubs or yoga classes, possibly no trips to the library or the grocery store (if, like me, that’s about the extent of your social interaction right there.)

I know a lot of us think–hey, 24/7 home-times and zero amounts of human contact is basically my life, anyway! No biggie! But it’s one thing to want that for yourself…it’s something else entirely not to have any choice in the matter. What once felt safe and lovely in the cozy confines of your home may begin to feel like a sentence of stifling, smothering imprisonment. After all, no one wants to be told what to do! There’s nothing like being informed that you can’t do something, to flip that contrarian switch in your mind that makes you suddenly want to do that thing more than anything in the world. So I absolutely understand how frustrating it can, even for an introvert, not to be able to leave the house, let alone see the places and do the things and hang out with the people. Or just…you know, go to your place of work and put in the hours for a paycheck. Or maybe you are immunocompromised, or you deal with the daily experience of living with a chronic illness, and frequently must turn down invitations or reschedule appointments for things outside the house while you tend to your own health. During this strange time of isolation and quarantine it’s possible you may be feeling well enough to spend time with friends, but…you can’t. And let’s not forget our extroverted friends! I know that I personally feel drained from being around people and am happy to avoid it entirely, but I have plenty of friends who find interaction and conversation energizing and invigorating. The friends who are always moving, going, doing! I can think of any number of reasons we are worried and anxious and the possibility of stir craziness and cabin fever looms.

Me, well. As someone who already works at home and has for almost a decade; who has maybe only one local IRL friend; who is very much an introvert anyway…I believe I am doing OK. For now. I don’t think I am likely to get bored (in my childhood, someone once told us, “if you’re bored–you’re boring!” and that is a sentiment that has always stuck with me, and has instilled in me the idea that to be boring is maybe the worst personality flaw one can have.)  My youngest sister explained our temperaments quite well when it comes to being okay with being home, and alone:

“My early years of being a socially-awkward, friendless little freak have served me well: I’m comfortable in my own company, and my internal landscape is rich and well-supplied with my own interests and curiosities.”

Wow, you can’t tell we’re related or anything.

I’m still working full time at my day job–not much has changed on the surface with regard to what I do for a living. But it’s an industry that will no doubt be affected by what’s happening now, and I have a feeling that these are effects that may be felt soon. So I’ll be grateful for my job while I have it!  For this period of quarantine and captivity, things at work are no doubt going to be a little slow, so here are a few of the things I will be doing. Or thinking about doing. Or some ideas for you!

tidy

Clean and tidy and organize my environment. When you have to look at the same walls and shelves and surfaces for days on end, dust and scraps and piles of random things where they don’t belong can start to make your space feel annoying and gross–and this feeling can naturally affect your attitudes and motivations for doing other things.

Block out some time to make the bed, to vacuum, to put things back where they belong, at the very least. Catch up on some podcasts while you’re doing it! For me in particular, that means organizing the stacks of stuff that end up on top of the captain’s bed in my office, a spot which has become sort of a catch-all for everything that enters my home that I don’t have immediate plans for. And because I work in my office, I always see that mountain of yarn, or perfume samples or whatever, looming and mocking me from the corner of my eye. It’s distracting. I’m going to take some time to find homes for these things and bring my office back to a nice, functional space.

books

Read! Now is a great time to make a dent in those stacks. You know the ones. The library stacks. The purchased-from-amazon-for-summer-reading-in-2015 stacks. The Kindle Unlimited backlog digital stacks. The poetry-section-at-Powells-from-a-previous-trip-to Portland stacks. Have a nice beverage, kick up your feet and put on your funny socks so that when you look down you see your silly toes and it makes you laugh. Post a photo of that on Instagram. Or maybe listen to some free books! Right now I am finally reading The Picture of Dorian Gray, catching up on Monstress. What are you reading during these strange, unprecedented times?

ukelele

Catch up on personal projects, hobbies, or creative activities–finish that knitted shawl, make that pelmeni that your friend gave you an excellent recipe for, KonMari your tee shirt drawer; redesign an awkward room, fix those wonky, squeaky, creaky things around the house, throw out all of your old crusty makeup, do your taxes. Tune that ukelele that your partner bought you for Christmas in 2014 and you’re afraid to even look at, update your resume/portfolio and refresh those skills that might give you a leg up on the job market, unsubscribe from all of the stuff clogging your mailbox, unfollow all those boring people on Instagram who never update anymore …though if you were close to them you may want to reach out and see if they’re ok, of course! Create a budget for yourself and make some plans to be more financially solvent. Do some end of life planning! (this is not morbid; this is practical.)

Learn something new! A yoga pose, a fancy nail design manicure, a Skillshare class on whatever, I don’t know, maybe one about being a social media guru or taking nice photos of your coffee in a hipster cafe. Listen to that one TED talk on empathy; learn to make a classic cocktail. Learn origami, watch some youtube tutorials for making cold process soap or wax candles, or herbal tinctures and decoctions. Read up on some eco-sustainable solutions for your home to begin implementing when you’re comfortable enough to think about things like that again. Look at some beautiful art for your eyeballs in a virtual museum tour. Finally begin reading up on the Tarot! Take your cue from The Hermit, and use this introspective, reflective time to learn about the things that excite your soul. Like crochet! The Hermit is totally crocheting some amigurumi dolls right now.

Are both you and your partner working at home? Take lunch together and do something absurd and ridiculous like rewrite the words to a popular song; I’ve started with the lyrics to the Eagle’s Desperado–my version is called Death Burrito. That’s about as far as I’ve gotten. I mean… I haven’t even learned to play the original on my ukelele.

Talk about something silly and fanciful. Plan that pie-in-the-sky-vacation you’ve been thinking about taking. Daydream together. My partner and I both work from home and have for years now, in our very different jobs. We have separate offices, luckily, and we’ve worked it out so that we don’t get in each other’s way, and we understand that we are at work between the hours of 8:30-5:30. But if that’s not your situation, this may be a good read right now: Surviving Quarantine Without Killing Your Partner.

grow

Get outside if you can. Walk around the neighborhood, peek in your neighbor’s garages (why do so many people leave their garage doors open all day long? Guy with the confederate flag hanging over your mossy old sofa…do you really want people to see that?) Go to a park, I mean I know it’s only a quarter-mile walk around a craggy retention pond, but use your imagination. Hang out in your backyard and garden, plant some seeds, grow something. Have a little picnic on your back porch. Squat down and look at some bugs. Lean your head back and look at the sky.

If you’re able, do your best to move around and don’t turn into a fossil! Little micro-workouts, gentle stretches, strength training, learn a K-pop dance, dance with Debbie Allen!; hula hoop in your backyard, do one of those crazy VR games, use your treadmill or stationary bike, try yoga apps or youtube videos, use that zombie running app that you downloaded once and promptly forgot about. If any of my DDR PS2 games worked with our PS4 I’d be hardcore Dance Dance Revolutionizing right now. I am actually the worst at this, so if you’ve got any tips of things tried and true that work for you, please let me know!

planner

Planner layout photo courtesy my baby sister, who suggested both #plandemic and #plandemonium as hashtags for current social media usage.

Plan and organize and make appointments and schedule things! I know it’s tough to book mammograms and hair colorings right now. Who knows when it will seem like a smart idea again to see our doctors for non-crucial issues and book appointments with the folks who make us look good? I don’t know! But if you’re suddenly working from home (or you’re at home because you’re suddenly not working) it’s understandable that you might be floundering and adrift because your regular routines have all gone out the window. Make a plan for yourself even if you’re just scheduling the stuff you do around the house. 6:30am wake up. Make bed. Drink water. Wash face. Do laundry. Email friends. I know these are just dumb daily things that you are going to do anyway, but when you don’t have anything else going on and your whole day boils down to these quotidian activities, it can feel like a big deal crossing small wins off your list.

Communicate with friends and loved ones. Keep up with your Facebook group chats, Skype with your sisters, text your best friend, send out emails to folks you haven’t heard from in a while. (If you’re me, don’t take/make any phone calls because why don’t people get that you are on the phone from sundown from sunup for your day job and you would rather throw yourself into a woodchipper than talk on the phone in your free time?) Play online games or apps with your cousins, watch movies with your coven over facetime, do book club discussions over coffee or cocktails together via Skype. Create a shared playlist with your buds on Spotify. Write some actual letters with that fancy stationery you never use, for pete’s sake

Soup

Cook! Experiment with a new recipe (make one of those technical challenges from the Great British Baking Show! Pretend that Paul Hollywood is going to give you that famous handshake if you get it right!), make a comforting classic; perfect one of your granny’s recipes, do some nice, relaxed, non-rushed meal-prep; see what kind of dreamy charcuterie board you can come up with what you’ve got on hand. If what you’ve got is string cheese, salmon jerky, and Cheez-Its, that’s a good try! The unattractive photo above is a barley and lentil soup I made with some dried goods that had been in my cupboard for maybe 5-6 years. I don’t know if it’s because I sauteed the veggies in bacon grease, but this was really an excellent-tasting soup for having used such humble ingredients.

BATH

Step away from the media that’s fueling your anxiety; draw yourself a bath and use some of those potions and lotions and oils and balms you have on the shelves in your bathroom– bath salts, bubble baths, fancy soaps, bath bombs, bath melts, etc, etc. Give yourself a manicure, a pedicure, a hand massage, a foot soak (or if you’re like me, you’re too lazy to draw a bath so instead you put all of those things I listed above into a tiny foot soak tub instead); do a facial, a mask, a peel; do some gua sha, light some candles, listen to some ASMR for tingles and relaxation. Lisa-Marie Basile has got some really wonderful rituals for troubling times such as this in her gorgeous book, Light Magic for Dark Times: More than 100 Spells, Rituals, and Practices for Coping in a Crisis, and I cannot recommend it highly enough. This is the perfect time to dive in.

Write it out! Do some journaling (keep a plague diary!) work on your essay, your article, your interview, your poetry, your great American novel; meditate on and document what is happening right now, scribble and ramble to work through your fears and your feelings during these chaotic times. It’s scary to sit with these worrying thoughts, but if you’re up to it, you may find it helpful.

Follow your heart and see what it wants to do…and if that’s exactly nothing, then go with that for a while, too. It is OK to be still. I think the idea of “keeping busy” and the hustle/grind/etc–these types of relentless toil have been glorified in our society, and listen, you don’t have anything to prove right now. We place unbelievably high standards on ourselves, and that pressure is untenable on any given day, let alone in circumstances such as these. Listen to that small voice within and to the messages your body, instincts, spirit give you. You don’t have to “think positively.” Be worried, be anxious, be scared. Lean into those feelings and let them have a voice.  If that’s too much right now, and stillness doesn’t feel like something you can handle, to do those things that make you feel safe and cozy and let you tune out for a while: movies, puzzles, knitting, looking at pictures of corgi butts, napping, whatever.

If your heart is moved do something else, maybe consider donating to or buying a gift card from local businesses that you support; purchase a gift card or two from some of your favorite artists, or contribute to their Patreon, or buy them a Kofi. Support your local mutual aid network. If we’re at a point where you can still do this, run errands for someone who needs to stay indoors. I am sure there are lots of helpful and good things that I am not even thinking of, so please feel free to comment with ideas and practices of your own.

And I get it, we’re not all on vacation here. Some of us are still working– I know I am. (And there are some lovely, gentle work from home tips in this article at Luna Luna Mag!) It’s not like all of this magical free time just opened up for me! Some are not working and currently without income. Some of you have kids and can’t just take up crocheting or a new hobby or whatever. You’ve got diapers to change or kids out of school who need wrangling. Some of you live in apartments and maybe don’t have a park or a neighborhood to walk around. We’re not all in the same situation, and we don’t have access to the same things. The circumstances look different for all of us, and I wish I had more answers and ideas for everyone. But these are some things that I’d like to try to work into my schedule because now seems like a good time, I mean it’s got to be good for something, right?

Ghost hugs from exile, friends. Be well and stay safe.

Buy My Old Stuff

P0

THIS BAG IS SOLD–THANK YOU!

Hello friends. As you probably know, because I have mentioned it several times over on several social media platforms–I am unloading some of my things over on Depop and Poshmark.  There is nothing wrong with these things–some of them are, in fact, very very nice!–but they just don’t get any love and sit in a box or on a shelf, unused. It’s quite a waste, and I’d love them all to go to good homes, and if I can make a buck or two in the process and recoup some of my spendings, that would be grand.

A million years ago, I used to sell vintage clothes on eBay, and I had so much fun with it. Now, though, the thought of selling to strangers who are going to complain or criticize or attempt to scam me …it just feels too fraught. Even people asking me questions about what I am selling makes me very anxious. I just want to be done with it, and I want all of these extra things out of my house because I am tired of looking at them!

So, I thought I might show a few things here on the blog for folks who read my blog–I am way more comfortable with you guys. If you see anything you’d like to take off my hands, make me an offer* and let’s work something out! I would love to do this outside of Depop and avoid all the fees. I know that in general, that’s ill-advised because Depop and sites like it offer buyer protection, but I think we’re good here, right? So if you’ve got a PayPal account, and you’ve had your eye on something, please let me know, and let’s make it happen!

If you’re not sure what I mean by “make me an offer”, hopefully, this will help. I had that velvet Vampire’s Wife bag, featured above, listed for $325. When I originally purchased it, new, it was £350.00 ($449 USD). It is virtually unused, and yet someone on Poshmark offered me $100 for it. That’s…a little insulting, you know? Out of spite, I declined the offer and I unlisted the item. Ha! Take that! Anyway, I will entertain all REASONABLE offers, is what I am saying.

If you see anything below that you’d like to grab, shoot me an email with an offer and your address details to mlleghoul AT gmail dot com, and let’s talk! I have provided links to all of the listings should you want additional particulars and details, and be sure to take a peek around, because I didn’t post below everything that’s listed in the shop, and you don’t want to miss out! The earliest I will be able to ship out is Monday, March 9, and all items will be sent via priority mail with tracking.

If there’s anything you’ve had your eye on, now is definitely the time to scoop it up, because as of April 1st, I am taking all of my listings down. It’s just too much potential stress and I don’t want to worry about it anymore!

International friends–my apologies. Shipping elsewhere can be a little onerous and so this is post is intended for friends and readers in the US.

Pour Le Victoire purse--make me an offer

Pour Le Victoire purse–make me an offer!

Frye boots size 7.5--make me an offer!

Frye boots size 7.5–make me an offer!

Sequined Evil Eye slides--make me an offer!

Sequined Evil Eye slides–make me an offer!

20 Things (You Never Asked) About Me

Woman Reading by Window. Jessie Wilcox Smith

1. I used to think that little people lived in my stomach and their village would starve to death if I didn’t eat the Wheat Chex my mother served me every morning.

2. I still believe that the inner workings of cars and computers are powered by fairies and elves.

3. I don’t care for ice cream or cake or pie or candy or cookies. But I do like a lovely crème brûlée.

4. For the years of ten through eleven I slept with a photo of Indiana Jones that I’d torn from the TV Guide.

5. I am terrified of speaking in front of crowds, but you can’t shut me up when I get in front of a camera.

6. I love to sing. My voice is not great, but I don’t think it’s awful, either.

7. I don’t dance. Not even in the house, alone.

8. When I am dreaming, and I enter a darkened room and the light switch isn’t working, that’s how I know it’s about to become a nightmare.

9. My favorite number is two and odd numbers make me a little nervous.

10. I prefer curved shapes. Sharp angles make me anxious, and I often attribute aggressive personalities to them.

11. I would rather wear darker colors but I do love a nice bright, pumpkin-y orange.

12. My sisters and I used to mingle and fraternize our Barbie dolls and Star Wars action figures. Lando Calrissian went on a ski trip with Day to Night Barbie, and things went dark when he slid down a treacherous slope into our trash can (at least we thought that’s where he went) but we couldn’t find him afterward and he was never seen again.

13. I get very upset when I think about my sisters and I not recognizing each other in the next life.

14. My favorite scent is fresh marjoram.

15. My least favorite smell is bubblegum.

16. I can’t even be around people who are chewing gum, I have to leave the room.

17. I like it when older ladies call me honey or sweetheart or darling. I almost yearn for it. Probably because I miss my mother and my grandmother. Conversely, I hate it when men call me those things.

18. In order of things I like to do best: putter in the kitchen, knit, read, watch movies. I feel like if I never did anything but these four things, it would still be a pretty great life.

19. I have strong opinions about people who drizzle ketchup all over their french fries before they even start eating them. I actually have kind of strong opinions on ketchup, in general. On it’s own, it tastes like a mouthful of barf. It needs to be partnered with mustard.

20. I once told a group of people that when I die I would like my body to be expertly butchered and barbecued and served to those I loved most, with a variety of delicious dipping sauces. I can’t think of a more lovely way to be remembered. Dipping sauces are the best.

Currently: February 2020

Author Photo 3

I hate looking at my face in photos that other people have taken of me.

It’s hard to articulate why you think your best angles are your best angles, because quite frankly when we look at ourselves, I’m fairly certain that all we see are our flaws. (If you’ve evolved beyond this, I tip my hat to you.) My weak chin, massive forehead, my wonky tooth, my squinty, asymmetric eyes, my weird albino mole, and conversely, that dark splotchy sun-spot–I have been evaluating, assessing, and critiquing these problems with my gargoyle face in photos for …well. My entire life.

Our friends, however, aren’t as intimately familiar with how hideous we believe that we are; they don’t examine our repulsive facial topographies in the mirror every day (they’ve got their own faces to deal with, I imagine) and since they probably think we’re decent-enough looking humans, they are not as circumspect and calculated as we are in capturing our own portraits on film. I am certain that anyone who has ever been tagged in a friend’s Facebook photo looking like a chubby, inbred goblin is mortifyingly familiar with this oversight on the part of our friends, and this is why I think we need consent forms and NDAS and binding contracts promising that they will never ever ever tag us in a photo on Facebook unless we have pre-approved said photo. In my opinion, there is no betrayal quite so heinous as being marked as yourself by a “friend” in a particularly ugly photo.

Anyway, I had some author photos taken last weekend. I tried not to be too critical of them afterward; they were shot by my brother in law and I think he did a great job! He made me feel comfortable, and I knew I wasn’t going to wind up looking like anyone else other than me. (I am terrified of getting my makeup done, because, as part of the process, I may be given those terrible fuzzy caterpillar Instagram eyebrows; I am so scared of this that I wore exactly zero makeup in these photos except for some tinted moisturizer. My eyebrows may be non-existent, but at least they are not Eugene Levy-levels of lepidopteran larvae hovering above my eyeballs.) These photos came out looking exactly like me, for better or worse. But the one above is my absolute favorite. “Cackling into the void,” a friend of mine captioned it. And I don’t think anything captures me better than just laughing at how scared and ugly I feel all the time.  It’s kinda hilarious. And sad. But mostly funny!

bagels1

One thing that -mostly- never makes me feel sad or scared or ugly though, is spending time in the kitchen. (Just don’t ask me about the time I had the “brown rice risotto meltdown”! It was just last week. Too soon.)

Last year, thanks to the recipe and encouragement of dear Sonya, I tried my hand at making gravlax; this year, I thought…why not make the bagels and cream cheese to accompany it?

bagels 4

bagels 3

This time around I went with Brad Leone’s gravlax recipe from this episode of It’s Alive. I left out the turmeric because that just seemed…a little weird. The peppercorns and coriander seeds smelled so beautiful; sharp and fresh and floral and a bit citrusy, and I wish I could wear the glittering finery of this salt and sugar sprinkle half as well as this little slab of salmon!

bagels 5

bagels 7

bagels 6

Did I feel the slightest bit of trepidation contemplating the creation of homemade bagels? Maybe. But even bad bagels had the promise of being pretty freaking amazing, and please indulge me when I tell you that these were not bad bagels. Were they perfect? Lordy. No.
Were they a lot of work? Like maybe a thousand times the effort of going to Bagel King? Yes, they were. Were they probably twice as expensive? Yes, they probably were.

Were they absolutely worth the mess and the effort? Oh yes. And they were even more delicious knowing that I made the dough, I kneaded the dough, I shaped and boiled and I baked the dough, and I had a hand in nearly 100% of the processes that brought these wee bagel bebes into existence. I didn’t grow the grains and grind them into flour. And that was a pre-packaged everything bagel seasoning (it needs more salt!) But other than that…I did it. And that feels pretty amazing.

The bagel recipe is from Joshua Weissman, and I chose it because he wasn’t adding extra ingredients like malt extract and vital wheat gluten. Those might have made the end product tastier, but I didn’t feel like futzing around with them. The cream cheese is really more of a “cream cheese-like spread” and the recipe is from Chef John of Foodwishes. I really dig how he compares the cheesecloth marks on the spread to the pattern that fishnet stockings make on the flesh of someone’s leg. I think the world needs some erotic foody fanfiction from Chef John, but maybe that’s just me, hee hee.

Bean Soup

Since we are on the topic of food (and if we’re not, let me bring it back to what’s really important here) I’d like to tell you about this soup.

We were low on stores and I didn’t want to do any extra shopping. I had a really excellent chicken stock I’d made from the remnants of this chicken recipe, a handful of old vegetables, and two half-full bags of dried baby lima beans. I am not sure why I had two bags, and why there was an equal amount of beans missing from both, but I suppose that shall remain a kitchen mystery. I soaked the beans in some cold water for a few hours, and then I chopped and sauteed two celery stalks and two carrots with three cloves of garlic, minced, in a splodge of olive oil. I would have added onions, but I had none, so subbed in a hefty tablespoon of onion powder, along with some salt and pepper. I added the soaked beans and stirred them around with the veggies for a few minutes or until everything looks friendly with each other and smells lovely and then I added several cups of broth and a bay leaf or two. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until the beans are as tender as you like and the soup starts to thicken up a bit.

I used to hate bean soup as a kid, but I think this one is better than the one my grandmother used to make me eat. It was actually quite delicious. Sorry Mawga!

SK

RE: my Stephen King project (here’s a link to a spreadsheet if you are interested! It’s…a bad spreadsheet. Spreadsheets are not my thing.)

So far in 2019 I have read The Institute, The Dead Zone, and The Outsider; I have watched Pet Sematary (2019), IT Chapter Two, In The Tall Grass, Doctor Sleep. I am currently watching The Outsider television series, listening to The Dark Half, and reading The Gunslinger

Of course, I am reading other things, too, alongside this Stephen King madness, but still…I think I am making progress!

this, that, and the other thing {li}

Exquisite-Creatures-Christopher-Marley-8

☨ Beauty Eternalized: Christopher Marley’s Exquisite Creatures
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☨ Bjork and Microsoft use AI to create music that changes with the weather
A Floating Hotel with Aurora Views Just Opened on a Frozen River in Sweden
The Mysterious “Order of the Odd Fellows” that frankly, belongs in a Wes Anderson Movie

Featured photo by Maika Keuben of the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry’s Christopher Marley Exquisite Creatures exhibit

An Open Letter To Everyone I Have Ever Ghosted

Angela Deane, Meet Cute

Angela Deane, “Meet Cute”

I don’t believe that I owe anyone any explanation for my absence from their life or my exit from their bad behavior and foolishness, but I sometimes wonder how I might feel if someone was in my life one day, and then had all but disappeared the next. Probably a little hurt and somewhat confused. “What could I have done?” I might ask myself on occasion while hoping that it wasn’t anything too awful.

If any of you people ever stumble across this missive, you may find your misdeeds recorded here. Oh, I’ll tell you what you did. If you’re reading this, and don’t like your reflection in what I have written, remember the following (and thank you for reminding me, Angeliska)

“You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”

― Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

You were my high school boyfriend. I was wild about you. You dumped me after you graduated, right before my senior year. I still mooned over you for years and took whatever little scraps you threw my way. I grew up, I moved away, I got over you. I moved back as an adult and here you are. Still here. Still an eternal teenager. Your Facebook feed is all big trucks, guns, and half-naked women. Were you like this the whole time? I think you were. You posted about your disgust regarding “government handouts.” You want to know why I won’t talk to you, why I ignore your messages. Gross. Look at yourself. Would you talk to you if you were me? Did you ever even know me, know anything about the person I was? You certainly don’t know who I am now, thirty years later. And honestly, the person I am now has no use for a 45-year-old perpetual man child with no kindness or compassion in his heart. Fuck off.

You were the girlfriend of my high school boyfriend’s best friend. Our boyfriends were the only thing we had in common, I think, but we clung to each other after we both got dumped. We had some nice times in our early twenties, weekly visits where we’d cook together and watch Melrose place, while your baby played in the room with us. I moved away and came back. You’re still here. You’ve got another kid by another husband, and maybe some drama, but who doesn’t really? I think you love your children and that’s beautiful. What’s not so beautiful is your ugly politics. We never talked about this type of thing and so maybe you were this way all along, but when you posted that Ted Nugent meme (it was either racist or something to do with guns or survivors of a shooting…it’s hard to tell with him, I think he’s always saying something terrible and offensive) I knew then that this was not a friendship I wished to revive. I blocked you on social media. I pass you in the grocery store sometimes. I ignore you.

You were my best friend in middle school. Ours was a fraught friendship, though probably not from your end. I was just always afraid that we were doing something that would get us into trouble, but that seemed to be your nature and your modus operandi. We grew apart in high school, you had a couple of kids very young, and we lost touch. A few years ago I looked you up. I don’t know why I haven’t yet learned my lesson about this. “The past is another place, and I’m not headed that way” kind of lessons. “Let what is dead stay dead.” Oh, Sarah. Will you ever learn? I found you on Facebook and we chatted a bit. Made a coffee date. On Facebook, you shared your thoughts about why we need to build a wall. NOPE. I am not having it. And say what you want about the evils of Facebook, but man, people sure show you their true colors over there. We live in the same town but I have somehow never run into you. If that day occurs, I will ignore you, too.

You…I can’t talk about you. You genuinely upset me last year in the most triggery, traumatic way, and I still have a hard time with that. I know I eventually have to get over it and interact with you, because of reasons, and there is no way you could have known what you did when you were doing it, but until then I just have to pretend you don’t exist. When we finally do see each other again, I am hoping that I can act as if nothing ever happened, and I hope that I actually feel that way too.

You. Are so fucking gross and opportunistic and I am sorry that I was every aligned or associated with you in any way. You actually did the worst thing that anyone could ever do to me. And I say that as someone who was in a toxic, abusive relationship for years.* You embarrassed me. You embarrassed me in front of several smart, talented friends who may have only worked with you because of our association. You embarrassed me in front of a lovely, long-time friend with your pushy, gross demands. When she messaged me privately to ask “what’s this guy’s deal??” I was mortified. Maybe one of the only reasons she was even entertaining your transaction was because I vouched for you in some way.  Also, I was told that you said some pretty nasty things about me behind my back afterward. That was a weird and novel experience because as far as I know, that’s not ever happened to me before (but how would I know, I guess?) Anyway, fuck that and fuck you.

I’m never going to apologize for cutting people out of my life. I am ruthless about it. It might take a lot to get me to that point; I am patient and I am very forgiving. But I’m at a point now where I know very well who I am and what I’m all about, and so listen well when I tell you: I am not about your shitty politics, and whatever else you do to me, don’t fucking embarrass me.

Other than that, we’re good. You can stay.

* this person is not on this list. I have written about them everything that I ever want to write.

2020 Motivations & Ambitions

Actress Mary Pickford writing at a desk, by Hartsook Photo Studio, San Francisco & Los Angeles, California, 23 March 1918.

Actress Mary Pickford writing at a desk, by Hartsook Photo Studio,  23 March 1918.

I really hesitate to use the word “goal” here, and much like many people I know, I shy away from talking about “resolutions.” But aren’t they all really the same thing, these earnest efforts to better ourselves in an attempt to reach, oh…I don’t know what…our final form? Our ultimate, enlightened evolution? Or maybe just plain old success and happiness? And really, what’s wrong with that? On the whole, I think it’s a grand idea.

But I think, for me, at least, it might be smarter to consider all of that in terms of little processes and practices rather than a massive end-goal or two. Sure, I could say that I want to lose 50 lbs in 2020, but that’s a big number, and a lot to expect from a body, and it’s so easy to lose motivation and become discouraged along the way when progress looks slow.

I’d rather take action with smaller check-ins. For example: make sure I’m moving enough, and not even because exercise is all that helpful toward weight loss–which I don’t believe it is–but because I feel better when I get my daily walks. And when I feel better, I make better decisions about when and where and why and how much to eat. Or maybe try my best to cook most meals at home– because I both love to cook and I am more invested and excited about food when I make it myself, and when I have made the food myself, I know exactly what ingredients and how much of them are going into it. Get enough sleep, because when I’ve had the opportunity for my body to heal and refresh and reset itself, I’m more likely to wake up for those early morning walks, and I later in the day have the mental clarity and energy to plan out meals and make them. All of those things may add up to choices more aligned toward that big goal but more importantly, I think it will get me fairly well-sorted and stronger and healthier along the way.

I realize that I am pretty well privileged to live in a place where I feel safe taking walks in the dark and that I have a body that is capable of taking those walks. That I have the access and resources to buy fresh ingredients and the time to make a nice meal for myself. That I don’t have (too many) concerns related to sleeping or getting a good night’s rest. This may look very different for you, or for someone else. I can really only speak for myself in this regard, but I am not blind to the fact that not everyone can or is able to do these things. Not everyone even wants to do these things!

Which brings me to my next point RE: weight loss and body positivity. You can be confident and healthy and beautiful whatever size or weight you are at–all body types can and should be celebrated. My body doesn’t feel like a celebration, though. And honestly, it never has, but it especially has not felt like much of a party these last few years. I have accepted that this is the only body I’ve got and there’s only so much I can do about it, and after a certain point, it’s just going to look however it looks. That’s fine. What I do not accept is being resigned to it feeling a certain way. I don’t want to feel like a creaky old house with too much pressure on the structures that are meant to be holding it together. I don’t want to feel old and stiff and sluggish and slow. Well, slow is okay, I guess. I am a Taurus after all.

I want to feel better and I have no doubt that includes losing a pound or two. I know that a great many folks find talk of this a little triggering, and I get it. I find it triggering, too. I’ve dealt with the issues attached to fat-shaming and bullying and eating disorders my whole life. But I can’t ignore the other realities here, either–which is that I am carrying around too much body for my body to manage and I have to do something about that, even though it’s not comfortable to address to myself, nor is it fun or interesting to discuss with others, or even to just share here on my blog.

I suppose this is all a disclaimer, really. I know this is my little internet space to whisper or holler about whatever I want at my leisure, but I never want to lose sight of the fact that there are actual human beings out there who are reading what I have written…and I become awfully upset with myself when I pause to think that there may be friends or acquaintances who read this thing or that thing I have written and feel hurt or betrayed by my words. Body acceptance and positivity is great, is what I am saying here, but I don’t always feel positive about my own body.  I’m sorry for how that may make you feel, but in the end, how I feel about my own body is my own business.

This list below is mostly not even about my corporeal human meat suit issues! But I suppose I felt that I had probably better make sure I said all of the above, anyhow. These are the ambitions and objectives that in 2020 and the rest of this new decade I would like to try to stay on top of, incorporate more of, or maybe just try out and see how it feels, in terms of assisting with daily goings-about in this world, and leveling up along the way. Until the end of it all, when I have hopefully done the work and put in the effort and have finally achieved my true form:

Medusa, 1892. Alice Pike Barney

Medusa, 1892. Alice Pike Barney

Move more, cook more, sleep more:

I mentioned these above, but they bear repeating. I try to walk most evenings for 45 minutes or so, and if I can wake myself before the sun is up in the morning, I take gentle wake-up walks at that time as well. I have been saying for years now I’d like to start doing yoga (I figure if I learn one new stretch every year, at the end of a decade, I will have a routine.) I would also like to start doing pilates again. I had a pilates DVD years ago, and I can’t believe I am saying this, but I really liked it. I live with someone though, and I am really shy and squirrelly about working out in a place where someone could potentially walk in on me exerting myself and looking sweaty and stupid. I would trust my partner with just about anything, but I gotta draw the line somewhere. So I have to find a secret pilates nook, I guess?

I do cook at home quite frequently already, but there are probably more occurrences of Chipotle runs than we need during the week, and on weekends it seems like we eat out for practically every meal. Lately, I’ve been feeling particularly inspired the Simple cookbook by Yottam Ottolenghi which features a lot of Middle Eastern flavors, and the Rabbit and Wolves blog, which has the most amazingly delicious vegan recipes (I made the mac and cheese stroganoff and holy cats, it is so good.) Cooking is the one facet of my life where I have any amount of confidence; one might even say that I approach all of my culinary endeavors with all of the certitude and bravado of a mediocre white man. I feel most at home in my kitchen, and it’s my sanctuary. I want to spend as much time there making beautiful meals as I possibly can.

And with regards to sleep, this is where I am really struggling. I like to wake up early, but I often don’t get to bed until a much later hour, and these habits, combined, make it difficult to consistently obtain an optimal amount of sleep. Finding a balance has been difficult. I like to sleep mostly because I like to dream, but otherwise I kind of wish I didn’t have to bother with it. There’s so much reading and knitting I could be doing! But I can’t because my body needs to shut down for an apparently non-negotiable amount of time, and I must say, it’s rather inconvenient.

Meditation:

I recently visited a medium, and during my reading, she observed that I had either just begun to meditate or that I would/should shortly. Well! As it happens, I had just begun, ten days prior. I am using the Headspace app and I have been doing the 3-5 minute guided meditations every morning. I know the benefits of meditation are numerous, but I’m actually not sure what I am personally hoping to get out of it. My mind can be a pretty noisy place sometimes, and there are instances that I get myself worked up over something, or perhaps blow something out of proportion and get in a fight-or-flight state, and I’d love to cultivate a practice that helps me slow and calm the escalating anxieties.

Reach out more:

I don’t know that I am always the best friend or sister that I should be. Just because I feel like I am pretty low maintenance and I don’t need much in terms of care and watering, doesn’t mean that those I love feel the same way. (And I really need to take a closer look at why think I don’t need that same care, myself.)

More phones calls–any phone calls, really–would be a good start; more texts and messages and check-ins during the week. Maybe even send a few emails or postcards. A vlogger I watch on Youtube mentioned making a practice of reaching out to 5 people a week, and I really liked that idea. But I don’t want to get so caught up in reaching out to far-flung acquaintances that those loved ones I am really close to begin to fall further down my list of priorities (I can get really caught up in things, and so I foresee how I could let this happen.) I guess like practically everything else on this list, it is a matter of balance.

And I would really like to stay more on top of my thank you card game if for no other reason than I have a massive amount of stationery that needs getting used up and well, also, it’s just a classy thing to do.

Budgeting and saving:

In the past few years, I have become a person who sees something they want and who buys that thing immediately. I don’t even pause to give it a second thought. I think there are several issues to explore and address as to what’s going on internally and giving rise to this behavior. Probably a lot of avoidance and depression, past poverty/deprivation, and something I just read about and which makes a lot of sense in terms of my experience: Symptom Substitution.

“Often when a person overcomes one type of compulsive behavior, they replace it with another, especially when they have not addressed the underlying reasons. Many women with eating disorders “graduate” to compulsive shopping.”

Ooof. Some graduation gift.

Now I have an abundance of stuff and a scarcity of savings. Some of these things have never been used, still have the tags on them. And then there’s my house full of mountains of useless clutter. Don’t get me wrong, I have no interest in minimalism. I just want to enjoy the things I have without longing for more, more, more. Why does it always seem like there is something better and why do I think I need it?

I thought it might be smart to begin tracking my spending habits and to make a budget for myself. I started using the EveryDollar and I will tell you, I was shocked at what my spending actually looks like. Much of my money goes to eating out and to credit card bills. What am I, 20? Get it together, lady! Now that I am paying attention, I feel like I have at least got a place to start.

Therapy:

In 2019 I finally began to see a therapist on a regular basis. I stopped going in July because I was immersed in writing, and it just seemed like too much to deal with. But I finally went back last week, and have got an appointment scheduled for next month, so we are getting back on track.

I don’t yet know what I am getting out of these sessions, but I do know that I often talk myself to some epiphanies and revelations and flashes of self-discovery in the hour that I am there. And maybe it’s just good practice for me to talk. I’ve always been a “…no, it’s fine, I’m fine!” type of person, and if I get used to saying “no, this hurts” or “no, this isn’t comfortable for me” or “what are you, a fucking idiot?” in a setting where I feel safe, maybe one day I will be able to assertively say these things to the people who need to hear it.

Stephen King:

Ok, so this is a frivolous little project. And ok, it’s not exactly a little project. But the other day I was thinking “well if you’re such a Stephen King fan, why haven’t you read, like, his last fifteen years worth of work?” That’s an excellent question! So I am embarking on a quest to read all of his titles that I have not yet read, to listen on audiobook all of the titles that I have read already, and to watch all of the television and film that I have not yet seen. And of course, as soon as I decided to do this, Stephen King said something really out of touch and entitled and cringey on twitter the other day, and man just keep your mouth shut and go to a Red Sox game or something. We don’t need your thoughts and opinions on everything. Just keep scaring us.

Sweaters

I have not knit a sweater since 2009 or so. My results were never that great, but they weren’t terrible, so I thought I’d try my hand at it again. I am currently knitting up a sleeve on the Emerge sweater. I’ve already screwed it up twice. Whee!

Herbs

For as long as I have lived on my own, I have always had a pot of herbs on my porch. Sometimes, depending on the amount of space, I might have had a whole porch full! I don’t exactly have a green thumb, but I know there’s a handful of green herbs that I get along quite well with: rosemary, mint, oregano, marjoram. Currently, I’ve kept a parsley plant alive for over a year, which is a minor miracle, but it’s still with us! My basil and dill always croak, and I think Florida may be too hot for lavender, but I’m giving a new lavender plant another try even as I type this.

Other than throwing a few leaves in a sauce or salad every now and again, I never do anything with these herbs…even though for years I have been intrigued by the idea of making my own teas and tinctures and candles and soaps, etc. I’ve just never even tried! Unlike my cooking and knitting confidence, I have no surefootedness when it comes to attempting new endeavors. Like many of us, I find the thought of not achieving perfection on the first try extremely prohibitive. And so… I don’t even try.

Both a reiki healer and a medium (the same one referenced above) in the course of a day, just a few hours apart really, both separately told me the same thing: they thought I was already an herbalist or someone who works very closely with herbs. These women did not work together; I am not even sure they knew each other. And yet they both recognized in me this affinity. I think I am going to get to know my herbs a little better this year. If I try something and make a mistake, or I fail completely–well, I think that just means I learned something. Maybe I’ll fail a lot. Maybe I’ll learn a lot of things.

I think that’s really what this year–this decade, maybe–is meant to be about. Little steps. Mistakes. Failures. And learning, always learning along the way.

What have you got planned for 2020? What are your motivations and ambitions and objectives? What do you plan to fail at, spectacularly? Let’s fail and learn and grow together, my strange, beautiful friends.

2019 Lists: Things Knitted

mitts

I knit a decent amount of things in 2019, but I did slow down over the summer when I was meant to be working on some other things. I still knit a little here and there, but I guess I was feeling guilty about doing anything other than the task at hand. I felt furtive and underhanded about those sneaky stitches, like I was somehow doing knitting crimes, and let me tell you, I did not care for that feeling at all.

The above Underwing Mitts, pattern by Erica Heusser, were knit at the very beginning of the year, before all of the aforementioned criminal stitchery. I think I actually cast on at the tail end of 2018, but they were my first finished project of 2019, so it counts, I think. This was the first colorwork project I’d ever actually completed, and I guess it wasn’t so bad, but it wasn’t so great I went back for more, either. Like most things I knit, I have since given them away to a dear friend.

jord

I always love knitting Caitlin ffrench’s patterns and the exquisite Jörð was no exception.  I think I might have screwed this up somewhere after one of the repeats where the stitches doubled. My stitch count was correct, but somehow it seemed like…parts of the pattern…just…didn’t match up? Ah, well. I just kept knitting. I have no idea where this one ended up! To be honest, the homes in which the majority of last year’s knits currently reside is a mystery to me–I have forgotten where I sent them all!

clothilde

Clothilde by Kristen Hanley Cardozo was a lovely and simple knit, or at least I don’t recall it being particularly challenging. I really don’t remember much at all about it. But it turned out quite lovely, and I was quite pleased that I had enough yarn leftover from Jörð to create an entirely new and separate thing!

swallowtail

The Swallowtail Shawl by Evelyn A. Clark was a pattern that was all the rage in 2006 or so, when I was a wee fledgling knitter. I recall seeing all the popular knitting bloggers posting photos of that one and thinking to myself, “lordy, I will never be able to do that!” I had quite forgotten about it until I needed a pattern 13 years later that would use a certain amount of a certain weight of yarn, and I thought, “aha! why not!” I wish I could say it was a piece of cake but it was fraught with the intensity of too much pattern left for too little yarn, and I actually did run out of yarn, with six stitches to go. Yikes.

charade 2 Charade by Sandra Park is my go-to sock pattern, always and forever. This amethyst toasties now keep my Best Good Friend’s feet warm.

deco city

I thought the elegant geometric pattern of Amy van de Laar’s Deco City shawl seemed refreshingly different from the sorts of florid froofiness that I typically gravitate toward, and it coincidentally seemed like a good fit for some Shibui yarn that I’d somehow gotten ahold of (if you are the friend who gave it to me, thank you!) Not sure where this ended up, but it was a joy to spend time with.

bitterroot

I have Romi Hill’s Bitterroot so many times now. The first time I knit all of my grief into it, after a beloved feline companion died. This most recent time I sent it off to a glamorous friend. This was a humbling sort of project where I was probably overconfident and screwed something up even though (or perhaps precisely because) I’ve worked on it so many times that I should know these stitches by heart. It’s a pretty forgiving pattern, though. It didn’t matter in the end, and it was as beautiful this time as it always is

charade

It’s the Charade socks again! I loved the demented joy and unhinged vibrancy of these colors, so I sent them away to an NYC witch who I thought might appreciate their twisted exuberance.

find your fade

Andrea Mowry’s Find Your Fade, was, in theory, a neat idea. And I can’t say that I wasn’t warned. But this thing was a tedious knit and it is freaking enormous, and I feel like to give it away might be rather punitive to the person who must accept the gift, so for the time being, it still lives with me, crumbled sadly (and massively) in a corner.

odyssey More colors! I usually save the brightly colored yarns for knitted socks, but I had several bits of leftover sock yarn and thought that a colorful shawl might be in order–and from this sentiment, the Odyssey Shawl by Joji Locatelli was born. I often found myself losing track on this project; the number of stitches, the number of rows, even which side I was on! These are good things to pay attention to. I suppose it turned out rather nicely, though! It made its way to a writer and perfumista who I am hopeful might wear it every now and again.

stoker

I truly adored knitting Stoker by Kristin Lehrer. This was a soothing project, with the most beautiful yarn. The pattern was perfectly written and though it wasn’t especially complex or challenging, it wasn’t mindlessly stupid, either. Just a really, really nice thing to knit on for a time. It now graces the home belonging to a mistress of cake witchery, and I’d like to think it smells of warm kitchens and sweet frostings and gentle spices now.

2019 Lists: Film & Television Consumed

OA

Throughout the year I keep an ongoing list in google docs of all of the movies and television series I have watched, and then I unceremoniously dump in on the blog here for posterity. This is not necessarily media that was released during 2019 (although some of it was) but 2019 was the year that I got around to viewing it. I don’t suppose this is of interest to anyone but me, but I do like to keep a record of how I spent (wasted?) my time during the year.

Standouts and favorites are marked with an asterisk, but I think what I loved the most were a handful of fantastical, eerie, enchanting television shows, and I am fairly certain they were all on Netflix: The second seasons of The OA and Dark, as well as the first season of The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance. In terms of film, I really did love Knife + Heart, and Into the Spiderverse was surprisingly awesome and a total treat for the eyes.

What were your film and television favorites from 2019?

dark crystal

Watched:
1/? finished Castle Rock S1
1/? Into The Spiderverse*
1/? Started True Detective S3
1/? More Frankie and Grace S?
2/5 Russian Doll*
2/6 Velvet Buzzsaw
2/15 Suspiria
2/23 Valerian
2/23 Lego Movie
2/24 The Hangover
2/27 Sorry To Bother You*
3/4 Tale of Tales
3/? The Little Stranger
3/7 Captain Marvel
3/9 The Order S1
3/10 The Nun
3/? The OA S2*
3/23 Us*
4/? Killing Eve S2
4/? Game of Thrones
4/3 Crimes Of Grindlewald
4/5 Akira
4/6 Blade The Immortal
4/7 Sabrina Season 2
4/11 Shazaam
4/29 Avengers Endgame
5/9 Pyewacket
5/12 Down A Dark Hall
5/16 The Favorite
5/17 Big Little Lies S1
5/18 Fleabag S2
5/20 Crazy Rich Asians
6/? Good Omens
6/12 Dark Phoenix
6/13 Maleficent
6/15 Always Be My Maybe
6/24 started Schitt’s Creek
July? Midsommar
July? Dark S2*
July? Stranger Things
8/6 What We Do In The Shadows S1*
8/6 Greta
8/23 SheRa S3
8/27 Dragula S3
9/6 Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance S1*
9/? Carnival Row S1
9/20 Happy Death Day 2U
9/26 AHS S9
9/27 The Accountant (don’t ask)
9/29 Training Day (also don’t ask)
9/29 Knife + Heart*
10/? Barry*
10/? Peaky Blinders S5
10/? Marianne S1
11/? The Good Place S1
11/? Toast of London S3
11/? Derry Girls S2
11/? NOS4A2 Season 1
12/? Castle Rock S2
12/? Lodge 49 S1
12/15 The Mandalorian S1
12/21 Ready Or Not
12/23 Cat’s Eye
12/24 The Rise Of Skywalker

 

Currently: End Of 2019 Edition But Don’t Call It A Wrap-Up Because Nothing Is Wrapped Up

quilt

In previous years I have done year-end, wrap-up sorts of things on this blog, but you know– I just don’t feel like it this go-round. And not even because I’m feeling low, or that there’s not much to report on. There was quite a lot! It’s been an interesting year for sure–some of it maybe more than I even bargained for. But I guess we can never really know what we’re getting into, what’s in store for us.

I guess I’m feeling, well, that I know what I accomplished (and what I didn’t)  in 2019 and maybe I just don’t need to talk about it or share. And it also occurs to me that many aspects of my year remain a work in progress. I haven’t wrapped up much of anything at all! And I’m okay with that! And I will probably even change my mind next year, if indeed in 2020 I have a list of things to share. But eh, this year I will give it a pass.

Instead, just a few diary-like peeks into the last two months, a record of days.

square

As I have done previously in the past few years, anytime I am between more exciting projects, I feverishly knit a few squares for my baby sister’s divorce blanket. Her divorce was final two years ago, so as I say every time I bring this up– I really need to pick up the pace. I know! Also, the woman is almost 40. But I can’t not think of her as my baby sister.

porridge

burrata

salmon

tea

In November I had a week to myself and I treated myself to a Fuck Off World! weekend, which I have written about before, but in recent years I like to think I have improved the formula. It still involves solitude and massive amounts of puttering, but instead of eating caveman frat-bro meals (I still love you though, Cheeto-burrito!) I have been trying to treat myself better by treating myself to proper meals. So I guess this is a “Fuck Off World! weekend–But Make It Fancy.”

Above is a bowl of porridge which you probably do not need a recipe for, a lunch of burrata and tiny tomatoes, broiled salmon and garlicky mashed potatoes with kale, and a loaf of cranberry-ginger bread that I made in an attempt to use up leftover homemade cranberry sauce. The recipe is actually for muffins, but I feel very this way about muffins ( but substitute muffins for froyo and donuts for ice cream) so I do not make them. Also, during Thanksgiving, someone complained about my cranberry sauce being too bitter and I’m still feeling peevish about that…don’t complain about my food to my face!

golden milk

I am always intrigued by trendy hot drinks. I mean, I am also always late to the party, so golden milk was probably trendy in 2017, but whatever. Unfortunately, every time I have been out and about and ordered golden milk at a coffee shop, it’s always been pretty awful. Chalky and somehow both overly sweet and bitter at once. See how I did that? I waited til I was out of earshot to complain! Anyway, last month I found a recipe for it over at Pick Up Limes and it was actually really lovely! I’d also love to give her chai hot chocolate a try. Maybe later in January, while we still have some chilly days. Though it’s going to be 80 degrees on January 2nd, so who knows? That’s what AC is for, I guess.

Although I have not begun to read them, I am super excited about both of these books! Emma WhispersRed has put out an ASMR guide/memoir (?) called Unwind Your Mind and one of my favorite bloggers, The Ghost In My Machine has published a really fun looking little book, Dangerous Games To Play In The Dark. I initially found The Ghost In My Machine after hearing about The Elevator Game (where did I first hear about that? Probably Tanis, a podcast that freaked me out so badly that I had to stop listening for a while, and I never did pick it up again.)

Not pictured and which I actually am currently reading and which seems very, very valuable thus far: Pixie Lighthorse’s Goldmining The Shadows, a book for personal and collective healing. It’s available on Kindle Unlimited right now, and I have highlighted the heck out of it, but there’s just something about having a physical copy to flip through and underline with a pen held in your hand, marked passages to come back to again and again for revisiting and reflection.

Here is a quote that I loved, and which may not mean much taken out of context, but then again, maybe it will mean a great deal to you. It’s a powerful thought:

“No amount of punishing yourself will ever result in peace.”

I just purchased the book itself, and two more copies for future gifting.

sodastream

Lastly, …speaking of gifting. Or rather, not gifting. Or rather, agreeing not to gift and then sort of gifting anyway: this year, in our house, we decided not to exchange gifts. It’s too much pressure and sometimes it feels a little wasteful (especially when you’ve gotten someone a gift, “just to get them something”) and it just ends up not being very much fun. Don’t get me wrong, I like gifts, and I am pretty sure that my partner does as well. But I think we have discovered that we prefer random, “just because” gifts, not this fraught, enforced tradition of family gift-giving that happens around the holidays.

Unfortunately, we couldn’t get his family on board with this idea, but since we are the bosses of our own household, we decided we’d control what we could, and concede where we couldn’t, and it would be ok. And it was! And after all that, we decided that we would purchase a Soda Stream-esque “sparkling beverage maker” (it’s actually by Kitchen Aid) as a gift “for the house.” We drink a lot of fizzy water in this house, and we thought it might be good to cut down on the cans and the packaging we consume, and the waste we create but also and more importantly I refuse to drink even a single drop more of a beverage that refuses to pronounce itself correctly.

Yes, these are the hills that I will die on.

As the last few hours of 2019 crowd in and remind me of all that’s left undone for the year year, I do not want to let this moment pass without thanking you for peeking in and reading here at Unquiet Things; for encouraging me and supporting me, for challenging me, for being my friend, or at least a sometimes acquaintance! Thank you and all the best, most wonder-filled of wonderful to you and yours–this year, next year, and always.

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