It’s Friday; I’m in Love #88

close up pink flowers

I’m not sure what to say or how I feel about this month. I worked on my May goals, which I’ll actually go over in my upcoming June goals post, but I feel like there’s not much else to discuss. I’ve struggled a lot to, I don’t know, exist? It’s hard to convince myself to do just about anything other than watch Netflix or listen to podcasts and color. Occasionally I’ll do the dishes or even, on a really good day, do some work taking down the upstairs wallpaper, but it’s a real challenge. I just want to stay in bed all day with the dog and cat.

Still, I’m trying to give myself credit for the things I did accomplish because I know it’s important not to downplay my successes, no matter how big or small. I just wish it didn’t feel like such a struggle right now. And I do still have things on my list for which I’m grateful, so I won’t say it’s been all bad.

The Evil Dead ♥ the resilience of plants ♥ looking forward to my first Horror Block ♥ Faculty of Horror ♥ red pepper and shrimp Alfredo ♥ mysterious black neighbor cats ♥ Nerdburger (Cazz) on YouTube ♥ lots of wonderful, homemade meals ♥ Butch-O-Vision ♥ evening walks with Dan and Lexi ♥ posting consistently to bookstagram ♥ hiking ♥ a super supportive husband who puts up with me unnecessarily yelling about life ♥ being caught up on my favorite podcasts ♥ making vacation plans


“It’s Friday; I’m in Love” is a monthly gratitude post. It aims to remind myself and others of the good things from the past month, big and small and to serve as a record to look back on for the not-so-great days to come. The title comes from the song by The Cure.

May 26, 2017
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Project 365: Days 137-143

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Now that I’m back to full-color photos, I’m feeling pretty “meh” about the results. It’s both frustrating and amusing. I feel like one thing I struggle with a lot is clarity in my photos. They often look blurry/foggy, and I’m not sure if it’s because the shutter speed is too low or if I’m just not good at focusing the lens. It’s one thing that doesn’t seem to have improved despite my efforts, so I’m not sure what to think about it just yet.

Dorothy Must Die Series by Danielle Paige 137/365: Now that it’s nice out, I’m so happy to be able to take bookstagram photos outside! I still haven’t finished this series (this is the last book, right?) in part because I want to reread the first three books along with The End of Oz, but I know I’ll get to them eventually, just like everything else on my shelves.

Loot Crate Jessica Jones figure138/365: So, I kind of went on a whining binge on twitter when I got the April Loot Crate, and while I’m still not ecstatic over what was in it, everything’s grown on me. I think my two favorite pieces were actually this Jessica Jones figure and the Stranger Things t-shirt (even if it is way too big on me).

Cheshire Cat and R2-D2 Tsum Tsum Lipsmackers 139/365: For the most part, I’m trying to keep my tsum tsum collection contained to the actual tsums themselves, but I kind of couldn’t pass up these Lip Smackers. I also really want the Yoda one and possibly Marie, but I don’t know yet. These two are different berry flavors (the Cheshire Cat reminds me of black currant) and they’re fantastic. They reminded me of just why I love Lip Smackers.

pink flowers 140/365: The giant bushes in our backyard are blooming like mad right now, and the flowers on them are the most beautiful shade of pink. This honestly doesn’t do them justice. (I know because I can see them from my office window right now.)

Girl and Dream School by Black Nelson 141/365: My mean, mean husband got rid of my wood pile, which was of course devastating because it made such a lovely bookstagram background. As it turned out, though, the brick and concrete that the pile was on isn’t so bad itself. Its good good color and texture variety, so I suppose I’m not too devastated.

chicken and vegetable wrap 142/365: So I don’t really want to talk about it and say, “I’m dieting,” even though that’s kind of what’s happening right now, but I did make this pretty delicious chicken wrap on Monday, and in fact I’ve already had it twice this week. Anyway, let’s just call it, “me trying to eat better/healthier and not have all the ice cream and candy in the world,” and then move on because I’m not at a point when I want to go too deeply into it.

pink flower

143/365: Another tragedy! This is one of the last few blooms I could find on our front bushes. They were lovely while they lasted, I suppose, and I do look forward to them returning next year.

May 24, 2017
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Cursive Letters Into Knives: About My Newest Tattoo

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When I was thirteen, I fell in love with my two favorite bands, one right after the other. I listened to Green Day’s American Idiot on my Discman every morning and afternoon, to and from school, and I was quickly sucked into the mystery of who was singing the opening to “Letterbomb.” Digging through the liner notes, I found Kathleen Hanna’s name credited and did what googling I could from there. YouTube didn’t exist yet. Wikipedia was still so young. The best thing I came up with was a thirty-second clip of “Rebel Girl” on the VH1 website. So I took a few notes, and on my next trip to FYE, I picked up a copy of Pussywhipped.

I listened to it in the car on the way home, the sounds harsh and unpolished in my headphones, and it might not have been instant love, but it was definitely second-listening love.

A month ago, just over twelve years later, I got my second Bikini Kill tattoo (the first being the turntable off of the New Radio album). Dan and I were driving home Brattleboro on a Saturday afternoon, windows down, Green Day’s Revolution Radio loud in the few speakers my car has, and it felt like it was finally time for this one. It’s an idea I’d had for probably ten years, but in the last few I’ve just never had the money for it, so I kept putting it off and getting smaller black and grey pieces instead. But this time the money was in savings, and I couldn’t in my heart wait any longer.

A switchblade tattoo with the words "We are turning cursive letters into knives" wrapped around it

I’ve listened to every Bikini Kill album countless times since I first discovered them. Various songs have cycled through my life as something of an anthem at that moment when I needed it, but the one I always come back to–besides the undeniable “Rebel Girl”–is “Bloody Ice Cream,” from the album Reject All American. It’s always appealed to my writer sensibilities, and its impact has grown all the more noticeable over the years.

The song is short, half a dozen lines or so long, but it’s always been influential to me.

The Sylvia Plath story is told to girls who write
They want us to think that to be a girl poet means you have to die
Who is it that told me all the girls who write must suicide?
I’ve another good one for you
We are turning cursive letters into knives

It’s brief, but it’s full of bite and meaning to me. The phenomenon of women writers committing suicide (Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, Virginia Woolf). The bullshit nature of that overwhelming narrative–these women weren’t just cases of suicide but amazing writers. And the power that we have when we write, using the words to fight and to survive.

That last line has always felt like a big “fuck you” to that fatalist narrative to me, and it’s stuck with me. It’s how I made it to twenty-six and how I’ll make it to twenty-seven, twenty-eight, and beyond. And this tattoo is to remind me of that and how much it matters to me and the impact that women writers–tragic or not–have had on my life and the world.

May 22, 2017
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5 Disney Confessions

Posted in Personal, Pop Culture by
Disney Confessions

A few weeks ago, Eleanor (of eleaanormay.com) shared a post of her Disney confessions, and since I’ve been diving back into Disney with my tsum tsums collection and growing set of movies, I thought it would be fun to share my own “confessions” post.

  1. For a long time (as in, years), I actually hated the idea of the Disney parks. And any large theme parks really. Even if they revolved around a theme that I was interested in, I couldn’t get over the massive crowds, the incredible expense, and the fact that the largest ones are all in places way too warm for me to enjoy my existence. As of the past few months, though, I’ve been coming around to the idea, and it’s culminated in the very beginning of planning out a trip to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter with Dan and my mom–even if I still don’t want to go to Florida. (So hot!!)
  2. Besides films, tsum tsums are my first (and so far only) Disney merchandise. I’m not even really sure if I want to get anything else. I have a tendency to be a big collector, and I feel like I “should” try to reign that in, so in focusing my collections on items and themes I really enjoy, I’m just not sure if I’ll ever get anything else that’s Disney related.
  3. The first film that got me interested in the live action adaptations was Maleficent. And to be honest, I’m always still wary of the live action remakes because they’re aren’t exactly necessary, but in general, I think they can be good things. I’ve loved all the rest I’ve seen since, which so far includes Pete’s Dragon and Beauty & the Beast, so I’m trying to become more hopeful about the rest (especially Mulan).
  4. I love Frozen, but I prefer the sisterhood of Lilo and Nani. I think part of this is because they’re not princesses, and while I like the princess movies, I’ve tended to lean more heavily towards the non-princesses as of late, not that that has any bearing on their actual relationship as sisters. All that being said…
  5. My favorite princesses are Belle and Merida. Belle was always my favorite growing up because she reminded me the most of myself, which is to say, a brunette bookworm. But Brave was one of a number of children’s movies I’ve made Dan see over the years out of sheer excitement, and I’m pretty sure I cried when I saw it, and I still cry every time I watch it. So while Belle holds her place out of nostalgia, I think in some ways Merida is my true favorite.

What would your “Disney confessions” be?

 

May 19, 2017
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Project 365: Days 130-136

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This might be the most satisfying week I’ve had all year, which makes me wonder if I should just do all of my photos in black and white from now on. I think maybe black and white photos are just a little more forgiving. My favorite this week is definitely the flowers from yesterday, though; they’re the pink ones from the bush next to our porch, and they’re one of my favorite things to photograph in general. Plus, they make an excellent background when I’m taking bookstagram photos out there.

Lexi on the couch130/365: Here we have Lexi in her natural habitat, because even though she has her own bed, she still likes the couch (and our bed) the best.

Scary Stories to Tell In the Dark Treasury131/365: A couple of weeks ago my mom brought over a few boxes of books from my parents’ basement so I can start going through them, and while most of them were disappointing, this was an excellent find. I can’t wait to reread this whole set of stories come October! Not much scares me, but damn, these books are skilled, especially with the accompanying illustrations.

Black and white dandelion132/365: Dandelions! I know people hate dandelions because they’re weeds and all, but I actually love them. They’re good for bees and I think they’re pretty, both when they’re yellow and when they turn into their fluffy white seed selves.

Black and white library books including Where Am I Now by Mara Wilson, The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey, and Fun Home by Alison Bechdel133/365: I actually went to the library for the first time in months on Saturday, and it was of course a satisfying trip as always. I’ve already finished Where Am I Now? and am planning on starting on The Girl With All the Gifts, which caught my attention when its film adaptation had a cover feature in Rue Morgue a few months ago. I’m pretty excited to read it, and I think it’ll probably be my next book review.

Banana bread waffles with whipped cream, maple syrup, and walnuts134/365: Saturday night, after we went grocery shopping, Dan and I were cleaning out the kitchen and he tried to say that some of our bananas were past their prime. Naturally, I responded with, “Excuse me?! Those are perfect for banana bread!” But later in the evening I decided that even better would be banana bread waffles, so that’s exactly what we had for breakfast on Sunday morning, topped with maple syrup, walnuts, and whipped cream. I’d like to think they would earn the Leslie Knope seal of approval.

Writing and reading in bed supplies, including two notebooks, Where Am I Now, an iPod, and a battle of water135/365: I woke up feeling miserable on Monday, so I made an attempt at working in bed most of the day. I maybe didn’t do as well as I could have, but I managed a blog post and half of the last piece to my Daria zine, so it’s better than nothing. I also read half of Where Am I Now? this day, along with finishing The Last Olympian. No complaints here.

Tree flower136/365: And yesterday was just beautiful. I woke up feeling wonderful and motivated, so I took a bunch of photos for bookstagram, blog posts, and this one of the flowers by the porch. I don’t know exactly what they are, but I do know that they’re darn pretty.

May 17, 2017
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Put This In Your Ear Holes: The Faculty of Horror

Posted in Horror, Pop Culture by
The Faculty of Horror Podcast

I have this distinct memory from around the time that I was five years old or so: I’m sitting on my living room floor watching a red-headed doll in overalls bludgeon a man with a golf club. I’ve been a horror fan for nearly my whole life, and the only reason I haven’t been one since the womb is that my mom isn’t a fan, so it’s almost impossible that she watched any while pregnant. Still, it’s been a long time, and while I’ve mostly stuck to the same old favorites–Scream, Bride of Chucky, House of 1000 Corpses–through the years, my love has grown nonetheless.

Most recently my love manifested in scouring iTunes for horror podcasts. There are a fair few narrative podcasts–Darkest Night is fab, for example–but what I really wanted was one that would discuss horror and maybe make me think about it, maybe (hopefully) introduce me to some new-to-me horror movies.

Enter the Faculty of Horror.

I was ecstatic to find this podcast not only because it sounded like exactly what I was looking for–an analytical look at the world of horror–but it turned out to be hosted by two super cool woman, Alex West and Andrea Subisatti. It’s not a strictly feminist podcast, but they do both identify as such, so I appreciate when that perspective comes up in their discussions.

This podcast is basically everything I was dreaming of. Each episode looks at anywhere from one to three films, usually revolving around a similar theme, such as summer camps, witchcraft, or eating disorders. Episodes only come out once a month, which can be a little disappointing because they’re so dang good, but it’s also completely reasonable; so much thought, research, and preparation go into each that the time between episodes is necessary and really contributes to that quality that I appreciate. It’s a completely fair trade.

A lot of the movies they discuss I either haven’t seen in a long time or haven’t seen at all, but I’ve started trying to watch either shortly before or after an episode to make listening even better–though to be honest the discussions are so interesting that it doesn’t seem necessary to watch to make listening enjoyable.Most of the time, though, it is interesting enough that if I haven’t watched ahead of time, I’m dying to see it after, which is exactly what led me to finally watch The Evil Dead for the first time and falling madly in love with both the franchise and Ash/Bruce Campbell. (I refuse to make the distinction between the two.)

Gosh, what else can I say? I adore this podcast, and I already know I’m going to be bummed when I’ve caught up. I make any excuse to listen, whether it’s while doing the dishes, driving around with Dan, or just sitting on my couch coloring (in my Beauty of Horror coloring book, of course). I’m learning so much from these ladies, and it’s really bolstered my love for horror to new heights. If you’re at all interested in critical thinking, but with personality, in the horror film genre, please, please check out this podcast!

May 15, 2017
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Grieving and Guilt: Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner

Posted in Book Reviews, Bookish by
Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner

Last year, one of the only books I read in under twenty-four hours was Jeff Zentner’s The Serpent King. I received it in the March OwlCrate and knew nothing about it before it arrived; I hadn’t even heard of it. Even when I read the summary, I wasn’t sure how I would like it. It just didn’t get me super stoked. I’m happy to say, though, that I fell in love with it and anything else that Zentner would write, even if he hasn’t come up with it yet. I was an instant fan.

And in March of this year, his new book, Goodbye Days, was being released and I was hyped. I was ready for it. It had been on my wishlist for months. And once again I wasn’t disappointed, although that didn’t surprise me this time around.

From the time I heard the summary, Goodbye Days had my attention as its subject is something that’s always been important to me. The book follows Carver Briggs after the simultaneous death of his three best friends in a texting-related car accident. Carver, racked with guilt at the possibility that it was his fault, embarks on a series of “goodbye days” both to remember and grieve for his friends while trying to come to terms with his own role in the incident.

This book gave me both the crying feels and the yelling feels. I’ll tell you now that, given everything we learn throughout the book, I don’t think it’s Carver’s fault. As someone who makes it a point to put my phone on silent and stash it in my bag, I have a lot of feelings about these kinds of cases. It’s not just about how everyone feels, though, either reading the novel or existing within it. Eventually, the law becomes involved in Carver’s life after the incident, and things get tense–but in an entertaining way that I wouldn’t trade.

The thing about Goodbye Days, for me, is that Carver’s struggles were so palpable. They were strong enough that when Carver was freaking out, then I was freaking out, even if not as much. Of course, like any writer worth their ilk, Zentner didn’t just tell us that Carver was distraught. There were a number of scenes in which Carver has a panic attack, and at first he doesn’t even know what’s happening to him. Even though I understood and was pretty sure that he wasn’t dying like he thought, the description of each incident was so vivid that I was still scared and heartbroken for him. I think a large portion of that can be attributed to Zentner’s empathetic way of writing, helping us to learn who his characters are and to feel for them through their struggles. He makes us root for them.

I loved reading this book, and I remain a fan of Jeff Zentner for another novel. He’s an author I’ll continue keeping an eye on with great anticipation for what’s to come.

May 12, 2017
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Project 365: Days 123-129

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I would call this week 75% successful/satisfactory, which isn’t too bad if you ask me. As it turned out, I forgot to set my camera to black and white last week and didn’t realize until my shower yesterday morning that I’d meant to. So as soon as I finished up with the photos for this post, I changed over the setting. Of course, I’ll have to switch it back and forth since I don’t do my bookstagram in black and white, but I think changing it ahead of time will help me remember overall.

The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger by Stephen King123/365: I love that we haven’t gotten rid of this wood beside the back steps yet because now that it’s nice enough to get bookstagram photos outside, it makes a decent background. I took this one on Wednesday, when the trailer for The Dark Tower came out, and I’m still wicked excited. Now I just need to, y’know, finish this book… (I’m only like fifty pages from the end!)

white tree blossoms124/365: Dan and I have decided that we need to photograph our house in springtime when we put it up for sale because the trees in the yard are so beautiful when they blossom. This one is actually in our driveway, and it’s such an ugly tree in the winter, but right now Dan can’t stop commenting on how nice it looks.

Charlie in his cat bed125/365: I can always count on this guy to be curled up in his bed and available for a photo.

maple tree126/365: I hate this picture actually. Hate hate hate it. But it was the only one I took this day, and it actually looked better on the camera than it does on the screen, so I’m pretty disappointed.

scrambled eggs

127/365: I guess the weekend was tough all around for this project, because I forgot to take a photo on Sunday! So I simply moved on and took an extra on Monday. I’ve been eating eggs like it’s my job lately, usually scrambled with some combination of spinach, mushrooms, garlic, ham, and feta cheese. It’s not exactly pretty (is a scramble ever really appealing to look at?) but it tastes excellent.

Charlie glaring128/365: Reliable ol’ Charles again. On this day I actually saw the mysterious neighbor cat, whom I’ve named Skinny Charles, which I assume is self explanatory, and another black cat whom I’ve taken to calling Mini Charles because they look to be the youngest. So basically I’m surrounded by black cats and life is good.

Dumplin' and Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy129/365: And a bookstagram photo again, one which I’m pretty pleased with too. I’ve been taking a lot outside lately and almost forgot how I usually stage them indoors. It was a rough couple of moments. I’ve only read Dumplin’ out of these two, but I’m looking forward to Side Effects May Vary, along with Julie Murphy’s next one, Ramona Blue. I really loved Dumplin’, so I’ve got high hopes for the rest.

 

 

May 10, 2017
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Be My Friend: The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series by Ann Brashares

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, if you do not know, is a series about four girls–Tibby, Lena, Carmen, and Bridget–all born within days of each other and who as a result are something like built-in friends from the womb onward. The books specifically follow them through four summers, the first summer being their first time all apart, and just before they’re each set to leave on their own trips, they discover the magic of a thrift store pair of jeans that fits them all despite their various shapes and sizes. Obviously, these magic pants are the key to keeping them together even when they’re apart.

This is a book series I’ve been reading since about the time it started coming out in 2001, and despite my tbr plans for April, I ended up rereading them all once again–even the adult sequel, Sisterhood Everlasting. The books have always tapped into a lot of feelings for me, but this reading was different from the usual experiences throughout my teen years.

I’m a person who stays bitter and holds grudges. Maybe it’s the Aries in me or maybe it’s just a stunt in my emotional growth; either way, I’m getting too old to bother denying that anymore. So while, in the moment, many of my past friendships seemed good, they fell apart, and hindsight shows me that they weren’t what I thought at the time. I find it hard to forget that people have left me for other, better friends (or boyfriends) or that they were emotionally manipulative during our so-called friendship. Even though I should know better, even though I do have some good friends now, it still feels like it must have been my fault. It feels like there’s something wrong with me. It feels like I’m not good enough.

So when I read and reread The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, even now, ten years older than the girls were that first summer–and only a few years younger than they are in Sisterhood Everlasting–I find myself wavering between living vicariously through the story of their friendship and being envious of it. As a teenager, it was their fraught relationships with boys that made my heart ache, but now it’s their strong relationships with each other.

The bonds between the girls are so strong throughout the series as to seem almost impossible, but I can’t help believing in them despite my own experiences. I’m reaching a point when I start to think I’ll never have a best friend quite like them–which isn’t to say I don’t love the friends I do have. It’s just that, if I’m honest with all of us, they certainly don’t look like the friendship in the books and they don’t feel strong in the same way. Maybe I’m expecting too much from us, though. Maybe the books are an impossible standard. Maybe I’ll never really know.

The series is contemporary YA, which isn’t necessarily en vogue right now unless a horrific illness is involved, but far be it from me to criticize a series lauding female friendships and showing them in such an authentic, positive light just because it’s not the “it” thing to read. The books are also a little dated with the technology mentioned throughout (the newest was released in 2011 after all), but, at least for me, that doesn’t take away from the enjoyment. I don’t read them to hear about the iPhone models the girls have.

I read these books for the friendship I just never had: theirs.

May 8, 2017
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