eight things celebrated in april

April 30, 2017

number one.
number two.
one. april second. children's book day. donate two young adult hardback books to a junior high school library. the newer the school, the better because they're most likely in need of the donations. a friend and i hit barnes and noble's, where i picked up the book jumper and caraval, and then after we had lunch, i took them to the junior high school named for a doctor who cared for many of the players on the high school's football team and served on the district's board for many years during my father's tenure as superintendent. he was also our family doctor.

two. april sixth. national tartan day. put on a plaid shirt and wear it with pride.

number three.
three. april seventh. national beer day. if you're single, go to your favorite bar and buy a guy or gal whom you think might be awesome a beer. take the time to find out if you should've picked someone else. if you're hitched, take your better half to his or her favorite bar and buy yourselves a couple. so my favorite bar is pappadeaux's bar, but excluding today, in the times i was there i did not spot a man who interested me. today, there was a guy, and i was able to make myself sit next to the dude rather than in my usual spot, but i couldn't even make eye contact with the boy. i could, however, bitch about my plight to the bar staff and servers. apparently, in the midst of that bitching when one of them showed me a picture of himself dressed up as a heavy metal rocker (damned if i can recall who that was) and i'd commented that the pic looked more like weird al yankovic posing as said rocker, i'd made the boy laugh. had i known this, had i not run my mouth already about how annoyed i was that i had to do the thing, i might've found the courage to buy the damned beer. but alas... so the day... i went to bakers street then to bar louie, both of which were dead, then to deaux's where i ranted, then to woodson's near my house and finally to tailgator's (a place i don't like to go because that's the bar the douchebag i'd dated favored). i was sitting at the bar, and these four dudes sitting at the table behind me seemed like they were having a fine enough time. so i got my ass up, marched over, told them of my predicament (by this time it was about nine p.m., and i was ready to go home because i'm a loser who has no life and gets to bed early nowadays) and asked which of them would let me buy him a drink. the one on the right, the one that kind of reminded me of woody harrelson. he let me buy him a dos equis, no salt with a lime (just like i like it), and he shared it with his friend. the other two... one was from england, and the other, like the two pictured, was from texas. i think what had drawn me to the table was the accent i'd heard. i was kind of hoping he'd say australia. and yes, i know, i shouldn't confuse the two. whatever.

four. april thirteenth. national scrabble day. play a game. not ONLINE. no going to pogo and playing their idea of scrabble. no words with friends through facebook. an ACTUAL game with the board and tiles. with THREE others. i played with my friend rebecca, her husband and their older daughter. the younger daughter "helped" her mama. the older was helped by her daddy. it was so sweet.

five. april seventeenth. national haiku day. it was poetry month, yall. write your own haiku (three lines: five syllables on the first and third, seven on the second). share one written by another that you favor.

every sadness
is a bead, strung on a thread
from earth to pluto

my mama's
morning phone alarm
do you have a son named jon
from earth he's escaped

number six.
six. april twentieth. national high five day. give high fives to twenty strangers. this was actually MUCH easier than i thought it'd be. i did it while walking from the parking lot to the grounds of the woodlands waterway arts festival.

number eight.
seven. april twenty-sixth. hug an australian day. just for you, erin and kristen. too bad yall aren't in texas. i don't know any australians here. this didn't happen. probably because i didn't try hard enough. oh well.

eight. april twenty-seventh. babe ruth day. go watch a baseball game. NOT on television. drive your butt to the nearest park and sit there for nine innings (or however long it is) and watch those boys bat the ball around. it doesn't have to be a pro game. if you've a child who plays or have a friend whose child plays, watching that game counts. i watched the astros play the angels. i got to see a home run in person. i don't remember seeing one of those in person. i'm sure it's happened, but i can't recall it. so it was kind of neat to watch.

the jealous kind

why i wanted to read it: because a gal in my book club chose it and because it fit the story set in your city/state category in erin's book challenge (today's the last day for this round, but she'll do another in a couple of months. i hope yall join in). also my mom's read some of burke's stories and liked them.

what i liked: "you don't threaten a man. if he comes at you, you put him out of business. an evil man is not scared by threats. he's scared when you don't speak" (page 77).

for anyone else, a paper route was just a paper route. for saber, it was similar to charlemagne fighting his way up the canyons of ronceveaux pass. after he rolled 115 newspapers with string, he packed them like artillery rounds into the passenger and backseat of his heap, and set out on the route, heaving a paper over the roof through a sprinkler onto a porch when he easily could have dropped into a dry spot on the walk; smacking a leashed bulldog that attacked him while he was collecting; nailing a flowerpot of someone who was in arrears; parking just long enough to run through an entire apartment building with his canvas bag on his shoulder, stomping up and down the stairways, dropping papers in front of doorways, crashing out the back door like a deep-sea diver emerging into light (page 79).

"i think you're scared, mr. krauser."

"scared?" his forehead was strung with tiny knots. he pulled up his jersey and pointed. "that's where an ss lieutenant cut me open. i took his knife away from him and sliced off his nose. then i put a bullet through his brain. that's his helmet on my desk, his knife on the blotter. i woudn't wipe my ass with you, broussard."

it was classic krauser: the self-laudatory rhetoric, followed by the attack on the sensibilities. this time i was ready for him. i stepped closer to him, holding my breath so i wouldn't have to breathe his fog of testosterone and bo and halitosis. involuntarily, he stepped backward, as though unsure of his footing.

"you're cruel because you wake up scared every day of your life, mr. krauser. i know this because i used to be like you. now i'm not. so i owe you a debt. you're the model for what none of us ever want to become" (page86).

"don't talk stupid. people don't change," she said. "they grow into what they've always been. they just stop pretending, that's all... 

some people are the jealous kind," she said. "they don't love themselves, so they can't love or trust anyone else. there's no way to fix them (page 90).

"worry robs us of happiness and gives power to the forces of darkness."

"you learned that in a log-house church in san angelo. i'd leave it there."

"i learned it in 1931, picking cotton from cain't-see to cain't-see. if you have enough to eat for the day, the next day will take care of itself."

my mother's prison was her mind, and she took its dark potential with her wherever she went (page 91).

"every word you utter to an evil man either degrades you or empowers him. evil men fear solitude because they have to hear their own thoughts (page 119).

"what were you fixing to say to mr. bledsoe?"

"that his conduct is dishonorable."

"why didn't you?"

"he's an uneducated and poor man. we won't make him a better one by criticizing him" (page 121).

he was the butt of everyone's jokes, homely and awkward and gullible if someone showed him a teaspoon of kindness (page 169).

i could see the confusion and fear in krauser's eyes. but something else was at work in his psyche or metabolism that was far worse. i was too young to understand how mortality can steal away without apparent cause into the life of a man who should have been in his prime. his skin was gray and beginning to sag; hair grew from his ears and nose; he had buttoned his shirt crookedly. he looked like he had gone through the long night of the soul (page 173).

"what's an idealogue?"

"someone who brings religious passion to political abstraction only cretins could think up," he said. "when you meet one, flee his presence at all costs. he'll incinerate half the planet to save the other half and never understand his own motivations" (page 206).

"i can smell a killer. men kill other men but that doesn't make them killers. a killer comes out of the womb with a stink on him that never goes away" (page 211).

i had to remind myself of all these things about the private world of saber; otherwise, i would forget the vulnerable and innocent boy who had been my best friend since elementary school. even though he was hanging with bad guys, i knew saber would eat a bayonet for me. when you have a friend like that, you never let go of him, no matter what he does (page 214).

the cavalier expression left his face. for just a second i saw the old saber looking at me, the false exterior pared away (page 215).

no one had to convince me about the reality of hell. it wasn't a fiery pit. it lived and thrived in the human breast and consumed its host from night to morning (page 221).

in the darwinian world of american high school culture, i had learned only one lesson: the lights of love and pity often died early, and many friendships were based on necessity and emotional dependency and nothing else (page 232).

"if we ignore other people's faults, we don't have to be defensive about our own" (page 243).

my mother's greatest fear was that someone would look at her and see an impoverished little girl standing barefoot by herself in front of a house that was hardly more than a shack (page 307).

what sucked: oh my god, reading this was like pulling teeth without dental instruments. i was BORED. OUT. OF. MY. MIND.

having said that: it's not a bad story. it's really not. and as shown above, there's parts that are fairly well-crafted. but the voice... the way the story's told... it's a tale of teenagers plagued by the mafia in fifties' era houston and galveston. it should be RIVETING. i wanted the kid to be telling me the story, not the kid as a grown man recounting the tale as though he's talking to news reporters. it'd probably make for a good television movie. there's good conflict that gets watered down in CRAPPY narration.

cross to bear

April 27, 2017

right now i'm sitting on my bed with my mac on my lap. it's been a long day and not really a pleasant one, which bums me a bit because it was gorgeous outside and while traveling to and fro, i've been listening to jenna lamia read the secret life of bees by sue monk kidd to me (which i'm loving, by the way. this is one of the best narrated books i've heard). i've had good company today.

but certain events in the day have caused me to think of the mild case of cerebral palsy doctors diagnosed at my birth, of how that's affected me. of how my thoughts rush out of my mouth too quickly, of how clumsy with my thoughts and actions i can be, of how i'm too quick to anger, too easily wounded. of how my body aches. all the time.

i was seeing a chiropractor once a week to try to alleviate the pain in my back, but you know what that did? you lessen the pain in one place, and you're too aware of the pain you have in others, of how great that pain is. i don't want to know what hurts and where. i'd rather go through my days thinking it's just my neck and shoulders, or just my knees and ankles. or just the right side of my face. because if you lessen the pain in those places, if you give them some relief, it somehow calls attention to pain in other places, pain i hadn't realized was there. like the middle of my back. granted i only saw him a half a dozen times, but in those times, he could never crack the middle of my back. my neck? i'd hear that thing pop seven different ways. my lower back, too. my muscles are so tense in my body, so contracted, so bent out of shape that the middle of my back, my spine can't be put back to normal.

but you know what? that pain's the easiest with which to cope. i've gotten so used to it i don't even feel it anymore. at least not unless you make that shift, bring that relief. so i stopped going.  i'd rather not think of how the pain in my knees and ankles is making my legs and thighs hurt, too. or how the pain in my back's probably the reason why there's pain in my neck. it doesn't do me any good to think about that, anyway. it's probably better that i don't, actually.

i've gotten used to it.

just like i've gotten used to people being unkind to me. it pisses me off when it happens, yes. but that's the normal for me. i'm not like the others, and so i don't expect to be treated like them. i've gotten so tired of being too sensitive that i do my damnedest to ignore it, to carry on despite it. we are all equally incapable of kindness and unkindness. i've resigned myself to the notion that i'll see more unkindness than not. so be it. i don't look like my body is broken, but my limitations make my behavior odd, and the words that come out of my mouth sometimes are so bizarre that... people have treated me like i'm a freak since i was in grade school. i've come to expect it. so. be. it.

i try to be respectful of others. but i fall short. all the time.

i've had to suck up so much in my life that it bothers me when others can't.

people get so upset by so many things these days. i can't help but think that if sue monk kidd tried to get that beautiful story published today, she'd have a hard time. if harper lee tried to get to kill a mockingbird published she wouldn't be able to do so because so many would be up in arms over the language, the story. same with twain's the adventures of tom sawyer and huckleberry finn.

maybe it's just that people are getting so fed up with having to suck this shit up that they can't stomach it anymore. and some of these people who are crying out, they're not in pain themselves. they're bitching because they're incensed by what they see on tv, by the stories others have told them. sometimes, sometimes i just want to scream because all this seems so stupid to me.

i'm in pain right now. i'll be in pain an hour from now, a day, a week, a month, a year... but that's my life. this is never gonna go away. ever. in fact, even though cerebral palsy's not a degenerative disability, i think my body will just become more and more tired and in more and more pain because of it.

we all have our crosses to bear. this is mine. it's not in my nature to bitch to my friends when i'm hurting. in fact, i hardly ever do it. i'll tell my parents when my head hurts, but even that's infrequent because they can't understand the pain. their answer is to ask whether i took some pain reliever for it. sometimes i don't want to have to take the stuff. sometimes having to take the stuff makes me angry. sometimes i just want to be normal. and i've been living with this shit for four decades and then some. i have to remind myself that this is normal. it's my normal.

i'm in a bible study on the gospel of john, and one of the things we keep marveling at is how jesus acted with such grace. that he suffered in silence, and how we should strive to do the same.

i wrote that post this morning, and part of the reason i think i did so is because i'm tired of people calling attention to other people's crosses. that's what body shaming is to me. i'm tired of people preaching to others that they should be more respectful; my asking that people stop wasn't the intent of that post. i just want people to worry about themselves, their own lives. i want them to be the best possible versions of themselves. you're not gonna get someone to behave more graciously by belittling or berating them. but if you set an example, if you lead rather than lecture, then maybe you can make that change. you don't have to be a crusader for those who don't have a voice or are unwilling to use theirs. it took me decades to raise my voice. i don't think i really used mine until about ten years ago; it wasn't because people said i should but because i saw what could happen if i didn't. you don't have to get on twitter and facebook and preach to the public about the good you've done or that others should do. words can be meaningless and forgettable. it's true that people don't remember what you tell them, but they remember how you make them feel. when i encounter those from my childhood who were incredibly cruel to me, showing kindness is a great challenge for me, one i cannot always meet. when i can't, i almost always regret it later. that goes with the cross i bear. be an encouragement, not an adversary. the best way to encourage someone to be better is to show them how, not tell.

i'm in pain right now. but we all are. we all have something that hurts. and crying out about it, calling attention to it, telling someone to basically take a pain reliever isn't necessarily going to make the pain go away. i want us to be stronger. i want us to be able to take the hits, to live with the pain. i've been doing it my whole life. and my disability? god knows there are people who have it a hundred times worse, whose pain is a thousandfold mine. god knows their crosses damned near break them. i knew a boy who had cerebral palsy. he went to my church. his case crippled him so much he couldn't walk or talk. the muscles in his hands and fingers were so spastic, so bent that he could not straighten them. the pain he was in must've been horrid. but oh my god, his smile was miraculous. i always marveled at its brightness and beauty. always. and his eyes... they had such light. as he got older, that light diminished and the smile all but disappeared. he's gone now. the good lord finally gave him peace. but the memory of that smile he bestowed upon us in his youth, it lives in my heart, and there it will stay. i know another man who's confined to a wheelchair. i've never once heard him complain. and his smile's gorgeous, too. he shares it so frequently, so easily. he's a wonder to me.

that's how we should be.

you need a radio, takes the pressure off everyone feeling they have to talk so much

in the past twenty-four hours, i've seen in my twitter and facebook feeds people posting pictures of heavyset women wearing unflattering clothing and videos poking fun of others having difficulty at atm machines. this morning i read an article about pepsi's failed attempt to create an advertisement encouraging cultural diversity and how heineken created one that succeeded.

stop telling others how they should live, goddammit. YOU DO YOU.

of course, saying this puts me in the same category, and i know how incendiary that is, but please, yall. that woman put that clothing on because she liked it. she LIKED IT. who gives a shit if it doesn't make her look good? she felt good wearing it. but you're gonna post the picture to your twitter account with your snark so you can feel good? how does that make you feel good? how? it didn't make me feel good seeing that in my feed. and a friend of mine did that. i was ashamed to see it, ashamed that she'd done it. and what the fuck does it matter what she's wearing? WHAT? do you know how many times i've looked back on pictures and wondered what made me think that was okay? (there's some really good examples in this post.) but AT THE TIME, i liked that clothing. plus, my mama picked it out for me.

if someone's having trouble with something, don't fucking record a video and post it to your facebook wall so others can laugh at that person's ineptitude. get out of your car, walk over and ask, can i help you? if the person's rude to you then, so be it. but maybe they'd appreciate the kindness? if you can't be kind enough to ask, then at least be considerate enough to shut up and keep your camera in your bag.

all this does is make someone's day uglier. and maybe their day was already ugly to begin with. no, they can't see your twitter and your facebook, but if you think they don't know that people are mocking them, you're STUPID.

put some music on. think on different things. SHUT UP.

(by the way... because it's no longer sitting well with me... that mismatch post on monday is the last of the batch.)

the divine secrets of the ya-ya sisterhood

April 23, 2017

why i wanted to read it: because i love the movie and it was on buzzfeed's list of books read by rory on the gilmore girls, one of the categories for erin's book challenge (i just typed categorie's... so all you people who think i write well, please know my typing is shit). i did the audio on this one, too, so i can't mark specific pages, but...

what i liked: the author reads this one, which i love, and she reads it well. having seen the movie first and because the actors accents and tone are similar to the way wells reads it, i could picture the performers, which i loved. it's a VERY well-cast film, by the way; i'd always thought so, but listening to wells read it really drives that idea home. it's been so long since i've seen the movie that i couldn't recall whether a particular scene was included in the screenplay; i don't it was, and i felt it was crucial to the plot: not long after her sixteenth birthday, vivi is enrolled in a catholic school, which results in some traumatic experiences for her (i won't say what). i loved knowing this part of her history, and my heart, which broke for her in the film, cracked even more because of this bit of plot. there's also a spot that includes letters sidda wrote vivi in her childhood. i loved knowing of them, and i don't remember them being in the film.

what sucked: there's a sex scene that i didn't think was necessary. and, having seen the film first, there are parts that differ, and the difference makes the film much better than the book. it doesn't pack quite the punch in the more dire moments that the film does, and i really wanted those conflicts to be as crucial in the book as they were in the film.

having said that: watch the movie, yall. it's really, really good. the book's alright.

by the way...

this has NEVER happened,
and i'm SO, SO stoked that i knocked this fucker out. YEE!!

on to the bonus round, which i WON'T finish come month's end, but i AM going to read all the books i picked for it.

everything everything

April 21, 2017

why i wanted to read it: because i'd just finished reading crap like life after life and the shack. i wanted something easy. also i've friends who refuse to read it, which only made me curiouser and curiouser.

what i liked: i keep thinking about the summer i turned eight. i spent so many days with my forehead pressed against my glass window, bruising myself with my futile wanting. at first i just wanted to look out the window. but then i wanted to go outside. and then i wanted to play with the neighborhood kids, to play with all the kids everywhere, to be normal for just an afternoon, a day, a lifetime...

wanting just leads to more wanting (page 83).

"so you told him not to write to you and then he didn't write to you. is that what you're telling me?"

"well, i didn't say don't write in big, bold letters or anything. i just said i was busy." i think she's going to make fun of me, but she doesn't.

"why didn't you write to him?"

"because of what we talked about. i like him, carla. a lot. too much."

the look on her face says is that all? "do you really want to lose the only friend you've ever had over a little bit of heartache?"

i've read many, many books involving heartache. not one has ever described it as little. soul-shattering and world-destroying, yes. little, no (page 86).

i want to say something, not just something but the perfect thing to comfort him, to make him forget his family for a few minutes, but i can't think of it. this is why people touch. sometimes words are just not enough (page 105).

if my life were a book and you read it backward, nothing would change. today is the same as yesterday. in the book of maddy, all the chapters would be the same (page 162).

ever since olly came into my life there've been two maddys: the one who lives through books and doesn't want to die, and the one who lives and suspects that death will be a small price to pay for it. the second maddy... she's like a god -- impervious to cold, famine, disease, natural and man-made disasters. she's impervious to heartbreak. 

the second maddy knows that this pale half life is not really living (page 167).

you're not living if you're not regretting (page 186).

hope spreads through me like a virus (page 186).

what sucked: the writing's not remarkable. it's not. there are a number of instances where the conflict, the characters' reactions and emotions could've been really heightened but aren't.

having said all that: the writing's not awful, either. it's another fast read, which i love, and the ending's unexpected, which really impressed me. i like maddy and olly. they're pretty cool kids.

we are okay

why i read it: i was surveying the teen fiction section looking for a title that began with the letter w for erin's book challenge. this was after i'd gone through and properly merchandised one of walls of bays because the staff at that particular store have no idea how to nor interest in selling books, apparently... and the obsessive-compulsive gal who once worked as the merchandising supervisor in a bookstore can't stand to see a poorly-shelved section. seriously. it irks the bejesus out of me. anyway. after i'd gone through and fixed the books, i picked out half a dozen or so that started with w and settled on this one, and i am so glad i did.

what i liked: i wonder if there's a secret current that connects people who have lost something. not in the way that everyone loses something, but in the way that undoes your life, undoes your self, so that when you look at your face it isn't yours anymore (page 68).

she leans over our table and turns the sign in the window so that it says closed on the outside. but on our side, perfectly positioned between mabel's place and mine, it says open. if this were a short story it would mean something (page 71).

next door to me, a woman started howling and didn't stop... i heard something break. it's possible that some of the rooms were occupied by regular people, down on their luck, but my wing was full of the broken, and i was at home among them (page 182). 

i wish her everything good. a friendly cab driver and short lines through security. a flight with no turbulence and an empty seat next to her. a beautiful christmas. i wish her more happiness than can fit in a person. i wish her the kind of happiness that spills over (page 192).

what sucked: not a damned thing.

having said all that: this was one of those books i read in a couple of hours. the writing is gorgeous. the way lacour tells the story is pretty near masterful, at least to me. it's complex. it's tragic. but there's goodness and love, and it ends well. i thought it was beautiful. and i don't say that about many books.

life after life

why i wanted to read it: because for erin's book challenge, i had to read something that dealt with time travel, and i didn't want to reread the time traveler's wife (even though i love that book). i remembered this one got rave reviews and thought i'd give it a shot. i listened to the audio book on cd. was cramming because the challenge is almost over and i'm determined to finish the fucker.

what i liked: since i listened to the thing rather than reading it i didn't get to mark pages. i figured if something really struck me or if enough things piqued my interest, i'd buy the book for my library and find the things.

i liked the premise of the story... of all the ways a life could play out. how one small thing -- walking on a road at a certain time, for example -- can cause huge ripples of change.

i was most interested in the story at the last of the fifth disc and the beginning of the sixth. that part of the plot (and i don't want to mention specifics because it's the ONLY part of the plot that i can recommend, the only time the author succeeds in engaging me, the only time she establishes great conflict and makes me feel for the character) is REALLY good. the rest of it...

what sucked: overall, the book is boring as hell. like seriously boring. like i found myself screaming at my stereo good god, just die already. the main character never knows happiness for too long any ANY of the lives she's given. and the end... UGH. pissed me off. a friend suggested that she's not really the main character, that a sibling is, and that pissed me off even more.

having said that: bollocks! don't read it. just don't.

the shack

why i wanted to read it: i used to work as a merchandising supervisor at a bookstore. this thing was on the bestseller bays FOREVER. i remember people talking about it and thinking it sounded stupid. so i'd never wanted to read it, but then they made that movie of it with sam worthington (LOVE him) and octavia spencer (LOVE her) which tempted me to check it out. and then at a friend's birthday party a few weeks ago, a friend of the friend encouraged me to read it. since reading the death and life of zebulon finch before april thirtieth was becoming less and less likely and since i don't typically read religious books, i figured i could switch titles for my genre of book you never/rarely read category in erin's book challenge.


what sucked: this is the worst-written, most absurd story i've ever read. in. my. life. how this thing became so successful is MIRACULOUS, terrifyingly so.

having said that: you wanna know god? join a bible study. dig into the scriptures. don't read stupid, STUPID stories like this one. i was googling to get the image for this post and saw that, i guess on google, some thirty-four hundred folks have given this book five stars. what. the. fuck. WHY? won't see the movie, by the way, no matter how much i might love sam worthington and octavia spencer.

ten things at which i suck

April 19, 2017

one. driving. i knew this was going to be the case, which is why i put off getting my driver's license until after i graduated from high school. i rode the bus all four years of high school, yall. i was not ashamed. do you know why? because it made sense to ride it. someone escorted me to and fro, someone with what i'm sure is a much better driving record than mine turned out to be. someone who didn't charge me for the service. someone employed, ultimately, by my father. and if his people thought that driver was good enough, then by golly, i did, too. i didn't have to spend money on gas. i didn't have to spend money (or more to the point, my parents' money) on wheels and all the costs that went with ensuring they rolled smoothly.

so i got my license and since then, i've wrecked six cars, most of them on multiple occasions...

the first car i drove was the chevrolet corsica my parents bought from a relative. that one is the only one to which i did not cause bodily injury. my younger brother totaled that one.

my parents replaced it with a dodge shadow. i know i'd wrecked it more than once, but the only time i can recall was a summer day during the first year of ownership. in the back of the neighborhood in which i reside, there's a dip, and one of the gals i knew from school showed me that if you travel fast enough, you can jump it. i did so a few times. the last time, on this particular summer day, there was a nail in one of my tires. it popped the tire upon impact, and i did a number of three-sixties before smashing the car into some trees.

i kept that one alive for about four years and put nearly two hundred thousand miles on it before the transmission bought it, followed by a mechanic's announcement that the car had a cracked head gasket.

we won't talk about the number of speeding tickets i got in that thing. it was raspberry red, and i have a lead foot.

the next car was a green ford mustang. it was the first car i picked out for myself. my parents bought it for me. i wrecked it a bunch. the instances that come to mind are the time an old man in a white pickup cut across a parking lot, hit the front left bumper and then fucked up the entire driver's side of the car and, since both airbags deployed, the entirety of the dash, too. the second accident i can recall happened within weeks, it seemed, of getting it out of the shop from that accident. the exchange of loop six ten and interstate ten, near memorial and the galleria in houston, sucks ASS. i rear-ended someone... because people like to change lanes at the last possible second, which makes people slam on their brakes because they're following too closely, and i made the mistake of not paying attention. i make that mistake a lot. third one... i was driving one of the back roads late at night after the rain... too quickly. hydroplaned a bunch, landed in a ditch. i had the windows rolled down and got mud all inside the car. fourth... and this one put him down for the count... i was driving home from houston; it'd been raining and since hydroplaning scares the shit out me, i avoided the freeways whenever possible, which means i drove through the woodlands and took magnolia parkway (which was, at the time, a quiet little two-lane road with walls of pine trees on either side of it) to the frontage road of interstate forty-five. i'd passed my parents' neighborhood (the one in which i'd wrecked the shadow... the one in which i now reside... but at the time i'd been living in an apartment not far from them). i crossed crighton road (my light was green). the driver of a white oldsmobile ran his red light, broadsided me and sent my car careening into a telephone pole. split the engine in half. i've a six-inch scar on my right arm from the airbag... from putting my hands up so as not to see the wreckage occur.

i got even more speeding tickets in that one.

next... a pontiac firebird. i was blinded by the setting sun as i left work and turned left into someone's sport utility vehicle. that car died. i don't even think i had it for a year. i don't think i wrecked it any other times. but apparently, once is enough.

i replaced that one with a ford explorer sport track. i only remember one accident. i was asleep. a drunk driver hit it and four other cars. he knocked the bumpers off the others. i'd had that truck for six months. he knocked the bed off the frame, damaged every inch of the thing from the driver's side passenger door all the way around to where the bed met the rear passenger's door. it was in the shop for three months.

and then there's the acura rsx. my favorite. i managed to keep that one alive for almost a decade. miraculously. i'd managed to not get into an accident for eighteen months before the first one. i was turning left from a right lane, which i could do. the woman in the left lane went straight. it took several months to get him fixed because she'd been drinking, my phone was dead and she wouldn't call the cops to report the accident, so i had to wait for her insurance company to assign fault, and that took a VERY long time. within a few months of getting it back, i failed to yield the right of way at a stop sign late at night and drove into someone's sedan. i'd hydroplaned in it a couple of times, once on the interstate and amazingly enough i didn't hit anyone. i did hit the guardrail, which sent me back out onto the highway. it bought it on a sunny day in october three years ago. the southbound freeway was closed, so everyone was having to use magnolia parkway (which is now a four-lane, congested piece of shit). the guy in front of me slammed on his brakes, i slammed on mine, and the bitch in the toyota minivan shoved me into his car.

then there's the nissan altima, which as of about three p.m. today, has been parked in the recently-constructed median on a major highway not far from my home. i forgot it was there and was turning left (do you see a pattern here?). drove right over the curb separating the concrete from the tall, swampy, newly-planted grass. i'm pretty sure that car's dead. i can tell you with certainty the rear bumper's no longer attached.

interestingly enough, i've not gotten a speeding ticket since october of two thousand four. that last one... i was traveling sixty-five miles per hour in a forty-five. i've since discovered cruise control.

also i've become much more careful about keeping safe following distances. yall should, too. now if i could just get the hang of turning left.

two. dating. speaking to attractive men, in general. those horror stories are generally not nearly as entertaining. i'll spare you their details. well except for one:

there was this guy who was studying for his mcat. he'd spend hours in the cafe at the bookstore where i worked. after he took it we didn't see him as much. he came in during the christmas season; he'd not been wearing his usual attire of a baseball cap and polo. i'd been talking with a customer as we rode the escalator to the second floor. he got on after us and said hi to me. i didn't recognize him at first, but then just before we reached the top, it clicked. i managed to say hi back. i'd forgotten the name of the book the customer wanted. she was an older woman. i grinned at her and apologized, saying how cute boys distract me. she laughed.

if you wanna read about the kind of guys with whom i have tangled, there's this.

three. taking care of my things

four. taking care of myself

five. karaoke. it sounds like a good idea in theory because i've a really good voice, but...

six. cooking. something that takes my mother twenty minutes to make takes me two hours.

seven. sounding like a texan. i don't have a twang. i'm not even sure i could fake a good one. i'd be interviewing people for work, and they'd ask me where i'm from. here, i'd say. born in texas city. can't get much more texan than that... unless it was lukenbach, maybe.

eight. dieting. yall'd say this goes with taking care of myself, probably. but... i'm sitting here munching on string cheese and sipping my third soda of the day (it's canada dry ginger ale, though... so at least it's not caffeinated).

nine. email correspondence. have you left a comment on a pickypost? i love you for it. i read it. i will respond to it... eventually. (of the things, this is the one that makes me feel most like a despicable person.)

ten. following through with things. like finishing the fucking novel i started two decades ago. (this is the one that should make me feel like a despicable person, but oddly enough doesn't. i'll get around to it... eventually.)

check out michael's list and kristen's.

thirteen reasons why

April 9, 2017

why i wanted to read it: a friend encouraged me to read it.

what i liked: "it's nothing. a school project."

my go-to answer for anything. staying out late? school project. need extra money? school project. and now, the tapes of a girl. a girl who, two weeks ago, swallowed a handful of pills.

school project (clay, page 8).

why not just pop the tape out of the stereo and throw the entire box of them in the trash?

i swallow hard. tears sting the corner of my eyes.

because it's hannah's voice. a voice i thought i'd never hear again. i can't throw that away (clay, page 16).

so tell me, jessica, which did you mean to do? punch me or scratch me? because it felt like a little bit of both. like you couldn't really decide... that tiny scar you've all seen above my eyebrow, that's the shape of jessica's fingernail... which i plucked out myself.

i noticed that scar a few weeks ago. at the party. a tiny flaw on a pretty face. and i told her how cute it was (hannah then clay, page 67).

the next day at school i asked so many people the exact same question, where were you last night? some said they were at home or at a friend's house. or at the movies. none of your business. but you, tyler, you had the most defensive -- and interesting -- response of all.

"what, me? nowhere."

and for some reason, telling me you were nowhere made your eyes twitch and your forehead break into a sweat... hey, at least you're original. but your presence, tyler, that never left. 

after your visits, i twisted my blinds shut every night. i locked out the stars and i never saw lightning again...

why didn't you leave me alone, tyler? my house. my bedroom. they were supposed to be safe for me (hannah, pages 88-89).

this time, for the first time, i saw the possibilities in giving up. i even found hope in it (hannah, page 126).

i'm listening to someone give up. someone i knew. someone i liked (clay, page 146).

after feeling more and more like an outcast, peer communications was my safe haven at school. whenever i walked into that room, i felt like throwing open my arms and shouting, "olly-olly-oxen-free!"

... for one period each day, you were not allowed to touch me or snicker behind my back no matter what the latest rumor (hannah, pages 153-154).

let me guess. you told your friends to watch while you put the moves on me... and then i hardly responded... when i broke out of my daze, and before i left, i listened in on you and your friends. they were teasing you for not getting that date you assured them was in the bag... you must have a slow boil... taking it more and more personally... and you chose to get back at me in the most childish of ways.

you stole my paper bag notes of encouragement... what tipped me off? it's simple really. everyone else was getting notes. everyone! and for the most insignificant of things... after my haircut, i waited a week.

then two weeks.

then three weeks.

nothing... it was time to find out what was going on. so i wrote myself a note... to avoid the major embarrassment of getting caught leaving myself a note, i also wrote a note for the bag next to mine... and the next day? nothing in my bag. the note was gone. 

maybe it didn't seem like a big deal to you... my world was collapsing. i needed those notes. i needed any hope those notes might have offered.

and you? you took that hope away. you decided i didn't deserve to have it (hannah, pages 162-165).

everything they said -- everything! -- came tinged with annoyance.

then one of the girls... said what everyone else was thinking. "it's like whoever wrote this note just wants attention. if they were serious, they would have told us who they were."

... in the past, mrs. bradley had notes dropped in her bag suggesting group discussion on abortion, family violence, cheating -- on boyfriends, girlfriends, on tests. no one insisted on knowing who wrote those topics. but for some reason, they refused to have a discussion on suicide without specifics (hannah, pages 171-172).

and that's why, right at this moment, i feel so much hate. toward myself. i deserve to be on this list. because if i hadn't been so afraid of everyone else, i might have told hannah that someone cared. and hannah might still be alive (clay, page 181).

i'm not even sure how much of the real clay jensen i got to know over the years. most of what i knew was second-hand information. and that's why i wanted to know him better. because everything i heard -- and i mean everything! -- was good.

it was one of those things where, once i noticed it, it couldn't stop noticing it...

my ears perked up whenever i heard his name. i guess i wanted to hear something -- anything -- juicy. not because i wanted to spread gossip. i just couldn't believe someone could be that good.. it became a personal game of mine. how long could i go on hearing nothing but good things about clay jensen? 

... clay, honey, your name does not belong on this list... but you need to be here if i'm going to tell my story. to tell it more completely (hannah, pages 198-200).

the air was warm for that type of night, too. my absolute favorite type of weather... pure magic... walking by the houses on my way to the party, it felt like life held so many possibilities. limitless possibilities. and for the first time in a long time, i felt hope (hannah, page 204).

when she first arrived, when she walked through the front door, she caught me off guard. and like a freak, i turned around, ran through the kitchen, and straight out the back.

it was too soon, i told myself. i went to the party telling myself that if hannah baker showed up, i was going to talk to her. it was time. i didn't care who was there, i was going to keep my eyes focused on her and we were going to talk. 

but then she walked in and i freaked out (clay, page 208).

i couldn't believe it. out of the blue, there you were (hannah, page 208).

no, not out of the blue. first i paced around the backyard, cursing myself for being such a scared little boy. then i let myself out through the gate, fully intent on walking home.

but on the sidewalk, i beat myself up some more. then i walked back to the front door. the drunk people greeted me again, and i went straight for you.

it was anything but out of the blue (clay, page 208).

"i don't know you why," you said, "but i think we need to talk."

... and i agreed, with probably the dumbest smile plastered on my face (hannah, page 208).

no. the most beautiful (clay, page 209).

what sucked: not a damned thing.

having said that: it's good. every adolescent in america, every parent of every adolescent needs to read this book.

random quarter

April 5, 2017

some of yall might know some of this already, but...

one. my name is jennifer kristin. jennifer: the cornish derivation of the welsh gwenhyfar (guinevere) (means white wave, by the way... which suits because the waters of my internal landscape are NEVER calm). kristin: after my uncle, frank christian. so guinevere, a queen with weak morals and weaker knees... and christ. which really kind of suits because i'm hugely contradictory. also, counting my last name, there are five i's in my name (even the e's sound like i's), which i've never liked...

two. because i'm an aries, the infant of the zodiac. the sign that's all about me... me... me. and my parents like to point out how everything's always about me at every available opportunity. you're the ones who put all the i's in my name, folks, and decided to have a baby in late, late march.

three. plus, i'm the middle child... and the only girl.

four. i've spent the majority of my forty-four years as a resident of the great state of texas. save for: six months in natchitoches, louisiana (second half of third grade); nine months in roswell, new mexico (fourth grade); eighteen months in nevada, missouri (freshman and sophomore years of college). it is a great state, but i am itching to get the hell out of dodge. my small town ain't so small anymore, which i hate. the world is too big. i wanna go go go...

five. but you have to have money to go go go... which means you have to have a job, and i'm having a really hard time finding one of those. i used to write for a newspaper. i don't want to do that anymore. i'm actually sick to death of the media, and my father's got it on. all. the. time. one lady said i could use her as a reference and then told the manager not to hire me. the manager told me this... so one of'm's not being honest. i'd really wanted that job, but now that i'm privy to this information, maybe it's good that i don't have it. it wasn't anything grand, just clerking in a store, but i liked how casual the place was, the friendly atmosphere, that it closed at six p.m. weekdays and all day sunday, so i could have my nights and half my weekend. it was the kind of job you could clock out and walk out of without responsibility following you...

six. so i could spend my nights writing... not the great american novel. i don't have such grand expectations for myself. i just want to write a good love story. it was written. i've completed the first half of the revision process, which means cutting out the crap. now i have to replace the words i erased with better ones... only i'm so stressed out about the fact that i can't find work that i can't find the words.

seven. i live with my parents. i'm trying not to be ashamed of saying that. it's so much more practical that i do. i'm not involved with anyone; i have no children; i have no job; they're in their seventies, and they travel every few months for a period of several weeks each time to colorado to see my mother's relatives, that uncle after whom i'm named and her other brother and the nephews and their wives and children...

eight. i'm in a critique group with three other writers. one of them calls me her rainbow rowell girl, which warms my heart and intimidates my brain. another told me yesterday she sees me as a more literary writer while she and the others are more commercial fiction... like she thinks i'm the best of us. most of the time, i feel like i'm the weakest one in the bunch, so it makes me really happy that they say these things.

nine. that i think that way surely has something to do with the bipolar disorder (a diagnosis i received from a shrink in my twenties) or the major depressive disorder (a diagnosis i received from a therapist last year) from which i suffer. i'm on meds now. for most of my adult life i had not been. i don't like needing them, but... if i skip a day, i can definitely tell that i've done so.

ten. hell, there are days that i take them, and i'm still not on my best behavior. i bitched at a postal clerk because she was being a cow... telling me she didn't have an attitude when clearly she did. i bitched at the customers in aldi because they were all are you in line? no. no i'm not. i'm not standing near the registers with my fucking basket full of bottled water (which i probably should've been drinking instead of snacking on snickers). i didn't say that, though. instead i snapped i am, but you go ahead. i did that FOUR fucking times.

eleven. i am NOT a nice person. really, i'm not. it bothers me that i'm not. so much so that i go out of my way to do nice things for others to make up for the fact that the thoughts in my head are hideous. and when i can't keep those thoughts from rushing out of my mouth... i always feel guilty afterward because i wasn't strong enough to stop them.

twelve. i cuss. a lot. it drives my parents nuts. one of my mother's friends told her she was friends with me on facebook. your daughter's funny, and she swears a lot.

thirteen. my mother says i've got the go to hell look patented. it probably doesn't help that my eyes are like slits (weak muscles due to a mild case of cerebral palsy and a trio of surgeries made'm that way) and, thanks to her mother and my father, have a tendency to appear to be black (they're dark brown with a bit of amber, but when i'm pissed, the amber disappears). it also doesn't help that i've got resting bitch face, and mine's better than most.

fourteen. this is because i've no patience. none. NONE. when i'm watching my younger brother's twins (they are now nine... holy fuck. that can't be right. EIGHT. they're eight. not that that's much better.), i don't do the waterworks. the moment tears roll's the moment time out starts. most of the time, it works; they rein it in pretty quick.

fifteen.  that mild case of cerebral palsy has resulted in six surgeries, thirty-some-odd scars, the mental imbalance and vision issues that can't be corrected. the last two contribute to sometimes severe social anxieties... which sometimes contributes to my not being as nice as i should. i'm like a cross between sheldon and bernadette on big bang theory... unless there's a hot man in the vicinity... then i'm one hundred percent raj. actually... i've been told i'm intimidating, so maybe i'm ninety-five percent raj and five percent sheldon. you know, like when he's looking at someone like that person's the most idiotic person in the world... that. it really, really sucks.

sixteen. i've an english degree. not so much because i wanted that degree but because i wanted to get the hell out of school (it took me five and a half years to graduate because i was indecisive as shit... and because i let others influence my choices too much as an adolescent and young adult) and english was the quickest way to get out. i really wish i had some focus, some interest in learning. i REALLY wish i'd taken a year off and worked six months as a server and six months as a retail whore. had i done that, you can bet your ass i would've done better in school.

seventeen. i graduated without ever having read dickens, dostoevsky, nabokov, either of the brontes or austen. amazing, ain't it? and then about fifteen years ago, i decided i'd take some undergrad english classes to see how i felt about going to graduate school so i could get my mfa and teach freshmen how to write, and one of my professors assigned dickens -- our mutual friend. i fell in love with it on the first day of class (victorian literature, which ended up being my favorite subject).

eighteen. least favorite subject was principles of accounting.

nineteen. favorite color is green.

twenty. favorite candy is smarties.

twenty-one. favorite food is chicken spaghetti.

twenty-two. coke. NEVER pepsi. that shit's N A S T Y.

twenty-three. i'd live in london if i could... in the summertime. in the winter, i'd be in fucking fiji or some place like it.

twenty-four. that said, my favorite place to be is here.

twenty-five. it's two minutes past ten p.m. texas time, and i'm yawning and wanting to hit the sack. LAME. where the hell did my youth go?

the gift that keeps on giving

April 3, 2017

so i spent saturday afternoon with a friend from high school -- lunch at a burger joint that's been around for decades then flying kites out on the lake. she was gracious and generous enough to give me a birthday present: the blue journal on the left, which i love.

and then today brought me a box all the way from australia, from another gal with whom i'd gone to high school, with all kinds of goodies inside. that little silver thing next to the card? that's a millenium falcon keyring and next to that is a han solo one that also functions as a flashlight. she sent me snacks, too. but best of all, she colored me a picture, one of the tasks from last month's scavenger hunt, and she sent it to ME! yay! i feel so special.

i got good friends, yall.

i don't have a job, and that's really starting to freak me out. but i just keep telling myself... i've got REALLY GOOD friends. i keep marveling over it, keep telling myself there is good in your life, an abundance of it right now. i keep feeling immensely blessed because of it. every day. because for SO MUCH of my life, i couldn't say that. i knew i had a good friend or two, that gal from 'stralia being one of them. but friends? plural? as in SEVERAL? hell, i've not been able to say it with any sense of conviction until this past year. so for those of you who have no trouble making friends, please, please don't take them for granted. let them know how much you love them and why, because THAT'S the gift. make sure they know it. make sure they know you'll love them through thick and thin, god's honest truth. because i know what thin can do to a friendship. the fun stuff's EASY. i've not had too many hang with me in those rough moments. it sure does make life more bearable when you do.

eight things to celebrate in april: a scavenger hunt

April 2, 2017

one. april second. children's book day. i'm quick to think of picture books, of sitting with toddlers and telling them stories. but for this one, i want yall to donate two young adult hardback books to a junior high school library. the newer the school, the better because they're most likely in need of the donations.

two. april sixth. national tartan day. ah, plaid. i love this stuff. put on a plaid shirt and wear it with pride.

three. april seventh. national beer day. if you're single, go to your favorite bar and buy a guy or gal whom you think might be awesome a beer. take the time to find out if you should've picked someone else. this one's gonna be REALLY, REALLY HARD for me because a) i'm fucking shy as shit, though you wouldn't know this if you met me; b) i've had one adult beverage since september eleventh and that was only because it was st. patrick's day, and i'm a wuss. i was doing SO GOOD with the no liquor thing, too. dammit. anyway... if you're hitched, take your better half to his or her favorite bar and buy yourselves a couple.

four. april thirteenth. national scrabble day. play a game. not ONLINE. no going to pogo and playing their idea of scrabble. no words with friends through facebook. an ACTUAL game with the board and tiles. with THREE others.

five. april seventeenth. national haiku day. it's poetry month, yall. write your own haiku (three lines: five syllables on the first and third, seven on the second). share one written by another that you favor.

six. april twentieth. national high five day. give high fives to twenty strangers.

seven. april twenty-sixth. hug an australian day. just for you, erin and kristen. too bad yall aren't in texas. i don't know any australians here. this is gonna be a hard one, too.

eight. april twenty-seventh. babe ruth day. go watch a baseball game. NOT on television. drive your butt to the nearest park and sit there for nine innings (or however long it is) and watch those boys bat the ball around. it doesn't have to be a pro game. if you've a child who plays or have a friend whose child plays, watching that game counts.

twelve things (sort of) celebrated in march

April 1, 2017

one. march second. national old stuff day. show me two of the oldest and most favored things in your house, and tell me why you love them. so the first of those is the antique icebox my great uncle, the monk, refurbished that his sister, my great aunt lukie, painted. the second is the clock he'd made for my folks. i know both of these things are AGES older than i am. my younger brother keeps forgetting that the chest is MINE. every few years i'm forced to remind him, and my mother has to back me up. it's got PINK FLOWERS on it, for crying out loud.

from what i understand, you're also supposed to try something new or go about accomplishing a thing you normally do in a different way, even if it's as simple as taking a different route to a destination instead of going the way you normally go. make sure you take a picture of the new thing... i need to see that, too.

i forgot about this part. oops. i was all kinds of lazy on this one yall... there is shit i didn't get done. and the majority of the tasks i attempted to knock out today...

two. also march second. national read across america day, also called dr. seuss day. there's a film, a nicholas sparks' story called the lucky one, and in it, zac efron's logan is talking with taylor schilling's beth and blythe danner's ellie about philosophy. beth asks logan, dares him, really, to give them his favorite quote by a philosopher. he does. she assumes it's something of voltaire's when in actuality, it's from dr. seuss:

sometimes the questions are complicated, but the answers are simple. 

so what's your favorite dr. seuss book? what bit of his philosophy do you most admire? i don't have a favorite. never really been a big fan, but i do love how well-loved his stories are and by so many. they are colorful and fun books, and i can appreciate that. i love giving them to friends who are expecting for that reason. i spent time today in the children's section at barnes and noble, skimming through a few...

ones i hadn't read or wanted to read again. and in yertle the turtle there's a tale called gertrude mcfuzz who isn't satisfied with what she has, who she is and so she finds away to get a LOT of the feathers she admires, but once she gets them, she is so weighed down by them that she can't fly. i like the way the story ends.

three. march sixth. national dress day. wear a dress. the whole day. you don't have to do heels if you don't want to, but you do have to do the dress. for some of you, this might not be a big thing. for me, i've probably put on a dress maybe five times in the past year. i hate the things. i hate having to iron them. i hate having to wear them because you can't just put on the dress. you have to put on the make up, too. BAH. if you're a guy reading this, and you do the thing and provide documented proof of having done so, i'll send you a present.

four. march seventh. national cereal day. share a bowl or two of your favorite cereal with a friend. okay. so i didn't share. it's cap'n crunch, and i'm a selfish wench.

five. knockout roses
six. roses for an old friend.
five. march twelfth. national plant a flower day. pick a spot in your yard and plant your favorite flower there. (also this marked the fourteenth anniversary of my older brother's death so have a beer for him today, will you? but just one. if you didn't then, please do so now. that'll make me happy.)

i found these bright pink knockout roses at the grocery store. this was many tasks that i did not attempt to tackle until the very last day, so they're not planted, but they are placed where i want them. i hope to get them firmly in the ground by monday morning. we'll see.

six. march thirteenth. national good samaritan day. do something nice for someone you detest. do something kind for someone who's known more badness in his or her life than good. be an army of one. so there are only two people i truly detest in this world; one is out of state and the other is god-knows-where-i-don't-care. there are a couple of friendships that haven't been what i've wanted them to be. so i bought flowers and got a gift card and took these things to only residence i know for one of those friends -- her parents' house. this particular one is a gal i met the summer my family moved to conroe, so i've known her for thirty-four years. her birthday is the day before mine. i'm not crazy about how i've made so much more of an effort to maintain a friendship or the excuses i've made on her behalf in an effort to alter my thinking so that i'm not riding paranoid waves of my shortcomings into guilty cesspools. but i've made some really good memories with her. i like to believe there can be more like those. i want good things for her. the last time i saw her, though, i was living in san antonio -- at least twelve years ago. so i took the flowers and gave them to her mother to give to her. they told me they were on their way to meet her and her daughter at a sandwich shop for dinner, a fundraiser for her daughter's high school band. they'd asked me if i wanted to go. at first i'd declined. and then i decided, what the hell, why not.

so right before i got there, on the corner of the interstate and the loop, was a man who was begging for money. there'd been one there earlier. i hadn't given him anything and felt guilty for not doing so. i kept hearing the scripture in my head... the least of my brethren. this guy was much younger, looked like he was in a better place than the one i'd seen earlier, though not by much. i debated, and then decided, what the hell, why not. i pulled out a twenty and handed it to him, said please don't go by beer with this. get yourself a good dinner. he told me he was a recovering addict, going on thirty-some-odd weeks. i really hope that's true. but it doesn't matter whether it is. it only matters that i feel good for doing what i did, and i do. if he squanders it, that's on him.

anyway, so i saw the friend, gave her the gift, chatted for a bit. she seemed really pleased to see me, which made me happy. she said i'd made her day, which made me happier still...

seven. also march thirteenth. national napping day. give yourself a bit of rest one afternoon. lay down, and let your mind wander... dream a little. sheets by pottery barn kids. painting by julia gilmore.

eight. march twenty-first. national single parent day. surely you know someone who's raising a child all by his or herself. that's a LOT or responsibility for one person. send them a note of encouragement. if that person lives near you, offer to watch his or her child (or children) for an hour or two. give that single parent a bit of respite.

so the night i originally posted this list, i messaged a few of my single-with-children friends through facebook. the conversation with one of them went like this:

me: hey lady. just checking in. wanted to make sure everything's going okay with you. everybody doing alright?
her: that's incredible you'd ask. as a matter of fact, i'm going through some stuff. how did you know?
me: i didn't. so what's up?
this is not a woman i know very well. but i'm glad i messaged her, to be getting to know her better. she volunteers at the houston livestock show and rodeo and got me into see zz top. so yeah... this is kind of backwards. it's the only picture i have to go with this one, yall. i drove into houston, spent a few hours with her. time away from children can be a beautiful thing... says the childless woman. i've watched my brother's twins enough to know this to be true. i'll send her a note.

i also went to another single-with-children's birthday party. and the gal from number six, she's single-with-a-child, as well. so i'm counting it as good enough.

nine. march twenty-fifth. national tolkien reading day. what's your favorite of tolkien's tales? what's the third word on the twenty-fifth line of the three hundred twenty-fifth page of that book? so i used the whole trilogy because the individual books weren't available. i've not read this, by the way... i hear it's not very well-written... i ain't got time for that. and when you've seen the movies as many times as i have... the word on that particular page is eyes. or maybe it was eye singular. shit. i knew i should've written it down.

ten. march twenty-ninth. my birthday. send me happy thoughts, preferably via the post because i like getting mail (address is in the sidebar). please and thank you. i know. i'm being selfish. it's my day. i get a freebie on this one.

okay. all the goodies. the game, splendor, i bought for myself because i was feeling guilty for having borrowed my friend's copy of it so often. the rest of the loot in this photo are from the gals in my book club, who made me chicken spaghetti and paula deen's bananas foster bread pudding and gave me all these goodies: a tote bag with shiny, gold hearts (because they knew i would so love to have that), banned books socks, a soy candle scented like a public library and a jane eyre charm with the text:

i am no bird; and no net ensnares me: i am a free human being with an independent will.

eleven. march thirtieth. national take a walk in the park day. show me your favorite spot in your favorite park.

SHITTY photos. i so sorry. i completely forgot about this one. so this is the park near the entrance to my subdivision. there's a pretty white gazebo and some gorgeous azalea bushes (when they're blooming... we've already missed the spring, so... they gone now, but...) and an itty bitty creek. there's some really pretty pictures of it here.

twelve. national crayon day. grab a box of crayolas. color a pretty picture, and then send it to a friend. didn't get this one done. but I WILL. i swear.