Archive: September 2017

Thirty-Two Little Kaylee & Jayne Things

Saturday, September 30th, 2017

2013-05-15 - Getting Discharged - 0007 [black&white-square]

My dearest little daemon,

I miss you so much, sweet Kaylee baby, but you already know that. I think about you all the time (good!), even if many reminders come in the form of a certain nemesis named Mags (bad! boo! hiss!). Sometimes I refer to her as Kaylee 2.0, but I’m totally joking! No one could replace you, baby girl.

Probably it will delight you to learn that there are some autumnal photo shoots in Mags’s immediate future, and that last week I made her dress up as Batgirl to cheer up your aunt Meesh. Finally, we can retire those Wonder Beyatch pictures. (Not! That was the best. I have those ‘roos hanging up in my closet, right next to your shindig dress, because they always make me think of you.)

Anyway, just checking in. Even though it’s been 1,229 days since I last snuggled your mushy little body close, your absence remains a palpable, heavy thing. You were – forever are – my one and only. You need not worry about some sassy little upstart supplanting you, in my imagination or my heart.

With love,

Your other half

 

2010-09-30 - Walking Kaylee & Jayne - 0018

Dear Jayne,

You should be here with me, celebrating your thirteenth birthday in style (read: at the drive-in with ample biscuits and noochy popcorn). I wish things had gone differently; that the surgery had worked, or the chemo; or that we’d had the ability to see into the future, and not subjected you to either. Another canine cancer diagnosis is my worst fear, since it will likely shock me into paralysis. Weighing Peedee’s (relatively) good outcome against the terrible time you had; what’s a caregiver to do?

I miss you, sweet girl. Sure you were a loner, Dottie, a rebel; a bit of a misanthrope who just wanted to be left alone (but not too alone). But on that point, I can relate. We had so much in common, you and I; and you taught me to accept you on your terms, to love you for who you were not, who I hoped you could be. You had a pretty good life, all in all, and I’m happy I could give that to you, if nothing else.

I hope you’re happy, wherever your handsome little atoms are now.

Love,

Mom

(More below the fold…)

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Saturday, September 30th, 2017

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Friday, September 29th, 2017

Book Review: Depression & Other Magic Tricks by Sabrina Benaim (2017)

Thursday, September 28th, 2017

misery loves company (or mine does, anyway)

four out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free electronic ARC through NetGalley.)

my grandmother says
heartache is
a hungry caterpillar
that must be fed
so it can grow
wings
& fly away
(“feed a fever, starve a cold”)

the girl gets carried away.
she is the sugar cube,
love is the cup of
darjeeling – she
dissolves,
faster
than
you
think
she
will.
(“magic trick 001”)

I’d never heard of Sabrina Benaim before spotting (and immediately downloading) a copy of her poetry book, Depression & Other Magic Tricks, on NetGalley. Later I learned that a live reading of her poem “Explaining My Depression to My Mother” went viral a few years back, with over five million views on YouTube, reportedly making Benaim “one of the most-viewed performance poets of all time.” And indeed, it is awesome and lovely and well, well worth the hype:

Though “Explaining My Depression to My Mother” is indeed one of the fifty-three poems found in Depression & Other Magic Tricks, you should definitely check out Benaim’s reading as well; her performance is brimming with frenetic, nervous energy that lends the poem an added sense of urgency. Anyone who has found themselves trying to explain the invisible, elusory monster that is depression to a non-believer will relate to lines like this:

mom says happy is a decision.

OR

mom says i am so good at making
something out of nothing,
and then flat out asks me if i am
afraid of dying.
no,
i am afraid of living.

After the sudden death of my husband earlier this year, I had to make my family understand just how bad my anxiety and depression had gotten in the years since I left home. Like, it was literally a matter of life and death. Survival. Luckily, everyone around me seems to understand what I mean when I say “depression” – thank pop culture or my younger sister, whose issues maybe paved the way for the revelation of mine – but “social anxiety” is a whole ‘nother mess. People hear “social anxiety” and think: Shyness. Introvert. Quiet. Loner. Misanthrope. What they don’t hear is “mental illness.” Drugs (maybe) and therapy (definitely) and professional help. “Explaining My Depression to My Mother” is heartbreaking and darkly funny and entirely too relatable, in more ways than I’d like.

Despite the collection’s title, not all of the poems explicitly focus on depression. Love, grief, parental estrangement, self-esteem, friendship – all make an appearance here, and why not? Life is a multi-faceted thing. Yet many, if not all, of the poems are tinged with an air of sadness, and why not? Depression sinks its poisonous tentacles into everything, it seems. It cannot be cornered or contained. It’s like that damned fog in Stephen King’s “The Mist.”

Aside from the obvious – birds of a feather, and all that jazz – I like Depression & Other Magic Tricks for two reasons: I actually “got” most of the poems, and it’s feminist AF. In this way, it rather reminds me of another book of poetry, Amanda Lovelace’s The Princess Saves Herself in this One. If you enjoyed one, most likely you’ll dig the other.

File Depression & Other Magic Tricks under “seven small ways in which i loved myself this week.”

(This review is also available on Amazon, Library Thing, and Goodreads. Please click through and vote it helpful if you’re so inclined!)

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Thursday, September 28th, 2017

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Wednesday, September 27th, 2017

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Tuesday, September 26th, 2017

Baked Pears with (Gourmet!) Walnuts and Agave

Monday, September 25th, 2017

2017-09-17 - Baked Pears with Walnuts - 0003 [flickr]

Gourmet Nuts and Dried Fruit offered me some more goodies for testing, and who am I to turn my nose up at free food? It’s just not in my skill set. And so it was that I came into possession of two whopping ten-pound bags of walnuts and dried blueberries.

2017-09-17 - Gourmet Nuts Walnuts - 0004 [flickr]

I also just so happen to have a ton of pears and apples from my fruit trees. The first one is a bit of an exaggeration – I only have one pear tree, which maybe gave me twenty-five pears this year (sad!) – while the other’s a lot closer to the truth. I have peeled, sliced, and frozen so many apples that my chest freezer is stuffed nearly full. At this point I estimate it’s 40% pita bread (other things I cannot pass up: a $1/loaf sale on pita bread!), 40% apples, and 20% other (read: french fries and the bowl for my ice cream maker).

Anyway, long story short, I started Googling recipes involving walnuts, blueberries, pears, and apples – in any and every conceivable combination – and one of the first ones to catch my interest was this recipe for Baked Pears with Walnuts and Honey at SkinnyTaste.

The recipe is pretty simple, and I pretty much followed it to the t, with one obvious exception: I swapped out the honey for agave nectar. I also used a little less cinnamon, sprinkling it on the pears to taste.

2017-09-17 - Baked Pears with Walnuts - 0002 [flickr]

Pro tip: I kind of stuffed the hollows in the center of each pear half with the walnuts, instead of sprinkling them on top. Overall I dug the effect, but found that the ones on the bottom didn’t get browned as nicely. If you go this route, maybe lightly toast the chopped walnuts first?

Pro tip #2: Carving a small sliver out of the bottom of each pear half really does make them easier to work with!

Pro tip #3: The leftovers taste great warmed in the microwave and served with your favorite cereal. I usually eat baked apples this way, paired up with bran flakes. If you really want to get wild, throw some generic Life cereal or homemade granola on top of the whole shebang.* Very tasty!

2017-09-17 - Baked Pears with Walnuts - 0005 [flickr]

For my next trick, I may or may not turn some of these walnuts into a strudel topping. Stay tuned!

* Baby Kelly would be horrified at this mixing of various foodstuffs. Middle-aged dogs really do learn new tricks.

tweets for 2017-09-24

Monday, September 25th, 2017

tweets for 2017-09-23

Sunday, September 24th, 2017
  • RT @Felonious_munk: Just a reminder: protesters in Ferguson/Baltimore/Everywhere were told “get a job”
    No version of you is acceptable to t… ->
  • RT @jaketapper: Focusing like a laser on the major problems of the American people: black professional athletes with opinions. https://t.co… ->
  • RT @MarkHarrisNYC: Nothing triggers Trump more than perceived ingratitude from successful POCs. In his mind, they don't achieve things; the… ->
  • RT @ThatDudeMCFLY: The Warriors should just go to the Obama's house and take the team pic on the porch. ->
  • RT @CutonDime25: It's really sad man … our president is a asshole ->
  • (More below the fold…)

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Saturday, September 23rd, 2017

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Friday, September 22nd, 2017

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Thursday, September 21st, 2017

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Wednesday, September 20th, 2017
  • RT @GavinNewsom: Graham-Cassidy allows insurers to NOT cover:
    -Pregnancy
    -Newborn care
    -Mental health services
    -Prescription drugs
    -Rehab
    -… ->
  • RT @elongreen: would like to see an analysis of lost productivity because every few weeks we have to call our lawmakers and beg them not to… ->
  • RT @samswey: Capitalism is a room of white men extolling the virtue of ventures built with black labor while black workers serve the food &… ->
  • RT @Lexialex: White Americans are more concerned about Nazis getting punched than about black people getting killed by cops. And they don't… ->
  • RT @PaperFury: HOW TO CULL YOUR TBR LIST:
    • cautiously enter goodreads
    • delete some books
    • no no i said DELETE
    • did you just add books??… ->
  • (More below the fold…)

Book Review: Writing to Awaken: A Journey of Truth, Transformation, and Self-Discovery by Mark Matousek (2017)

Tuesday, September 19th, 2017

Writing Exercises for Self-Discovery

three out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free electronic ARC for review through NetGalley. Trigger warning for client case studies that sometimes include disturbing incidents, including rape.)

When I was a child and magic was afoot, the word abracadabra was synonymous with the power of manifestation. I could wave my magic wand over Doris the princess doll, or Boris the stuffed panda, and practically feel them come to life under the gravitas of the spell. Later in life, as a Harvard-trained scientist and researcher in the field of mind-body medicine, I discovered that abracadabra is more than magic-speak or a song by the Steve Miller Band. These Aramaic words mean, “I will create as I speak.”

Tell a story. Believe the story. And voila! It manifests in your cells, your brain, your heart, your behavior, and the choices you make…or don’t. We embody our stories quite literally, as these days we have the brain scans and hormonal assays to prove it. Mark Matousek, who is a writer rather than a scientist, knows this as well. He sometimes refers to us humans as Homo Narrans—the storytelling species. Stories slay and stories heal. Their transformative magic resides in our ability to identify them, learn from them, and—when necessary—change them.

– Joan Borysenko, PhD (“Foreword”)

— 3.5 stars —

I picked up a copy of Writing to Awaken about the same time as Getting Grief Right; I thought that the two books, when taken together, might provide some guidance in using journaling and storytelling to cope with the recent loss of my husband – and perhaps figure out what comes next for me.

Divided into twelve chapters and forty-eight “lessons,” Matousek challenges the reader to dive deeper; to find the truth behind your life story, which is often unreliable, watered down for mass consumption, and altered to omit certain uncomfortable truths. Though I suppose the exercises could help to overcome writer’s block, you don’t necessarily need to be a professional writer to find value here. Rather, Writing to Awaken is for anyone interested in journaling with a heavy emphasis on self-reflection and radical truth telling.

(More below the fold…)

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Tuesday, September 19th, 2017

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Monday, September 18th, 2017

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Sunday, September 17th, 2017

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Saturday, September 16th, 2017

Mini-Review: Do One Thing Every Day That Makes You Happy: A Journal by Robie Rogge & Dian G. Smith (2017)

Friday, September 15th, 2017

Well, I like the *idea* of it…

four out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for review through Blogging for Books. Click on the images to embiggen.)

— 3.5 stars —

As a naturally gloomy and anxious person – one of my nicknames, and one I wear proudly, is Kelly Killjoy – a “happiness journal” seems like something I could really use in my life. I tend to only journal when things are going sideways, carrying merrily on my way when everything’s coming up roses (or Dave Kim, as it were), resulting in a record of my life that’s skewed heavily toward the negative. And that’s no fun, right?

Do One Thing Every Day That Makes You Happy: A Journal is a pretty swell idea. From its bright yellow cover, decked out in shiny silver and vibrant rainbow text, to its white and orange insides, Do One Thing Every Day That Makes You Happy more or less oozes unicorns and birthday cake and that one REM song. Each page features a happy quote or graphic, along with a writing prompt inspired by said quote. There’s a space to pencil in the date for each exercise and, with the exception of the New Year’s themed ones, you can pretty much pace yourself how you want: work through each page in chronological order; skip around to your heart’s content; or only write when you feel inspired (though skipping days kind of negates the “do one thing every day” part, don’t you think?).

The prompts run the gamut; here are just a few to give you a taste:
* Where scratching felt sweetest day.
* A pleasure of mine that no one can understand.
* My life would seem longer without.
* Why I laughed at myself today.
* A luxury I don’t need in order to be happy.

As much as I love the idea of this journal, as per usual with Clarkson Potter journals, the execution leaves something to be desired. The journal is very small – about 6″ x 4.5″ – making it somewhat difficult to write in. Additionally, many (but not all) of the quotes/graphics take up an inordinate amount of space on the page – usually somewhere around 2/3 to 4/5 of a page, leaving precious little room for your response! The lines are pretty small too, maybe college ruled at best.

I wish they’d go all out and make some oversized journals, preferably with nice, roomy lines – and lay-flat binding, too, while we’re dreaming! Until then, this one will do.

Killjoy, who me?

(This review is also available on Amazon, Library Thing, and Goodreads. Please click through and vote it helpful if you’re so inclined!)