Posted in Lists, Writing

No Joke

I’m posting this tonight rather than tomorrow morning because I don’t want anyone to think anything in here is a joke. I also don’t want anyone to avoid reading my post because they’re worried it might be a joke. I also don’t want to post it and then become suspicious of all the comments because I’m concerned they might be jokes.

If you think I’m being way too paranoid about April Fool’s Day, that’s because you didn’t grow up in my family. We celebrated every holiday. We dressed up on Halloween, watched fireworks on the 4th of July, pinched people who weren’t wearing green on St. Patrick’s Day, and lied, joked, and pranked on April 1st. I walk backwards looking over my shoulder on April Fool’s Day and treat every story, message, and plea for help with suspicion. It’s the way I was raised.

[Click here to read about the time my cats pranked me on April 1st.]

I don’t devote much time to April Fools anymore– call it maturity, call it wisdom, call it laziness– but last year when April 1st fell on Easter, and I was visiting my parents for the weekend, I put googly eyes on everything in my mom’s kitchen. That was fun.

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But I digress…

The reason I’m writing is to share three pieces of news with you which are not jokes. I promise.

Screen Shot 2017-06-19 at 1.54.06 AMFirst, earlier this year, my story “Phoenix” was selected as a runner-up in the WOW! Women on Writing Fall 2018 Flash Fiction Contest, and Sue Bradford Edwards was kind enough to interview me about my writing process for WOW’s blog, The Muffin. You can read my answers to her questions and see a cool picture of a cicada here.

Also, I’m excited to announce that my story “The Girl in the Attic,” which was originally published in Growing Pains by Sinister Saints Press, will be reprinted next month in Allegory. So, if you haven’t had the chance to read this creepy tale, soon you’ll be able to enjoy it for free.

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Finally, I’m happy to share that my good friend Susan Rooke, author of The Space Between and its sequel, The Realm Below, nominated me for the Versatile Blogger Award. The VBA is a way for bloggers to acknowledge fellow writers and recognize them for their content. I’m honored to be chosen by Susan, because her blog is awesome. It’s equal parts writing, humor, and delicious food and drinks. Her stories about her family and her life in the country always make me smile, and her recipe for sweet batter bread is now one of my favorite things to bring to potlucks. It’s always a big hit. So, thank you, Susan!

The rules of the Versatile Blogger Award are…

1. Thank the person who nominated you and include a link to their blog. (Done)
2. Tell your nominator and readers 7 things about you. (See below)
3. Choose up to 15 bloggers whom you admire for their content (writing and/or images) and creativity. Nominate them in turn. (Comin’ up next)
4. Inform your nominees. (Will do)

Since some of my favorite bloggers have already been nominated, I’ll just add four: Ashley B. Davis, The Bohemian Freethinker, Annie Neugebauer, and Love, Teach.

Ashley Davis is my writing buddy, critique partner, and a very persuasive recommender of good books. She’s also a mom of twins and a blogger. We’ve only met once in person (what? how is that possible?) but we meet almost every Sunday morning online to write and talk about writing and talk about books and drink coffee together through the interwebs. Ashley’s blog is awesome because she thinks deeply about things. Whether she’s writing about a book she loves or an event she went to or about the writing process itself, her post is going to be honest and genuine and deep. She really puts herself on the page, and I love that about her. Go listen to her read her poem “Time Consuming” and try not to get chills.

Penny R. Pierce, author of The Bohemian Freethinker, is a good friend I’ve never met. We found each other through our blogs and bonded over our love of pets and teaching and poetry. Penny is a musician and a teacher and a thinker, and she has such a big heart. Our virtual friendship has moved beyond the screen into snail mail. We send each other postcards and letters every few months. Anyone who still communicates by snail mail is alright in my book. Go read her post “When Time Stands Still” to understand her unique outlook on the world.

I owe so much to Annie Neugebauer. I met Annie at a Poetry Society of Texas Summer Conference when I was first starting out as a blogger, and I learned so much about creating an online presence from her great example. Annie’s blog is professional, organized, and informative, while also being beautiful and whimsical and inviting. Annie writes for other sites as well, such as LitReactor and Writer Unboxed, but the hauntingly poignant posts at her home page are still the ones I like best. Check out her latest post and be sure to congratulate her on being a Bram Stoker Award Nominee!

Ah, Love, Teach. I love Love, Teach. She gives me teacher tingles (which is a phrase that makes my students giggle and blush out of embarrassment for me). She makes me laugh and cry and drop my jaw in awe that she can read my mind so specifically. And I am SOOOOOOOOOO excited about her recent announcement that she is writing a book! (Note: If you are a teacher, Love, Teach’s book is what I’m giving you for your birthday in 2020. There. Shopping done.) I can’t possibly pick a favorite post from her blog, but here’s one about teacher memes that cracks me up.

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Ok, I’m almost done with this post. When I started writing, my dog was awake, and I was rambling about April Fool’s Day and how I didn’t want to post this tomorrow. But if I don’t finish soon, it will BE tomorrow. So here, in no particular order and without thinking too hard, are 7 things you might not know about me.

  1. I have hazel eyes.
  2. I make yummy cookies.
  3. I love the song “Roam” by the B-52s, but I don’t know any of the words. That doesn’t stop me from singing it.
  4. I can recite “The Cremation of Sam McGee” by Robert Service from memory.
  5. I have watched this video of a mama raccoon trying to teach her baby raccoon to climb a tree 14 times this weekend. Make that 15.
  6. I am childfree by choice. I don’t want to be a mom.
  7. I love it, love it, love it when my dog wags his tail in his sleep.

Ok, that’s it. Good night, and good luck tomorrow.

Posted in Life, Lists, Teaching

How to Escape for Spring Break Without Leaving Home

Last year during spring break, I took my dog and ran away from home. (We came back.) This year, I decided not to go anywhere during my week off, but I still craved that feeling of escape. I wondered, Is it possible to have a low-key, stay-at-home spring break AND get away at the same time? The answer is yes. Here’s how to do it.

1. Indulge in Good Food

You don’t have to go on vacation to eat like you’re on vacation. Give in to your sweet tooth or make that favorite recipe you don’t have time to prepare when you’re working. Splurge on your taste buds.

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On the first morning of spring break, I made this giant pile of pancakes, and we ate every last morsel of them.

2. Try a New Restaurant

Splurging on your taste buds doesn’t have to include cooking and clean-up. Find a few dining spot to check out. In Austin, there’s never a shortage of good places to eat.

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I visited Hillside Farmacy for the first time this week. Their fried egg sandwich has fried green tomatoes on it. Need I say more?

3. Sleep Somewhere New

You don’t have to check in to a hotel to check out of the daily grind. Make a pallet on the couch and have a movie night. Build a blanket fort. Camp out in the backyard.

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This is what I call an open-airbnb.

4. Be a Tourist in Your Own City

Take a walk through a neighborhood you’ve never been in, or finally take the time to do that thing that everyone does when they come to your town, or visit a museum. (Note: Museums are free in Austin on Thursdays.)

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I went to the Blanton for the “Words/Matter Latin American Art and Language” exhibit. I recommend it.

5. Buy a Souvenir

There’s a difference between regular shopping and souvenir shopping. You can go buy a new pair of jeans at Old Navy over spring break, and that’s fine, but it probably won’t feel like an escape. A souvenir is a strange or specific object that you wouldn’t have purchased if you hadn’t been in that place at that time. So get into get-away mode and search for a trinket to commemorate your staycation.

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To each her own, of course, but I bought an evil eye talisman from Tesoros Trading Company on South Congress.

6. Send Postcards

You don’t have to travel to write a note to a loved one about your experience. Buy some postcards of your city or some random cards or pick up freebies where you can, and send notes far and wide. Describe your pancakes, your blanket fort, your trip to the vegan ice cream shop. People will love to hear from you regardless of where you are when you write to them.

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This weekend, I sent ten eclectic postcards to friends and family members, but I forgot to take a photo of them before I dropped them in the mail, so here’s a picture of the cards that currently hang above my desk instead.

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At this point, you may be thinking, These are great ideas (thanks) but I’m broke and lacking transportation and don’t have a backyard or postage stamps. Fair point. These next four tips for escape are for you.

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7. Escape into a Book

If you don’t have the means to travel or the courage for daring feats or the stomach for adventurous eating, read about someone who does. Pick up a novel set in a foreign land or a book of essays by someone who’s been around the world or any good book with a good story. Immerse yourself in it. Read for hours, and ignore the laundry.

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This week, I read The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton. It’s like a mix between the movie Clue and the movie Happy Death Day except the narrator wakes up every day in a different character’s body. It was a wild ride for sure, definitely “escape” material.

8. Call a Faraway Friend

If you’re like me, you don’t pick up the phone often enough. I mean, yes, you pick up your mobile computer and your map and your texting device and your camera all the time, but the actual phone part of that thing? You probably don’t spend a lot of time with it. Spring break is a great time to reconnect with an old friend. Call someone you haven’t talked to in a while, who lives in a different city. Then close your eyes and let their voice shrink the miles between you.

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I called an old friend this week. Well, not that old. She’s the same age I am. I won’t reveal her name here and embarrass her, but we’ve known each other since we were in the first grade, and it was really good talking to her.

9. Keep Work Out of Sight and Out of Mind

I brought home a lot of grading over spring break. I know, I know, boo me all you want. Sometimes it’s inevitable. But even though I brought those essays home, I didn’t leave them laying around, staring at me and judging me all week. I took my time off first and saved the work for the last couple of days, making sure that I was managing the grading, and not the other way around. Do your best to compartmentalize work and play. Don’t check work emails at the museum and discuss work talk over your stack of pancakes. Enjoy yourself without guilt.

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You can’t tempt me, essays! No! No! Stay back!

10. Say No

When you don’t go anywhere for spring break, that makes some people think you are free the whole week. You are, but that’s the point. You’re free, free on your own terms. Don’t feel like you have to say yes to every favor or invitation. There’s only so much fun you can fit into a week. Unfortunately, you may have to pick and choose where to spend your time and with whom. Escape sometimes means escaping from stress or exhaustion or obligation. Protect your time. Keep it free by saying no to some things.

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To all the friends I hung out with this week, THANK YOU! I had a fabulous time! To all the friends I didn’t get to hang out with, I’M SORRY! Summer is coming! (Note: I didn’t take a single photo with any of my friends this week, so here’s a picture of my dog. Today is his birthday. My parents sent him a card.)

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This spring break, I never traveled more than twenty miles from home. But I made pancakes and visited a museum and bought strange objects and slept in a hammock and read books and mailed postcards and hung out with good friends and said no to things so I could stay in my pajamas and write all day, and that gave me the escape I needed. If I have to go back to work tomorrow (and both Austin ISD and my hubby tell me that I do), at least I’m going back rested and rejuvenated. Except for my right wrist, which still hurts from grading all those essays…

Posted in Lists, Random, Reading

Because I’m Feeling Listful

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Every year at this time, I get a little listful. Not listless. Not wistful. LISTFUL. It means that I am full of lists. Overflowing with lists. Lists are bursting forth in every medium—paper, emails, sticky-notes, brain, phone, and now, inevitably, on my blog. I cannot contain them. I list the things I did last year and the things I didn’t. I list the books I read last year and the ones I didn’t. I make to-do lists and to-NOT-do lists (just as important). I make lists of resolutions and then revise them. I make lists of things to buy and then take pictures of them. I list what I need from the grocery store, who to thank for Christmas gifts, and how many pairs of socks I own with animals on them. (Just because.)

With all these lists pouring out of me, it’s only natural that I want to share some of them with you. Here goes…

2018list

2019list

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bestbookslist

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oregontraillist

sockslist

Got any lists you’d like to share?