Booking Through Thursday: Storage

How do you store your books? On bookcases? In piles? In piles on bookcases? Are they sorted? Do you know where everything is? What’s the most creative storage you’ve seen or used for your books?

Ugh. All of the above.

So, I have three shelves for my books–two small ones and one pretty big one. They all used to be either crammed onto the little shelves or stacked on my floor, but I desperately needed to clear up that clutter, so I bought and I assembled my big shelf.

I initially tried to organize them by genre and author, but that got abandoned fast–I have too many books to do that in a way that makes sense, so I let the shelf descend into chaos. The only exception is that series are grouped together because duh. But for the most part, I do know where everything is. I could tell you which of the three shelves a book is on, and then tell you which specific shelf and the general area and what other books are nearby.

Now, I have enough books that after the big shelf got filled, the little shelves needed double stacked. And now that my boyfriend has moved in with me–and he’s also a bookworm–I have even more books, and both of us so far have refused to relinquish our double copies. Don’t get me wrong, our relationship is great, but when it came to decided whether or not to pare down the collection and keep only one copy of everything, he said, “Better not. Just in case.” Trust me, this has more to do with 1) being possessive over our books and 2) not wanting to potentially have a custody battle over them than it does any relationship troubles or doubts, although I do think I’ll let go of my copy of Lord of the Rings since I only have the first one and he has the whole series. And for some arbitrary reason, I’m trying to keep his books sort of separate from mine. We’ve had to start double-stacking the big shelf now, so his books are stacked separately from mine. As I get rid of books I don’t like (I’m looking at you, you piece of shit 50 Shades of Grey), I’ll shuffle things around and hopefully eliminate the need for the double stack, and I imagine that’ll also lead to giving up trying to keep the books separate for the sake or organization and space.

Or we’ll make it to be like 90 with separate stacks of books on our shelves and children who don’t understand what damn difference it makes.

Last weekend was packed full of stuff, but kind of mundane stuff. I got my hair cut. I went shopping and to lunch with my mom and somehow spent the entire day away from home, entirely not intending to. Paul and I made it out for a walk in the park for the first time this summer, thanks to rotation and rain, which is kind of ridiculous. The walk was cut short when he got a random nosebleed. It happens sometimes, although summer is rare.

This weekend started mundane with laundry and grocery shopping, plus a quick trip to Kohl’s which produced new clothes for Paul and new shoes for both of us, but got packed pretty quick.

Brandon and I went to see J.D. McPherson, who’s damn amazing. I remember when Brandon first told me about him–he happened to catch him performing on Conan, just because he happened not to change the channel for the musical guest like he normally does. And he said, “You have to listen to this guy,” and I did. And I really liked it. He’s got an old rock sound, something like what Elvis and Buddy Holly were doing but with a little more grit. Brandon and I have been fans since, and last summer or so, we found out we’d missed a Pittsburgh show. Then in the spring, while Brandon was still in boot camp, they announced another Pittsburgh date. I could only communicate with Brandon through letters and I did not have the time to check and see if he’d be available the night of the concert, so I took a chance and bought two tickets after Paul agreed to go with me in case Brandon couldn’t. I figured if Brandon’s girlfriend ended up wanting to go, I’d just pick up a third ticket later, since the show was general admission. Turns out Kelly doesn’t love McPherson like Brandon and I love him.

And it worked out that Brandon could go–a Saturday night and not an Army drill weekend, so we met at Mr. Smalls and danced all night. I’d gush, but I already did over at AXS. But I will say this–I never expected that show to be as intense as it was, and McPherson’s absolutely worth checking out. It was one of those shows where now that it’s over, listening to the recorded versions of his songs is kind of underwhelming.

Because I was off at a show, I got out of a trip to Paul’s parents’ house, yet we got in around the same time. His birthday is today, so it was a bit of a birthday visit for presents, dinner, and cake. As usual, we got invited the morning of, plus we got an invite to some random get-together at his grandparents’ house the next day. But, as usual, we already had plans with my family to make our annual trip to the zoo. My mom suggested an altered plan that would allow us to do both, but frankly, I didn’t want to drive the 45-60 minutes into the city, then drive an hour to their place, then drive an hour back home. Nope. Besides, if they want us to come to these things, they’re gonna have to learn to invite us more than a day in advance when I have a family and we both have friends, too. If we constantly rearrange our schedules to accommodate them, they’re gonna expect it.

Besides, the zoo was way more fun. The past few years, I’ve tried to vow not to take many pictures because I have years of zoo pictures and don’t really need more, but every year, the animals start doing cool things. I mean, the otters were lying in the water side by side and the polar bear was playing and swimming. How can I not capture that?!

I’m hoping for a calmer week but an equally busy weekend. If the weather keeps holding out, I’d like to try to get back up to the mountains and maybe make a pit stop over at my parents’ to do laundry for free.

Plus the Fayette County Fair kicks off Thursday night. God help us all.

Friday Five: Expected Student Learning Results

  1. In what way were you a concerned citizen this past week? You know, I don’t know that I’d call myself an activist because I’m not particularly active, but I have been concerned about the circumstances surrounding the death of Sandra Bland–as well as all deaths of people in police custody recently. I’m also concerned about what led a man to shoot up a movie theater, and I’m concerned about the people in his life who saw him becoming increasingly agitated and violent and either did nothing or were powerless. I’m concerned about a system in which he was able to get weapons, despite a violent history. And I’m concerned that every time we ignore shitty, radical people spouting off their shitty, radical beliefs that we’re silently letting them get away with it.
  2. In what way were you a clear communicator this past week? I like to think I always am. That said, I don’t do much communicating throughout the week–my job is pretty much solitary at a computer. But I’m a pretty clear communicator with Paul. That’s a good thing to have in a relationship.
  3. In what way were you an insightful learner this past week? I took an assessment test as part of a job opportunity, and it involved Microsoft Office, which I’m vaguely but not intimately familiar with. I did some Googling and playing around and even had my mom show me some things she knows in Excel, but the assessment ended up being more complicated than I expected (and than they led me to believe). But I was able to relatively quickly and easily figure out how to do what I needed to do. Wish I could say the same for the woman who came in at the same time and left after a few minutes.
  4. In what way were you an effective advocate this past week? I don’t know! I can’t think of anything. Except maybe when a cousin of my dad’s commented on a Facebook post about Caitlyn Jenner calling her “shim” and saying she didn’t deserve any award, to which I politely replied and said that was a very rude thing to say about another person and that attitude proves that it does indeed take courage to come out as transgender, even now.
  5. In what way were you a responsible risk-taker this past week? It was kind of a risk to tell my dad’s cousin she was rude, but hey. I feel like there’s also an element of risk in job-hunting. And submitting writing for publication.

Booking Through Thursday: Harper Lee

So … will you be reading Go Set a Watchman: A Novel? Why? Why not? What do you think of this whole deal? Harper Lee, after all, is famous for insisting she wouldn’t publish another book, and now this … and the controversy about Atticus? Discuss!

Okay, Bookworm Confessions: I’ve never read To Kill a Mockingbird. I know it’s one of those classics that tons of people read in school, but I was almost always taught from generic anthologies and literature text books, not so much novels, and it wasn’t the kind of book that came up in the college lit classes I took. And despite having been an avid reader my whole life, some things fall through the cracks. That doesn’t mean I don’t want to read it, though, or that I don’t plan to–I did pick up a copy on a trip to Half Price Books, so I’ll get to it eventually. Mandatory overtime and job hunting have been cutting into my reading time, though, and I’m really hoping to squeeze some in tonight. Definitely tomorrow.

That said, after I do get around to it, I probably will get around to reading Go Set a Watchman because I don’t like the idea of ignoring sequels, unless I hate the first book. So far, that’s only happened with the Thomas Covenant series.

Now, since I have yet to read either, I do think this puts me in an interesting position discussion-wise because I’m not really invested either way at this point. So here’s the thing. I think the fact that Harper Lee insisted she wouldn’t publish another book and then did is sketchy. If she didn’t want to, fine. It’s her writing and her call, and if she only wanted one book out of that, okay. As a writer, I don’t understand it at all–except for maybe being afraid of never living up to that standard again–but okay. But I’ve heard rumblings about her having been pressured into publishing it, and if that’s true, it’s really shitty, especially now that the character of Atticus is being questioned. Maybe that was a factor in her not wanting to publish another book. Obviously, I have no idea.

Now, as for Atticus–again, remember I have read neither To Kill a Mockingbird nor Go Set a Watchman, but I do understand the criticism and disappointment, and I’d love to revisit this topic when I do read one or both books. Based on what very little I know, it’s possible that Atticus has just changed, and not for the better. It’s possible that maybe Go Set a Watchman just shows a different side to him, and it just happens to be a very surprising and disheartening side.

Characters can be complex, and when their complexities are handled by a very capable writer, great things can happen (although that doesn’t sound like that’s the case here). But much like real people, sometimes, they’re not who we think they are, or they have some godawful qualities we’re surprised to see and that seem uncharacteristic. Sometimes, they turn into people we don’t like. Sometimes, they always were that person and we just didn’t see it, either through choosing to ignore it or being deceived and manipulated or because of limited contact.

Or maybe Harper Lee just didn’t want to publish another book and gave the world a shitty, racist Atticus out of spite.

Paul’s been wanting to see Inside Out since he first heard about it. Aside from Jurassic World, it was the movie he talked the most about being excited to see. And Terra wanted to see it, too. And his sister Emily. So we figured we’d plan a group trip to go see it.

And then Terra saw it without us while she was on vacation in Disney, reuniting with Scott. And I was bummed not to get to see it for her, but I absolutely cannot and will not fault her or be upset with her for choosing to go to a movie with her husband, who she only gets to see every few months. Frankly, she can do whatever the fuck she wants with him. But she told me it was a gem and that I’d probably cry, which at this point is fair with me and Pixar movies–at least as an adult, I haven’t made it out of one without crying yet. The first time, I cried on I believe four separate occasions during Up. And then I saw Brave with Brandon and Kelly, and he saw me crying when the lights came up and yelled, “Are you crying?!” I was doomed.

But first things first–I have to finally get my picture taken for my license, and by some miracle, I was out of the DMV is about 15 minutes, thanks to getting there pretty much when they opened. And by some other miracle, my timing was perfect. The Whiskey Rebellion Festival’s parade was set for 10:30 that morning, and I live at the start of the parade route. They actually use my street and the Methodist church’s parking lot to line up, so as I returned with my fresh new license in which I look like Brandon, I found that my street was closed. I assumed it was closed from both ends, but I went around to check. I was right. I couldn’t get into my parking lot. Had an official been down at that end, I’m sure they would’ve let me in if I asked, but instead, I just parked at the high school, across the street.

Which ended up working out excellently because it meant we could actually leave. I’d suggested we leave early to get Emily in case their mom was feeling particularly chatty, but with the parade set from 10:30 to 11:30 and prior experience hitting parade traffic in Washington at least three times before, we decided to leave a good hour earlier than planned to avoid all the hassle, plus we took an alternate route out because of course, our usual one is also on the parade route. Living within walking distance of Main Street is occasionally a hassle.

Paul had wanted to take Emily to Nguyen’s, our one-time favorite Vietnamese place. And I say “one-time” only because we live an hour away now, so we never go anymore. Now, Paul’s other siblings aren’t the most adventurous eaters–there’s no way we could’ve gone with Josh or Jonathan, so I thought the alone time with Emily would be a good opportunity to take her. She’s very much up for anything. I feel like we could surprise her with just about any restaurant, and she’d be not only willing to try it but excited at the prospect. She’s now a fan of sushi and takes after her big brother with an appreciation for jasmine tea and ginger.

The movie was good–in typical Pixar fashion, it was cute, funny, and clever. As was its short, Lava, which might be the cutest Pixar short I’ve ever seen and wins for fastest Pixar tearjerker. But Up is still my favorite, as is its short, Partly Cloudy. And yes, I cried in Partly Cloudy, too. It’s embarrassing how quickly and easily I cry in movies.

We had a little bit of time to kill before we took Emily to her new job at McDonald’s, so we looked around the mall and I got myself some new shirts and jeans that I mostly don’t need, but hey, treat yoself.

After we took her to work, we stopped by my parents’ place and picked some blossoming raspberries and tossed a bedspread in their laundry because it’s free.

Then it was off to Connellsville for St. Rita’s street fair, so we got to hang out a bit with Leah–when she wasn’t actually working the fair–and Sarah and her family. We grabbed dinner there, because how can you not at an Italian church festival? Plus we had ice cream and their famous fried dough, which Paul waited forever for in line. He lucked out when they asked if anyone only wanted two pieces and he took them, since apparently, everyone else orders like eight.

And then it was home.

Friday Five: Looking for Alasa

Oh, hey, I’m actually reading that book right now! I’m near the end. Maybe by some miracle, I’ll finish it this weekend.

As always, from Friday 5.

  1. Alaska’s motto is “North to the future.” Where’s somewhere north you’ll be traveling some time in the future? I have no plans set to travel north, although I would like to. I want to go pretty much everywhere. It’ll happen one day.
  2. Alaska is the westernmost of the United States. What’s the farthest west you’ve been in your country? St. Louis, when I went to Brandon’s boot-camp graduation. Bonus answer: the farthest west I’ve been out of my country is our trip to Playa del Carmen.
  3. Alaska’s state flower is the forget-me-not. What’s something you really need to remember to take care of before the weekend’s up? I already paid one of my almost-due credit-card bills, so that’s not an issue anymore. I really should sign and mail my new lease, though.
  4. Alaska has cities named Chicken, Beaver, Pelican, Eagle, Badger, and Bear Creek. What place names near where you live are named after animals? We have a Beaver, too! And a Turtle Creek, Squirrel Hill, and Bear Run. Out near where Terra’s family camps, they have Beartown Rocks, which Paul loves.
  5. What’s something interesting you know about Alaska? I know here’s a lot of TV shows about people living off the land or mining gold. And this isn’t necessarily about Alaska as a place, but they have a lot of moose up there, and I know moose can actually be pretty dangerous because they’re super territorial. On some of those aforementioned shows about people living off the land, some people have expressed a greater fear of moose than they have of bears.

Sometimes, Paul gives me a bit of a hard time for being so set in my routines, and I can understand why–I have a very regimented approach to my evenings that helps me to juggle both leisure activities and responsibilities/important things like writing for AXS and Examiner or job hunting. When I was still with Inyourspeakers, they were fit in, too, and prioritized, of course. And it works perfect for me. It’s not so perfect for Paul, who thinks it’s a little too structured but can handle it.

Honestly, I don’t know that I could do things differently if I tried. I’ve been approaching everything with a method I’ve been using since high school–I allow myself time for one fun thing, like dicking around online or reading or Netflix, and then I do one important thing, like an article or a job application. It’s always been a way to balance fun and work. I even have a certain order in which I do what. And I can see why for someone who’s never truly seen it in action, it can be not just weird but a pain in the ass. Fortunately, Paul only gets a little cranky about it on occasion. He made a comment last week about something not fitting into my schedule, and it was one of those things where even though it had a little sting to it, it had way more truth.

But I did break out of the routine last week–twice. First, we went out to dinner. I’d asked him if he could make dinner all week while I was working mandatory overtime, since he’d be getting home before me in that case. The plan was to make baked potatoes, but my farmer’s market potatoes I was so looking forward to trying went bad surprisingly fast and all needed tossed out. So he wanted to go out instead, so we did.

That same night, we skipped the farmer’s market in favor of the opening night of Washington’s Whiskey Rebellion Festival. Apparently, the Whiskey Rebellion has been named among the top five historical events no one’s ever heard of, and it’s pretty self-explanatory–the government decided to tax whiskey, so the good people of Washington rebelled. For three years. Until George Washington sent 13,000 troops into town. And Washington celebrates this every year now, starting a few years before I moved in. I’ve spent a little more time in town for the festival each year, although I’m bummed I missed out on the food and vendors this year.

But part of opening night is a free concert downtown by the Washington Symphony, who I’ve been meaning to check out but keep forgetting exist. A free concert within walking distance is a good reminder, so off we went. And it was a great show. Given the event, they played plenty of patriot music, including “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” but they also threw in a gorgeous Beatles medley and closed with one of my favorites, the “1812 Overture.” Complete with gunfire from re-enactors. The whole thing was really cool, I loved it, and I look forward to checking out the rest of the symphony’s season.

And because the weather this summer has been abysmal, we walked back in the rain.

Friday Five: Hard Time

  1. What’s the story of someone you know who has spent time in prison? My mom’s cousin Shelly was one of those relatives that I heard a lot about growing up but never actually met, mostly because she was in prison. She got on drugs at a young age, and the extended family suspects she was introduced to it by her parents, who were addicts who died young. So she relied on her grandmother, my mom’s Aunt Cis. Shelly got out of prison around the time I graduated from high school–the first time I ever met her was at my graduation party, and my mom was a bit apprehensive because she was afraid Shelly would try to steal gifts or cards to get the money from them. Not too long before that, I’d seen a picture of a young Shelly while we were hunting through pictures for scrapbooks for the party, and she was really pretty. Years and hard drugs later, she looked much older than my mom, despite actually being younger. And that was the only time I saw her in person, although I heard plenty of stories over the years–she and Aunt Cis frequently asked for money, and it was clear to everyone but Aunt Cis that Shelly was back on drugs. To this day, it’s unclear if Aunt Cis was sort of in denial and enabling her or if she legitimately didn’t think Shelly was on drugs again. My Uncle Richard somehow ended up being the one to give in and give them money or buy them necessities, but he would always tell stories at basically any family function about how often they called or what sort of shenanigans Shelly got into, and he always swore he was done giving money or even answering the phone, but he always kept doing it. There were times when Shelly did briefly end up back in jail, and you knew it by how suddenly, everything was quiet and no one was calling for money. Finally, after years of this–my high-school graduation was eight years ago–Shelly died a few months ago. Apparently, she was actually of drugs at the time and did not die of an overdose, but rather severe heart damage. The suspicion is that heart trouble ran in her family and was made worse by the drug use, especially because her autopsy revealed the most damaged heart the medical team had ever seen,
  2. What is the most official trouble you’ve ever been in? Two speeding tickets, although I have done things that could’ve gotten me in worse official trouble.
  3. What’s the last program you binge-watched? I don’t binge watch! I don’t like it. It makes me feel lazy. I did do it a little with Weeds in college, but the most recent one was when Paul and I started watching Blood+ on Netflix and still had a ways to go when they said it was going to be removed from instant. So we started watching two episodes at a time, and then its last weekend on Netflix, we split the remaining episodes in half and finished it between either Friday night and Saturday or Saturday and Sunday.
  4. What would be good prison nicknames for a few people you know? Paul was given the nickname “Shorty” by Wild Bill of Band of Brothers fame when we met him at a WWII reenactment in Gettysburg. Brandon still calls him that–and of course, the joke is that Paul is 6’5″–and I expect it would transfer well over to prison.
  5. Of the usual prison jobs (library, electrical shop, laundry, cafeteria, gardener, clerical, etc.), which would you ask to be assigned to? Feel free to be creative! Something close to what I enjoy to do–library would be nice, maybe a little gardening. But my true focus would be to write my prison memoirs in the hopes of them one day turning into a hit Netflix original series.

As always, from Friday 5.

Booking Through Thursday: Beautiful

What’s the most beautiful thing you’ve ever read?

I honestly don’t know! I know it was poetry, just because the form–especially with the classic poets–is just so beautiful to me. I especially like attention to rhythm and meter, as well as well-done ornate, flowery language. I loved a lot of the poetry I read in my Brit Lit class in college, and it tended to be the poetry I found the most moving. But unfortunately, I couldn’t single out a specific poem or writer! I love too many things. I don’t do favorites or all-time bests.

Sunday brought a baby shower for a cousin.

Most women will tell you they hate showers. In fact, I recently read and shared an article all about why bridal showers are terrible and we should stop having them, but I have to admit that baby showers are kind of an exception. A bridal shower comes with the understanding that you’ll be buying a gift for that and then buying another gift for the actual wedding. A baby shower does not. Babies are also kind of a bigger deal. And babies are expensive, so showering the new mom (and dad) with gifts to help out is really a great idea. Throw in Meloni’s and a cousin who’s not crazy about typical baby-shower games and bam, you’ve got a shower that’s pretty nice and straightforward.

We only played one game, and it was a word search in honor of Grandma Pawski, who the baby is also being named after. Other than that, it was all food, hanging out, and opening cute presents. And they did the thing where they set a timer while presents were being opened and when it goes off, whoever’s gift is being opened wins a prize. It’s a nice way to do away with games no one even likes yet still keep things interesting and give your guests a chance to walk away with something, too.

I also walked away with leftover cupcakes and some of Aunt Gina’s homemade cookies.