On Using Up My Stuff

It’s been nearly two years since I began my decluttering journey after reading the master manifesto The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. Journey is definitely the correct word here. After my initial decluttering, I continued to work on the minimalist mindset, and, as author Marie Kondo said would happen, realized places and spaces where I’d made mistakes, some by decluttering too little, some by decluttering too much.

It is the places where I did too little that I have begun tackling recently. For example, when I was first decluttering, I kept all of my candles. In general, they just seemed useful. Some of them had specific memories attached to them. But they were tucked away in a cabinet in the kitchen. Though I lit them all up once for fun, when the power went out, it hardly seemed worth the storage space to keep them for just those occasions. Since we were short on daylight anyway, I decided to put some Danish hygge into practice and burn them all to the ground.


A gaggle of candles.

As the wax has slowly melted away the past couple of weeks, I have felt particularly accomplished. The table looks pretty. The house smells great. And I’m getting value out of something that was otherwise just gathering dust. My fear is that I may have inadvertently created a new habit. Candlelight is definitely not unpleasant. I have decided that it will be okay, after using up most of these candles, to keep one or two handy in case of a power outage or for the extra coziness it can provide in winter. A few more that were actually on display, being used as decorations, will stay that way.

A peace candle, dating all the way back to my college years. Even though I did not go to college in the ’60s.

We found this candle upon moving into our first apartment in 2005, a gift from management.

A French gel candle, sent to me by a friend. When I received this candle maybe twenty years ago, it was blue. Or purple. Green, maybe? I don’t remember, but it was definitely a better color than the puke brown it turned into sitting in my cabinet.

Another French candle. I will keep this one.

A funky canned candle from the Daiso store. Never opened.

Until now!

A pretty purple candle.

An autumn candle.

A candle that my husband and I agreed smelled good.

A summery candle that lives in my home office, even on the darkest winter days.

Speaking of inadvertently creating new habits… Next up, I want to rid myself of the rest of  my excess household cleaners. I still have toilet bowl cleaners and Pledge leftover from multipacks that I bought at Costco before we moved into the house. 11 years ago. Hello spring cleaning!

A little bit of hygge.

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My Sensitivities

Orthorexia (noun): An obsession with eating foods that one considers healthy.

A few days ago, my daughter had a playdate with a new friend whose family I had never met. Within five minutes of our arrival at their house, the conversation had turned – through no fault of my own – to this family’s efforts to eat healthier. These people had no idea that the idea of eating healthier is one that I consider myself unhealthily obsessed with. And in a way, that made me feel a little saner. It’s not my fault. It’s a national conversation.

It’s a conversation that needs to be had. But in this conversation where everybody has an opinion on what’s right and what’s wrong and nobody is either, poor little obsessive-compulsives like me get caught up in the winds.

My obsession with healthy food does not stem from a particular fear of obesity or disease, but bends towards a generic cure for what ails me. What ails me? Migraines. Stomachaches. Things that can be correlated to food. I have been on elimination diet after elimination diet to no avail. I can’t tell if I’m just doing it wrong or there isn’t any relation between what I’m eating and the way I feel. Having brought this issue up with my physician previously, I decided to bring it up again and to insist on a referral to the allergy specialist.

The allergy specialist decided to do a food panel scratch test – 72 foods in all. My fear in requesting a referral and talking up these complaints to someone in the medical field is that the test results will come back negative, and I’ll just seem like another crazy white lady on a quest for the cure for wellness.

Preparing the test: 72 pristine droplets of potential food allergens. (This looks like the set up to a really great mobile game.)

It was quite a shock to my system then, when this happened:

Scratch testing in action

Instead of turning up no results, I turned up ALL of the results. I reacted to nearly every food they tested me for, including the negative control. So then it was a matter of deciding what was a real reaction and what was “normal.”

The two foods that gave the greatest reactions were eggs and barley. With the allergy specialist, we focused on eggs, which are much more prominent in my (or anyone’s) diet than barley. Here’s the thing about eggs: If I had not been tested, I could have lived to be a thousand before I suspected or eliminated eggs from my diet. I can’t think of any elimination diet that does not allow eggs. And I was very skeptical that this could actually be a thing. Part of the reason I wouldn’t have thought of eggs is that I’m not particularly fond of eggs. I’ll use them in baking and cooking when necessary, but I’m not big on breakfast. Except for the occasional breakfast sandwich, eggs just don’t seem to be a big part of my life.

The specialist told me to go without eggs for a week, then reintroduce and see if I could provoke a reaction. My first thought was, “this will be the easiest elimination diet ever!” He said if I had a reaction to do it again, and again, to make sure it’s not a coincidence. So after a week, I ate some homemade egg noodles. And I got a two-day migraine. For some reason, I was not expecting that. But no, it couldn’t have been the noodles. There isn’t much egg in egg noodles. It must’ve been MSG or something else. So I waited two more weeks. Weeks that were free of migraines, by the way. Then I used egg as a binder in a crumb coating and made brownies with my daughter. And I got a another migraine.

Suddenly, it all started to make sense. Eggs are not something I see as a big part of my diet, but they are present in a lot of things that I eat. If other potential offenders weren’t provoking a consistent reaction, maybe that’s because I was accusing innocent foods.

There was one other food that provoked a pretty big reaction. Bigger on the flare and the same on the wheal as the control. That was wheat. I told the doctor that I had toyed with gluten-free for a couple of weeks and felt some improvement in migraines, but that it absolutely destroyed my stomach. He told me that I should try going wheat-free, not gluten free. That would mean that I could still have grains that had gluten. But the barley caused the biggest reaction. Which I told him. And he just said, “well, that throws a wrench in it, doesn’t it?” Well, yeah. I don’t have a medical degree, but I would think wheat + barley = gluten. I’ve thought about asking for a celiac test, but I’m not sure I want to open that can of worms.

And so I continue the obsessions. I’m really good at eliminating things from my diet without necessarily eating healthy, and frequently I’m not as interested in eating healthy as I’d like to be. I mean, I probably do pretty well, but I could do better. The cultural conversation continually hammers home the point that if we don’t eat well, we’re going to die, so eating continues to be stressful and I continue to search for the diet that will make me feel the best.

I still don’t have the answers. The allergy tests could still be a fluke. But one thing is for sure: I am not eating eggs again until after I get another migraine.

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My Week in Review: January 8-14

It seems like so many things have gone wrong in my quest for absolute, unassailable perfection. After a long holiday and a weird start to the quarter (I don’t know why they had to start it on a Wednesday this time but it threw everything out of whack), my sleep/wake schedule is on the way to returning to normal. I think I’ll have it under control in a day or two, which two weeks into the new year probably isn’t terrible is pretty good if I do say so myself.

The new washer arrived on Tuesday and is about two inches taller than the dryer, and as you can imagine that doesn’t bother me at all. Nope. Nuh-uh. I’m totally fine with it. Work on the laundry room itself had to stop because I needed to do a lot of actual laundry, and then had a busy weekend. In the meantime, Shaun patched a hole in the ceiling that he may or may not have created himself. I’m trying to figure the order of operations for completing the painting but it’s making my brain hurt. Ceiling. Shuffle machines. Finish primer. Shuffle machines. Paint. Shuffle machines. Paint again. Shuffle machines. Door jambs and second coat on cabinet. Something like that.

Pretty new washer. It’s TOTALLY FINE that it’s taller than the dryer.

Friday was taken up with a meeting that may wind up being lucrative for me but will also mean more work, as well as a “short” trip to the grocery store to pick up a few things for dinner. I’ve read that despite all the conversation and focus on nutrition and eating, not that many people are cooking from scratch at home, and that’s no mystery. Food takes forever. It eats up (ha!) so much time between cooking and cleaning that it’s no wonder I spend all my free-time obsessing over it. All I really want it to eat really healthy food that’s really tasty and takes no time to prepare. Is that really so much to ask?

On Saturday, our friends came to visit so that we could see the musical, Elephant and Piggie: We Are in a Play” at a local production company. The girls loved it and it was very cute. Knowing the books as well as I do allowed me to see the clever ways they weaved some of the stories together to make the plays, but also left me feeling that familiar refrain, “the book was better.”

Meeting “Elephant” and “Piggie”

Sunday left me reflecting on food, thinking that the plan I had to eat an anti-inflammatory diet may have been too broad to be successful. I’ve started thinking of reducing or going gluten-free, at least temporarily, as a stepping stone on the whole foods journey. In general, I feel like I have been eating less and more mindfully, and that’s as good a place as any to start.

Today began with a trip to Trader Joe’s with Sonja. I took her there on a whim several months ago so I could get whatever health food it was I thought I couldn’t live without at that time, and she fell in love with it. They have kid-sized shopping carts and I let her pick out her own groceries (within reason), and by golly if that isn’t better than a trip to the amusement park. There are a few items there that I have come to really love, but for as far away as it is, with its limited and changing selection, I probably wouldn’t go as much if it wasn’t the only grocery store Sonja will go to willingly.

An Ode to Trader Joe’s in marker.

And now this day is over and I must somehow tear myself away from the agony of menu planning, and the gluttony of looking at laundry rooms on pinterest, to concentrate on the work I actually get paid to do, before turning my attentions to the laundry room this weekend.

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My More Appliance Woes

I promised in my resolutions to institute plots and plans and projects and update you on them. The current plot, to eat no added sugar and follow an anti-inflammatory diet, is not going well. But rather than admit defeat in all its glorious detail, I had a more interesting project that took up space in my brain that I wanted to expound upon.

Listen, I’m not sure if the appliances speak to each other in some kind of coded machine language, and then plan little machine revolutions, but sure as “a squared plus b squared equals c squared,” when one appliance breaks, others follow.

The first was my printer. It didn’t break completely, just the auto-duplexer. I pressed on, printing just the A sides and guiltily murdering trees, but since it has six separate ink cartridges that are getting harder to find, and since the printing usually is streaky and awful, I figured it was time to look into getting a new printer. I have one in mind and will buy it when the streaky, awful ink runs out.

Next it was the microwave. It was spinning and whirring but the food was coming out ice cold. The day before Christmas Eve we stood in a very long line at our local retailer, new microwave perched atop one of the small, I’m-only-getting-a-few-things-today carts, because that was the only cart left at the store. It was insanity, but the microwave was on sale and there was a coupon for $10 off if you spent so much money, which we did, so I guess I’m not complaining.

Then, on New Year’s Day, it was our washing machine. It actually started two days before. The machine flooded the laundry room. My husband accused me of overloading it. I took some clothes out and restarted everything went fine. The problem was solved. Or so we thought, until the next load of laundry on New Year’s Day when the same thing happened. We brought forth from our repressed memories recollections of this happening before. Shaun had cleaned the water sensor which fixed the problem, but he wasn’t able to clean it very well because it was small, hard to get to, and glued in place. He could clean it again, but this all would happen again in the near future and I, for one, am tired of mopping up the laundry room and then having nowhere to go with a bunch of wet, soggy laundry. So we decided to buy a new one. With our washing machine at just 10 years old, it’s a little ahead of schedule, but at least now we can get an HE machine. It took a day or two but I settled on one I liked at a reasonable price, then I started looking at my laundry room. I hate my laundry room. I complain every time I do laundry that I can’t open the dryer without re-positioning the door to the room. The room is also dark and ugly. The floor is tiled orange, and several years ago I got rid of some hideous wallpaper and painted the walls a complementary color, which helped, but it’s still poorly lit with dark cabinets.



I started thinking about all the other horrible, dark cabinets we’ve ripped out of this house and I decided it was time to do so again. I calculated that ripping out the cabinets, putting in some modern shelves and repainting would be an inexpensive way to make a big difference. And so the cabinets came down today and primer-ing began. Unfortunately the new washer is coming on Tuesday and I wish I’d thought of this earlier. But oh well. The wheels are in motion and I hope to come to you with something truly pinterest-y in a few weeks. I can do it, I know I can.

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My Best of 2017

I started this post last year by saying there was a feeling that culturally, it was kind of a shitty year. HAH! Move over 2016, you got nothing on 2017. Sigh. There were still many great cultural offerings in 2017. This post always focuses on the great things I found during the previous year, whether they were produced in 2017 or not. Items on the list include but are not limited to: books, television shows, movies and trends. As I began last year’s post similarly to this year’s, so shall I begin this year’s list with:

Better Call Saul Season 3

Holy crap. A few years ago I hailed Breaking Bad‘s “Ozymandias” episode as the best hour of television that ever was. Well, there’s a new contender for that title, and it’s Saul‘s “Chicanery.” What a masterful piece of work this was. It was what’s referred to in the industry as a “bottle episode,” taking place entirely in a courtroom. Breaking Bad’s greatest strength was always what creator Vince Gilligan called “mining our own history,” searching for details from the past and letting them pay off in future episodes. “Chicanery” is the episode that this entire series has been leading up to. From there, the main character’s dissent into darkness begins. We know it’s coming, and somehow we resist and we fight and we wish we could change. We shouldn’t be surprised by the decisions these characters make – we know how this story ends – and yet we are not only surprised but we are heartbroken.

Sneaky Pete Season 1

This is an Amazon series that was developed by Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad) and produced by Graham Yost (Justified). This was a fun series that showcased the terrific Giovanni Ribisi, who I’ve been watching since he was on My Two Dads. I thought they did such a nice job of wrapping up all of their story lines too, when at the very end we’re reminded of one we forgot, and that’s the cliffhanger for season 2.

The Edge of Seventeen

Ladybird is getting all the awards buzz, but another movie with a teenage girl protagonist also came out this year to great reviews, and that’s the one I saw. The Edge of Seventeen is probably the best movie I’ve seen in a decade. I’m not sure I even want to like Ladybird, because Seventeen was so perfect. When I was writing my NaNoWriMo novel about 4 years ago, my protagonist was a teenage girl, and I thought constantly about the drama I was creating. I thought it was too much. I wanted to convey a sense of extreme urgency, but I worried that it wouldn’t make sense to anyone but me. Along comes Seventeen, which perfectly portrayed the urgent atmosphere I was trying to convey in my novel. Goddammit. If only I hadn’t doubted myself, maybe my book could’ve been that movie. Or something like it. One final thought: Why is Woody Harrelson so good in everything he does?

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, season 3

This show is reliably funny and despite the fact that I am still mourning the loss of Santino Fontana as Greg, season 3 might be the best one yet. There have been so many great musical numbers this season, it’s hard to choose just one to showcase here. But choose  I did. The following, as well as any related Crazy Ex-Girlfriend musical numbers that show up on YouTube after you’re finished with this one, are NSFW.


Mike Birbiglia

Netflix has this new feature where, when you hover over one of the shows you are contemplating watching, it shows you a preview. And so it was that as I was scrolling and hovering through the comedians section, I laughed at the preview of Thank God for Jokes by Mike Birbiglia. I laughed and so I watched. And then I laughed a whole lot and was also amazed. At the end of the set, I realized I’d listened to an entire story. These weren’t one-off jokes. No set up was forgotten, not a single joke was random. There was an overarching theme. It felt like a stand-up novel. And since I am nothing if not interested in storytelling, I wanted to explore more. I watched My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend – same deal. Then I went and listened to an old podcast of Birbiglia talking to Marc Maron, and they talked about the particular style of comedy, which is actually called story-based comedy, and it is so difficult that few people do it. I believe it. But I LOVE it. If I were still in college, I’d find a way to write a paper about it. On the podcast, they put forth Al Madrigal as another one who does story-based comedy, but I’ve not been able to find an act of his to check out to see if it’s the same thing. I hope that it is, but I suspect Birbiglia is just extra, extra good at what he does.

Malcolm Gladwell

Speaking of people who are extra, extra good at what they do, there’s Malcolm Gladwell. He likes to look at stories from a different perspective, and what he does is so well-researched and so well communicated that it’s difficult not to take his side. Gladwell has been around for years, and I started reading his books last year, but I read more this year and listened to his podcast and I know I’ll be interested in what he has to say forever.

Minimalism and Marie Kondo

I read Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up last year and I loved it. This year, I read the illustrated Spark Joy and that helped me fix my kitchen, which I realized I hadn’t tackled properly in my previous tidyings. I’m still far from perfect, but I’ve incorporated so many of her principles into my life that it most certainly qualifies as life-changing, and I’m all the better for it.

So with that I’ll bid adieu to 2017. I’m not exactly sad to see it go, but I definitely thank it for the things it did bring into my life this year. I can’t wait to see what 2018 brings. But I will have to.



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My Procrastination and Perfectionism Problem – Update #11 or My New Year’s Resolutions – 2018 Edition

How perfectly coincidental to conclude this project on New Year’s Eve. You say I planned it like that? Fine. Be that way.

Of all the things I said I’d do, the three that stuck the best were going to bed and rising at the same time each day (at least until this current break, when I made up with my snooze button), exercising every day, and blogging every week. I also wrote down all my expenses (something I’d started doing slightly before the project began), paid with cash and debit card (no credit) for everything, and didn’t buy things I didn’t need, at least until Christmastime. Making a wish list on Amazon re-ignited some of my retail desires, and I bought a few of the things I did not receive for Christmas after the fact, as presents to myself.

The things that fell by the wayside were meditation, picking up after myself immediately (only because it seemed futile to pick up after myself and still have the place be a hot mess with everybody else’s stuff), limiting social media, concentrating on a hobby, and not drinking soda. (That last one has been a downward spiral since a few days before Christmas.)

The things that I consider a wash were carrying a notebook with me at all times (I nearly always have some kind of paper/pen with me anyway, I just didn’t really use it) and reading more (I go through cycles but if I have some time and a good book in the vicinity, I read. I also don’t count things like cookbooks, but truth be told I’m constantly borrowing them from the library and leafing through them.)

So that’s not bad, eh? I was surprised that I liked the sleep/wake times, and that 7 1/2 hours was enough sleep most of the time. But not all of the time, because sometimes your body tells you otherwise. I was also surprised/not surprised that making the time for exercise did ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to derail my work productivity. “I can’t exercise!” I said, “I might not finish my work.” Not true. Everything worked out exactly the same before the exercise commitment as after. And of course, I was not surprised that I liked blogging every week, though I know that they weren’t all gems of entries.

So going forward, I have some resolutions, based largely on the anecdotal data I’ve collected over the past 76 days.

  1. Keep the exercise. I’ve actually done a total of 76 days of something, whether it be walking or even a quick 20-minute video. I suppose in the new year, I could take a day or two off a month, but overall, I want to keep this pace. The only trouble I forsee is getting bored with the DVDs as I slog through the winter months.
  2. Keep the wake/sleep times, but allow myself a little more slack for days that I am tired or sick, and vacations.
  3. Keep writing down expenses and being careful with what I choose to spend money on.
  4. Learn to bullet journal. I got a bullet journal for Christmas, and while the notebook is ancillary, I think the system might be beneficial to me. It might even count as a hobby. I’m not artistic, like the bullet journalers online, but after watching several tutorials, I did get really excited about the washi tape, making a trip to the store for that and a new purple pen. Side note: Sharpie makes the best pens/highlighters.
  5. Continue reducing waste. This was not part of the project, but I feel pretty great about all the things I did this year to reduce my personal waste (Here’s a list, How I Reduced My Waste in 2017, if you’re curious) and I want to continue the trend.
  6. Keep blogging once a week.
  7. Keep the projects going. I realized that the procrastination and perfectionism project was less about the procrastination and perfectionism, and more about the project. I just like exploring and learning and trying new things. So I had the idea to try a new project each month. I have several things I want to do, like not buying anything (except food), various food-related diets and experiments, and creating less waste. Writing about the projects would help me keep steadily blogging. After weighing several options, I decided January had to be food-related, because it’s so terribly cliche, how could it not? I also plan to book summer vacation plans soon, so the no-spend month would likely be out of the question.

My food project for January is to follow, as closely as possible, an anti-inflammatory diet. I’ve been moving towards eating whole foods, but it’s a long process and I really want to tackle some of the demons in January. Mainly, the added sugar demon. I’m also going to reduce meat and try to stay away from flour, but if I make it the month without added sugar, I’ll consider it a success. I’ve decided to allow myself small amounts of dark chocolate (80% and up) because it’s listed as anti-inflammatory and I think it will increase my chances of success. I get restless for chocolate the way others get restless for coffee. Also, one new food rule I’m instituting no matter what diets I try in the future: no more eliminating caffeine. I drink tea. Tea is anti-inflammatory. I’m not changing. Stay the hell away from my tea!

Anybody else vowing to eat better/do better in the new year? Leave a comment below. And Happy New Year!

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My 2017 Year-in-Review: Entertainment Edition

Here is a list of (just about) everything I watched or read in the year 2017. The list is in (mostly) chronological order.

TV Series Watched

Schitt’s Creek (abandoned)

The Man in the High Castle (abandoned)

Silicon Valley (seasons 1, 2, 3, 4)

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (finished season 2, season 3 in progress)

Sneaky Pete (season 1)

Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee

Jane the Virgin (finished season 3, season 4 in progress)

Westworld (Abandoned)

The Mindy Project (seasons 5 and 6)

The Middle (finished season 8, season 9 in progress)

Better Call Saul (season 3)

Bill Nye Saves the World (abandoned)

Great News (abandoned)

Catastrophe (season 3)

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (season 3)

Orange is the New Black (season 5)

Glow (season 1)

Boiling the Frog (YouTube)

Atypical (season 1)

Project Runway (season 16 – unfinished because Lifetime’s website locked the content)

The Handmaid’s Tale (abandoned)

Maron (season 1-4)

Will & Grace (Reboot (in progress))

Couple Thinkers (YouTube)

Fresh Off the Boat (whatever season it’s in now, Sonja likes it)

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (season 1 in progress)

Tin Star (abandoned)

Psych: The Movie

The Crown (season 2)

Halt and Catch Fire (season 4)

Movies/Documentaries/Comedy Specials Watched

Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds

Cinco (Jim Gaffigan)

Bridget Jones’ Baby

Rifftrax: Replica

Sausage Party

The Lego Batman Movie

Manchester By the Sea

Dave Chappelle: The Art of Spin

Dave Chappelle: Deep in the Heart of Texas

Gad Gone Wild

The Edge of 17


Minimalism: A Documentary

Hidden Figures


Cars 3

Beauty and the Beast (2017)


The Founder

Man Up

Save the Date

Wonder Woman

Marc Maron: Too Real

Marc Maron: Thinky Pain

Jerry Before Seinfeld

The Big Sick

The Lego Ninjago Movie

Mike Birbiglia: Thank God for Jokes

Mike Birbiglia: My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend

Don’t Think Twice

Sleepwalk with Me

Partly Fiction (fell asleep)

An Inconvenient Sequel (fell asleep)

John Mulaney: The Comeback Kid

John Mulaney: New in Town

Craig Ferguson: Tickle Fight

Dave Chappelle: Equanimity

Dave Chappelle: The Bird Revelation

Books Read

I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai (abandoned)

What the Dog Saw and Other Adventures by Malcolm Gladwell

Talking as Fast as I can by Lauren Graham

On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan

Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time by Brigid Schulte

Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman

Moonglow by Michael Chabon (abandoned)

Sleepless Nights in the Procrustean Bed by Harlan Ellison (abandoned)

A Life in Parts by Bryan Cranston

In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto by Michael Pollan

Pink Brain, Blue Brain by Lise Eliot (abandoned)

The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking

The Design of Everyday Things by Donald A. Norman

Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Letterman: The Last Giant of Late Night by Jason Zinoman

The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell

Minimalist Parenting by Christine Koh and Asha Dornfest

Emotional Design by Donald A. Norman (unfinished)

Al Franken: Giant of the Senate by Al Franken (unfinished)

Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

100 Days of Real Food by Lisa Leake

Everything that Remains: A Memoir by the Minimalist by Joshua Fields Millburn

The End of Overeating by David A. Kessler

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck by Mark Manson

Clutterfree with Kids by Joshua S. Becker

Attempting Normal by Marc Maron

Sleepwalk with Me by Mike Birbiglia

Bored and Brilliant by Manoush Zomorodi

David & Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell

Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking by Samin Nosrat

Fowl Language: The Struggle is Real by Brian Gordon

I tried with Handmaid’s Tale, I really did. I got up to episode 4, I think. But the future dystopian stuff is just not my genre (see also: Man in the High Castle.)  I said last year I’d try to read more fiction this year, so it’s pretty funny that of the two novels I attempted, I only made it through one, and that one was pretty meh. I still feel like I had a great year in books and make no such silly resolutions for next year. I shall carry on as I have been carrying on, or as my daughter might say, “I read what I want!”

Having never seen Chappelle’s Show, I watched both of Dave Chappelle’s new comedy specials on Netflix and loved them. I also saw him on talk shows promoting the specials, and every time I thought, “hey, I like this guy. He’s very pleasant.” I liked Marc Maron’s Netflix stand-up too, but when I see him on talk shows, he does not have the same calming effect as Chappelle. I’ll be watching the new Chappelle comedy specials when they release on New Year’s Eve.

That was the year that was in entertainment. Not bad, actually. Can’t wait to see what 2018 brings.

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My Procrastination and Perfectionism Problem – Update 10

It’s Christmas Eve and it’s snowing! Incredible. I am also coming to the end of this project, and I don’t have much to report. I’ve definitely had trouble meeting my 11:30 bedtime since I have been on break. I just feel like staying up later, and that’s the night owl in me taking over. I thought I might switch up my hours since I won’t be teaching in the morning next quarter, but then I remembered I have to get up anyway to get the kid off to school, so I’ll leave it. It is nice to be ready to go earlier in the day, even if I don’t do anything. At least there’s a chance I could do something.

Since it is Christmas Eve and I have a few presents left to wrap and other end-of-year blogs I’m working on, I’m going to leave it there for now. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!


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My Six-and-a-Quarter Year Old

Sonja’s Kindergarten Photo. She still loves green and asked me to pick the green background for this photo.

And now, a post that gets to be all about school. Oh how Sonja loves kindergarten. The days are long, and recovering at home after school usually involves a fair amount of fit throwing, but rarely is there a bad word spoken about school. She wishes for the weekend to be over so she can go back, and hey, she’s not the only one. Ba dum dum dum, crash. She loves her teacher and has made friends with everyone in class, minus two little boys for whom she does not care. She even loves taking the bus. When it comes to school, she doesn’t want to miss a thing.

Waiting for the bus on a cold December morning.

Sonja’s kindergarten class, all dressed up for flannel day.

Some notable school moments from the first quarter of her first year: She is in a reading group by herself because she is reading at a first-grade level and no one in her class has caught up to her. We tested her for placement in the district’s Young Scholar’s program and she was accepted. Just before break, she came home with two awards, one for being dependable, the other for being organized.

She wrote all of her numbers to 100.

She won not just one but two major awards!

She is still a tiny wisp of a thing, and I had several minor heart attacks when she would come home with her school lunch nearly intact. When I spoke with her teacher, I learned that most of the children eat very little at lunch time. We’ve instituted an after school snack, but it’s a very fine line to eat just enough snack to remain hungry enough to eat dinner. And what I’ve found is that hunger works. If we forget the snack, and I can stand the incessant whining about being hungry, then she gobbles up dinner, minus the snooty foodie criticisms of my cooking.

Playing princess.

She still loves doing puzzles and mazes and word games in age-appropriate books, and she’s gotten more into coloring than she was before. She always liked to draw, but now she’ll also spend time with a coloring book. Because we can get some peace out of her when she’s doing these activities, and her homework, we decided to buy her a desk for Christmas. I think she will love it.

Conquering a “mountain” at a local park on a sunny, autumn afternoon.

Several months ago I took her on an outing to Trader Joe’s. She fell in love with it because it had kid-size carts and I let her pick out a few of her own groceries. She’s now a walking commercial for the store. It is absolutely the only place she ever wants to go. Telling her we have to run errands, go grocery shopping, or that we simply want to get out of the house for a while – all of these sentences are met with complete, abject misery. It takes longer to get her out of the house than it would to do the errands. Forget Lamaze, expectant parents should be taking tactical negotiations classes.

The artist’s rendition

We’re reading longer stories now. She loves them all. We’ve read The Giraffe, The Pelly and Me, and Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl, several books in the Judy Moody series, and we’re currently in the middle of an Amelia Bedelia. We’ve also watched a few new movies, most recently and notably, E.T. I was surprised that she loved it so much. I thought it might be too much for a six-year-old. Although, I have to say, I don’t know how many times I’ve actually seen E.T., but I never remember anything outside of the major plot points. And the Reese’s Pieces. I tried to use the movie to get her to try Reese’s Pieces. She picked up a Christmas candy cane filled with them at the store, but then informed me that she would put them in my stocking for me.

Speaking of Christmas: it’s coming, and she’s bouncing off the walls. She is so excited to open presents. A few days ago, she went  upstairs to my office to retrieve the aforementioned Reese’s Pieces candy cane and she wound up, of course, looking for it in my closet. Luckily, most of the presents were wrapped, but she confessed to me that she saw them. A day later, she confessed that she saw the Tsum Tsum box I got her and then broke down and sobbed in my arms. Through her tears, she said, “you should have wrapped it!”

Waiting in line to see Santa.

How adorable is this, with the backwards letters and request for a jump rope?


Thumbs up.

So there you have it. From telling me my chicken is too dry to faulting me for her own snooping, there is no point at which I, as a parent, can catch a break. But it’s totally fine, because at the end of the day, Santa gets all the credit for the presents.

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My Procrastination and Perfectionism Problem – Update #9

With just two weeks left, I’ll consider this my penultimate update. On New Year’s Eve, I’ll do new resolutions and a recap of what worked and what didn’t from this little experiment.

Now that I am on break from work, I have been having a harder time sticking to my schedule. I’m fudging both sleep and wake times. But not by that much, and it does feel like this is the time to kick back and relish the end of the year. However, after seeing an improvement in my energy from standardized sleep/wake times, I’m wondering if I should be more consistent with Sonja. Typically I let her sleep in on the weekends and stay up a bit later. She’s been awfully cranky lately but truly, that could be anything. I think, for my own sanity, I’ll try to keep her schedule fairly consistent during the break.

I had a very long streak of walking outside, thanks to a streak of cold but sunny weather. It’s turned rainy and windy the past two days, so I’ve moved the workout indoors. Typically, I feel like I get more bang for my workout buck when I’m following a video, but it’s not near as entertaining as wandering around listening to Malcolm Gladwell or Marc Maron. I have thoughts of trying to balance the two types of workout more evenly, but if walking is what makes being active consistent, then walking should not be slighted.

The break is already going by all too quickly. Perhaps its best I didn’t have too much of a list of what I wanted to get done? In any event, I hope in the next posts I as I review the experiment and the year, I can see that there were things that in fact did get accomplished.

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