• Better Vs Perfect

    Better Vs Perfect

    By the time this posts, Matt will be back from a work trip up to Michigan. I'm not entirely sure if he got any fresh air between Sunday night and when he flew home, so trust me, it was all work related. Even his evenings were tied up with post-meeting work dinners. Lucky him. 

    I'm not a stranger to business trips. My dad went on them with some regularity while I was growing up. So I know that, deep down in my soul, you need to keep busy. My mom almost always seemed to repaint a room while my dad was gone. My jam seems to be cleaning.

    The problem, as I've realized, is that I'll get things looking really nice while Matt is gone, and then he comes home, and the house explodes. It's so disheartening, as if cleaning weren't disheartening enough at times. (It never ends...My soul hates tasks like that.) My slightly perfectionist tendencies feel that if it can't be perfect, why do it at all? I mean - not quite literally, but surely some of you can relate to that feeling. You've done the laundry for the thousandth time and then you turn around and the basket is full again. Whhhhhhhy?

    Anyway, this time I've taken a different approach. Still cleaning, but I'm not bending over backwards to try and get it perfect. I'm just getting it better. Because better is attainable, perfect isn't. Better means that when Matt comes home, we can keep working on things to improve them. Perfect leads to the house exploding and wailing and gnashing of teeth the first time the dishes aren't taken care of before bed. (Again, not hyper literal)

    If I take a better approach and not a perfect one, I'm not spending ALL my time cleaning while Matt's gone. It means that I can prove to myself that I can make a nice dent in a chunk of time and still have time for the things that I enjoy. That mentality I can carry over to "real" life, where I certainly don't have the time OR the will to deep clean all day. And because Matt seems to follow my lead, if I'm cleaning for a small chunk each day, he will too, and the better approach gets, well, better.

    This whole thing made me think of a quote by Gretchen Rubin. I made it into a simple phone wallpaper, if you want to grab it. I really need to pick up some new fonts. Another day, perhaps.

  • The Dilemma of Radioactive Therapy

    The Dilemma of Radioactive Therapy

    I originally posted this on Facebook a few days ago, but I thought it was worth sharing here as well. 

    We’ve hemmed and hawed over whether to get her iodine treatment (radiation) for her thyroid. It would almost certainly fix her thyroid, but there are drawbacks.
    There’s the inconvenience of having to save her poop (so, realistically, all their poop) for 3 months. That’s an episode of hoarders no one wants, but we’d do it for her.
    She’d be apart from us for several days, which is hard because we’d hate her to feel abandoned after the life she’s had.
    Some cats do really well, other cats do very poorly for a while after coming home and result in emergency vet trips for hydration and so on. I wouldn’t love that stress.
    There’s also the fact that we don’t actually know how old she is. I’ve seen a number of cats go for their iodine treatment, only to succumb a handful of months later to something else because they’re so old. Gwen’s a spry sassico, but the fact is, she could be 10, she could be 17. (Our best guess has her coming up on 13. )
    All of these things are considerations, but we’d work our way through them if it was in Gwen’s best interest. But there’s this:
    You’re supposed to more or less sequester your cat for 90 days. Many people don’t, and that’s fine - we don’t have the room for it regardless. But you really can’t let the cat sleep with you, by your head.
    Hence the picture. When Gwen isn’t sleeping on my chest at night, she’s sleeping on that white pillow, right next to my head. That pillow is HERS now.
    We could put Gwen through the iodine. We could put her through being separated and feeling seriously crappy. But I really don’t think we can put her through not being allowed to snuggle with me. Not when she can’t understand why.
    We’ve worked so hard with her to gain her trust and give her the best life possible. It has paid off in ways I never imagined when we brought her home. (I never thought “she snuggles too much” would be her problem)
    As long as her body keeps responding to the ear gel, I think that’s what we have to stick with. We can’t risk her heartbreak or the anger at violating her trust in that way.
    She’s a wonderful, very loving and very sassy girl. We’re going to celebrate having her for FIVE whole years later this month, which is amazing. I write all this not because I feel the need to justify it, but because I wanted to share that caring for loved ones is not always straightforward. It’s complicated, and not only do we have to look our for their physical wellbeing, but their emotional wellbeing too.
  • January 2020 Media Roundup

    Is it just me, or did January feel like it lasted forEVER? The bright side of it is that I got a lot done, to the tune of 10 movies in the theater (thank you Regal Unlimited!) and 8 books read.

    I thought I'd talk about a few favorites and duds from this past month.

    Favorite book of the month: The Lies of Locke Lamora

    Matt gave me this book for our Christmas eve swap. I would have said that it wasn't a book I'd have picked on my own, but lo and behold, I found book 3 of the trilogy on my shelf. So not only was it a book that I would've picked, I didn't know it was a trilogy. At some point, I'll have to pick up book 2. O.o Anyway, the book was a very fun read. It's a thievery book that is very cheeky, and that's what makes it great. If the book took itself too seriously, I don't think it would have been nearly as fun.

    Honorable mention: Why We Sleep

    I feel wrong NOT mentioning this book, because I've been raving about it to anyone who will listen for several days now. Whether you have sleep problems or not, this book is going to freak you out about your sleep health and habits. But it's also oh-so-fascinating, and I want to go around to all my family and friends and complete strangers and tell them how to sleep better. 

    Less than stellar: Walking Disaster

    This is the sequel to Beautiful Disaster, which I read in December for book club. The first book was controversial enough to warrant the second one getting cancelled by the group. But I'd already bought it, and I knew it'd be a quick read, so...yeah. It's a weird read. The relationship in it is problematic even from the guy's perspective. Like, "I bought you a dog even though we're not dating and can't keep the dog at your dorm so that you'll come over to my place to visit" is just ... strange. But hey, you do you.

    Favorite movie: The Gentlemen

    This Guy Ritchie movie was interesting from start to finish. I enjoyed not knowing how all the puzzle pieces were going to fit together until the end, and it scratched my Knives Out itch.

    Why did I sit through this movie: The Turning

    Okay, so it's an adaptation of The Turning of the Screw, which I didn't know going into it. Most of the movie is unremarkable. Matt said that it's the kind of quality he often finds when he looks for cheezy horror on Netflix. But the ending is terrible. It's very jarring and contradictory - like there were two directors, and they couldn't decide what the ending was, so they just stacked them on top of each other. If they had just stopped at the first ending, it would have been just okay. Instead, it left a bad taste in my mouth. If you want to see an example of a good meta ending, see Little Women

  • 2019 Book and Movie Roundup

    In 2019, I read 45 books, 10 of which were audio books. I also listened to several free Audible Originals, and worked my way through a Great Courses course on mythology, but I don't 'count' those. 

    I know that sounds like a lot, but in some ways, it was a slow year for me. As is my tendency, I either blast through books, or I can't get through them to save my life. A good chunk of this year was the latter - if it weren't for having book clubs to keep me accountable, I think the amount of books I finished would have been far lower. I seem to be back on an upswing though, and while my book goal is "only" set at 40, I'd love it if I got to 52. Heaven knows I have enough books sitting around to do it. 

    Looking through the list, if I had to pull a top 10, I think this is what it would be - in no particular order.

    Ninth House
    The Family Upstairs
    The Testaments
    The Immortalists
    The Island of Sea Women
    Where the Crawdads Sing
    Spinning Silver
    Girl, Stop Apologizing
    The Last Romantics

    Of this list, Spinning Silver, Ninth House, and The Testaments would be my top 3, but I also thoroughly enjoyed The Family Upstairs, The Immortalists and ... yeah, okay, the rest of this list. 

    Friendtimacy is a fantastic non-fiction book, and one that I feel like every woman should read at some point at in her life. Shasta Nelson walks you though the 'types' of friendships, how every type is important, and how every friendship is unique. It's a fairly complex, but very understandable book. I don't think all of my friends thought it was the revelation that I thought it was, but I highly recommend it.

    The Testaments and Spinning Silver are from authors whose work I already love. The Testaments is the sequel to The Handmaid's Tale, and Spinning Silver is a 'thematic sequel' to Uprooted. Both Silver and Uprooted are darker fantasy fairytale novels. So I went into both of these sequels predisposed to enjoy the books. Ninth House was a surprise for me. Leigh Bardugo is a YA author who is familiar to many, but I don't wander into the YA section nearly as much as I should. If you're looking for a dark, paranormal/fantasy mystery, this is a really good one. I'd barely finished when I was clamoring for the sequel. 

    Now, on the movie front, I have a little less to say, though not for lack of material to work with. I made it a point to see more movies this year, and then the Regal Unlimited pass happened. It's Regal's answer to MoviePass (is that still a thing?) - the cost varies a little by area, but for me, it's $21 a month, which is just under two tickets. So if I see two movies a month, I've more than paid for it. 
    Between August and the end of the year, I saw 33 movies, so, uh...
    I could not go again for the rest of the year (you have to do a 1 year commitment) and the pass is more than paid for.

    The problem is that I didn't keep track of all the movies we saw - something I've decided to remedy this year. 

    I will say that, seeing so many movies, it has changed how I view movies. There were movies that I'd walk out of and exclaim, "THAT WAS SO GOOD!" (Knives Out) - and there were movies I would walk out of and say, "Wow, I enjoyed it, but I feel weird saying that was good." (Queen and Slim) There are movies that are great for entertainment, and there are movies that make you think. Like, "Go home and rethink your life" sort of thinking. 

    Off the top of my head, if you haven't seen Queen & Slim, Harriet, and Dark Waters, track those down when they hit dvd/streaming. Those were all very good, poignant movies. They were all heavy, though, so don't go into them on a bad day.

    Charlie's Angels was a stinker for most people, but I genuinely enjoyed it. It was a super fun, girl power rah rah movie. I definitely think it's aimed at a younger crowd, though. (By which I just mean, if you were a big fan when the original show was on, maybe skip it.)

    I loved the Star Wars and Avengers movies, but those are hard to review because in general, you're either going to love them or you're not. Series movies, and movies that require a lot of context aren't movies you really recommend to your friends - they're either going to see them, or they don't care and there's no point. That said, I wasn't sure if I would like Captain Marvel, but now she's legit one of my favorites.

    One movie that, to me, deserves a special nod is Black kKklansman, even though it came out last year. I didn't see it until around the Oscars, and that movie does a great job of being both entertaining and super poignant. I don't have a special shelf for movies I love, but if I did, that one may very well go on it.

    Downton Abbey was fun, and Matt and I made a point of rewatching the entire series leading up to the movie. We were very fresh off the finale when we went to see the movie, and I adored it. It was everything I would want a Downton Abbey movie to be. 

    But, I'm pretty sure that my favorite movie of the year is Knives Out. That movie is incredibly clever, funny, and just well done. If you haven't seen it, look up the trailer. If it looks remotely interesting to you, SEE IT. You will like it. I even got my parents to go see it with me, and they enjoyed it. (Granted, I figured my dad would, but even mom did.)

    I'm excited to see what 2020 brings for books and movies. There's a new Bond and Wonder Woman movies to look forward to, and, at the end of the year, Godzilla V Kong. There hasn't been a trailer for it (to my knowledge), but I'm super geeked about that one.  

  • We Went to Disney

    So, last month, Matt and I (and his family) went to Disney. It was a really neat experience, overall. There are definitely some things I would change if we were on our own - but it was a lot of fun.

    We stopped off at a hotel on the Florida coast on our way down. Our hotel room was RIGHT on the beach. We could hear the waves from inside our room! My only regret is that it was so dreary that morning. Otherwise, the view would have been so gorgeous. 

    Disney opened a Star Wars land this year, which was my favorite part, even without going on the Millenium Falcon ride. (Next time, hopefully) Here we are with our blue and green milks. They were more smoothie-like in reality. 

    Okay. I need to stop trying to blog from anything other than my desktop, apparently. It is not working well for photos. >.< 

    I was REALLY glad that we got the kitty cams before we left. Being able to snoop on them really made my anxiety better. It's so hard to find Vizzi when we're gone, but I caught him on cam all the time. Cuppie (pictured) was probably the most on-camera. 

    Most of my favorite pictures have my niece in them, and while I absolutely adore her, she's not mine to share, but I assure you, she's an absolute cutie. 

    Aside from Galaxy's Edge, I loved the Beauty and the Beast themed restaurant, Be Our Guest. I did try the grey stuff, and it was, in fact, delicious. We got to have breakfast there one day, and I decided to try their plant based breakfast. I'd never had plant based eggs before, but they were actually really good! The plant based bacon was odd, but edible. Each of our breakfasts came with a little tray of pastries, which just made the whole thing feel extravagant. 

    The Food and Wine festival at Epcot is really neat, too. We used some of our snack credits to try foods from different countries, and nothing we had was disappointing. Matt tried this ramen cup, and it was chilled - which was surprising - but had interesting flavor. Every country has their own little shop - major countries, such as France, have their own section with restaurants and more themed architecture. Also, every area is staffed with people from that country, which is flat out neat. As someone who is interested in world travel but intimidated at the prospect, it was a nice little world tour. 

    Our hotel was really nice. Well, let me qualify that. It's been recently renovated, and so everything was new and fresh, and THAT was nice. But functionally, it was a motel, and it wasn't the most soundproof. It took me a couple of days not to jump every time our neighbors opened their door. But considering that we were only in the room to sleep and shower basically, it did what we needed it to, and then some. I'd recommend it again in a heartbeat for a value hotel.

    We did a lot of 'character dining' so that Matt's fam could get photo ops with characters for the niece. Unfortunately, most of said dining is buffets. Now, to be fair, these buffest are still better than your average hometown buffet - but there's only SO good a buffet can be. Food still sits out and has to be shoveled out in quantities that don't really lend themselves to high quality. I wouldn't bother with these again, personally, though if you have kids, I can definitely see the appeal. My niece got a kick out of the characters coming to the table. I'd rather have been able to shovel food in my face in peace. :) 

    If you look up advice for Disney, you're certain to see this, but let me reiterate: do yourself a favor and build up your walking stamina before you go. Wear good shoes. No, not good shoes, wear REALLY good shoes. Especially if you have any kind of foot problem. We survived, not having done any Disney prep, but we went through SO many excedrin over the trip. 

    Anyway, that's a little bit about our trip. We're hoping to go back on our own at some point next year, but haven't pinned down a date. TBD. 

  • Maybe there's a novel left in me after all

    Last month, maybe late September, a pen pal of mine asked if I was going to do NaNoWriMo. My instant reaction was to scoff, "Of course not!"

    Then I kinda thought about it. It didn't sound like a half bad idea. It also sounded like a terrible idea. 

    Back when I used to do NaNoWriMo successfully in Michigan, it was a lot easier to sequester myself, to hunker down like a little cave goblin and hiss if anyone came too close and threatened to get between me and my word count. 

    This November, hoo boy. Not only are we going to Disney for almost a week, but then my mother in law and her boyfriend are coming to town a few days after we get back. Then there's the regular things we do, dnd groups, book clubs, hanging out with friends. If that weren't enough, I got the Regal Unlimited movie pass a few months back, and there are a ton of good movies coming out this month. Trying to add 1600 words a day on top of that sounded like madness.

    And yet, something about it was compelling. i've been 'trying' to write now for several months, but mostly just spinning my wheels and not writing. 

    So I decided to go ahead and do NaNo. If I worked hard, I could front load the month with lots of words, so that if I got ANY while we were away, it would be helpful, but not break me if I didn't get to it.

    But I haven't really found the NaNo group out here to be my style. It's nothing against them, it's just that, well, this is a college town. The announcement said that all NaNo events this year would be on the Liberty campus, and let's be honest, that's a resounding no thank you from me. Plus, the group doesn't seem very big or active. So having that form of support wasn't going to happen. It would be detrimental to go skulking around on the forums looking for conversation rather than just writing. 

    Then, it got to the last few days of October. I was itching to just get started already. That's when I had an epiphany:

    I don't want to do NaNoWriMo, I want to write a novel. 

    It's nothing against NaNo. But I've been used it as a crutch in the past - sure, I get words written, but I don't do it in a very healthy way. It's all or nothing, and it's good for getting words down, but poor for revising or carrying out a habit in the long term. I want to write in a way that is sustainable for my life. 

    So, that's what I'm doing. I've been puttering away at this novel for the better part of a week and a half now? I'm aiming to write at least a thousand words, or spend at least an hour trying to write, at least every other day. So far, I'm doing a little bit better than that, and I'm pleased. I like what I'm writing, and accepting the fact that it's going to be a clunky first draft that requires a lot of revision, should it ever get that far. 

    But mostly, I'm just happy to be doing it. 

  • In Which I Spy on Kitties

    Vizzi likes to play hide and seek when we're gone. It's problematic because he's really really GOOD at it. Last time, he definitely won - my parents never found him, and there was a tiny part of me that was convinced we were coming home to a cat body. 

    I've had the cat spy camera (not the product name) sitting on my desk since we got back from our last trip. I knew I had to hook it up sometime, I just didn't get around to it until tonight. I'm already excited about it. Not only was it easy to set up, but the picture quality is better than I was expecting, and the camera can rotate 360 degrees, up and down, and I can easily zoom in. As a bonus, there's a two way microphone. I can talk to the cats or listen in - not that they're particularly chatty. I suspect this will be a nice little stress reliever next time we're gone. I HIGHLY doubt that Vizzi will come out on demand, but hopefully I can catch glimpses of him long enough to know he's alive. (Or send in a thorough parent search party if I'm worried)

    For giggles, I'll attach the actual photo from the app, rather than a screenshot. It's not print quality by any means, but as I said, better than I expected. 

    And yes, my office is a disaster. I'll need to remedy that soon. 

  • Still Alive

    I just want to post *something* for the sake of posting. Maybe break my streak of not posting. I was going to be all clever and post the “still alive” song from Portal, but I don’t know whether you can’t embed videos from YouTube anymore, or if it has to do with me trying to do it from my iOS device.  
    I am alive. Matt is alive. All four kitties are alive. 
    ... and now I’m having trouble with the picture uploader to work. BAH. I don’t have the patience for this tonight. Just take this post, and we’ll try again in the morning. (Some morning, anyway. Except I’m not really a morning person, so more likely an afternoon or evening)
  • Of Cars and Clots

    So, somewhere in the last couple months, Matt’s car did what old cars that sat in Michigan for a long time do and pooped out. I wish I could say that this little car debacle had been resolved by now, but alas. SUPPOSEDLY, Matt is going to take the car for a second opinion somewhere, after he ‘knocks some rust’ off of it, because northerners believe that southerners “just can’t handle rust”, and this is why the car place doesn’t want to work on it. 
    I mean, maybe it’s salvageable. But I have a feeling that when we get it to the next place, they’re going to do a long whistle and either refuse to work on it, or quote us something that isn’t worth it.

    The theoretical reason that Matt’s car hasn’t gone for a second opinion is MY car. I took it in for an oil change, and they came back and told me that the tires weren’t in good shape. Since we were planning on taking a trip up to Michigan, that’s not a gamble I really wanted to make. So we got the tires done. Then the car started making this noise. So we took the car back, and they said it was the rotors. Soooo we got the rotors done, because I hate weird noises. 

    It wasn’t the rotors. It’s still making the noise. I was pretty excited about that. (The sarcasm is dripping off that like honey) Because the car is like a small child and WONT MAKE THE NOISE FOR PROFESSIONALS, we’re having a heckuva time getting it diagnosed. Matt’s dad has given us several benign reasons for the noise existing, and that’s great except that logic stops at my brain and doesn’t get through to anxiety brain. So, see above about how Matt’s car isn’t really driveable and my car is making noise, but it’s the only car, so there you go. I’m currently working on a theory that the air conditioner makes it worse. What that means, no idea. 

    But anyway, we went to Michigan, and long story short, I brought back the worst souvenir - a blood clot in my leg. 

    It’s not a serious blood clot (dvt), it’s a superficial thrombolitis or ... svt. Something. Anyway, it means it’s in a vein that won’t kill me, just make me uncomfortable. That’s where I’ve been for the last two weeks. It’s MOSTLY better at this point. I can still feel it in my thigh a bit, and if I stand for too long or sit in a regular chair, my ankle starts to swell up. It’s really swell. (Get it?) I’m debating whether I should go to the doctor and ask for blood thinners to clear the rest of this up, but because of our insurance, it’ll be $130 to ask that question. I’m really dreading the ER bill. I mean, I could kiss our hsa at this point, but I’m so afraid that the stupid blood clot is going to drain it dry. 

    Matt and I also both had birthdays in May, and then there’s just normal life stuff, like dragging the fluffs to the vet, so when all was said and done, that’s why there wasn’t much of anything here. 

    But here, I’ll give you a cat picture before I go. That makes up for it, right?

    He’s a very photogenic cat. 

  • A Writing Analogy

    I didn’t mean to go dark for so long. The last month and a half though has been a lot. But I’ll leave that for another time. 

    I’ve been dabbling a bit in writing again. Don’t get all excited, I’m not going to be on the bestseller list any time soon. I’m just doing it for my enjoyment, which is still better than nothing. 

    But I had a little epiphany yesterday that I wanted to share. It’s really obvious, but my brain finally framed the concept in a way that makes sense. See, people talk about not trying to make the first draft of anything good. You’re trying to get it all down, and then you can go back and fix it. 

    Well, mild perfectionist that I am, I don’t -want- to go back and fix it. I want to get it right on the first try. (Duh)

    But see, I’ve also been painting more lately. (By ‘more’, I really mean ‘more than never’, so don’t get excited about that either) When I paint, I’ll either sketch something out and throw down some loose colors at first, or I’ll just do some sort of background color. I don’t worry about the detail, because first I just have to get the basic idea. I’ll go back and add more color, more depth, and then really zoom in on the details last. 

    So why on earth do I expect that I should write things down with complete detail and perfection on the first pass? 

    As I said, it’s pretty obvious, but the painting metaphor really hit my brain the right way. 

  • The Honor of Your Sandwich Is Requested

    Vizzi would like my sandwich. He doesn't want to eat my sandwich, he only wants to lick it. I don't really want a soggy cat licked sandwich, so we're at an impasse. 

    So I gave him a piece of bread to get him to back off a bit. Little pieces of bread aren't as fun to lick as entire slices, so this bribery was insufficient. 



    Someone just came to visit me, so I assume the above is his rendition of the story. I'll let you decide who is right. 

  • Pollen season

    My car isn’t even parked directly under any trees. The picture doesn’t do the pollen justice.