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27 Jan 2018

winter plan | 2018

Winter Plan

December 2017 – January 2018 – February 2018

Welcome to my first seasonal plan! I am conveniently skipping over December, you see, since it is the past. Thinking back, I don’t know how I could have worked out any sort of goals last month except Feed Family, Acquire Gifts, and Survive Travel. Anyway, I am in the present now, as are you, I assume. It’s the end of January, actually, and I’m looking toward the near future.

When I started to narrow down my goals and plans for the quarter, I wasn’t quite sure if it was better to think about my goals in terms of topic or in terms of strategy. I ended up doing both. Dividing my list by topic – family, home, creativity, and (gag) self-care – helped my list feel balanced. Dividing by strategy ensured I wasn’t trying to change one million habits at once (you win, Babatua) or taking on too many big projects. I divided my plan into four strategic categories: habitsprojects, thinking and planning, and activities. 

As I write, I’m already three weeks into month – just into the second half of the season. So far, I am finding this plan to be a pleasant reference point as I make my various to-do lists, make plans for my free time, and find books to read at the library.


lifestyle and behavior modifications that take persistence. (this is silly. you know what a habit is…)

Strength train at home.

I wasn’t getting out to exercise much before the Cold and the Snow arrived (see: toddler + full time job), so it would be entirely foolish to assume I would start getting to the gym with any regularity now. I really hate working out at home, but if I want to exercise at all, I should probably make peace with it. I am hoping to find some sort of strength routine that doesn’t require much equipment – I liked following the New Rules of Lifting program a few years back, so something like that I could do in my living room would be perfect.

Upgrade my skincare routine.

In the exhausted hubbub of the holidays, I had a moment with the bathroom mirror where I realized that yes, my face is aging. And no, I’m not really doing anything to remedy it. I’m not yet 33, so I’m hoping I have a little time to turn things around. Oh, and perhaps deal with the acne. Acne and wrinkles, guys. This is 32/33.

Read with a pen in hand whenever possible.

I struggle with finding a balance between reading for pleasure and reading for more professional purposes, but I feel like there’s a simple compromise. Reading anything with a pen in hand encourages writing about what I am reading which encourages thinking about what I am reading. This may prove challenging given my current reading habits – see: standing up on the train, walking in the park, on the couch while a toddler climbs all over me – but I’ll try whenever I can.


 longer than a task + but shorter than a habit = a project!

Uber frugal month.

I have signed up for the Frugalwood’s Uber-frugal month challenge. This involves receiving daily emails about frugality and completing small assignments. I’m halfway through the month, and luckily, most of the assignments are things I already do. “Read an email every day” is a pretty easy project to accomplish! There’s also a “don’t spend money component, but while this is more difficult, it’s not at all time consuming to *not* do something, so that’s convenient.


In case you didn’t notice, I am trying to blog slightly more often than… oh… four times a year. Writing, posting, thinking about posts, figuring out when to do all this stuff… well, that’s a project.

Decorate two rooms.

As I mentioned in my NYR post, I am beautifying my home in 2018. Living room is up first, in January. I’m thinking of doing the office next, since I’d like to… oh… use this room for its intended purpose. Or even just see the top of my desk. Either of those things would be great.

Sew a baby quilt.

I have three friends/family members who are procreating this year, and guess what! I am trying to become an accomplished quiltress. Baby quilts are perfect to practice on, so I am going to sew some. I want to finish the first by April, so now is the time to start planning and working so I’m not trying to scramble at the last minute.

Thinking and Planning

areas of research, discussion, and contemplation to prepare for near-future events, activities and changes

Prepare for the transition to a toddler bed.

While we were visiting family for Christmas, my eighteen-month-old learned how to climb out of cribs. At first it was just a dinky travel Pack ‘n’ Play – then it was a full-size crib identical to his own. Since we’ve been home, the humble Sleep Sack (thank you, thank you, thank you Halo) has subdued our little monkey, but the experience was enough to put the fear of God into me. It’s only a matter of time before he figures out how to climb in it or, heaven preserve me, unzip the zipper. Game plans, contingencies, and strategies must be made NOW.

Prepare for a potential child-free vacation. 

My darling toddler is a decent sleeper. Unfortunately, he’s not the most *reliable* sleeper – while he’s been sleeping better and better since turning a year old, he’s still prone to periodic sleep setbacks, regressions, etc. Right now, he’s sleeping through the night, with a middle of the night wake-up maybe once a week or so, and it’s that random wake-up I’m concerned about. Because, you see,  my darling, decent sleeping toddler accepts no middle-of-the-night comfort except his beloved Mama Milk. And Mama and her Milk would like to take a child-free vacation this Spring.  I don’t know if the solution is Official, Once-and-for-all Night Weaning or All the Way Weaning or some intensive Dad’s Nighttime Toddler Soothing Boot Camp or what, but I’d like not to leave my kid overnight with someone knowing he is going to be a middle-of-the-night terror – and that he will be middle-of-the-night terrorized by my absence.

Baby #2 Discussion/Preparation/Creation?

I feel like this is uncharacteristically personal for this psuedo-book blog… but I have an 19-month-old, so I feel like having another is not really the world’s most surprising turn of events. I’m almost 33. We are in the desirable window for a 2-3 year sibling age gap. So it’s time to at least think and plan. Oh, and also frantically squirrel away money just in case.

Plan for Spring travel

As much as I might be fantasizing about another February trip to Mexico, we are not planning any Winter travel this year. Spring, however, is looking more promising. Now is the time to check schedules, request time off, and start looking for flight deals.


one-off tasks that either don’t take much effort or can be crossed off in an afternoon. preferably fun!

Bake sourdough bread.

Using and maintaining a sourdough starter was something I pulled off my List of 100 Dreams last Spring… and I’ve kept it alive since then! I wish my track record with house plants was so impressive. Anyway, while I feed my starter lovingly and faithfully, I’ve only baked with it a few times. I’d like to rectify that while it’s still sub-arctic outside and turning on my oven isn’t an offense to my soul.

Personal Read-a-thon!

I am officially done with my Book Reviewing Season! I can now read whatever my heart desires… except that sometimes when this happens, I end up reading nothing. However, I’ve found that girding myself from a reading slump can often prevent one, so I’m going to focus on tricking and cajoling myself into keeping the reading momentum going. So far, I’ve indulged in a few Grown Up Books – Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng,  I Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen Brushes with Death by Maggie O’Farrell, List: A Novel by Matthew Roberson – and it really does feel quite indulgent.

Light candles whenever possible.

It’s Winter. It’s cold, I don’t leave the house if I can avoid it, I have stacks of books to read, and I’m trying to improve the ambiance of my home. Prime candle time! Also, a low-ball achievement to check off my list… assuming I can find somewhere to put a candle that my rambunctious toddler can’t access.

21 Oct 2013

when life hands you kittens…

I am having trouble getting posts up here in a timely fashion. This has nothing to do with what I’ve been reading or what I’ve been feeling – my usual excuses for radio silence – and everything to do with time management troubles. Apartment-life-management troubles. Life management troubles. Trouble is the wrong word, perhaps. I don’t feel troubled, just distracted.

Top Five Distractions, end of October 2013 edition

1. Book Review Writing. Book Review Writing related procrastination.

2. Going to the gym, getting on a treadmill, and running one minute, then walking one minute – repeat until legs fall off. Subsequent gym-related exhaustion.

3. Attachments by Rainbow Rowell; How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran

4. Living in tighter quarters with The Boy. I like him too much. I want to talk to him too much. I talk to him instead of engaging on other, more productive and solitary pursuits.

5. The four kittens living on my back porch. I just… can’t. This is an awful time of month for me to discover adorable nascent lifeforms on my property. Can’t deal. Can not deal. Must go outside and check on kittens every few hours.

I should be back here soon. In a few day’s time. If I’m not too busy playing Skyrim. Did I mention Skyrim? Yes, well… Skyrim.

29 Apr 2013

spring things

1. April in Boston, man. It’s a dream. The sun shows up in the morning, birds chirping, etc. The sun is still up when I get out of work. Things are getting green again, flowers are everywhere. Lovely cool breezes and sunglasses.

On Friday, we ran the Southwest Corridor park and discovered there is a secret enclave between Mass Ave and Back Bay, a brick-paved throughway lined by flowering trees where rich people play tennis and walk their dogs. A secret city garden.

Yesterday, I wore a pair of shorts. And flip-flops.

Sure, I was a bit freezing when the sun went down, but oh, I can’t resist you, Boston in April.

2. April in other parts of New England – also excellent. Two of my favorite Boston friends invited us out to Newburyport for the day to attend the Newburyport Literary Festival. Junot Diaz being his genius self in the morning, some guy who lulled us to sleep in a darkened theater talking about the history of music and pianos, and Matthew Quick (Silver Linings Playbook) and Evan Roskos (Dr. Bird’s Advice for Sad Poets) riffing on mental illness and art in the afternoon. Good food, better company. When we got home, The Boy asked why we don’t hang out with these particular friends more often – “They are funny, we always have a good time, they make me feel good.” Agreed. That is my favorite part about living here – my universally talented, hilarious, and amazing friends that I am so lucky to have met.

3. Let’s talk about cleaning. Last week I had a lot of time on my hands, so I cleaned. I cleaned every day. I cleaned until my place was about 95% spotless. I’m still experimenting with time-monitoring apps, so I can actually tell you how much time maintaining a high-level clean cost me: 30 to 90 minutes. Every day.

And now that my routine is resuming, my house, of course, looks like a pile of garbage. Does it really take 30 to 90 minutes a day, EVERY DAY, to keep my home looking like civilized adults live in it? That is a daunting prospect. That’s a lot of manual labor (especially after a long work day), and would I choose cleaning over reading? Running? Writing? Going to bed early? Hanging out with those friends I keep going on about? Going outside and enjoying April in Boston? I don’t know, I don’t know. Perhaps I am doomed to live out the rest of my days in relative filth.

Or I need to find an apartment with a dishwasher.

4. Can we also talk about iced coffee? It’s my favorite thing, and it’s almost time to start cold-brewing again. I’ve been using Pioneer Woman’s method for a few years now, but holy crap that cheesecloth drives me nuts. Anyone sitting on an iced coffee secret? I suppose I could just buy a bigger iced coffee receptacle and cut the time spent wrestling with cloth to once a month?

5. I am still doing Required Reading, but that should be over by the end of the week. I’m looking forward to dipping into something new, something shiny. I want to read a beach book. I want to read the new Sarah Dessen. I want to read Animal Vegetable Miracle again. Maybe next weekend will include a book, a picnic blanket, and an iced coffee.

29 Mar 2013

seven things for a friday

1. I got to leave my windowless office today to visit a branch library. It was the cutest little branch by the beach, and such a nice little children’s space – nice collection, nice layout, very neat and well-kept and inviting. A nice way to spend a Friday.

2. This morning I was 10 pages away from finishing The Dinner and 3 tracks away from finishing the last disc of Where’d You Go, Bernadette. Both of these books are the kind of books where there are unreliable narrators and zillions of secrets being revealed in every chapter… so, I was feeling a little reading-tense. I finished The Dinner and found the concluding pages to be decidedly creepy but without any major additional surprises. I’ll let you know how Bernadette goes once I need to do the dishes or fold my laundry.

3. I think my next-up audio is Wonder. I’ve heard OMG BEST BOOK and eh, not that great, so I’m curious. 

4. A few days before Google Reader got axed, I deleted my massive stockpile of blog bookmarks. They were feeling oppressive, and I figured the ones I really wanted to read, I would remember. I added 15 back to my list so far. I’m happy with my decision.

5. I have 10 days to watch 30 episodes of Mad Men. Sooooo… I am watching a lot of Mad Men. I am thinking about Don and why he has so many girlfriends. Seriously, dude. Don’t you get exhausted? Don’t you want a break? You have a high-powered job and a steady-lady… you have children. Don’t you want to come home and like… lie down? Not pretend like you are in love with another lady, like a new vagina will save you from your internal pain? Come on, Don. I hope this series ends with Don at like, 80. I would like to see an 80-year-old Don.

6. If you are a fiction writer-type, you should check out John Truby’s The Anatomy of Story. I’m only a few chapters in, but it’s pretty much what I’ve been looking for lately – straightforward but flexible instructions on building stories in an organic way. Much different than the other writing craft books on my shelf.

7. This is my second list-based post of the month. My apologies.

01 Mar 2013


1. Today is the first day of March. March means my birthday (a holiday I usually like), St. Patrick’s Day (a holiday I usually hate), some basketball, there is some sun out when I get out of work at 5 p.m., and we all hold a sliver of hope that maybe, MAYBE the snow and freezing air and stuff is done with for the year. Just maybe.

2. If it’s light out after 5 p.m. and it’s not freezing or snowing, that means It Is Time To Start Running Again. Super excited! I am thinking of doing the Couch to 5k again because I find it much easier to get excited about  exercise when it’s only 20 minutes and I get to walk half of the minutes.

3. I am kind of stuck in a little reading rut. I haven’t finished a book in a week, which means I’ve been reading the same handful of books for at LEAST a week, most of them more. Boring. Boo.

How did I get so reading-impatient? How did my attention span become so small?

Oh wait, grad school.

4. Did I mention my birthday? Did I mention that I am old? So, so, so old. So old that this past week, my 10 year high school reunion became a thing on Facebook, and people that I thought I had completely forgotten and did not care about are making little red boxes pop up on my notifications and wow, I am old. If we could just refrain from taking about a 10 year college a cappella group reunion for a moment that would be great…. oh wait, that happened yesterday. Suddenly having urges to delete my Facebook account.

5. March means it is time to start looking for a new place to live. This is exciting (yay! a fancy new apartment! or at least one with a shower head that is taller than my own head!) but horrible. Mostly horrible. I’m angsting about leaving my neighborhood – I like it, but finding a place we can afford that has reasonable amenities is difficult. I try to get hyped up about another neighborhood, which is supposedly up-and-coming, so I Google it, of course, limit my results to posts in the past year… and find a bunch of articles about how 5 women got robbed at gunpoint near the T station IN THE PAST TWO WEEKS. Gaaaaaaah.

6. March also means I am going to two comedy shows. One is that rescheduled WTF podcast… and one is Nikki Glaser, of my favorite podcast, and it’s tonight! And it’s being taped for Comedy Central! And it’s free! Let’s stop being sick and melancholy and get excited about March! And also get dressed, because it’s morning and that’s what you do. Especially if you might be on TV later


04 Feb 2013

links i love

What Should Children Read?

I realize that complaining about the Common Core is SO last year at this point… but wow, it is SO WEIRD. This New York Times opinion piece is a good primer of how the Common Core standards interact with children’s literature, and how maybe that isn’t an awful thing. As someone with a soft spot for quality children’s nonfiction, I’d love to see more support for writers and researchers to keep up their good work, and the author of this piece agrees!


Sketchbook Project – Filling my Bookshelves

One of my random passions – looking at the sketchbooks and schedules and handwritten ephemera of strangers. The Sketchbook Project is a collaborative art effort where folks submit their sketchbooks to share with the world. Awesome enough as it is, but librarian Sally Gore took it to yet another awesome level: in the style of Ideal Bookshelf, Ms. Gore used her sketchbook to draw her year’s reading, arranged by topic. Love, love, love it.


10 Year Plan

I have had a three year plan, plenty of one year plans, and zillions and zillions and zillions of one month, one week, one day, one hour plans… but never a ten year plan. In this entry from the Blogher book club, Karen Ballum reviews Kate and Dave Marshall’s My Life Map: A Journal to Help Shape Your Future and although Karen is intrigued but skeptical, I am completely interested.  I should probably not read this book unless I have a few weeks of free time, because I can only imagine how obsessed I might get in creating such a document. Ten years… can you imagine?


The Art of Writing

Nina Lindsay’s essay is on the topic of “What Makes a Book a Newbery Book,” but could really be read as “What Makes Art Art.” She talks about the inherent struggle of writing, of critiquing and comparing books, in how she hopes that one day a Newbery-winning author’s retirement is covered by the New York Times. I liked this quote the best: “If I can see the author’s struggle in a work, then it’s probably not distinguished.  If I can see that the author didn’t struggle: it’s certainly not.” Truth in a contradiction.



Rights and Responsibilities for That Girl That is Desperate To Be Married

It is hard being a girl who wants to be married: the world agrees that yes, you probably should get married, but don’t want it too bad, don’t pressure, don’t have a timetable. Just sit pretty and wait. Frustrating. This is an article I wish I could have found three or four years ago.


Impromptu Thanksgiving Makeover

I read a handful of home decorating/design blogs, and I’ve always wondered what happens to these bloggers once the projects are all finished, when their entire house is done. You can keep tinkering with room layouts and upgrading furniture, but at some point, do you just get the urge to move out and start over? Daniel at Manhattan Nest finds the fun happy medium – visit your relatives over the holidays and force-redecorate a room! This makeover was even more fun because Daniel is redecorating his partner’s teenaged bedroom, so while he paints and rearranges and designs, he’s also getting a peek into a previous life.


The Daily Routines of Famous Writers

Like many pseudo-writers, I have a little bit of jealous fascination for the daily routines of authors, like somewhere in these habits that holds the key to genius and success. This collection is top notch, and reminds me of something important: that creativity and practice and writing looks different to everyone who attempts it. If one routine isn’t working, there are others that might better suit your temperament. Stay flexible, stay hopeful, etc.


The Art of Video Games

I am not quite a gamer, but I am a nearly 28-year-old woman and I still do love video games, I do, and I love the idea of video games as art. With HD and advanced consoles, I’ve seen video games that look more like movies than movies, video games that get trailers at feature films, but there is something artful about older, less visually-impressive games, too. Ever played Katamari Damacy? This game is just as abstract, surreal, and irreverent as any contemporary visual art piece I’ve seen at a museum. The Boy and I visited MoMA and they were in the process of building this video game exhibit; we may have to visit once it is up and running!


Romancing the Writing

I seem to have adopted Sara Zarr as my Patron Saint of Creativity/Writing/Life. Her blog, especially, is just the kind of thing I like to read about writing – honest, straightforward, sometimes questioning or doubtful, but absent of fluff or filler. Zarr takes her writing, her practice, seriously. This post ruminates on this quote from writer/director Scott Derrickson – “It’s ingratitude that destroys that romance” – that seems to apply to writing, relationships, religion, the way that we all live our lives. I don’t know if I will ever be a person who can keep a trendy “gratitude journal” or box or jar whatever else is going around Pinterest, but this article reminds me that the small act of being thankful can change my attitude, my worldview, my life. Be grateful, be grateful, be grateful.


28 Jan 2013

so you ran out of This American Life, vol. 3

You remember my blue notebook, right? Well, I have three weeks worth of data now, and the numbers are in: I manage to listen to 12 to 20 podcasts a week, even without podcasting during my commute. Yow-za.

Anyway, recently I felt the urge to replenish my supply with some new podcasts. I’d recently caught up with a few podcasts I’d started listening to from the beginning (!!) and was feeling like some others I’d listened to a lot were ready to be semi-retired – I’ll listen if I’m in the mood, or if a good guest appears. This happens with blogs I read too: every so often, I want to clean house and add some new blood.

That was a weird mixed metaphor.

This is a long weird way of saying: here are some new podcasts I’ve been digging:

I have not mentioned this before, but I am a big fan of podcasts about Love and Sex and Relationships. You guys are all completely shocked, I can tell. Anyway… This Feels Terrible is a podcast about Love and Sex and Relationships, with an emphasis on how awful they are. Despite my love of the contemporary young adult romance and a tendency to wax mush-tastic about my own current romance, I am actually fairly obsessed with how awful love can be. Host Erin McGathy – otherwise known as Dan Harmon’s girlfriend – interviews comedians and actors about their own romantic histories and their present dating habits, airing all their dirty laundry and dysfunctions. Oh, and it’s funny, too. Also, Erin McGathy talks a lot about her overwhelmingly awkward childhood, which is pretty much my own awkward childhood if I’d had 100x the chutzpah.

I have read blogs that led me to books. I have read books that led me to blogs. I have read blogs that led me to podcasts. I have never listened to a podcast that led me to a blog, but for the past few weeks I have been wondering why the HECK I haven’t been reading Joy the Baker! Joy’s podcast is completely winning – Joy and Tracy (who has her own super-popular blog) are just shooting the shit. There is no other way to explain what this podcast is about. Yes, they talk about blogging, about fashion (sort of), and yes, about food and drinks, but yeah – these two ladies are just friends having a good time. This podcast reminds me of conversations I have with my friends after a few drinks, or any conversation with my sisters. I love it – I’m starting from the beginning, and reading Joy’s super-popular blog.

Some other podcast related updates

Two of my favorite podcasters – Nikki and Sara of You Had to Be There – have landed a LATE NIGHT TALK SHOW ON MTV. It premiers tomorrow night and I am way, way, way excited.

My podcasting friends are still podcasting at JD’s Cocktail Lounge, and are really hitting their stride. Also worth noting: somehow, this podcast has become, in part, a love letter to the bizarre little city where I resided from the ages of 13 to 23. If you ever wanted to know more about Jackson, Michigan and how completely RIDICULOUS it is, or if you are a Jackson resident yourself, then this podcast is probably for you.

WTF is still WTF, but I have to say, these past few weeks? Knocking it out of the park. Favorites of late include Elizabeth Banks, Seth Green, Adam Schlesinger (of Fountains of Wayne)… and I haven’t listened to the Tim Ferriss episode yet, but Tim Ferriss, guys. He is a crazy person, so how can that not be good?

Also, I am going to a live WTF in February!



I should really remind myself of this more often. Grumpy? Cold? Tired? Well, you are going to a live WTF! Woohoo!!

Previous podcast posts:

So You Ran Out of This American Life, vol 1

So You Ran Out of This American Life, vol 2

27 Oct 2012

links i love

The Anxious Idiot

I am someone who suffers from a lot of free-floating anxiety. Maybe I’m diagnosable, maybe I’m not, but in order not to curl up into a ball and die, I sometimes have to focus really intently on separating feelings of anxiety from my intellectual knowledge of what those feelings are and how they act on my body. Daniel Smith writes this piece for a NY Times blog that hits the nail on the head – anxious people are fundamentally idiots, with the term defined as “an impractical and unreasonable person, a person who tends to forget all the important lessons, essentially a fool, one who willfully ignores all that he has learned about how to come to his own aid.” Word.


Straight White Male is the Lowest Difficulty Setting There Is

This is an article about race! Well-known genius, author Jon Scalzi, presents a shockingly straightforward metaphor for American race relations targeted at those who are most likely to misunderstand American race relations and the concept of privilege. You probably need a basic understanding of video games to get the full effect, but this is what I wish all cultural analysis was written like.


Boston From the Red Line

There is a part of the Boston subway that crosses from Boston to Cambridge via a bridge over the Charles River. It is perhaps my favorite part of Boston; when I was interning and taking class and working and exhausted, I woke myself up every morning from my red line snooze to take in the view. The creator of this site seems to agree – and he/she has an iPhone. 


Eight Hours of Sleep and Two Cups of Coffee

My favorite Ashley from Writing to Reach You talks about something that – as you might have noticed – has really consumed my thoughts for the past few years – exactly HOW do you remain a functional, productive, healthy human being? Ashley’s post is a bit more personal/nuanced, but Eight Hours of Sleep and Two Cups of Coffee is about as close to a life’s mantra as I have. Since my life has settled down and I’ve been eating nothing but meat and veggies and olive oil, I’ve been getting more sleep and sometimes not needing Cup #2, which is a great development, I think, but yes, this post hit home as I, too, am readjusting to a certain level of self-awareness that Crazy-Schedule-Jessica was not allowed.

Celebrate Nothing and Everything

I am a fan of non-holiday-related celebrations. Sometimes I neglect to inform those that should be celebrating with me, say, the last day of school, and then those that should be celebrating with me go out for drinks with coworkers and come home after 9 p.m., leaving me alone all evening in a decided state of non-celebration, but that is certainly a communication failing on my part, not a reason to skip random celebrations. The 20-Nothings blog has a great list of random celebrations to add to your life.



Scholastic’s Great Idea: The Legacy of the Babysitter’s Club

The Atlantic writes a little ode to a children’s literature bastion that was The Babysitter’s Club. Starting with the awkward tales of Karen Brewer in the Babysitter’s Little Sister junior series and moving on as I aged up a few years, the BSC was most definitely my multivolume, uber-packaged children’s series of choice. This article is sensitive and comprehensive; I especially liked the bit about how  young Scholastic intern David Levithan (see: Every Day) was charged with keeping The Babysitter’s Club Bible. I wonder how many pages of this tome was dedicated to keeping track of Claudia Kishi’s many outrageous outfits.

Kid Lit Election 2012

I am completely over Presidential election coverage. However, if Charlotte A. Cavatica was running against Jamie Kincaid, I would be glued to the screen. The clever folks at Horn Book have crafted this entertaining series that is distracting me from actual politics. Scroll back through the tag archives for the Democratic and Republican primaries.

10 Things I Never Learned in Library School

There are probably a billion of posts with this title on the interwebs – Library School is a strange beast of a professional program with questionable correlation to the actual profession.

However, this post is not about professional critique. This is about crazy things that happen in libraries. I’m sure many other jobs have laundry lists of strange happenings, but I am not sure that any happenings could be stranger than library happenings.

What To Read? 20 Book Club Recommendations

Holy treasure-trove of books! Janssen of Everyday Reading posted this mega-list of discussion-friendly, fairly-easy-to-obtain, relatively-contemporary titles to suggest to your book club. I went to a work-people book club last month (we read this ridiculous book), and while I am more excited about this month’s selection, this still does not feel book-clubby enough for me… maybe not enough baked goods, wine, and wearing my pajamas? I don’t know why I envision myself wearing pajamas at a book club… nonetheless I may be inclined to enact some sort of ChL Survivors Drunk Book Club/Pajama Party soon, and maybe I will yank a suggestion from this excellent list.

15 Aug 2012

my brain on the internet: workflowy

So I just discovered the best website a few weeks ago and I need to share it with you, post haste.

Y’all are list-makers, right? Organizers, note-takers, chart-makers… the whole lot of you. I can tell.

I am always trying to find the best place to corral my tasks, my goals, and my random thoughts. Actual paper notebooks are great, but they are easily tucked into the wrong purse, too quickly filled up, it’s difficult to keep multiple “sections” of a notebook without mass confusion, and writing out elaborate schedules and plans involves ripped out pages, scribbled out sections, and other atrocities that waste time.

I’ve been looking for a web tool to “take notes” with. I’ve tried emailing myself, but I never open the messages. I’ve tried Google Docs, but I accidentally had to shoot myself because I Just Can’t Stand Google Docs. I’ve tried Word docs in my Dropbox, but the formatting gets so wonky so fast that I can’t keep up any consistent habit.

Then I discovered WorkFlowy:

It’s just a document that you can add bullets to. You can make sections for whatever you like and then add things however you’d like. Huge, nested lists are easy as pie because the tabs function in a way that MS Word could only hope to ever achieve. You can expand any bullet point to a new document, so you can hone in on one category. You can jot down your ideas, your to-dos, your Next Actions throughout the day and then sort them out later. You can cross things off your lists. You can drag items around.

The best part is the website is just so slim – no ads, no bells and whistles, loads so very quickly.

Just go ahead and make it your new homepage, fellow Type A friends. Thank me later.

11 Aug 2012

summer links


What Do Professors Do All Summer?

In an effort to dispel any misinformation surrounding the purportedly leisure-filled lives of full-time professors, this series of posts details a week of summer days spent by one such professional. By nature, I think “day in the life” posts are fascinating… but this particular professor happens to be esteemed children’s literature scholar – Phil Nel of Kansas State University. Spoiler alert – he works hard in the summer to do all sorts of un-salaried projects in and around academia, but because those things sometimes include reading YA books aloud to his wife, talking about his upcoming biographies of kid lit authors, and other such industry bits, this series is EXTRA fun to read!

Thanks, Maurice

I am still sad about Maurice Sendak’s passing, still thinking about the man and his work. This was one of my favorite tributes – a series of artwork by the likes of Tomi Ungerer, Jon Klassen, Marc Rosenthal and the like.

 The Disreputable Analysis of Frankie Landau-Banks

If you were ever wondering why I loved my children’s literature program, please, allow me to enlighten you. These are alums of my program, including a professor of mine, a famous author, and other kidlit elite… aaaand they are talking about one of my favorite books – about feminism and field hockey and what exactly the author is saying. There are like, a zillion videos here. I just watched one while I ate lunch at my desk. Enjoy.

You Can Like What You Like

One of my favorite things about the kidlit/YA world is that reading is always part of the conversation – I don’t think that happens much when talking about adult lit, other than judgmental “Chick lit will rot your brain” stuff. Anyway, I’ve been thinking about my own reading tendencies and purposes lately, and I enjoyed Kelly’s Stacked post on reading independence. It’s fine to analyze, to try to read certain books or genres, to read with purpose… but in the end, you read what you want, and that’s fine.

YA Books Flowchart

Another Stacked lead, from a post featuring the bloggers at Readventurer. This is probably the most brilliant flowchart I have ever seen. I want to make one!!

8 Truths About Home Organization I Learned from the Berenstain Bears

I know, I know – children’s books that is overtly didactic in nature is the anathema of children’s lit champions.

However, if you take a look at my apartment, you will understand why I loved this post and why I wish I would have taken this particular volume of the Berenstain Bear more seriously as a child and learned a few things.


Girly Games, Games for Girls, and Girls Who Game

As a Girl Who Games but has never identified as a “Gamer,” I found this article about the history and tradition of Games for Girls to be really interesting. In other news, a friend just texted me this week and is bringing me a copy of Viva Pinata, a decided girl Xbox game.

 Looking Fat in Photographs

My darling friend Lindsey wrote this piece about Facebook and body acceptance. She is a rockstar and is awesome. The end. Post script: Lindsey, come to Boston and hang out with me. When I get some vacation time, I will come down and hang out with you.

Zen and the Art of Constructive Criticism

I know this might come as a major league surprise to some of y’all, but I am really the most sensitive flower alive. I remember mean (read: slightly critical) things people have said about me from THE FOURTH GRADE. Urgh. Anyway, this is something I work on pretty much on a daily basis, so I liked this article about both giving and receiving the better kind of criticism, the kind that doesn’t make the receiver want to curl up and die… for more than a few hours, anyway.

15 Ways to Stay Married for 15 Years

Again, I am getting an A in marriage. I liked this common sense advice. I think the world needs more common sense advice, sometimes. Okay fine, most of the time.