Songs in the Key of…Something

She’s imperfect but she tries
She is good but she lies
She is hard on herself
She is broken and won’t ask for help
She is messy but she’s kind
She is lonely most of the time
She is all of this mixed up
And baked in a beautiful pie

Sara Bareilles, “She Used to Be Mine”

I’ve mentioned before how music has re-emerged in my life to be something so important to me. I have hundreds of songs favorited and saved. I’ve gone through three sets of Air Pods. I listen constantly – even when I’m in the shower (no, my phone is not in the shower). And it’s interesting how songs take on different meanings depending on where you are in your life. And this is no ground that hasn’t been explored before, but I’m indulging my navel gazing.

I can be a bit pithy when I create and name playlists. I have one named “Ire and Rage.” It’s full of songs that make feel better when I’m angry. I guess a sort of reverse therapy?

I’m a grunge girl and no apologies for that. Hard not to be one considering when I grew up. But I like many different eras and genres of songs. My father loved music, and I credit him with why I love 60s music and just enjoy music in general. I love it all, and I’ll listen to it all. OK. Confession: I’m not a huge country fan, but I do like some songs, and I also enjoy quite a few hip hop songs.

I’ve been told in the past that my tastes are pedestrian. Well, isn’t music meant to be enjoyed? Maybe I’m not rocking out to some obscure song that 5 people know, but I like what I like. Isn’t that the point? I never suggested I was “cool”, whatever that means.

What I love about music is that you can always find something to fit your mood, your situation, your stage of life. That moment when you completely identify with what is being expressed as if they had been in your head…

Strumming my pain with his fingers
Singing my life with his words

Roberta Flack, “Killing Me Softly”

It’s that moment when you realize you aren’t alone. Someone else has felt the same way you have and they have expressed your feeling, whether it be love or happiness or hope or sadness or despair or anger, so perfectly that you feel seen. You are validated. You aren’t ridiculous.

So, yes, as I cycle through various moods and seasons of life, I turn to music. I admit to being slightly embarrassed when Spotify revealed my most-played song in 2022 had been “Malibu” by Hole. I was never a big Hole fan as a teenager (we’ll talk about the fact that I have a “doll part” from a Hole concert senior year another time). There is a rage to both “Malibu” and “Violet” that speaks to me. Because I have a lot of rage about a lot of things. And it’s cathartic. Sometimes I do feel like some are trying to take everything (metaphorically). I have previously mentioned that I also suffer from anxiety, and it turns out anger helps me drown it out, so listening to angry songs helps me to focus and keep the anxiety at bay. It’s been funny watching Daniel start to sing along to some of these songs. And, truly, my playlists are eclectic. I have enjoyed being exposed to different music by many friends, and I can always find something to fit a particular mood.

A year or so ago, a new friend commented that they didn’t think a song had been written yet that described me. For some reason, that popped up in my head today. Probably because in my slightly anxious brain, I was trying to keep it all together and listen to songs as I drove into work today.

I know that statement was meant (I think) to be a compliment on my uniqueness. It was meant to be flattering. But. Today when it popped into my head, it struck me differently. Who among us does not want to feel…seen? Reflected? Included. Maybe that’s what it is. Included.

The thing is that I spent – well, still spend – so much of my life being told how different I am. And I’m not saying that to compliment myself. Sometimes…you want to fit in. Who doesn’t want to know a love song makes someone think of you? Or that rage-y anthem makes someone say, “this makes me think of you because you take no shit!” Or, as embarrassing as it might be, “this song makes me think of that day you cried in theater class because that guy broke up with you and we all kind of stared.”

I guess what I’m getting at is that there would be a sense of being recognized. You belong. You feel the same things we do. Or, maybe, someone else recognizes that you feel the same things regular humans feel. What’s wrong with me that out of thousands of years of music, there isn’t ONE song that could I could be seen in? I have become Other.

And I know that’s maudlin and likely overthinking (something I am also guilty of). But as I’ve said before, I make no apologies for how feelings hit me.

I’m not sure if any readers have noticed, but I’ve tried to append a few lyrics of a song that reflects my mood to my posts. Maybe I really am stunted emotionally at age 15, but they all reflect where I am at a particular time. And I admit that I tend to the darker stuff and wallow in my feelings and internalize and should probably use commas correctly for items in a series.

But that’s where I am. That’s who I am. And no worries…next song may very well be Chuck Berry’s “You Never Can Tell.” I love that song. Makes me dance around my kitchen.

A few weeks ago, I went to a local music show with a friend and the music was great – very eclectic – all over the place. What I loved almost as much as the band was the “youngsters” dancing at the front to the music: headbanging AND moshing. I had the biggest smile on my face.

The kids are alright.

And so am I.

Party Tricks

I need a little levity because one of our cats is very ill and we may need to make some uncomfortable, adult decisions this weekend :-/ Note: sometimes being an adult sucks.

Let’s talk party tricks. I have three:

  1. I was ecstatic when Mel posted last Friday that her daughter is becoming very interested in royalty because *I* have been a devoted regiphile (is that even a word?) for decades and can chatter ad nauseam about the British monarchy from William the Conqueror to present, including spouses and fun facts.  I cannot explain the obsession except that deep down in my black, liberal soul is a long-held desire to be a pretty, pretty princess or queen, preferably in more despotic times. I think I’d be a good benevolent despot!
  2. Thanks to taking Old English for my English degree at Meredith, I had to memorize and recite “Caedmon’s Hymn.” A lot of people think Shakespeare is Old English when it is actually modern.  Chaucer is Middle English (we had to memorize and recite part of the “Prologue” to the Canterbury Tales too), so it can be amusing to recite it for people. And pretentious. And I don’t do it much because who cares about a poem written by a supposedly illiterate cow-herd in the 7th Century?
  3. I can stand on my head. My history with dance could be described as tragic due to my body’s inability to demonstrate coordination, grace or a basic sense of rhythm.  However, one class as a preschooler required us to do a routine that included standing on our heads and doing a few movements with our legs. And I could do it! I can still do it!  OK, I admit I haven’t tried it recently although I threaten to, but I bet with a little practice this old body could still do it. Maybe. And hopefully not have a stroke in the process.

There you have my three party tricks! Of course we’d need to leave the house for me to be able to show them off *at* parties.

What are your party tricks?

20 Questions: More Than You Wanted to Know

PAIL is hosting a meme designed to get to know us better.  They may regret that 😉  Here are my answers to the 20 questions!

1. What was the last thing you threw in the garbage/recycling?

The greasy paper towel on which I microwaved pre-cooked bacon for breakfast this morning.  I had 5 pieces (4 really because I gave one to Daniel), yet it wasn’t very filling.  Kind of like eating bacon-flavored sawdust.

2.  What’s the #1 most played song on your iPod?

“Last Resort” by Papa Roach.  It’s the first song on my Ire playlist.  I love the part where the singer howls in frustration, “I. Can’t. Go. On. Living. This. Way.” I’m not sure what that says about me; maybe I need to take up yoga?

3. What is your favorite quote?

Just one? Impossible.

“Life is a tragedy for those who feel, but a comedy to those who think” (Walpole)

“The world is too much with us” (Wordsworth)

“Can’t talk to a psycho like a normal human being” (Poe – there’s a life lesson there)

4. What chore do you absolutely hate doing?

Is “all of them” an acceptable answer?  Truthfully, cleaning the litter box.  We have geriatric cats who view the litter box as optional, especially when it crosses the line of their (nebulous) cleanliness threshold.

5. What is your favorite form of exercise?

I keep two 10 LB free weights in the closet, and I do tricep and bicep work before I get dressed most mornings.  Sadly, you can’t tell because I appear to lack muscle in general.

6. What is your favorite time of day/day of the week/month of the year?

Time of day: 7:45 PM for story time with Daniel.  It’s the calmest part of our evening.

Day of the week: Saturday. Hopefully I’ve had a chance to catch up on sleep, yet I still have another day off.

Month: October because Fall is in full swing and you have the anticipation of the holidays, but life hasn’t become too hectic yet.

7. What is on your bedside table?

Daniel’s books for story time, a stack of my own books to read, coasters, a book light and a creature that in theory plays soothing music for infants but terrified Daniel.  Jimmy, however, loved it.  We call it the “Kraken.”

8. What is your favorite body part?

Hmm. Maybe my legs because they are long and look nice in dresses and skirts.  Maybe my shoulders because they are broad. Is hair a body part? If so, maybe my hair because of its color.

9. Would you use the power of invisibility for good or evil? Elaborate.

I’d like to say for good, but I’d probably use it to sneak around and eavesdrop.

10.  If you could choose to stay a certain age forever, what age would it be?

Probably my current age of 35.  I feel like I have experience and wisdom but am neither too young nor too old.  My body hasn’t completely crapped out yet, but I have the scars from our infertility journey.  I can’t imagine wanting to stay an age in which Daniel didn’t exist yet.

11. What is the first thing you would do if you won the lottery?

Faint. Then book a trip for the three of us to Europe.

12. What is your biggest pet peeve?

I’d like to stay stupidity, but it goes beyond a pet peeve.  People who can’t get to the point or who complain all the time.

13. If you could know the answer to any question, what would it be?

Is there life after death?

14. At what age did you become an adult

Birth. Just kidding. Sort of. Um…21.  After I graduated college, I decided not to teach, which meant I had to pay back my $25K scholarship.  I decided that paying it back myself and finding my own way was more important than doing something that would ultimately make me unhappy.

15.  Recommend a book, movie or television show in three sentences or less.

That’s tough.  Breaking Bad for its tragic study of the common, modern man. Law & Order because there are 20 seasons to keep you occupied and provide food for thought. The Emperor of All Maladies to make you realize how far we still have to go for a cure for cancer.  Far from the Tree to highlight various ways in which children are alienated from their families. BBC’s Pride & Prejudice because Colin Firth (duh).

16. What did you do growing up that got you into trouble?

I was a perfect child 😉 I sneaked out of the house and rode down the street on my tricycle when I was 3ish.

17.  What was the first album you bought with your own money?

I think Pearl Jam’s Vs. My cassette (!) still had the original title of “Five Against One” on it.

18. If someone wrote a book about you, what would be the title?

Not as smart as she thinks she is.

19. What story do you wish your family would stop telling about you?

My birth story. The doctors had to break my mother’s tail bone, and I always feel guilty about that.  Also, the story about putting a wet diaper on my head to cure my cradle cap.

20. True or False: The unicorn is the greatest mythical creature. State your case.

I’m tempted to say the unicorn, especially since I am one (unicornuate ute) 😉  I dunno.  Being me, I spent 20 minutes Googling “mythical creatures” so I could make an informed decision. Wow, there are a lot of mythical creatures.  Unicorns are cool and all, but what do they do except symbolize purity? I like the griffin. I think “chupacabra” is fun to say. Or maybe a chimera? She sounds pretty bad ass.  Fun fact: did you know that there are human chimeras?  Look up a documentary called “I Am My Own Twin.”

My apologies if you wish you could unread this post.

Blathering: Mercury Retrograde

Last week I was joking with some folks on Twitter that some of the craziness we have seen must be due to Mercury Retrograde.  And it turns out I was correct. In case you aren’t familiar with Mercury Retrograde or aren’t as nutty as I am, things go a bit crazy when Mercury retrogrades.  Nothing goes smoothly, especially in transportation and communication. Technically, I’m supposed to be horrifically impacted by Mercury Retrograde because my sun sign is Virgo (ruled by Mercury), my rising sign is Gemini (ruled by Mercury) and Mercury resides in Virgo in my chart.  In short, it’s a lot of damn Mercury, and I’m screwed.

This week was bizarre, y’all.  Major llama, llama office drama: my boss resigned unexpectedly.  I hosted a team member’s retirement party on Tuesday and was still getting my shit together for it literally minutes before it started. On Wednesday, class let out unexpectedly early, and I was summoned to the office for an emergency meeting for my entire group with our executive director. On Thursday I ran from meeting to meeting to meeting.  After work, traffic was backed up on the route I take to pick up Daniel thanks to a wreck, and when I got to day care, I discovered it was on lock-down because a man had robbed the bank up the street.  Thankfully they let us quickly get our children and leave.

I haven’t been sleeping well either, waking up at 3:30 every day as you probably deduced if you follow me on Twitter.  Actually, no one in the house has been sleeping well.  Daniel has woken up super early almost every day.  The cats can sense when my eyes open, and our geriatric cat Bit starts yowling loudly at our door because she knows we’ll let her in instead of risking her waking up Daniel.  Then she yowls to be put on the bed and she yowls until I rub her.  She falls asleep cuddling my leg (which is kind of nice) but leaving me locked on my side of the bed.

We are so ready for this week to be over.  I was ready for it to be over on Wednesday.  And today begins a new month.  That’s nice because February was weird.  At the beginning of the month, I looked out my dining room window to discover crime scene tape and police cars at my neighbor’s house across the street.  When I couldn’t detect any sense of urgency from the officers, I began to fear the worst and another neighbor confirmed it: my neighbor had committed suicide.  His wife had left him, taking their daughter.  We had noticed moving vans there the weekend before.

For weeks his truck sat in the driveway until I noticed a few days ago that it was gone.  So was the wreath on the front door.  I can’t imagine how sad the wife and child must be feeling and how horrible it must have been to return to that house and finish cleaning it out.  It seems silly, but when I drive by the house, it has an air of sadness and loneliness.  What happens to houses after something like that?  Will anyone live in it again?  What kind of psychic energy has been left behind?

I don’t want to end the post on a down note, so here are a few lighter notes:


A few days ago, we were going over his behavior chart for the day before bed, and Bit (the aforementioned “yowler”) meowed loudly because SHE wanted to be fed.  Daniel leaned over to her, held out his hand in classic “talk to the hand” pose and said, “Hold on, Bitty-Boo.”  We rolled.  I almost cried I was laughing so hard.

Listen to Your Mother

I am humbled and awed and amazed to report that we received 41 submissions.  41!  I would have been thrilled with 20!  Marty and I had to add an extra day for auditions next week.  And the submissions….oh, it’s going to be difficult to narrow down to around 13-14.  We have amazing writers in this area. The Raleigh-Durham show is going to be awesome!


I wore my Lady Gaga socks to work today.  It felt good to wear a new pair of fun socks 🙂 Granted, I wore them with jeans, so it was appropriate.  Next time, I’m wearing them with black pants!

Lady Gaga Socks

She was born this way apparently

Marissa Mayer

In case you missed it, Yahoo’s CEO caused a storm of controversy by mandating that every employee needed to be in the office and rescinding working from home privileges.  My first reaction was, “Thanks for the vote of confidence and support from one working mom to another,” but given the challenges she faces, I think she did the right thing.  It takes commitment to rebuild a culture, and it will be difficult to achieve that if the workforce is dispersed.  Unsurprisingly, her decision has been a hot topic in the blogosphere.  Here are a few of my favorite posts on the issue:

And then there’s this article: “The Quest to Find Realistic Role Models for Working Mothers.” Yes, yes, yes!!!  This article hits on my uneasiness with Anne-Marie Slaughter, Sheryl Sandberg and Marissa Mayer. I volunteered to read Sandberg’s book Lean In and write a review of it for Liberating Working Moms because I’m genuinely curious what she has to say.  I also empathize with Mayer’s position as a powerful CEO of childbearing age who carries the weight of a generation and gender on her shoulders and finds her every action scrutinized from a variety of perspectives (but who also has a nursery attached to her office).  I respect Slaughter’s opinion, yet I wonder if her generation and my generation experience the workforce differently.  And this quote from the above article articulated everything I had been feeling:

When working mother success is defined by the achievements, struggles, and angst of an elite group of women, it overlooks what Judith Warner articulated in Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety as the ability to “accommodate the more average kind of ambition with motherhood. The kind of ambition that most women and men have: to work a sufficient number of hours, at work they find interesting, meaningful, or enjoyable to earn enough money to buy their families a sufficiently good standard of living.”

Exactly.  I have ambition.  I want to do a good job and advance.  I like working, but I don’t want to be CEO of any corporation.  My ambitions and goals as a working mother are very different from Sandberg’s, Mayer’s and Slaughter’s.  We need more “normal” working mothers speaking and writing and advising (that’s critical) about what it’s really like to be an average working mother and what we really need.

How was your week?  Is Mercury Retrograde screwing you over too?

Rambling About Coupling

Last night we hooked up the most adorable piece of equipment I’ve ever seen: the Roku.  It is adorable!  So tiny and cute and precious.  It needs a name.  We’re a family that names and nicknames everything: children, cats, cars, dishwashers, everything.  It should be called something like “Tiny” or “Sweet Pea” or “Cutie Pie” or “My Preciousssss.”

All of that is a long way of saying that we are now a family sans cable.  Jimmy worked from home today, so I didn’t have the terror of coming home and not knowing how to access programming, but that day is coming.  Probably tomorrow.  Tonight, it took us a few minutes to decide what to watch on Amazon Streaming, but we decided on season 2 of Coupling.

Oh, Coupling.  What a great show.  We caught episodes on BBC America several years ago, and for Christmas one year, I bought Jimmy the complete series.  If you’ve never seen the series, I urge you to right away.  Coupling ran from 2000-2004 and is about a group of friends a la Friends only much, much funnier and raunchier.  If you can watch only one episode, I urge you to watch “Lesbian Spank Inferno.”  Every time we see it (and we’re watching it as I type this), we are on the ground laughing

Most of the cast is unknown to American audiences, but two of them stand out.  Steve, the lead, is played by Jack Davenport.  If you’ve seen any of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, then you have seen him as Norrington.  You can also see him in Smash. Jane, Steve’s wacky ex, is played by Gina Bellman who currently stars in Leverage on TNT.


Tonight is the next Powerball drawing.  I’ve antied up at work for a ticket pool and Jimmy has as well.  I would love to win $500 million.  I have no illusions about its likelihood, but it is fun to imagine how we would spend it.  Do you do that?  Do you ever think about what you would do if you suddenly had millions of dollars?  The funny thing is that when I was a child, $1 million seemed like a lot of money.  Now, however, $1 million would not be enough to majorly impact our lifestyle  No, I wouldn’t turn down a cool million if it were offered to me (not in any kind of Demi Moore, Indecent Proposal kind of terms although that might be wishful thinking on my part), but after taxes, you’d probably have $500K left.  I’d probably put it in the bank and let it grow.  And that’s your lottery advice from me tonight.


I’ve been adding a lot of books to my Amazon wish list.  My wish list functions as an online Post It note for me.  It’s where I add things I want to remember like books for me or books or toys for Daniel.  I’m thinking about starting Far From the Tree next.  Have any of you heard about it or started to read it?  There have been several books I’ve had to ignore because I can’t read them due to the fact I’m a parent now.  Books like Blackberry Winter by Sarah Jio that is about a 3 year old named Daniel who disappears one day while his mother is at work.  Sure, it’s set in the 30s but no,no, no, no, no!

OK, that’s enough babbling.  I can’t believe there are only a couple days left in November.  How is your holiday decorating going?  How do you stay centered during the insanity that is December?

Mayan Apocalypse Bucket List - I wonder if the Mayans predicted the end of their civilization as accurately as they are predicting the end of the world

Friends, the time is nigh.  We have less than a month before Dec. 21 arrives and the world ends…how?  In fire? In ice?  Yes, I’m talking about the much-hyped Mayan apocalypse.  The problem is that those wily Mayans didn’t give us any help in figuring out how the world would end.  Their calendar simply ended and since they weren’t considerate enough to leave a Post-It for us, we don’t know if they ever got around to starting a new calendar (you know, environmental disasters, a collapsing civilization and being invaded tend to prevent mundane tasks like paying bills, making calendars etc) or how we should interpret the lack of a calendar.  Yeah, yeah, yeah.  I’ve read the theories that Dec. 21, 2012 means only the end of one cycle and beginning of the next, but aren’t conspiracy theories about impending cataclysms much more amusing?

Since we (possibly) have very little time left on this blue orb, it might be nice to come up with a list of things I want to do before we collectively shuffle off this mortal coil.  I present to you my Mayan Apocalypse Bucket List:

  1. Win Powerball (current jackpot estimated at $500 million.  That’s half a billion dollars!)
  2. Tell the annoying guy at work exactly what I think of him
  3. Disavow current atheism and frantically find religion
  4. Let Daniel dress in Thomas & Friends pajamas every day for the next month
  5. Let Daniel eat Bagel Bites and Kit Kats every day or until he gets tired of them, whichever comes first
  6. Buy Jimmy front-row tickets to the next scheduled Lady Gaga concert (I might need #1 first)
  7. Fly to Europe in first class
  8. Gorge on salt & vinegar potato chips (who cares about weight when the world is ending!)
  9. Get a 4th cat
  10. Hire a housekeeper to clean up after 4 cats
  11. Get the really expensive pedicure that involves hot lava stones, cabana boys and champagne
  12. Finish the 50 Shades of Gray trilogy (just kidding)
  13. Quit work and write Trixie Belden fan fiction full time. Jim & Trixie 4Eva!
  14. Tell Gwyneth Paltrow how insufferable I find her
  15. Download all the books I want to my iPad just in case the world doesn’t end immediately and we have some time to kill
  16. Vodka.  Or wine.  Or both.  I know…champagne!
  17. Call up former friends and tell them what spineless pieces of crap they are
  18. Prepare time capsule for discovery by aliens or future races.  Time capsule contains a Blackberry, Twilight saga, a can of Red Bull and a ColdPlay CD. Giggle at thought of aliens’ befuddlement.
  19. Go to the beach one last time and hope it won’t be like that scene in Deep Impact with Tea Leoni and her father on the beach.  I’m afraid of tidal waves.
  20. Hugs.  Hugs to everyone but especially my guys.

What is on your Mayan Apocalypse Bucket List?

Magic Fall: The Blathering

There’s a lot of crap swirling in my head, but when I woke up this morning, I felt cheeky and staccato, so I thought maybe another blathering post was in order.  Brain dump, commence!

  • I took 10 minutes and brought out my Fall decorations last week.  OK, let’s talk capitalization.  I know that technically, you are not supposed to capitalize the seasons, but I think that rule is asinine.  You can get away with not capitalizing spring, summer and winter (even though I bet the majority of the world will think you are making a mistake by NOT capitalizing them) and be fairly certain that readers will understand you are referring to the seasons even though they might think you are a moron.  Fall, however, could very easily be confused with usage other than the season.  Plus, it offends me on some level not to capitalize the seasons.  Let’s agree that on this blog, seasons will be capitalized, rules be damned.  Where was I?  Oh yes.  My Fall decorations.  They are on display, and it makes me happy to see them.  It also makes Daniel happy because he can climb on a chair and grab one of the pumpkin lanterns.  Like his mother, he’s a sucker for Fall and Halloween decorations, especially pumpkins.
  • Speaking of Fall (I rather like my new rule of capitalization), it’s like the trees finally got the message and are starting to change colors en masse.  I love it.  I love pointing out the colors to Daniel on our way to and from daycare.  My campus is really beautiful this time of year too.  Trees in front of buildings are turning flaming red.  The trees around the lake are changing too.  Right now, it’s just a hint of what’s to come, but in a week or two, it will be a stunning backdrop to the water.  I don’t really think I can explain it, but Fall thrills me.  The way the intensity of the sun has dimmed, giving a slight sepia cast to the days; the way the blue sky is so intensely blue but golden as well.  The vivid leaves.  I can feel my body respond and almost hum.  Some energy that courses through the changing environment calls to me.  I feel it and I welcome it.  I feel alive, which is interesting since in a way Fall is the last gasp of a dying year.  I know.  That’s weird.  I’m weird.  I guess Fall makes me feel connected to the environment.  It’s elemental.
  • We bought pumpkins.  We have Daddy, Mommy and Daniel pumpkins as well as a bunch of little pumpkins.  We’ll likely carve the Mommy and Daddy pumpkins and call it a day.  Despite our best efforts, we’re always carving at practically the last minute.  As for the rest of the pumpkins, Daniel has claimed 4 as his; I still maintain hopes of creating something decorative with the rest.  Don’t hold your breath.

    Interesting use of baby pumpkins

  • I had a lot of meetings this week.  I realized that the rest of October and quite a bit of November will be full of meetings as well.  When I told my staff that I’ll likely be in and out due to meetings, my newest staff member asked, “Why do you have to go to so many meetings?”  I wanted to tell her, “because I’m a masochist,” but I didn’t want to scare her off.  I get through the meetings by doodling copiously and irreverently:

    My doodles tend to be seasonal

  • This week I discovered that the construction area along my commute to work is going to be a new Sheetz.  I am thrilled by this because I love Sheetz.  Sheetz is like the anti-gas station.  It’s clean.  It has great coffee and genuine food options.  It’s colorful.  It’s mecca.  I’ve gone from hardly ever encountering a Sheetz to passing TWO on my commute to work.  Someone is throwing me a bone.
  • I started and finished Tana French’s Broken Harbor this week.  This is the 4th book in her…Ireland detective series?  The characters are loosely connected from novel to novel; she often has a minor character in one mystery who goes on to become the main character in the next.  I love her books because they are moody, lyrical and dark; the story grim and gripping.  Ireland is as much of a character as any person.  That said, I didn’t like Broken Harbor as much as the previous three.  It’s definitely worth a read, but it just didn’t work as well as all the elements in the previous three.   If you like UK mysteries, I also highly recommend Elizabeth George’s mysteries.  Very, very good.
  • The State Fair is in Raleigh this week, and we haven’t gone and probably won’t go.  I thought that maybe this was the year to take Daniel to see the animals and eat some fun fair food but then I decided against it because of the crowds and logistical nightmare of getting there and parking.  I also that he doesn’t know the fair exists, so maybe I shouldn’t borrow trouble before I need to.  There’s also the 40+ pesky cases of E.coli that have been reported. Then I felt guilty and decided I was denying him some vital experience but realized that due to schedules, I may have missed our window of opportunity to go.  Now I’m back to trying to convince myself that he doesn’t know what he’s missing and it’s OK.  Also, E.coli.
  • Along with the rest of the world (so it seemed), we watched Felix Baumgartner’s jump last weekend.  Jimmy and I were riveted, and we told Daniel that Felix was making history.  Daniel’s response? “Skip!” he commanded, the same command he utters when he wants us to skip a section in a movie.  The world?  Seriously awed by Felix.  My three-year-old?  Not so much.  Tough audience.

    What’s so special about him, Mommy?

  • The governor of North Carolina was the keynote speaker at one of the meetings I attended this week.  I happened to be sitting on the aisle, and as she passed by, greeting people, she clasped my shoulder and said, “hi.”  That’s my brush with greatness this week.
  • We may have quit soccer due to life.  By that I mean, car trouble, rain, hacking coughs, etc.  There is one more session and then the “skills showcase” next weekend.  My guilt says, “GO!”  My brain says, “Just stop and don’t worry about it.  Life is too crazy right now and Daniel won’t really care.”  Talk me down, people.  Please.
  • We have 3 elderly, increasingly crotchety felines whom we adore.  All I can say is that I hope Daniel takes as good care of us when we’re that old.  Lucky pusses!

How was your week?  Am I insane?

Ode to a Black and Decker Coffee Maker

A box from the exotic Amazon waits on the porch
for us to get home from our day’s toil.
Mine man’s fingers, they carefully rend it,
Exposing the glory inside to our orbs.

A sigh, an exhale of joy upon spying,
the new, shining maker of coffee inside.
We cradle it like a cherished heirloom,
bathing it gently w/ our cleansing tears.

On the morrow, my auditory sense hearest
the long-silent HISS, the thrilling gurgle
as the maker of coffee works its dark magic;
my heart leaps; my jittery soul rejoices

For it has been 5 moons since
Capricious Jove sent a bolt of wrath
Ushering the old maker of coffee
Off this mortal coil & to the hereafter

But thanks to the Prime of Amazon
A mere 2 days after our order
Our jitters are of auld lang syne
And order had been restored

In the decanter, the dark nectar
has a rich, pumpkiny smell
Prepared to perform alchemy:
the morn grows tolerable.

But verily I say to you,
a truth absolute:
Pumpkin Spice is Fall,
Fall, Pumpkin Spice –
that is all you need to know.

New coffee maker, changer of lives

Very, very loosely inspired by Keats’ “Ode on a Grecian Urn.”

An Open Letter to the Age of Three

Dear Age of 3,
When Daniel was approaching his 3rd birthday, his father and I congratulated ourselves on making it out of the Terrible Twos relatively unscathed.  Oh, we’d certainly had a tantrum here or there, but all in all, his 2 wasn’t that bad.  We thought that we were in the clear.  After all, while the “Terrible Twos” have almost become a cliche, I had never heard of a “Threatening Three,” “Fearsome Four” or “Frightful Five” (I could go on and on making horrifying alliterative names for each year, but I’ll spare you).

Then, Daniel turned 3 and the candles from his birthday cake had barely cooled before he went through a behavior and personality shift that was so dramatic it had me consider the following explanations:

  • he had developed a multiple personality so intense it made Sibyl look like Pollyanna
  • he had suffered a frontal lobe brain injury I didn’t know about (probably while somersaulting off his bed)
  • or he was a changeling, meaning fairies live in the woods (along with the deer that eat my roses and some ginormous carpet beetle queen) behind my house.

As always when I have a burning issue or question, I turned to Twitter and posted about his new behavior.  And the replies startled me.  Moms of boys started telling me that it all sounded normal and that 3 was much worse than 2 for them, and it tended to be that way for boys.

Well damn.  That’s when I realized, Age of 3, that you were the Verbal Kint of developmental phases.  You had convinced us all that ages 2 or 11 or 13 were the Keyser Sozes of child development; they were the ages to fear and dread.  Meanwhile, you were able to creep up undetected and unprepared for.

Age of 3, I’d like to thank you for the delightful changes we have experienced in our child:

Perfect Pitch

You have perfect pitch, Age of 3.  I know, because as the amount of whining has increased exponentially, the tone in which the whining is done effortlessly assaults my ears and grates on my nerves, making me grit me teeth and choke back the urge to scream, “SHUT UP.”  Which I would never do of course because how can you not enjoy a 30-minute sing-song performance of “MommyMommyMommy” at 7am?

Mommy Love

I had always wanted to be the center of someone’s world, and that wish has been granted.  In spades.  Oh Age of 3, how you love your mommy!  Daniel follows me around everywhere.  If I’m in the bathroom, I have company.  If I close the door, he bangs on it.  He follows me into the closet too and enjoys moving my shoes around as well as using the hangers as an instrument. He wants me to pick him up and it must be while standing; sitting and holding him is to be tolerated only in extreme emergencies.  If he clung to my leg, I feel certain I could walk around the house, dragging him behind.

He makes his preference for me painfully clear by telling Jimmy, “Go away, Daddy” or “I not love you, Daddy.”  As you can imagine, Age of 3, those comments are well-received and do not hurt one tiny bit.  Not one tiny bit.  Happily, we’re ruthlessly exploiting Daniel’s empathy and desire for everyone to be happy by telling him that it makes Mommy and Daddy unhappy when he says those things.  The downside is that he now knows those comments bother Jimmy and you can see the impish look in his eye when he deliberately says something hurtful.

Advanced Speech

You speak in sentences, Age of 3!   That’s wonderful because it’s fun to hear sentences with subject-verb-object.  Fun to hear Daniel command, “Mommy, go buy some Nutella” when I tell him we don’t have any.  Enormously satisfying to hear him say imperiously, “Mommy, come here.”  I swear I can hear the implied finger snap (maybe that will come with Age of 4). I do admit to giggling when he says, “Mommy, I need to go poop.”

The only problem with the sentences, Age of 3, is that it lulls me into forgetting that Daniel’s comprehension doesn’t quite match his speech.  He can say something like “I want to eat that” in reference to the booger he just pulled out of his nose, and we fruitlessly try to argue with him, to reason with him about why he should not eat the booger on his finger.  We forget that reason and logic just aren’t quite there yet. So he eats the booger, and we throw up our hands, frustrated and disgusted.  Or when he misses the grapes I oh-so-carefully pointed out on our commute to and from day care and he tells me over and over, “I want to see the grapes” while I explain (over and over) that we missed them and we’ll see them again tomorrow, and I’m sure there’s a hysterical note in my voice and a vein throbbing in my forehead. Also, see “Perfect Pitch” above.

Oh, Age of 3.  We truly have experienced many delights in the 2 months Daniel has been 3.  Thank you, Age of 3.  Thank you.  I can’t wait to see what joys the next 10 months have in store for us.


Daniel’s Mommy

Career Paths Not Taken


Careers I Abandoned by the End of Elementary School

  • Singer – my family used to call me “Juice” for Juice Newton because I loved the song “Queen of Hearts.” They did not necessarily mean it as a compliment.
  • Artist/Chef – I think I was going to cook during the day and paint at night.  The fact that I have no artistic ability did not deter me.
  • Family Doctor – No specialty for me.  I wanted to be a simple general practitioner.  I think that I had played one too many games of Life and was lured by the high salary and respect a doctor commanded.  I abandoned it when I realized I didn’t have a burning desire to heal people (at least physically).

Careers I Abandoned by the End of Middle School

  • Lawyer – I was disillusioned by a meeting with a bona fide lawyer during career day in the 8th grade.  He told us it didn’t matter whether he thought his client was guilty; it was up to him to defend his client and for the prosecution to prove their case.  I was shocked.  How could he defend someone who might be guilty of the crime for which they were accused?  Oh, 13-year-old naivete and innocence.
  • Advertising Account Executive – Wow, dreaming big here.  I pored over the career books in the local public library and kept returning to a career in advertising.  I liked to write and liked the idea of helping create influential campaigns.  Or something like that. Or maybe I was presciently tapping into the creation of Mad Men.

Careers I Abandoned by the End of High School

  • President of the United States – I briefly thought about being the first female President.  I would be a benevolent dictator and the country would reach a new golden age under my careful, wise governance. And then I realized I didn’t really have the stomach for politics or the fact that I’d need to lead a squeaky-clean life.  This was 1992, and I was 15-years-old.
  • Actress – I started participating in community theater when I was 8 and also performed in school and church plays.  Of course I would at some point fantasize about becoming an award-winning actress, a stunningly-beautiful and talented movie star.  I eventually realized that I liked to eat and didn’t really have the mentality or the drive to be a starving artist.

Careers I Abandoned by the End of College

  • School Psychologist – I was awarded a Teaching Fellows scholarship and when I entered college, my ultimate career goal was to be a psychologist, and I hoped I could fulfill my Teaching Fellow requirements by being a school psychologist.  That plan was foiled because at the time, school psychology was not one of the approved jobs.  Wouldn’t you know that a year or so later, school psychology was added.  By then it was too late though because…
  • Psychologist – I eagerly took my first psychology course and couldn’t wait to learn all about the mysteries of the mind.  I was disappointed, though, because everything about our personalities and feelings seemed to be reduced to chemicals and mis-firing synapses.  I wanted to be a therapist and help people using words, not drugs.
  • Teacher (Theater, ESL, English) – Oh, I tried so hard to find a teaching path that worked for me.  I thought about teaching theater.  After a class project, I thought about teaching ESL.  I finally settled on teaching high school English because I was an English major, loved literature and wanted to become a professor eventually.  Small children were not for me, so I thought high school English would be fun.  I completed student teaching and all the requirements for licensure but admitted to myself shortly after graduation that my heart wasn’t in it. 
  • Professor – Once upon a time I dreamed about being a comparative literature professor.  My languages would be French and German. I had been accepted into the MA program in English at NC State and planned to pursue a doctorate elsewhere.  After I decided not to teach, I realized that being a professor was kind of like teaching and it seemed silly to pursue it.  Plus, I was tired of school and wanted to work.  I also liked the idea of, you know, making money. One day when I retire, I plan to return to grad school to earn a graduate degree in English for fun.  Yeah, I’m weird like that.

Careers I Abandoned by the End of Graduate School

  • Public librarian – I entered grad school thinking I wanted to be a public librarian.  I wanted a job that wasn’t very stressful and didn’t ramp up my anxiety like my current workplace did (keep in mind that my anxiety was self-induced. My job was in no way stressful).  I was tired of what I was doing and thought that being a librarian would be fun and a change of pace.  Keep in mind that I knew nothing about actual librarianship at that time.  After a few courses, I decided that I was interested in other things and hated cataloging.

Career Paths I Am Likely to Abandon in the Future

  • Business intelligence developer
  • Lady of leisure
  • Information broker
  • Market Researcher
  • Benevolent despot
  • Web developer
  • Social media researcher
  • Lottery winner

In short, I’m 34-years-old and still have no idea what I want to be when I grow up.

What was the most surprising job you wanted to have when you were younger?  How do you feel about what you are doing now vs what you thought you would be doing?


  • People are starting to find my blog via searches for “Trixie and Jim fan fiction.”  I am highly amused by this.  My work here is done!
  • I’m having a touch of writer’s block (obviously-see above post).  Inspire me – suggest a few topics for me.  Anything goes, even if it’s silly.  Or, questions?