Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 in Facebook Statuses


This fuzzy, muddled week between Christmas and New Years is REFLECTION TIME and I think it's pretty important to look back and figure out what you did with yourself during the last 365 days. You're awesome, I'm sure you worked hard. 

I use my personal Facebook A LOT and I decided to go back month by month and see what I had been up to. I also checked the archives here, and did a cursory scan of my Instagram and Twitter accounts. I don't hold back much, so this gave me a pretty good idea of what my year was like. 

JANUARY:
We drove home from Florida (where we spent post-Christmas and New Years) and listened to Serial. I talked a lot about books and posted videos of the kids. I shoveled a lot of snow. Elliott turned 2. Penguin died in Ben's arms and it was strange saying goodbye to him. My favorite book I read in January was EVIL LIBRARIAN by Michelle Knudsen. My favorite quote was from our road trip.

January 2Fredericksburg, VA
The 10-yr-old in this Subway, wearing stretchy pants and thick glasses, laying sideways across two chairs, reading a paperback and chewing on a straw? She's my spirit animal. I love her.

FEBRUARY:
I read two trilogies and there were a ton more snow days. Papa died and my flight got canceled to go be with the family, so I posted a lot of pictures of him, and everyone reached out with lots of love. Parks and Rec ended and I devoured YES PLEASE  by Amy Poehler. The kids and I danced A LOT to Shake It Off. My favorite quote was from Milo.

February 21
Milo: Maybe when I'm older I can love a guy or a girl or a zebra or a cat.
Anything, baby.

MARCH:
Lots more books. Ben's horror trailer was shown at the Boston Underground Film Festival and I was so damn proud. I took Elliott to meet his bae, The Very Hungry Caterpillar. We had Papa's memorial service in Vermont and there was lots of lovely singing and remembering. I was deep into watching Friends on Netflix and reposting from Humans of New York (kind of a theme for 2015 in general.) My favorite book I read was WHEN YOU REACH ME by Rebecca Stead. My favorite quote was from Laurel, actually spoken in 2013 but still my favorite quote of possibly all time.

March 16
Two years ago

Debating whether to send flowers as a bday gift. Laurel: "well, they're going to die. But so are we."

APRIL:
In April I did Camp NaNoWriMo, adding another 30K to my word count for my novel, and really started trying to figure out how to end this thing. It was getting warmer and the pictures of my kids showed snow melting and mud pies being made. I went to The Lady Project Summit in Providence, but it took me a few weeks to realize how honestly disappointed I was in the whole thing. During April vacation, my mother-in-law took both boys so I could spend an adult day by myself in Portsmouth, and that was incredibly special. I wasn't over the moon about anything I read that month, but if I had to guess I'd say my favorite was ATTACHMENTS by Rainbow Rowell. My favorite quote was about some of my favorite things: my kids and Target.


April 28
Afternoons with these kids are the best. Elliott is super chill and content to cruise and listen to music, whereas Milo needs to know the plan and always suspects I'm secretly taking them to Target.

MAY:
Lots of writing and reading and hanging out at playgrounds with my sweet little ones. We celebrated Mother's Day at the Gardner Ale House. We ate a lot of popsicles. My kick ass nephew turned one. I loved reading STATION ELEVEN by Emily St. John Mandel and READY PLAYER ONE by Ernest Cline. My favorite quote is tied.

This realization about my writing:
May 6
Trying to write a badass girl character and constantly going back to her dialogue to remove "I think that maybe," "If you don't mind," and "I'm sorry, but." This shit is INGRAINED, yo.

And this accurate representation of many of my discussions with my husband:
May 23
Me: What things do you think are real and what things do you think are made up?
Ben: *looks at me tiredly*

JUNE:
SUMMER, SUCKAS! A teacher's life is truly the best. MILO GOT A LIBRARY CARD! Ben and I celebrated eight years of being married. I printed my novel on paper. I folded and bought a season pass to our local farm/adventure park, then spent the entire summer pretending Elliott was under two, even though he was edging closer and closer to three. We celebrated Ben being a rad dad. Elliott sang a lot of songs on video and became a mini-internet star. I read a lot from the FEARLESS series by Francine Pascal and reread GIRL OF NIGHTMARES by Kendare Blake, a favorite YA horror series. My favorite quote kind of sums up how I am treated like a princess.

June 7
I've been reading in the tub for an hour. Ben just delivered me a slice of cold pizza. ‪#‎beyourbestself‬ ‪#‎holdoutforafairytale‬

JULY:
Our yearly 3rd of July trip to Gloucester for the parade and fireworks was a success. I went on a REALLY fun vacation to Florida with a lot of my female family members to celebrate my sister's wedding- we fit a bachelorette and a bridal shower into one weekend and I had a TOTAL blast. I read lots and lots and started submitting book and TV reviews to What the Fangirl. I had some really great dates with lovely friends. We had a cookout and I got the first part of the tattoo on my forearm. I drank a lot and wrote a lot and lived the damn life. My favorite book was THE AWESOME by Eva Darrows. My favorite quote was real.

July 28
Fantasy: "OH my god, the kids are gone for 24 hours, I'm going to go to the gym, hang pictures, shower and dress proper, date my husband, and generally SEIZE THE DAY!
Reality: "OH my god, the kids are gone for 24 hours, I don't have to wear pants and will not be interrupted during this marathon obscure fanfic search."

AUGUST:
Going back over these months makes me ache for summer, traditionally my least favorite season of the year. We went to Sesame Place as a family and spent a really fun day with my aunt and uncle at their house in Delaware- Milo still talks about jumping off the diving board with Captain Jack. We went to Cherry Hill for ice cream often. On the internet I was obsessed with the Buzzfeed videos "If Guy _________ Were like Girl _________" and The Toast's series "If ___________ was your girl/boyfriend."  School started. My favorite books were both graphic novels: DRAMA by Rania Telegimi and NIMONA by Noelle Stevenston. My favorite quote makes my heart squeeze up a little.  

August 28
I need to be corny for a minute. At the end of a busy first week back, I'm feeling so heart-swellingly grateful, and I can't stay quiet. I love being where I am right now: living in my sweet friendly neighborhood, working with people I love and admire, watching my kids rough and tumble little members of their gang. I like running into neighbors at the grocery store and seeing students at the street festival. I've moved around a bit and it's taken a few decades to find my groove, but I am really lucky to feel so at home in a place I wasn't born. A lot of you are a part of that, so thanks.

SEPTEMBER:
In September I got to know and love my current class, my little sister got married (which meant family vacation to Florida and Milo's first big trip without us to stay with his Mimi), and Ben and I went to a dear friend's wedding in Vermont where I rode a ski lift with increasing excitement throughout the evening. I had a whirlwind birthday weekend with Ben when we stayed in a nice hotel and went to see Book of Mormon in Boston. I read my first issue of Ms. Marvel and got really into Doctor Who. My favorite quote demonstrates the fine white girl tradition of getting amped for FALL.

September 9
Hi. I'm Ashlie. I'm a 30-year-old white female, and I will buy literally anything if you decorate the package with rustic flowers and put the word 'fall' on it.‪#‎fall‬ ‪#‎pumpkinspice‬ ‪#‎yogapants‬ ‪#‎brunch‬ ‪#‎applepicking‬ ‪#‎scarfweather‬‪#‎notevenkidding‬ ‪#‎icanteven‬ ‪#‎icantstop‬ ‪#‎help‬

OCTOBER:
This month was huge huge huge. Milo turned 4 and we picked a lot of apples. I turned 30 and my mother, husband, and sister threw me a HUGE surprise party. Laurel orchestrated a whole weekend where I felt so special and spoiled, and the twins flew in from Florida to surprise me. After a whole day of being pampered in the city with my sisters, I got home to find all my nearest and dearest under a glowing tent in the backyard, and MY MOM AND RAY HAD FLOWN IN, TOO. One of my best friends had driven from New York with her sweet baby. I saw so many faces of people that I loved and drank a ton of great beer. I am still reeling from the amazement. I also visited the Boston Book Festival for the first time and heard amazing speakers and left so excited to be a reader in this awesome world. I heard Hamilton for the first time. Halloween was lovely and Ben took a picture of all of us as Star Wars characters. The month was exciting and exhausting. My favorite book was CARRY ON by Rainbow Rowell. My favorite quote speaks to a yearly issue.

October 3
Pumped full of steroids to fight poison ivy. Let my first dose really set in and now I'm headed to Market Basket to hulk out on the first asshole to cut me off in the deli.

NOVEMBER:
In November I wrote a ton and had an awesome Thanksgiving.  I squeaked through NaNoWriMo by the skin of my teeth and still didn't realize my goal of completely finishing my novel. Thanksgiving was lovely and meeting up with my sister for Black Friday was awesome. I listened to Hamilton. My favorite book was THE DIVINERS by Libba Bray. My favorite quote was about how crazy the world is getting at the end of 2015.

November 18
Facebook: daily revealing prejudices about people you were happy just smiling at in real life.

DECEMBER:
This month was kind of a fever pitch of holiday activities and wrapping up the year. Ben turned 36 and we finally saw The Force Awakens.  We met Santa and bought presents and spent time with friends. We ate cookies and listened to Hamilton. A lot. We spent Christmas with family in Delaware and spent a busy/amazing day in Philadelphia. Humans of New York featured a bunch of Syrian refugees getting ready to come to America and it broke my heart every day.  My favorite book was LAIR OF DREAMS by Libba Bray. My favorite quote was from a day of shopping with Milo.

December 19 at 5:02pm
Shout outs to: the lady picking up her check at Dunks sipping on a Gourmet Donuts coffee, the people at Old Navy who found my lost iPhone, and the shoppers who patiently stepped over my four year old when he finally gave up and laid flat on the floor of the mall on the Saturday before Christmas. You all made my day.

Guys, this year was just one long party. I bought what I wanted and I read what I wanted and a traveled a ton. I met friends for dinners and book dates and I got my kids hooked on the music I loved which made all car rides pretty awesome. Even though no major milestones were worked for me personally, the year felt super full and I love that I spent so much time really settling into my tastes and preferences. That's not something I granted to myself any earlier in life.

2016 will be a little different. I have some work to do, some plans to make, and some shit to finish. I'm going to hang onto this year as a memory of fun and living true to my desires, and appreciate the awesome kick off to the next decade.

My favorite posts of the year: On diets and health food and feminism and power, Take the Compliment. Seriously., Shower Drinking, Diary of Going 96 Hours Without My Cellphone, In My Next 30 Years

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Top Three 2015 Releases



I read more this year than I had in many, many years before it. Even before my kids were born, I was a recreational reader at best, spending a lot more time perusing blogs and rereading the same three or four novels. My word for 2015 was write, and I did, but the one thing I've learned is that writers need to read, and there is a LOT of good stuff out there to get excited about.

So many books touched me this year, but I really want to highlight three that were released in 2015. I mostly read YA written by women, and these three books are no exception. Some books are important to me because they're page-turners, some for their love triangles (I am SUCH a sucker for a good love triangle), and others because something about the plot or structure helps me in my own writing. These three were special on the merit of their stories.

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

Goodreads summary: Nemeses! Dragons! Science! Symbolism! All these and more await in this brilliantly subversive, sharply irreverent epic from Noelle Stevenson...Nimona is an impulsive young shapeshifter with a knack for villainy. Lord Ballister Blackheart is a villain with a vendetta. As sidekick and supervillain, Nimona and Lord Blackheart are about to wreak some serious havoc. Their mission: prove to the kingdom that Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin and his buddies at the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics aren't the heroes everyone thinks they are.

There is SO MUCH GOOD in this graphic novel. I immediately identified with Nimona because she's a chick in a comic with hips and thighs and a belly on her. I was never interested in cosplay before I read this book. The way Nimona looks features exactly zero into this story, which is also refreshing. (She's actually a shapeshifter, so she can look any way she wants. She mostly turns into animals.) Then I started warming to the nuanced relationship between the "evil" Balister Blackheart and the "hero" Sir Goldenloin (YUP) and then I just realized that I was head over heels for all of it, all the relationships and the mishmash of science and magic and Nimona herself, an unsexualized, bloodthirsty, adorable female protagonist with thrills and flaws and humor. (Bonus points: the creator, Noelle Stevenson, is the best on Twitter (@gingerhazing). I cried reading her thoughts of seeing girls in The Force Awakens)

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

Goodreads summary: Simon Snow is the worst chosen one who’s ever been chosen. That’s what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he’s probably right. Half the time, Simon can’t even make his wand work, and the other half, he sets something on fire. His mentor’s avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there’s a magic-eating monster running around wearing Simon’s face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here—it’s their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon’s infuriating nemesis didn’t even bother to show up. Carry On is a ghost story, a love story, a mystery and a melodrama. It has just as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story—but far, far more monsters.

I was waiting for this one. This was my year of Rainbow Rowell- I read Fangirl around this time last year and went bananas. Early in 2015 I flew through Landline and Attachments, started following Rowell on Twitter, and realized what Carry On truly was: a novel featuring the characters and plot that were the basis of all the fanfiction in Fangirl. It's a departure for Rowell, with all the fantasy and magic, but she weaves it into a modern society with this world building that I really enjoyed, and of course, the characters are what makes it worth loving. Penelope Bunce is my opposite and I admire her hardcore and she might be my favorite book girl I met this year. This is the only book I've read twice in 2015, and I know I'll be reading it again soon.

Lair of Dreams (& The Diviners) by Libba Bray

Goodreads summary: In this heart-stopping sequel to The Diviners, Printz Award-winning and New York Times bestselling author Libba Bray takes readers deeper into the mystical underbelly of New York City. (I'm only sharing the last paragraph because this is a sequel and I sincerely suggest you read The Diviners before diving into Lair of Dreams.)

Libba Bray was the YA keynote speaker at the Boston Book Festival this year, and I heard her speak before I had ever read any of her books. She was hilarious (Talking about her process: "I don't outline. I had fourteen outlines for Lair of Dreams. The thirteenth was called 'Help Me Baby Jesus.' The fourteenth was called 'Jesus Can't Help You.'") and engaging, and when I got home I started reading the first in her most recent series, The Diviners. The book is meticulous and sprawling, set in the 1920s with a large and diverse cast of characters. The background is researched to death (in the best possible way) and the details flesh out a world that you basically inhabit while reading the book. I particularly liked the slang. Sam calling everyone "doll" kind of did me in. Add in a hit of magical mysticism and I was hooked. Like, stop at the bookstore on the way home to pick up Book Two hooked. Lair of Dreams continues with the same characters you come to love and has the same loving attention to detail as the first, with a disconcerting echo of some of the scary social issues we're dealing with today. I am eagerly awaiting the next book in the series.

There were other books that stuck with me this year that didn't make the list because they weren't published in 2015 OR had some major problems but I loved them anyway: Evil Librarian, When You Reach Me, The Awesome, The Darkest Part of the Forest. You can see all the details on my Goodreads year-end round up here

Here are some other year-end book lists to spark your interest: book punks, 100 damn good books of 2015, new york times notable children's booksthe mother of all lists (this is a HUGE list of OTHER top book lists, so get some coffee and have at it)

What was your favorite book you read this year? More importantly, anything you have your eye on for 2016? I'm ready to fill up my TBR pile. Here we go.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

A few gifts to get pumped about

It seems like doing gift guides is less popular among the blogs I follow this year, and that makes me sad. I love seeing what is out in the world, and not just the fifty dollar craft marshmallows Real Simple suggests to me as stocking stuffers. If gift-giving is something you do this time of year, here are a few ideas for yourself and the other special people in your life.
I'm enamored of this print showing Rosie the Riveters from many different walks of life. If this could be the logo of Be Your Own Lady, my life would complete. Roaring Softly (an Etsy shop) has a ton of great pop culture prints, including some featuring Leslie Knope and Liz Lemon. Give one of these prints to your sister, aunt, or best work friend over margs and guac and finish 2015 right.

It's not a secret that I think Humans of New York is one of the most important things on the internet. I regularly share stories that touch me, and the photographer's work with Syrian refugees has taught me so much. It is a beautiful thing. Brandon has two books out- his first, which is full of pictures of the interesting people he meets, and one that came out this year, called Humans of New York Stories. This second edition includes the little quotations that the people he photographs share, all of which, even the simple ones, are special and intimate and inspirational. This gift is not just for people who love New York, good photography, or a sneak peek into strangers' personal lives, although it's a good place to start.

Modern Girl Blitz is one of my absolute favorite places for stickers and jewelry right now. Her subject matter includes feminism, typewriters, ghosts, and witches. I also really enjoy following the owner on Instagram- she posts about sales and about her process. The Feminism Is Cool and this tape cannot measure greatness stickers are must haves for the patriarchy-smashing girl in your life.


A few months (even one delivery!) of a subscription service is a wicked special treat. I'm fond of the Book Riot boxes- I asked for a subscription to their YA service for Christmas. I have no direct experience with these, but who doesn't like getting mail? You can find subscription services for everything from coffee to makeup to baby products, and then you're set for that person who has it all!

Funko Pop is a genius company. They've made these catchy little dolls, a good number of which cannot stand up on their own, that do NOTHING, and I am desperate to buy a good half of the ones they produce. If you name a fandom, Funko Pop has it covered, including popular cult shows and 80s movies, Nerd heaven. I am currently collecting all the badass girls I love, and have Hermione and Willow so far. Buy a few together or pick up a copy of your recipient's favorite book or movie and include a key Funko to make the gift...I'm gonna do it...pop.

There is nothing that will make you feel more terrific than donating to charity- give that feeling as a gift  to someone else. One of my favorite presents my mother ever gave me was the year she donated a year of education to a girl in rural Afghanistan in my name. For an extra touch, pick a charity that is particularly important to the recipient: give to Planned Parenthood in honor of the women in your life, support NPR for your informed father, make a donation to a local school in the name of your cousin who teaches, give to veterans for your aunt who served. I suggest using Charity Navigator to find an organization- they are a database of thousands of charities, but more importantly, they rate them and give information on how much of the money actually goes towards the cause. Spend some time on the site and find a special charity, then make a donation within your budget that will do the double whammy of helping someone else AND letting you give a meaningful gift to someone you love.

What are you looking forward to giving this year? Is there anything you're REALLY hoping to get? I made a Christmas wishlist on Pinterest, but I'm totally buying the Steve Zissou earrings for myself.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

The importance of friendswholiketrump.com and other eyeopeners

It is a scary time to care about the world you live in. I'm supposed to post a holiday gift guide this morning. I am probably going to post it tomorrow. It is mostly full of things that will let you forget about international terrorism, politics, sexism, classism, and discrimination.  It will not make you ponder anything more difficult than whether or not your uncle would actually use a coffee-of-the-month subscription. But real life- the life of refugees fleeing violence and public figures who spew hatred- it's still happening. And I need to talk about how we deal with that; specifically, how we view this reality, and how it might be different than the view of your neighbor, coffee-loving uncle, or even some of your closest friends.

The beauty of America is that we get to say whatever we want. We can criticize our government or our grocery store  and no vans will pull up outside our house. We will not disappear in the night. Thank you, America, for protecting our right to free speech. It's what we're built on. We still have control, though, as private citizens. We choose our radio stations and news channels. We decide who we will follow on Twitter, we "unfollow" the Facebook friends who we socially can't unfriend but still don't want to hear from.  We surround ourselves with circles of like minded people, and we carefully guard our opinions by whittling down other points of view. It's perfectly normal. I've unfriended people in a heartbeat for making fun of Caitlin Jenner for being a trans woman or posting sexist memes that make me uncomfortable. I've muted both liberals and conservatives who post politically with a frequency that tires me. It's harmless. Kinda. Until you realize that you're only interacting with people who think exactly like you do, and you start to forget the part of the population that is still holding onto that other, [in your mind] completely dismissable world view. They're only talking to the people who agree with them.  

I realized this recently when I broke my rule and read the comments on an eye-opening piece about becoming aware of your own white privilege. There were positive comments, the obvious trolls, and then...dissenters. Some polite. Some pointed and rather aggressive, but well-spoken. None of them convinced me that white privilege doesn't exist, but some brought up points that made me think. In the end, my own argument about and explanation of white privilege was stronger for hearing out people who think very, very differently than me. It was a little unsettling to feel like I had learned something from people who actually believe that being born white doesn't put you ahead in our society. But it was something I learned about myself, and it helped me articulate my feelings.

I live in a pretty conservative city, and I am constantly reminded that the liberal nature of my Twitter feed does not match up with my flesh-and-blood reality.  There was a time when this fact would have made me want to move somewhere where more people think like me [spoiler alert: I don't even know what "think like me" means, I'm in a season of my life where I'm basically learning a lot about my own ignorance] but that won't solve any problems. If I love my city (I do) and I feel strongly about my opinions (check), then my city needs me.  And if something contentious comes up and I want to articulate my stance well, I have to constantly question WHY I feel the way I do. Hearing other viewpoints makes you constantly question your own.

I used the website friendswholiketrump.com this morning, and I actually gasped out loud. I did not think it would be so emotional to realize that people I love, family members and friends who I smile at every day, support a person who puts so much dangerous ugliness into our world. The tagline of the article I read was "the unfriend button has never been so important." But actually, I'm thinking these are the people who need to see my Humans of New York shares about the rich lives of Syrian refugee families and be reminded of the people of Muslim faith in my own family. These are the people who, at Christmas and in passing, need to hear me say "Those people fleeing Syria could be us." Those people fleeing Syria could be us.

Take a minute to think before you unfriend every single person you know who likes dangerous politicians or makes a comment about keeping "those kinds of people" out of "our" country.  Even if you believe that they are wrong, even if you recognize that they're coming from a place of ignorance, being reminded that there are other viewpoints is important, ESPECIALLY if you think those viewpoints are dangerous. Recognize the problem (people in your life, people you may love and cherish, are supporting some dangerous views) and realize that interacting with you might be really important.  You may not change anyone's fundamental values, but you can be an onslaught of humanizing reminders that women, immigrants, and people of the Muslim faith are your brothers sisters teachers coaches doctors neighbors and need to be treated like people.

And maybe you won't help anyone. Maybe the people who really need the reminders will mute your shares or dismiss them out of hand. But it's also important to remember that there is a group of people out there who support a worldview that is dangerous. These are not just people who are old, uneducated, or in the deep south- they're around. They're in your friends list. And their existence means we need to work hard to protect groups that need protecting and speak up for people who deserve our support.

Two things to keep in mind-


Let it be known that :


Christian does NOT equal hater of Muslims. Or any other religion.

Conservative does NOT equal brainless follower. Or hater of any kind.

I am both and I have friends and family who follow several different religions. I love and RESPECT them all.

There are radicals of every ilk, color, creed and religion in this country.

Let us not let FEAR guide us but instead, let's be the light. -Kelly Hanley (my sweet mama)


1. When I say "danger," I'm not referring to conservatives as a group by ANY means. My lovely mother posted the above Facebook status and it really sums things up. The danger is anyone who lets hate or fear dictate the way they treat people they don't understand, and yes, even posting jokey memes or making offhand comments on Facebook qualifies as treating people with hatred.

2. I understand that there is a difference between staying in contact with someone who occasionally says something hateful and that person in your life who posts an onslaught of ugly that raises your blood pressure and deeply unsettles you. If you're exposed to something that is hurting you, definitely remove that influence.  Take the above advice, like everything, with a grain of salt and some serious consideration about how this will apply to your situation.

Keep fighting the good fight.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Coffee & Blogs No. 23

How was your week? I have been reeling from all this newly acquired free time, taking a break from my manuscript, and spending an inordinate chunk of head space wondering if anyone has watered the Christmas tree. I have not once watered the Christmas tree.

Let's get down to business. You want some links, don't you? Read away!


Listen to Hamilton. I am OVER THE MOON for this amazing show, and have resorted to bullying people into listening so we can sing it and quote it at each other (Thank you, Anna, for taking the brunt of this so far!). I have access to the entire playlist on Spotify but am probably going to buy the CD because I need the booklet and that is where I am at at this point. We will talk more about this later. For now, just listen.

I've been an on and off Yes & Yes reader for years, and just recently started checking in daily again. Sarah's true stories are amazing (Humblebrag: I was interviewed by her about being a child missionary. If it ever gets published, I will share it here with all the squees in the world!) and this one about living in a haunted house was surprisingly pleasant! A more sobering but just as lovely read is her interview with a woman who was in federal prison. The "instagram famous" one was really interesting, too. Check them all out.

It's an advent calendar. A literary advent calendar! A seasonal poem or short story for every day to Christmas. I'm reading things I never would have, and that makes me happy.

A police agency in the UK created this video that compares sexual consent to offering people tea. It clarifies consent in a way that is slightly jokey but also SERIOUSLY IMPORTANT.  When I was in college (the most sexually free/dangerous time I can pinpoint for modern young people) consent was not discussed openly, and I would have told you it only mattered if someone was saying no. The idea of asking for permission or saying yes was goofy, embarrassing, and NEVER TALKED ABOUT.  Drunk people lost consent rights by kind of unspoken agreement. Trust me. I'm so happy the conversation is changing, and I will be showing my boys this video, probably from the time they're about 12 on. They will hate me for it. But they will never give anyone tea who does not want tea. "Unconscious people don't want tea."

More Yes & Yes: Scout Finch in 2015. Sarah also gives us modern-day vingettes of Anne Shirley and Lizzy Bennet. I have requested Francie from A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and Hermione Granger, because.

Realizing that some of the best things that are in my life are mine by virtue of where I live and who raised me was very uncomfortable for me at first. I used to think that I had overcome some serious obstacles to live my modest but super privileged life. Recently, as I've become more educated to the inequality in our world, I recognize that without the emotional and financial support from my parents and my status as a educated white person, I would be treated very differently and need to work a lot harder. This cartoon brilliantly illustrates the paths two different people with the same intentions and different backgrounds can take. The cartoonist's follow up on the popularity and message of the piece are an interesting read, as well.

Self care for the busiest time of the year. This article has gentle, important tips. (I wrote about the same issues in a wordier, less actionable tone. This is mostly me complaining, but I love the image I found to go with it. Another December pep talk here.)

READ THIS IN A PLACE WHERE YOU CAN CACKLE OPENLY. I saw Love Actually in the theaters with my best friend and sister, and when we emerged just after midnight, the first snowfall of the year was gently covering the cars, and I've felt romantically about the movie ever since. As I've gotten older I began to spot problematic story lines here and there, but this article RIPS LOVE ACTUALLY APART in the most hilarious commentary I've ever read. I shared it on my Facebook page and a lot of friends told me that even though the article was spot on, they will still be lovingly watching this year. Ditto. (I reread the whole thing just now to try and find a quotable line and I would honestly have to quote the whole thing.)

Here are the names of people who died in the most recent mass shooting event. This link has information for finding out who your representatives are and a template for contacting them about gun control. Here is a satirical article reminding you that this happens here MORE THAN ANYWHERE and WE CAN CHANGE THAT. 

I wrote a review of  Carry On by Rainbow Rowell for What the Fangirl? and am planning on rereading Landline because it takes place at Christmas. I'm also loving the second book of Libba Bray's supernatural historical fiction YA series. I'm wishing I was Evie, but I'm a super Mabel. Are you reading anything terrific right now? Be Your Own Book Club will be back in January!

That's all for this week. Until next time!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

What'd I Miss?


My last post was well over a month ago, and there was a point last month when I nervously wondered if it would be my last ever. I was deep, deep into my goals for National Novel Writing Month, and I didn't have an extra ounce of energy to spend creating any other sentences. But even before November kicked off, there were so many other things flooding in to fill my time.  Nice things, like visiting with friends and family, celebrating my 30th birthday (my sister threw me a mind-blowing surprise birthday party mid month and family came in from all over the country to celebrate), getting ready for Halloween with my costume-loving husband and kids. I have been reading a lot, and listening to a ton of music, and I've had some great day trips. It's been a fantastic fall.

But I miss writing here. I miss sharing ideas and stories, and I am holding out on you with some really inspiring interviews about ladies who are uniquely their own, and who are living their best lives, even if it means making unconventional choices. There is a lot to think about in the world right now, everything from refugees who need our support to the newest Broadway musical that I can't stop singing (spoiler alert: it is called Hamilton and it is amazing). I have links COMING OUT OF MY EARS to share with you. 

I feel like I have not done ANY justice to Be Your Own Book Club this year, and I'm so grateful to you guys who have followed along with my bumbling efforts! I'm hoping to be more organized going into 2016, maybe planning the books further ahead, and possibly even doing an IRL meetup to talk bookishly. I loved The Ocean at the End of the Lane (our October read) and got to see Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer (his wife) at the Boston Book Festival at the end of October. I'm not going to have a pick for December, but I will plan on rolling things out officially a bit before January 1st!

Here is the PSA I need to read for this time of year, in case you need to hear this, too: "the holidays" can be extremely draining, regardless of how you celebrate. Guzzle water like you need it to live (you do), try to stick to normal meals with green things included, and move your body as much as possible. If, by some freak accident, you do end up dehydrated and laying under a table with powdered sugar ringing your mouth and last night's mascara crusted in the corners of your eyes (this has never happened to me), be gentle with yourself. Drink a big glass of water and wash your face. You can try again tomorrow.

The wonderful Sam Axford won The Daily Note planning pad! It's on it's way, Sam!

I just wanted to touch base and let you know that each of you lovely ladies and gents are on my mind, I'm grateful for my little readership, and I'm looking forward to chatting more in the days and months and years ahead. Much love! xo

(The image above is an example of my husband's devotion to Halloween- both boys had alternate trick or treating costumes as well. The pictures were taken by Ben and edited into the background by our good friend Vatche. Despite the fact that I am wearing a sheet and not totally into how I look in this pic, it may well be our Christmas card.)