Going to the Movies

I don’t see a lot of movies in theaters, so when I do, it often feels kind of special. Like today: I went to see a matinee (no, I’m not going to name the movie here, because I don’t feel like it), and it was like I was gearing up for some huge event. I avoided spoilers. I may or may not have bounced up and down a few times, talking to people about this movie I was so excited about seeing. When I got to the theater, I even let myself splurge on overpriced food.

As for the movie itself–it was fine. It was fun. But I think I had more fun being excited about it than I did actually watching the movie. And I don’t mean for that to be a sad thing, or a slam against the movie, because first off, like I said, it was a fun movie, and second, I really enjoyed being that excited about it. Which is maybe the point of today’s post, as much as there is one. I’m constantly reminding myself to have fun–to let myself relax a little bit, and enjoy things. Today I did that.

Now to maybe do that with writing. Well, I’ll keep working on it.

So anyway, I hope that your Monday has a bit of fun in it. Next week I’ll try to do a real, proper post. Maybe. I have an idea. Until then, have a wonderful week!

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More Happy Things (Book-Themed)

I’m trekking through a rather long book now, and given that I also have a lot of other things to do, it’s easy for the bookish things to become another item on the checklist, a chore rather than a vacation. So here are some things that make me happy, as I’m reading:

  • Getting to the end of a chapter/section. Especially if a novel is broken up into separate “books”–getting to the end of one of these always feels good.
  • Tallying my progress through the book by fractions or percentages. I know this is kind of geeky, but I like telling myself, “You’re 25% of the way through! You’re 50% of the way through! You’re more than 50% of the way through!”
  • The comfort of familiar characters and a familiar world can be very nice, in those interim stretches of the book when I’m not particularly worried about anyone. I know it can’t last, because books need drama and everything, but it’s nice to have those moments when no one is in danger.

I find it kind of funny that so much of my focus is on “getting through” a book, since once I’m done, I’m often rather at a loss. “I was enjoying that book. What can I read now that is exactly like that book? Hm… I mean, this new book looks ok, but it sounds a little too like the other book.” This is the kind of unreasonable thought process I go through.

Anyway–busy busy, so I’m going to get back to work. And reading, as a break in between work things. I will not even put it on my to-do list, to further emphasize that it is not meant to be a chore. I hope you’re all having a wonderful Monday, as ever, and that you have many good books to read!

Little Things That Make Me Happy

RosesThis is one of those weeks when I feel rather stressed, so instead of a text-heavy post, I just wanted to focus on a few things that make me happy. Like:

  • Roses. And flowers in general, if you don’t have allergies. At least, I like seeing things blooming everywhere in the spring.
  • A cup of tea
  • Getting more done than is actually on my “mandatory, must do” list. Even when I don’t get to everything on my supposedly-mandatory list, it’s nice to keep track of the other things I did, to remind myself that I actually did get things done.
  • Finding a pair of matching socks to wear

This is a lot like something I used to do to fight off depression: I used to draw up a list of highlights. I’m not saying that works for¬†everyone, or every stage of depression, but I think it was a good exercise for me. Today, though, I’m putting a different spin on it, because there’s a lot in my life that makes me happy, and it’s easy to forget that when I’m overwhelmed by the chore list.

With that, back to my Monday. I hope yours is lovely, with at least a few happy things in it (more if possible, of course)!

Taking a break today.

Pretty much what the title says. I might take the whole week off–not sure yet. I’m fine; I’m just having one of those hyper-critical, happy-with-nothing-I-write days, so I need to step away from the pressure of the blue “publish, publish right now” button. (Oh, wait, that’s not what that says? Oops.) I actually tried to do a post earlier–you might’ve seen it, if you were here in the middle of the afternoon–and, well, see above. So now that post is gone,¬†and you’re getting this instead.

Sidebar, for those of you who are really curious about this other post (cough, Future Emi): it was about homemade bookmarks. Only I more or less covered the basics of that project in my previous post about homemade bookmarks, except for the mention of tiny stamps. And I wasn’t satisfied with the artwork this time. I am planning to make more bookmarks, though, so this may not be the end of that topic.

As ever, thank you for stopping by this blog! I hope you’re all having a good Monday, that you had a lovely weekend, and that you have a wonderful week!

Opening My Heart to Books (and Cats)

Ok, that title sounds really melodramatic, but I’m going to try to explain what I mean. First, though, some background: a couple weeks ago, as some of you may know, my mom’s cat passed away. That was obviously far harder for her than it was for me. But that cat was still part of my family for a long time. And also, losing him called back a lot of the emotions I had when I lost my own cat, about two and a half years ago.

I’m not going to go into detail about that here. Not now, and maybe not ever. In short: he was my cat for 16 years, and I loved him, and failed him, and missed him terribly, and now, two and half years later, even if the edge is off those feelings (for the most part), they’re still there. I’m not mentioning this because I need comfort, or anything. I just feel like there should be some context for this statement, made around that time, in my journal:

“[Book title, which I’m not going to name here, because it’s not fair to an enjoyable book] is not big or encompassing enough to fill the sad empty place in my heart. But I’m not looking for that right now. I’m looking for fun, easy, quick reads with happy endings, I guess. I chose [this book] because of that–because my mind can’t latch onto too much right now.” (For Future Emi: that’s on July 30th, in the plain brown notebook, because I know you’re going to care about that. Moving on.)

I’m not an expert on grief, but I think that was a reasonable reaction at the time. My heart was just so badly bruised, which sounds crazy to anyone who’s never had a cat, but it was. And it got more badly bruised as the year went on. (Suffice to say that losing my cat wasn’t the last bad thing that happened that year.)

Somewhere in between all of that, and picking up my own writing projects again (which typically don’t leave a lot of brain space for other people’s worlds), I suspect that keeping a certain distance from books got to be habit. Not to say I haven’t read any good books since my cat’s death–I have. And certainly, they haven’t all been “fun, easy, quick reads with happy endings.” But with apathy, depression, and what I now recognize as the fallout of some serious grief still dogging my mind after that year, I feel like my book screening process became a question of how much energy each book would demand of me. How much it would require of my mind and heart. Because I didn’t have that much to give, so I had to be careful with what I did have.

This is all subjective, of course–just the impression I have right now, looking back. The thing is, though, I’ve been slowly coming out of that. And I’m starting to wonder: at what point should I look for a book that’s going to really grab hold of my heart again? Should I look for it? Come to think of it, did I look for that before, or did I just not try to avoid it?

Either way, I think I need to stop being afraid to love books. Because that’s one of the reasons–maybe the reason, as basic as it is–that I’ve always been a reader. I love stories. And if I stay away from books I think I’ll love, then I can’t be surprised when this happens:

Reading Slump

From the post I wrote when… well, the title is pretty self-explanatory: “I’m back!”

Anyway, I’ll get there, I think. I hope. I want to hope? I’m still rather wary, it seems, of getting my heart broken again, by anything. But I think I’m recovering, too. It’s taken a lot of prayer. (I know I don’t talk about my faith a lot here, but I haven’t made this journey without God, and I shouldn’t and couldn’t pretend that I did, because that’s taking a lot more credit than I actually deserve.) It’s also taken time, of course. And it took, in some part, the persistent purring and meowing of a cat who didn’t even belong to me, but who helped mend my heart in ways I didn’t completely understand until he was gone.

I miss him, of course. His death has been a rainy spell on the road. But the good he did seems to be sticking even through that. I may be able, now, to care about books–and even possibly cats–the way I did before. Almost. Getting there. Starting to be ready to get there. To want to get there.

Someday, who knows, maybe I’ll actually blog about some of this in detail. I don’t know if I should. But I hope this post helped someone out there. It does get better on the other side. That’s always been my experience. And it still is. It’s ok if it doesn’t happen right away. It’s even ok if it takes a very long time. Healing can be like that. But it does get better. You start to care again. You start to feel.

So for now, I wish you all some joy and strength, peace, energy, a purring cat if you want one, a good book, and as always, a happy Monday. And thank you, as ever, for putting up with my ramblings. This blog continues to be helpful for me. And it’s probably largely because of how supportive everyone who’s commented has been that I feel like I can post something like this. Thank you all again, and hopefully, I’ll see you all next week with something a little lighter!

Gallery

To Oregon and Back Again

Last week, my mom’s much-beloved cat passed away, so this weekend, looking for some different scenery, the two of us took a trip to Oregon. I’m not quite ready to talk about the cat on this blog, and honestly I’m not sure if I will be any time soon (or maybe ever), but Oregon was lovely. There’s just something about the forest, all those towering trees, and a beautiful sky overhead.

A few wonderful things about Oregon, on a very quick pass through (part of) the southern edge:

  • I hate to sound like a broken record, but the scenery really is gorgeous.
  • No sales tax!
  • They pump gas for you, which I’m sure is quite nice when it’s chilly or rainy outside. (Although the weather was pretty good this time through–very little rain, and not as cold as it could’ve been.)

Of course, there is something to be said for California, and the sun, as well. So wherever you live, I hope you’re all having a splendid Monday! And that if you can’t travel at the moment, you enjoy these pictures from a weekend on the road.

 

I am comfortable with the size of this room. (Blog. Whatever.)

I promised myself that I would do this post when I got to 50 followers. (Well, sort of. I thought about it, and now I’m doing it.) Which, by the way, thank you to everyone who’s followed this blog, liked posts, and commented! Now I’m going to talk about how you all freak me out.

Seriously, though–I love getting likes/comments/follows. Who doesn’t? It’s actually become kind of a game for me; I never know what you guys are going to respond to, so it’s fun for me to discover what you like. And of course, getting positive responses is lovely, just in general.

That having been said, I usually have quite a bit of anxiety before hitting “Publish.” It’s ironic; for someone who wants to write for a living, I’m quite terrible at sharing my work. (I sort of talked about that here, but I don’t recommend reading that post. It’s long.) Like a lot of writers, no doubt, I’m naturally shy. Not as shy as I used to be, but in some ways, it seems I’m still the sort of person who thinks she wants to be in the spotlight, but then once the spotlight is actually on her, gets awkward and uncomfortable and tries to get out of it as fast as possible.

So that’s kind of what I mean by saying I’m comfortable with the size of this room. (Or blog.) Sharing things can be a lot of fun, but I mostly prefer to stick with individual conversations or maybe small groups of people. And that’s what this blog feels like right now: a small room, where I can talk about some things that are on my mind, without a whole lot of pressure. Except maybe for the imaginary kind.

That’s not to say I’m against more people following–if I wasn’t open to that idea, I wouldn’t have made this a public blog. I guess I’m just saying that I’m grateful for where I am right now. It’s so easy for me to lose track of that, to get caught up in wanting more. But this, right now: this is kind of working for me. It’s probably not a bad idea to appreciate that a little.

So thank you all for not scaring me back into my shell! I hope you enjoy your time in this little corner of the Internet at least as much as I enjoy putting these posts together. Ideally with less nervousness.

With that, I return you to your regularly-scheduled Monday events, and what I hope is your own wonderful, happy corner of the world.

And for those of you who might be stopping by here for the first time… I’m sorry. I was going to put in a random picture as consolation, but I couldn’t find anything that satisfied me. Enjoy this old picture that you probably haven’t seen before instead.

Not Better compareOh, oops, that’s not very comforting. But it sort of fits with the theme of the post, yes?

Cooking Journal

Food Journal and PenI should have known this would happen. Making breakfast burritos turned out to be so easy (and, once I got the method down, the results were so delicious) that it’s sucked me into the dark side of actually wanting to cook.

Mind you, that’s not to say I’m going straight into gourmet chef territory. I’m still looking for things that are quick, easy, and don’t use too many pots and pans.

To help me keep track of all of this, I’ve conscripted this mini Eccolo. It’s kind of a victory for me, actually using a notebook I already had instead of going out to buy a new one. And who knows? Maybe some of those foods will make it onto this blog as well. (In picture form, at least.)

So, sorry, that’s all I have for you today. I’m just happy about starting a new journal, and I felt like blogging about it. I hope Wednesday is treating you all well, though! And with any luck, treating you to some delicious food.

Mini-Trip to Sacramento and Davis

When I was in college, I used to take a lot of day trips. That was less exciting than it sounds; I remember checking out bookstores and libraries, and one bakery in particular stands out. Post-college, it got a little harder to manage that kind of thing. But today, albeit for less-than-fun reasons, I had to be in Sacramento rather early, which left me free around late morning/early lunchtime to have some unscheduled out-of-town fun.

Because I’ve changed a lot since college, the first thing I looked up was a bookstore. Because I really have changed since college, though, I was kind of too tired after the bookstore to mill around Sacramento anymore, so I hopped back onto the freeway. And because maybe I haven’t changed completely since college–or maybe I have, I’m not sure how impulsive I was back then–I decided not long afterwards that I could probably swing one or two more stops in Davis. Maybe. Yes, why not, ok then.

It ended up being very pleasant. Mostly because it felt good to go someplace new–to walk into a store and not know what I was going to find, and to look around at the neighborhood, getting a sense of a different place. And then on the way back, I got to roll my windows down and let the cool air billow into the car, as the clouds ate up more and more of the sky ahead of me. Maybe not what people picture when they think of California, but it was splendid and freeing and peaceful, and it spoke to that part of my mind where the wanderlust still apparently runs, ready for more adventures.

For those of you who really want to know where I went:

I definitely felt safer in Davis than in Sacramento–I’m not saying Sacramento is less safe than Davis, because I have no idea what the statistics are for that, but you know. Take the necessary precautions, so you can enjoy your trip. Also, unrelatedly, crepes are delicious.

And with that, it’s probably time to do some work. I hope your Monday is going well (or whatever day it is, if you’re reading this on another day), and that this last full week of January is treating you kindly.

ETA: Somehow this picture is showing up attached to this post in my reader, so if it’s going to be there, I’m going to explain it. With a caption!

Book (and bookmark!) from Time Tested Books, candy and mini notebook from Newsbeat.

Book (and bookmark!) from Time Tested Books, candy and mini notebook from Newsbeat.

Out of Holiday Mode

I love the holidays, but this year I did find that something happened to my brain during holiday season: work (or at least any meaningful work-type progress) became optional.

Actually, almost everything became optional. Cleaning: optional. Exercise: optional. Finishing a chapter: optional. It’s a much nicer feeling than not doing things because you don’t have the energy, but it ends up in a similar place: it takes a larger-than-usual mental effort to get any of these things done. Because after all, it’s not mandatory, so I might as well relax.

Relaxing is good, of course–in general, I could stand to be a lot less stressed about things. But there has to be some kind of medium between holiday laziness and feverish anxiety.

So that’s something for me to look for this January, as I step out of holiday mode: a way to get things done without being excessively stressed. Some of that, I suspect, has to do with focus. January is a time when a lot of us focus on goals, hopes, and resolutions. And that’s great–not to mention probably necessary, at times. But one thing I’ve found that’s helpful for my mental state is to take note of the things I do accomplish, not just the things I still want to do, or the things I didn’t get to. Otherwise, it’s too easy to feel like I never get anything done. And that makes it kind of hard to relax. (Not to mention hard to get anything done in the future. In the immortal words of Admiral Ackbar, “It’s a trap!”)

In the meantime, plans for the blog this year… I don’t know. I didn’t think up anything, because coming up with a 2016 blogging schedule was optional. My only vague thought was that I would keep blogging on Mondays, so I’ll probably try to stick with that. Maybe add a post on Fridays, if I feel like talking about writing. The idea of blogging about certain things on certain days still appeals to me, but considering that the last time I tried to hold myself to that, I freaked out, I’m not making any promises. For now, I’m willing to just see what happens, and enjoy a little of that residual holiday blitheness.

To anyone reading this: I hope 2016 is off to a good start for you! And that you all make some progress toward being healthier, both this month and afterwards.