With the leaves largely gone, nests are exposed. There are so many. The neighborhood is more populated than I realized.
One tenacious leaf.
Walking home from work today I passed many yard signs promoting a variety of candidates and issues. Here’s the best one I saw.
With the current brouhaha over recordings from a certain candidate, I’m flashing back to memories from my own life, as I’m sure most women are. Here’s a flash memoir.
When I was twenty, I got an office job where I was the only female in the department. Some of the guys engaged in pretty rough talk (though actually not speaking of assault — not to the Donald’s level), but fairly sexist, fairly objectifying. Either they forgot I was there, or didn’t realize I was close enough to overhear sometimes, or they didn’t care. They’d talk about the women in the front office, comparing physical attributes. They’d look out the window and “rate” women passing by on the street.
Not all of the guys, though. One of the younger ones, near my age, didn’t engage in this behavior, ever, and that was easy to notice. If he ever talked about a woman, it was just as a human. I ended up dating him. I met his mom and sister, who were big influences in his life, both of whom he treated with respect. Reader, I married him.
I squeezed in twenty minutes of novel writing tonight, the last official day of NaNoWriMo. And my total word count for November is 5,461. I didn’t leave out a digit. I also didn’t sign up for NaNoWriMo.
I consider 5,461 respectable, given all of my other responsibilities. That’s 5,461 words and Thanksgiving dinner for ten people. And a home improvement project. A refinanced mortgage. A daughter enrolled for the spring semester of college. Two doctors’ appointments with my mom. Dental appointments for both me and my son. Winter coat shopping for my younger child. And more than 100 pages worth of manuscript critique for my writers’ group.
Oh look. I managed to compose a blog post before midnight. 5,581 words.
“I have traveled a great deal in Concord.” – Henry David Thoreau
My husband, kids and I have taken two major vacations and several minor road trips. (The kids are 16 and 13.) The first major do was a drive to the Grand Canyon in 2006. That trip involved a lot of camping and one tornado. The other was a trip to Florida this past November, marking our first experience of flying together as a family.
I’d love to travel more, but in the past month, my life has taken a turn that promises to keep me anchored for the foreseeable future. So I’ve decided to take Thoreau as my inspiration and travel my hometown. To that end, my first hyper-local travelogue in photos.
What kind of awesome was 2011? All kinds of awesome. This past year, I decided to use my Twitter account (I’m @damari19 if anyone’s interested) as a sort of personal/public gratitude journal. My goal was to tweet about something I found awesome every day for a year. I missed a few days, but very few. I highly recommend doing this, whether via twitter or post-it notes or a silent thought right before you go to sleep. Getting in the habit of noticing one specific good thing each day has helped my mood and attitude tremendously.
I tried to find something new each day, though sometimes I forgot I’d already counted something as awesome earlier in the year. Omelets got three separate mentions. So did Dr. Who.
Looking back over my year in gratitude tweets, certain themes are prominent:
My top category seems to be food, which might explain what’s happened to my waistline. See omelets, above. Pie got two nods from me, once on 3/14 and again at Christmas. But I was also grateful for lettuce from our garden, basil from our garden, and the salsa I made using jalapenos from our garden. Halloween candy. A falafel dog from Mutt’s in Oklahoma City. Also drinks – coffee and tea come up, tea more than once.
Family and friends garnered many mentions. My husband cleaned the windows. I noticed when my kids did chores without being nagged. Got to visit my mom. My brother and sister-in-law knocked themselves out as hosts when we visited for Thanksgiving. Coffee with a friend. Inside jokes with old friends. I am immensely and always grateful for my various relationships.
I notice I commented a lot on the trouble don’t last category. Getting over a cold. Kids getting over colds. Rain after a drought. Figuring out how we’re going to pay for unexpected expenses. Cicadas went away. It’s all good.
Then there was nature. Crocus. Daffodils. Peonies. Autumn leaves. Goldfinches who visit our yard every day. Playing in the snow.
I had lots of comments on internet stuff, either cool websites or links to inspiring stories. Here are a few.:
1,000 Awesome Things – my inspiration
ALEKS – my daughter does her homeschool math through ALEKS.
Khan Academy – another educational resource
Fictiondb – near-comprehensive lists of fiction series.
Newsreel footage of Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan.
Project Gutenberg – free ebooks
Literature plays a big part in my life. This past year I’ve found awesome in authors’ birthdays – e.g. Ray Bradbury and Kurt Vonnegut. Various books. Meeting with a new writers’ group. Meeting writing goals. Getting paid to write blog entries and newspaper articles as part of my day job. My son asking to go to the library because he’d read everything he has in the house. A student running a banned books library from her school locker.
Events, small and large: Corn maze. 4th of July fireworks. Biggest family vacation ever – a trip to Florida where we visited Universal Islands of Adventure (one a side note, the Forbidden Journey is the best amusement park ride I’ve ever experienced) and my kids saw the ocean for the first time.
Those that defy categorization:
2/24/11: W. Shatner singing Mr. Tambourine Man & L. Nimoy singing Where Is Love on same CD
3/7/11: Using the large almost-vintage paper-cutter at work, with its dials and wheels. A combination of meditation & steampunk.
7/19/11: Seeing the interior lights come on when I click the unlocker in the direction of my van. It looks so happy to see me!
10/17/11: Curly hair being considered cool again. Thanks Alex Kingston and River Song!
And finally, one from a category I think of as “In Retrospect, the Joke’s on Me.”
“10/22/11: Procured winter coat for son at a great price.” Yeah, he’s already outgrown it.
In honor of my favorite holiday, here’s a handful of books that scared me silly even as they were refusing to be put down. The fear came in a different flavor with each one. Not all of them are technically horror novels.
I Am Legend by Richard Matheson. For years – literally years – after I read this, I had nightmares about discovering that everyone in my life had become vampires. What if you were the last person on earth, so far as you knew, who had not been turned into a vampire? What if they came for you every single night? Brilliant book, but save up your money first to pay for the increase in your electric bill from sleeping with the lights on.
Sharp Teeth by Toby Barlow. What’s so scary about werewolves is that they’re us. It’s been my observation that werewolves have been the most sympathetically portrayed monsters in horror. In Sharp Teeth, Barlow is masterful at building non-stock, well-developed lycanthropes. In verse. Did I mention he does it in verse? What made this book nail-biting for me was how much I cared about a couple of the characters and how human nature was just as threatening as animal nature. This is one of my all-time favorite books in any genre.
1984 by George Orwell. I value my privacy. The thought of being watched every second of my life is anathema to me. For the watched, even one slip-up in something as minor as facial expression can mean death. Add in the inability to trust anyone else and the constant head games played by the government and this is about as dystopian as it gets. Scary because it seems so possible. Oh, and the rats.
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. Again, scary because I can imagine it happening in real life. Extreme religious fundamentalists take over and implement selective Biblical practices. Not the ones about the rich selling what they have and giving money to the poor. Rather, the ones where many women are considered as no more than property and are pressed into service to bear children for those who have been rendered infertile by a wrecked environment. And as someone with severely dry skin, let me say how horrified I was by the lack of hand lotion.
The Dollhouse Murders by Betty Ren Wright. This is theoretically a children’s book. I read it as an adult and it creeped me out no end. But it impressed me, too, with its exceedingly clever premise. A big old house, with one room containing a dollhouse that’s a scale-model reproduction of the real domicile, including the furniture and dolls representing the original residents. Each night, the furniture and dolls are moved around to re-create a murder scene. Is it the victim’s ghost trying to communicate in some way?
Dracula by Bram Stoker. In the novel, Renfield scares me more than Dracula does. Actually, that’s true in some of the movie versions as well.
Beloved by Toni Morrison. There are ghosts and then there are GHOSTS. Knowing I would have reacted just as Sethe did and thrown away everything. That part gets me. The parts based on the true history of slavery are the scariest, though.