Thursday Ten: Slow Like Molasses Edition

1. I’m typing this while I’m on hold with the internet server provider people to talk to them about my INSANELY SLOW AND SOMEWHAT UNSTABLE internet connection. It’s kind of become a huge pain in the ass to have my internet essentially stop functioning for an hour and a half every evening around 8:30.

2. This is the kind of thing I can do while I work from home this morning because my iPhone is still full of peanut butter and so I can only use it when I’m on speaker on have headphones in. And I can’t find my headphones (or I’m lazy – I have a pair in my purse, a pair in my camera bag…). [Update: Booyah! A technician is coming out!]

3. I have to go to the dentist today. I haven’t been in ages because of that whole not having insurance for a long time thing. I hate the part where they floss my teeth. My dentist uses cheap, hurty floss.

4. It’s beginning to look a lot like ArtPrize! Pieces are starting to appear around the city – like this one spotted in front of the Grand Rapids Public Museum yesterday.
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5. I’ve been having an epic battle with a gross head cold since Saturday evening. While I’m up and around now (Sunday I was like a bump on a log), I’m still feeling less than a hundred percent and I’m very underwhelmed by how absolutely miserable I am. I do NOT like being sick.

6. One of my favorite things about Friday Night Lights binge watching is finding all the people from the show Parenthood in the cast.

7. I have not yet updated to iOS 8 because I learned a few years ago that updating my operating system on the first day of its release is a quick way to temporarily brick my phone. Maybe I am getting more patient with age.

8. Or maybe it’s just that I’m too busy trying to restore normal breathing through my nose.

9. How is it even Thursday already? Crazy how some weeks fly and some move so slowly. This one is flying – it’s been busy and productive and well, I’ve been sick for most of it, but still. Flying.

10. It’s getting chillier. The chill in the air makes me want to bake. Lemon squares, anyone?

Twenty

There’s something about realizing that twenty years ago right around now, I was just beginning my freshman year of college. I got a flash of memory lane over the past weekend when Chris and I made it to Ann Arbor for a Michigan football game (Go Blue!) – because twenty years ago, right about now, I was attending my first game at the Big House as a student there.

And I have a flash of that all being twenty years ago because my 20-year high school reunion is in two weeks and the invitation is sitting on the bookshelf in my bedroom and as of today I haven’t RSVP’d nor have I declined the invite.

They all have husbands and wives and children and houses and dogs, and, you know, they’ve all made themselves a part of something and they can talk about what they do. What am I gonna say? “I killed the president of Paraguay with a fork. How’ve you been?”

I’m pretty sure I’m not going. I mean, originally, I was all, “Oh yeah, I’ll be there!” but now, I don’t think I’m going and the reason I’m pretty sure I’m not going is that the RSVP deadline passed two weeks ago and I’ve also ignored a text asking if I was going and I am filled with this…weirdness about it all. A weirdness that I am not even really sure comes from any reasonable place that I know, but I’m choosing to listen to it and to not ignore it, because I do know myself.

And I know from knowing myself the way that I know myself – whether my sense seems to have any rhyme or reason (or not), it is what it is.

Everybody’s coming back to take stock of their lives. You know what I say? Leave your livestock alone.

I actually didn’t mind high school. I wasn’t a popular kid. I wasn’t bullied. I was a nice middle-of-the-road kid, good grades, nice to most. I’m guessing I didn’t register with enough people to be much disliked, though I guess I could be wrong. When I look back on those years, I am not filled with the dread or loathing that some have when they remember high school. It was…okay. I wasn’t tormented. I wasn’t miserable. I wasn’t angry. I wasn’t wishing the years away.

Oh but how I couldn’t wait to fly away when it was all over – couldn’t wait to find my wings – couldn’t wait for life to start. While I was there, while I was in it – I enjoyed myself.

I passed notes in class. I made legendary index note cards for chemistry exams. I played the flute badly in band. I wore a scratchy peach dress in our high school’s performance of “Oklahoma!” It was a fate worse than death to be home on a Friday night. I went places. We drove around town, yelling “Beer!” if we passed a car with a headlight out (I later learned that most people say “pediddle”? I have no idea. It was what they did so I did). High school dances. Slipping notes in locker vents. At lunch eating square pizza seated at round tables.

I just find it amusing that you came from somewhere.

In the age of Facebook, I know how most everyone is doing. I know what they do for a living. I know if they’re married or not. How many kids they have. What sports teams they root for. What side they prefer when they’re taking their facebook profile selfie shot. If they have pets or not. If they like pumpkin spice or not. I know what sports their kids play. I know their political affiliation. I know who has heard of Snopes and who hasn’t.

In short? I know more about these people now than I ever did.

And many of us didn’t go far – I don’t mean that in the metaphorical “What have you done with your life?” way, but geographically? Most of us are STILL. FREAKING. HERE.

I went to my kids’ open houses – and ran into a good portion of my graduating class. And I’m not saying that like it’s a bad thing – but it seems to me that it used to be that reunions were to bring people together that lost touch and now? You can’t lose touch. Social media has you so extensively IN TOUCH that good luck trying to cut yourself off from the world.

Not that I mind. Because I like knowing what they’re up to and what they’re doing. I do.

But. Sigh.

Hey Jenny Slater. Hey Jenny Slater. Hey Jenny Slater.

And you would think, “You know these people. You went to school with them. You’re connected with them on Facebook! This should be fun!” But.

I’m still an introvert. I’m still socially awkward. I’m still me.

I am the me that – while I cannot imagine that there is anyone who harbors any lingering hatred towards me – also cannot fathom that there is anyone who would cross a room to speak to me. I have this vision of sitting at a table eating my overpriced plate of rubber chicken and not talking to anyone. And – that’s somewhat humiliating to admit. I’m not the type to cross a room to start conversations.

And say someone did approach me – how do I want to explain the years since I saw them last at our ten year reunion? Stabbing the President of Paraguay with a fork would be infinitely more amusing than the reality which is that life has happened since I saw them last – life with its ups and downs and divorce and job hunts and finding my way and finding a job and finally finding a little peace again and that’s awfully deep for a conversation over rubber chicken and it’s not a conversation I want to have with anyone. And I don’t want to talk about the weather.

Some people say forgive and forget. Nah, I don’t know. I say forget about forgiving and just accept. And… get the hell out of town.

I wish them all well. I do.

And maybe I’d feel differently if I hadn’t just seen over half of the expected attendees three weeks ago. Maybe I’d feel differently if I had a big personality and was less of a wallflower. Maybe I’d feel differently if I truly believed my glory days ended twenty years ago.

And so it goes.

I’m making other plans, plans that don’t involve rubber chicken and a cash bar. Plans that don’t involve sucking in my gut and forcing myself to stand up straighter for hours on end.

Maybe in ten more years I’ll feel up to it. Right now, I’ll just plan to get the hell out of town.

Thursday Ten: It’s Been A Few Weeks edition

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1. I bought myself flowers this week – including this amazing dendrobium orchid. I love its vibrant blues and purples. Love photographing this orchid. And they usually last forever if forever was more like three weeks.

2. What’s been going on in my world that’s kept me away for two weeks? Well, the girls started school again and I’ve stopped sleeping. Well, I sleep – just not well. I’m tired. Gotta find our groove again schedule wise because whoa nelly the mornings are a bit more chaotic now.

3. Apple’s announcement this week and I have to say I’m… on the fence about the iPhone 6. I mean, I need a phone seeing as how mine has peanut butter in the receiver – but… do I invest in bright and shiny or save some money and buy a 5S which still sounds perfectly lovely? I need a phone, yes, but… which one. (I know me, I’ll go for the bells and whistles and then kick myself for spending money I should have saved because THAT IS HOW I DO.)

4. The kids are in the second week of school – glad the school waited that long before they sent home all their fundraiser gobbledygook. Anyone want to order a bucket of ready made cookie dough?

5. Could fall weather be coming? Oh goodness, I hope so. I just want that one perfect first fall day so I can get that one perfect salted caramel mocha. Gotta give in to that craving once – and only once – each year.

6. The Princess is already in Christmas mode and has been scouring Netflix for Christmas movies. It’s September. OY.

7. Pumpkin is on a mini-crusade to teach people that pitbulls aren’t bad and that any aggressive behavior is learned and based on bad owners. I haven’t done any research on any of that – but I do appreciate my kiddo’s love of four-legged fur-friends and her passion to educate and advocate for animals. Her handwriting is messy as hell but her heart is a good one. Works for me.

8. I feel like I should say something profound about it being the anniversary of 9/11 – but I have nothing profound to say. I cannot believe it’s been 13 years.

9. It’s amazing to realize that it’s September, and that the end of 2014 is creeping towards us or we’re creeping toward it, rather. This year started one way and has turned around and so you know, I’m excited to see how it wraps up as we approach autumn. Oh how time flies.

10. Watching heavy metal rock stars talking about tofu is one of the reasons I love Top Chef Duels.

And August Oozes its Way Out with 1000% Humidity

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Six more days left of August. I say that as if it means something – as if September 1 rolls around and the weather will flip the switch and the temperature will be tolerable, my allergies will abate and I will no longer have hair so frizzy that it can only be contained by finally succumbing to the ponytail.

But six more days and as we near September first, the temperature has kicked up a few notches as has the humidity and OH MY GOD IT’S THE WORST.

(Snow and sub-zero temperatures are also THE WORST so as you can clearly tell: I have weather issues.)

But August is almost over and I AM SO GLAD BECAUSE UGH.

Let’s cross our fingers that it’s 65 and sunny on Monday.

Thursday Ten: One Foot In Front Of The Other Edition

1. I made it through his birthday and the anniversary of his passing and well, it hasn’t been the easiest week of my life but on Monday, several of us were sharing memories of him on Facebook and it was nice to have people to share that with – we all miss him so much and we all have such amazing memories — to pool them together was really a bit of a relief.
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2. And then I stood in the same spot where I stood a year ago and watched the sun set. My last goodbye to my grandpa was on his birthday last year – we had been sure that “that was it” that we said our goodbyes. Somehow he had managed to hang on another day and I couldn’t bear to say goodbye again… so last year on his birthday I watched the sun set. This year I did the same. He’s still with us. Still with me.

3. Sigh. On a lighter note… Just a week and a half left of summer and it’s BACK TO SCHOOL for the girls. They are bickering at toxic levels right now, though, so… it’s about time.

4. Because I was tired of my wretched burgundy door – after 12 years of hating it! I finally painted it this past weekend. Behr’s Cloudless. I sort of love it. I haven’t yet painted my shutters and I know my neighbors are wondering about that – if I’m going to leave those nasty shutters clashing forever (no, I’m not) – but I’ll get to it soon.
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5. It hasn’t been a very summer-y summer, weatherwise so I should feel guilty about complaining about normal summer weather but UGH THE HUMIDITY. (No: I don’t feel guilty). I was just not cut out to sweat so much. Give me that 70 degree weather back please.

6. Protein drinks with powdered peanut butter is an actual thing in my life now. Sigh. Concerted effort to get back into shape and that means eating less garbage. I miss garbage eating. KETTLE COOKED POTATO CHIPS NOM NOM NOM.

7. Realizing the window between driving in road construction and driving on ice is very very small.

8. Checked out a bunch of books from the library. They were all awful. I love that I can just shut them and return them without any guilt or wasted money. Love the library.

9. I don’t think that Facebook is going to suck my brain out through their messenger app but ugh I don’t want to download another app. (Also, my nearly dead phone with peanut butter in the receiver has limited space and not worthy of an app I don’t need).

10. Already making plans for the weekend and those plans involve TACOS. I win.

Happy Birthday. I Miss You.

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Dear Grandpa,

I have had a lot of thoughts in my head over the past few weeks – well, over the past year even, if I’m really being honest – and as today drew closer, I found myself overwhelmed with an odd mix of extreme sadness and determination that I would not let today get the best of me. It’s early yet, and time will tell, but I will do my best today to honor you in a way that would have made you proud. Perhaps, I’ll duct tape something.

It seems unfair to have to endure both your birthday and the anniversary of your death within a 48 hour span, but perhaps that’s just a way to rip off the bandaid and get all the truly hard hurting done at once, and then find a way to put one foot in front of the other until the next hurdles – holidays.

Which is not to say that it’s only difficult on those big days – but those are the days it’s worse.

Most of the time, though, when I think of you it’s with love and I am able to put away the sadness of a year ago at this time. The sadness of saying goodbye.

Most of the time I think of things like potato pancakes and duct tape, of you shoveling the driveway even though everyone offered to have it plowed for you, how you always had Lifesavers in church, and how you pronounced my youngest daughter’s name funny. How you were so proud of them. How you were so proud of me. How you sent me postcards when I was a kid living in California and when we’d talk on the phone we’d race to say “Gotcha!” to each other. How you taught me to start my car with a clothes pin. How you were such an awful driver (you were. Grandma said one day, as we sat by your side during those last weeks, that she always figured you’d perish in the car – those were her words: Perish in the car. She followed that with, “Not that he was a bad driver” but yes, yes you were). The sound of your voice singing. When you called grandma “babe” when you were planning to renew your vows on your 60th anniversary.

You were and are so very loved – and I miss having you around. I hate that you’re not here. I wish you could see my daughters. I wish you could see that my life is coming back together. I’m glad you got to meet Chris and he got to meet you and these are all things I probably said last year right around this time but if I say them twice I must really mean them, right?

You were the glue that held us all together and since you’ve been gone there have been so few occasions where everyone’s been in the same place.

We didn’t get together on Father’s Day but we were all heart broken.

The thing is, you were so amazing. You were so strong for us. You were funny. You made us smile. You – just by being you – captured a permanent place in each of us and without you, it’s very clear that something’s absent.

And I don’t want to fill that void – but I don’t want to be sad either.

Sad feels ungrateful.

Some people are never as lucky as we were. Never as lucky as I was to have had someone like you in my life for so long (I’ve forgotten, grandpa, how old I am – isn’t that the funniest thing?).

We were blessed.

We were loved.

We miss you.

I miss you.

Forever grateful to have had you in my life.

i still love you.

Love,
Sarah

Thursday Ten: I Don’t Relax Well edition

1. I took two days off this week – originally, Chris and I were going to head down to Black Dog Gelato (YUM!) in Chicago to take a gelato making class. I know, I know, it seems silly – but their gelato is PHENOMENAL and the class was set up so each person could design their own flavor, take it home, blah blah blah. It just sounded fun! Plus – I LOVE CHICAGO. A mini-escape seemed the perfect adventure as summer is nearing its end – buuuuut… the class was canceled. I have therefore spent the past two days at home cleaning my house and DOING stuff because I don’t do well just sitting on my butt doing nothing. Not a fun vacation. My house is clean, which is good, but ugh.

2. My Facebook feed has been flooded this week with back-to-school posts, but here in Michigan, the girls have another few weeks until they start just after Labor Day. Admittedly this summer has flown by faster than any other I can remember – and usually by now, we’re all crawling out of our skin waiting for school to start. Perhaps it’s because I’m working full time this year – I’m not sure. I feel like I haven’t been around as much as other years which stinks – but it also means that yeah, we’re at August 14 and it’s still fairly calm around here. Calm is good.

3. Facebook has also been filled with a lot of posts about Robin Williams. I can’t think of a celebrity death that has moved me as his has and I think it’s because Robin Williams was in several of my favorite movies. Though I wasn’t as much a fan of his comedic roles, I know that his art brought a lot of joy to many, me included, and it’s a huge loss that he’s gone. And while I don’t have much to contribute to the discussion on depression and Robin Williams’ death, one of the pieces that moved me tremendously was this one from Casey.

4. I bought into the hype and I bought the square marshmallows for s’mores. I’m a chump. The kids said they’re better. Um. Okay.
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5. When you go to get a hair cut and you say, “I NEED A CHANGE!” and you walk out with… the exact same hair cut. Sigh. That.

6. I love Apple and am pretty much a fan girl but WHOA, does iTunes get less and less usable? I hate its format now. I want old school iTunes back.

7. Speaking of fangirling… Less than a month until the rumored announcement about the newest iPhones. I’ll be waiting to get one. Mostly because my phone doesn’t work because the receiver is probably full of peanut butter.

8. Picking songs again for my 365. It’s my least favorite part of the whole shebang. Ugh.

9. My allergies are absolutely miserable right now. Damn you, ragweed!

10. If the weather holds, my project for the weekend will be to paint my front door. I’ve done so much painting around this house – huge rooms, even – I’m not sure why I’m letting this door project intimidate me. What I do know is I hate the color red, and so by default I’m not loving this burgundy door I’ve lived with for twelve years. Time for it to go. And yeah, I actually considered buying a new door versus painting this one. My wallet won: paint it is.

Thursday Ten: Swimming In Dog Puke edition

1. He has now thrown up just about every day for the past week. He seems fine otherwise, but I’m hoping that getting him groomed yesterday solves the problem. Because he’s a labradoodle, he doesn’t actually shed – so when his fur gets long and unruly and muppet-y, I think he chokes on it when he grooms himself. Hairball-esque gag reflexes trigger puppy puke puddles in my dining room. Sigh. Do not like. Hope he’s on the mend.
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2. Summer is FLYING by. My Facebook feed is full of first day of school pictures already! I can’t believe it – but here the kids will start school in just under a month. A few more weeks of summer schedules – and then the kids can start going to bed at normal times again! WHOOP WHOOP! (Seriously, bedtime keeps creeping later and later as summer rolls on and then I look at the clock and I’m all, “GO TO BED!” Kind of. I mean, they’re in bed by ten most nights but oy.)

3. So I watched a YouTube video of a crying baby going nuts when Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse” came on and aside from people letting their babies listen to stupid music, the other thing that blew me away (but not surprised me) was how kooky the comments were. People are nuts.

4. Speaking of… do you really think an IQ test you take on Facebook is really gonna be accurate (because I gotta say, there’s a few of them I don’t think would break 100)…

5. Top Chef Duels > Chopped

6. Chris and I took a day trip to Traverse City last week to spend the day admiring gorgeous scenery and tasting yummy wines. I love Traverse City and it was really a much needed break from life to get away from things for a bit, to spend an amazing day with Chris and to treat ourselves to the day. Oddly enough, despite my not being a “dip on crackers” kind of person – I’ve been kind of craving the cherry jalapeno dip served with crackers at L Mawby. Already wanting to go back!
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7. I need a change. I need a hair cut. I can’t decide what to do. Let’s see if I actually get ANYTHING beyond a trim this evening when I go in for a hair cut.

8. Only a few weeks remain of this year’s 365 – it blows my mind how quickly this year went.

9. So, all that StitchFix hubbub and I can’t decide if I care if they’re marking up clothes so drastically because HEY I suck at shopping and I figured there was an upcharge and all. I should want to cancel my next shipment but I really need shirts without having to go to a mall.

10. My twenty year high school reunion is next month. *gasp* I. Uh. How the hell has it been TWENTY YEARS since high school? I shouldn’t sound shocked – I feel every single one of those twenty years, but I shouldn’t be this old and UGH. I am. Whoopty-freaking-do. (And yeah, I’m probably going to the reunion.)

A Letter to My Sweet Pumpkin on her 9th Birthday

Dear Pumpkin,

Nine years ago this morning, I remember calling in to work saying, “I don’t think I’ll be in to work today because apparently I’m having a baby.” I called them back less than an hour later to tell them you were born. You made a swift arrival into this world, sweet pea. A swift arrival. An early morning arrival. Every year I’ve said, “You’ve been an early bird ever since!” The past week or so, however, you’ve had days where you’ve slept so late that I haven’t seen you before I leave for work – grandpa arrives to watch you and your sister and I say, “She’s still sleeping!” and he’s amazed as I am because since when do you sleep past seven a.m.?

Since now, apparently.

For your birthday, I bought you a pair of leggings from H&M with a print of pug faces all over them. They are so gaudy, but I think you are going to love them! I bought them two months ago when I was shopping for your sister’s birthday and I have been holding on to these pug pants ever since. I also picked up a pug tee, another shirt with a dog with a matching headband, socks with dogs on them, and a Web Kinz that looks like it could be our puppy’s twin. But smaller. You still really really love dogs – and while some people think, just how many dog stuffed animals does a kid need? I don’t much worry about it because you like what you like.

You’ll be entering fourth grade in the fall and you’re an amazing student – teachers really like your creative mind and your reading skills are exceptionally high. You ask amazing questions and you are curious and insightful. You’re friendly and welcoming and you like people. You have pretty awful handwriting though. Your teacher last year said he wasn’t worried about it- he could still read it and could see the thoughts you were trying to express and it wasn’t worth fussing over. I think you just get so impatient. You want to get those thoughts out. You prefer typing though.

Lately, I find you often typing stories on the computer. Or you’ll tell me about a dream you had that you plan to make into a series. You amaze me – because not only do you have all of these ideas ping-ponging around in your brain, but you’re fabulous at expressing them. While you don’t always like to share what you’ve written, when you do, I’m completely impressed. And I’m proud of you a lot and I’m proud of me a little – even though you would still be you if I wasn’t one who likes to read and write but I like to think that by seeing me read, that you decided that it wasn’t an awful thing.

Who knows. You’d probably be  a writer if I was illiterate.

Maybe.

Your hair was cut into a short, sassy do earlier this summer and I’m in love with it – the ease of it, the elimination of that big ever-present snarl that was always a daily battle. You like to brush your hair now. You look more like YOU. A little bit older – not too much – but you were lost behind that tangled hair. You radiate and I can see your clear blue eyes and your delicate shoulders and you aren’t trapped by hair. It seems a silly thing, to be so amazed by a haircut, but it truly makes me smile.

You are empathetic and are very concerned with others’ feelings. Not just other people, but things. I worry about your heart sometimes, how much you hurt for things – you cuddle with one stuffed puppy and worry that the rest might have their feelings hurt. Your hurt is sweet and genuine and I am blown away by your big heart and your caring but I am afraid for you and afraid of the world sometimes that isn’t always kind to tender-hearted souls. I hope that you will be strong when faced with life’s challenges. But I’ll try to not worry too much about it – for I’d rather you feel too much than nothing at all.

Empathetic. Kind. Silly. Fun.

Big heart. Sweet smile.

The other day on a trolley ride, I asked if you would sit in my lap. “MOM! I’m too old to sit in your lap…in public,” you said. Good to know you’re still my little girl, even though you’re getting older.

Some days you and your sister are best friends. Some days the bickering drives me bonkers.

Some days you clean your room without asking. Some days I find ten empty Capri Sun pouches hidden behind the couch.

Some days you want to write and write. Some days you want to play at your friends’ houses until I say it’s time to come home.

I really like you, Pumpkin. Not only do i love you but I genuinely like you. I think you’re a really neat kid. I think you’re lovely. I like having you around. I am so blessed, really, to have two amazing daughters.

I am so glad you were born. I hope that 9 brings you a lot of great things. You’re gonna move mountains, miss.

Happy birthday, sweet girl. I love you with my whole heart.

 

Love,

Momma

Thursday Ten: Yesterday I Put On A Hoodie and I LIKED IT edition

1. After two miserably hot days earlier this week, temperatures dropped yesterday and by last night i had goosebumps and even put a hoodie on. I’m not gonna lie – it was GLORIOUS.

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2. The hot weather makes it hard to work out. On one hand, I’m trying to keep in the habit of always moving every day. On the other hand HOLY CRAP I’M MELTING. So. Laps around my mom’s pool like an old lady. No shame, no shame.

3. It’s a very bizarre feeling to finish editing a portrait session. There’s that relief and the “whoohoo I’m done” aspect of everything and then there’s a funny bittersweetness – you get familiar with some many details of your subject’s faces as you edit – the ridges on the edges of teeth, eyebrows, when the face is at rest and when it is tensed as faces sometimes are when they’re being photographed. Anyway, wrapped up editing a shoot.

4. Was unable to attend the one concert I wanted to see this summer – the Counting Crows were in town earlier this week. I was, however, able to pre-order their new album and have downloaded the first two songs. And… I don’t know what I think about them. This won’t be an “August & Everything After” that I will listen to start to finish. It’ll be like “Desert Life” where I pick and choose a handful of songs and leave the rest. Which is a bummer.

5. I don’t mean to pee on anyone’s cornflakes but I totally don’t get the Weird Al thing and I’m tired of seeing him all over Facebook.

6. I have been tired all week and I can’t get un-tired.

7. Pumpkin turns nine this weekend and I have no idea where time has gone. And I’ve waited until the last minute to do her birthday shopping. What to get, what to get.

8. Television news is depressing.

9. Isn’t it cute how every few months I say i need to read more and then it takes me three weeks to read one book? I’m TRYING to get better, y’all.

10. I need a vacation. I need rest. Life is so much better than it was when 2014 began, but dang, I need a moment to breathe, to slow down… Calgon take me away.