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Wednesday Words: the Karen edition

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You know the old advice of wearing clean underwear just in case you’re in an accident? It’s next level when you just throw a sweatshirt on over your pajama shirt and leave the house.

It starts off like any other day. Coffee and taking Chaney to school.

Except it isn’t. I have precisely two days a year that everyone in my house goes to school or work but I’m off for a bank holiday. This is one of those rare days so I am wearing my pajamas for school drop off. I have big dreams of writing at home in my PJ’s all day. Alone.

I make it home unscathed and celebrate by finishing a book. I’ll spare you all the details but while I was making breakfast my dogs managed to tear into a fifty pound Amazon box that contained their food. It was sitting in our study; the place I was going to write in peace all day.

Dog food everywhere and a box that I cannot move means that my day is changing. I clean up the food and get ready to go out in public. Yes, this time I put a on a bra AND lip gloss.

I head to Barnes & Noble and set myself up at a table. I order my coffee and decide writing here isn’t going to be so bad.

Now someone is talking. We’ll call her Jane. She’s asking me if I can move because her group always sits at the table I’m currently occupying.

Um sure, Jane.

I certainly don’t want to start something at my local B&N. And maybe it’s a book club. That would make sense. They’re retired. It’s their routine.

I move one table over and unpack again. By this time Jane, Cathy, and Sue have gathered and ordered their coffee.

Karen is late. Jane finds this strange because Karen is never late but what a way to start their meeting – with one of them late.

Definitely a book club. I wonder what book they will be discussing? This could be fun.

Late Karen shows up. She explains that she was cooking a turkey and had to carve it.

What?

Jane, Cathy, and Sue share my confusion. Thanksgiving is 10 days away.

All eyes are on Karen now as she explains that yes, she cooked and sliced the turkey today. It’s sitting out and cooling while she’s at this “meeting”. Once room temperature, she freezes the meat and then defrosts it Thanksgiving morning; her family has never noticed.

KAREN.

I fully admit to looking over at Karen with disdain. I am not alone in my outrage because, food safety. I take a moment to silently judge while her trio of friends all start talking at once.

They are loud and hen pecking comes to mind.

I stop writing and start reading a book. It’s easier to eavesdrop while reading the same page over and over.

The scolding of Karen finally stops when her coffee is ready and she jumps when her name is called to pick it up. The conversation shifts to their Facebook feeds and did you see what so and so posted?

Sue likes Facebook for finding recipes and now they are talking about recipes for Thanksgiving.

Two things: I did not give up my table for a book club. And this recipe discussion is not going to go well for Karen.

Sue tells everyone about a sweet potato dish that she made last year. Jane comments that it sounds wonderful and probably freezes well.

JANE.

I almost spit out my coffee and I know it’s time to go. As I’m packing up Jane thanks me for moving.

Oh, I’m so glad I did and I’m so happy that I put on a bra for this.

I smile and wish them a happy Thanksgiving.

And good luck to you and your family, Karen. Because Jane is putting this shit on Facebook.

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Wednesday Words

No, I’m not on fire. At least not for the sake of other’s comfort.

Anymore.

Last night after dinner my husband asked me about taking care of some rather mundane tasks that belonged to other people; other adults to be exact.

My gracious response was, “I’m not doing it. I’m tired of doing shit other people are supposed to do.”

No kids or animals were around to hear my sparkly words so at least there’s that.

His response was actually gracious. Because he is a very smart man. Well, actually he just said, “ok.” But whatever. Still a smart guy.

However, I do think my abrupt answer speaks to where a lot of women are coming from these days. Especially women with one or all of the following: jobs, families, pets, household responsibilities, personal care, etc.

We have been told we can have it all and in the process we have set ourselves on fire. Or worse, we have let others set us on fire for their own gain. They have taken advantage of our warmth.

Now we are left burned. And hurting. Yet life moves on.

Kids still need to get to school and activities. We have careers we show up for with smiles on our faces. Our homes need to be clean-ish. Our families have this crazy expectation to be fed. Even our pets want treats every time we walk in the door, even if it was just to get the mail. It’s exhausting.

So Sunday evening, after a particularly trying weekend, the thought crossed my mind:

What if I just stopped talking?

I spend a lot of time up in my head with my thoughts but this was a weird one, even for me. It’s now Wednesday and I have finally figured out what that my silence would ideally achieve.

If I stopped talking, people would see me.

They would have to look. Forced to make eye contact. Forced to read expressions. Forced to make gestures… some probably not so nice if we’re being honest.

We don’t see each other anymore. Our noses are buried in electronic devices. Even as we are rushing from activity to activity or chasing the next big promotion, we are texting and emailing instead of seeing the other person.

And this lack of seeing others; I don’t believe it’s a female specific issue either. But because I’m a woman, this is my own perspective. And because this is me, I’m going to tell you what I, along with most women, long to hear:

I see you.

I see your frustration. I see your tears. I see your hurt over the destruction of addiction. I see your worry over your kids. I see the times you clean up messes made by other adults you are supposed to be able to count on. I see your struggles because we all have them. I see the well-intentioned fire you started to keep others warm and I see the harm it is doing to you.

It’s time to stop the madness. Put the fire out and help another woman put her fire out as well. Because there is more than one way to generate warmth. Community instead of competition would be an excellent place to start.

Build a different kind of fire. One that illuminates and allows us to see and support each other. We can all do better.

And one last thing, take a look in the mirror and see yourself. I did that this morning and saw a woman doing her very best, and purposed to keep talking. Without as many sparkly words.

Maybe…

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Top 10 Tuesday: Villains

TTT-NEWTop Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

Today’s list is all about villains. And not just the awful ones but also my favorites, best, worst, lovable, creepiest, most evil, etc. This took some thought because I tend not to dwell on the bad guys but here goes!

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  1. Hanna from Baby Teeth (Zoje Stage) – My pick for the creepiest because a psychopathic 1st grader who is sweet while plotting to kill her mom is definitely creepy.
  2. Mary B. Addison from Allegedly (Tiffany D. Jackson) – Mary is in foster care after going to jail for killing a baby her mother was babysitting. Did she do it? Did she not? Either way her story was sad and made you love her for her resiliency.
  3. Adele from Behind Her Eyes (Sarah Pinborough) – Adele is a favorite because my goodness, she pulled off the plot twists of the year for me.
  4. Edward Rochester from Jane Eyre – Any man who has a crazy attic wife is going to be the brooding, sullen type. But offers to take Jane to the moon made him odd but endearing.
  5. Cathy Ames from East of Eden (John Steinbeck) – Any woman who destroys people for fun ranks up there as most evil.
  6. David Melrose from Never Mind (Edward St. Aubyn) – A father like this guy who does unspeakable things to his son ties with Cathy Ames for most evil. By the way, the Showtime series Patrick Melrose based on this book series was fantastic.
  7. Nurse Ratched from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – This one seems obvious. Who hasn’t had a Nurse Ratched at some point in their school career? Ok, maybe not that bad but you know what I mean.
  8. Serena Joy from A Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood) – I am hesitant to call her a favorite but the balance she struck between heartless and cruel and trapped like the other women certainly made her a fascinating and complex villain.
  9. The White Witch from Narnia (C.S. Lewis) was one of the first villains I remember reading about when I was a kid. I have fond memories of this series and see her as one of the more harmless villains.
  10. Caillou from My Great Adventures – This one was a toss-up between the kid from The Giving Tree and Caillou but in the end, Caillou won out. What parent doesn’t see this kid as a villain? I know he was banned in our house a long time ago and I will still ban this book all day long.

Who are some of your favorite villains?

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Everyone has a first

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Hello! Here before you is the obligatory and awkward first post. Welcome to my blog where I’ll share what I’m reading, what I’m loving, honest book reviews, how I related to the characters and what I took from the book, what I’m passionate about, and maybe a bit of original writing.

Fun facts about me:

  • I learned to read when I was 3. I thought I could do anything once I learned to read and I was mostly right. Except grow… I’m 5’0
  • I went to a small private school and their first library was in the janitor closet. I spent a lot of hours sitting in there reading. I still love the smell of Pine Sol.
  • They finally noticed I was spending too much time in the broom closet, I took a test and skipped 3rd grade. I didn’t find this out until breakfast before my first day of 4th grade. Surprise with a big bowl of Wheaties!
  • I’ve spent 20 years in finance a.k.a a male dominated industry.
  • Reading is my escape from work, momming, kid taxi service, and the general WTF’ery of my life.
  • My dream job: writing full time with a healthy side of reading and traveling.
  • Coffee, water, Diet Coke, and bourbon… in that order (most of the time)
  • I have strong feminist tendencies. See: working my industry and raising a daughter.
  • I struggle with depression, anxiety, and PTSD and believe that no one should struggle alone.
  • My husband Steve is amazing and puts up with my book hoarding tendencies in exchange for all the gadgets and electronics he buys.
  • We have two beagles, Buddy & Gus, who don’t know how to read but listen to more than their fair share of rants. They will appreciate this new outlet.