Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick; reading different and switching up genres

Typically I read a lot of fantasy, modern (read: urban) and low-magic, but I also love a good historical fiction or horror novel. As not picky as I am about music, I tend to be pretty particular about the stuff I read. But lately, I’ve been a little tired of fiction, finding it difficult to get through the ends of books if it slows down even a little. I talked a little bit about it when I talked about reading Mamrie’s book. But since then I’ve picked up a few other memoir/non-fiction/celebrity kind of books to read. They tend to be a little short reads, but since they’re typically set up in short chapters/stories as well it feels like they’re faster too.

I finished Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick today. Memoir isn’t really the right word but it’s sort of a collection of her stories of getting into show business and the business of being a sort of an anxiety-ridden misanthrope. I’m a fan of her work both musicals and movies, I even saw Camp, which is … recommended only if you’re a fan of musicals and can stomach a poor teen comedy.

Anyway, I enjoyed her stories and honestly, it was just kind of nice to be grounded in stories about places and things that are recognizeable. It’s less work for my stressed brain. It might be one of the reasons I’m enjoying podcasts that are less about adventures and fantasy as well. As much fun as escapist fantasy can be, personally I think it requires more thought on my part that I’m not in the mood for lately. Especially on busy or stressful days.

I don’t know if anyone else is like this too. I doesn’t happen to me very often at all but this is lingering a little. Next up, I picked up I Know I Am, But What Are You? by Samantha Bee.

My Desk is a Wonderland

I really dislike having a boring desk at work. I have to actually WORK there for 8+ hours a day, every now and again I like looking around at my work area and finding something that’ll make me smile. And let’s be honest, Funko Pop figures have sort of changed the whole game when it comes to desk or cube decoration. Here’s my basic set up:

From L to R: Loki (from the first Thor movie, Superman, Maleficent, La Muerta & Harley Quinn.
In front is a smaller lip balm Maleficent.

If you think it’s odd that picture has more than one Maleficent in it, you don’t know me very well. There’s always at least one near me at all times (except the bathrooms — someday that might change). I’ll have to go into my love for Maleficent another day. Anyway, yes. I purposefully arranged them in a villain, hero, villain, hero format. To look around my cube there’s a few other smaller figures: a wendigo (the Hannibal Wendigo specifically from the ended-too-soon tv show), the evil queen (Grimhilde) from Snow White, and a Riddler.

Today, I remembered that when I switched cubes at the office, I’d stashed a smaller Doctor Who and a dalek figure in a cabinet and never put him out again. He’s one of my favorites (and a non-pop figure). It’s a figure of Ten and when he was on my desk before I made a bunch of cut out word bubbles with quotes from the seasons with David Tennant. These were a little like mood reflectors for me, I could change them out depending on how I was feeling in the morning. So I pulled them out today, found as many of the word bubbles as I could and set him back on a shelf near me.

The day suddenly felt 100% more manageable, because I could look up at him and laugh when I needed too. “It goes ding when there’s stuff!” is one my favorite Who quotes maybe ever because it’s so completely absurdist. It never fails to make me smile. The episode it’s from, Blink, while giving us one of modern Who’s most memorable villains, the Weeping Angels, also gave us the really adorable romance between Billy and Sally. And it’s one of the rare episodes where the Doctor isn’t really the main character — and it still works to give fans a really compelling story. I’m all for those. Much like I still can’t hear ELO’s “Mr Blue Sky” without thinking of the episode, Love and Monsters.

As I was putting Ten back up on the shelf I realized how much comfort I put into my cube so that there’s something enjoyable pretty much anywhere I look. I took a few extra pictures to show off how packed with stuff I keep my cube. And yet, I managed to forget to photograph the biggest, most noticeable thing about my cube decorations. It doesn’t have a name but I know for a fact that people use it as a landmark in the sea of cubes on my side of the floor. So it’s pretty special. I’ll have to talk about it another day too.

I think I’m pretty lucky to be able to deck out my desk area as much as I do — not everyone has more than maybe a family picture or two in their work area. But personally, I think it’s how I make it through really tough days. It’s not just boring family pictures, it’s the pictures that’ll make me laugh, it’s the gifts from friends or family that make me smile.

Do you have an area at work that you can decorate? What do you — or would you — put in it to keep you going?

Where and how do you run?

This is one of those sort of doomsday/apocalypse kind of thoughts. But due to some of the story in Jessica Jones, I’ve been thinking about how and where I would run if the worst happened. Like if you ABSOLUTELY have to go somewhere because your personal FBI guy decides to turn you in or you commit a crime you want to get away from or there’s a super-villain after you (or a superhero, who am I to dictate what kind of super you want to be)…. whatever, we all have our reasons.

Specifically, I’m talking about the sort of running where technology works against you and where continuing to use your own identity is not an option.
Where do you go and how do you get there? I’m pretty much of the thought that in this day and age, the average joe has no real choice but the streets in a major metropolitan city. I mean, it’s sort of the sad conclusion of modern society that it’s easiest to hide in a crowd of people that people actively look away from. 
There’s someone in season two of Jessica Jones that she goes to for fake identification more than once and I couldn’t help but think how unrealistic that is. I don’t know, maybe in New York City everyone knows someone who knows a guy that can get you a new identity. But that’s not the case in the suburbs, or for normal people. Not too mention, even if that is a plausible option because somehow you know someone, unless they owe you a really big favor that shit isn’t cheap. And if you’re about to run, every cent counts. 
You can’t rent rooms anywhere without id, or travel and even buying things in cash is a tricky proposition if it’s expensive enough. And then, for funsies, pretend you’re starting this new life with no cash whatsoever. For whatever reason you can’t grab any before you leave, there’s nothing left to take, or you didn’t have any to begin with. Maybe you can scrounge up a few dollars but that’s not going to last long. 
With some time maybe you can grab things to sell before you leave. Or maybe there’s something on you worth selling. Chances of having something expensive enough to sell on me at any given time is pretty low. Unless pawn shops have started dealing in lipstick (because usually that’s all I have on me at any time of any value), I’m sort of out of luck.
These thoughts haven’t really gone anywhere — I live the sort of life where I’m more likely to need to run from a zombie apocalypse than some sort of hitman, but it’s an interesting thought experiment anyway. And not completely without its uses. Knowing where the nearest libraries, soup kitchens, domestic shelters or homeless shelters are in your town or city is pretty useful. In cities where public transportation isn’t a priority for suburban neighborhoods figuring out where the nearest bus stops are and what it costs, is also good information. 
My neighborhood for instance has a bus stop but it would take me a bunch of stops and changes to get anywhere useful, I’d have better luck walking toward downtown. But then I’d have to consider the best time to make that walk, on flat land anyone walking on the road is easily spotted… I’d be better served trying to float down the river and that has its own host of issues. 
No plan is perfect. But I’m curious what other people have come up with, if anything. Have you ever considered what it would take for you to run without money or technology? And where would you go?

One Last Thing

What is it about setting or deciding on a specific time to do something that seems to guarantee there’s always ONE MORE THING that needs doing? I’ve tried to go to bed a little early every night this week and each time I feel like there’s something I’ve forgotten to do. Last night I even tried to do it with plenty of time to finish what I was working on, let the dog out and take my meds — all the normal stuff I do. And then of course I knocked over my drink as I was getting up from my desk. Usually it’s the cats knocking my shit over. This time, my blanket knocked right into my open drink and spilled it all over my mouse and the books I keep by my computer at all times.

But having to clean that up got me thinking how often I’m picking up stuff or doing one last thing before I go to bed. It’s a little like playing The Sims or Civilization or whatever your RTS game of choice is, where you always want to take one more turn before saving and closing down your game.

I can’t be the only one that feels like there’s always one more thing that needs doing anytime you’re about to do something else? I’m sure it has more to do about our fallible human memories that makes us do this. Or at least my specifically horrible one.


Tonight we said goodbye to the toughest old lady I’ve ever met. When we adopted Piper no one was sure quite what her age was; we were told she was between five and seven years old. They knew she’d had puppies at some point not long before she’d been found and that her life up until she was rescued had been really tough. Her hair was thin, patchy and sun-bleached and it was clear she was scared around people and loud noises.

We got Piper about a year and a half after our other lab, Jazz, and even though she was an older dog, the two of them were good friends. I remember taking Jazz to meet her for the first time and watching how they almost immediately fell into sync as they walked, as they sat, as they watched the world go by. They were a good fit for each other and for us.

Two years ago we lost Jazz. And in recent weeks as Piper’s health rapidly declined, I’ve felt like he’s been here, with us. I’ve had these moments with her sitting next to me and as she would turn her head, I imagined Jazz sitting there too, turning his head at the same time… just like he used to. It’s been a comforting thought at least, to think maybe he was waiting for her.

We had Piper for ten really good years. She was sweet and gentle and demanded attention, but was never wild. In the beginning, while she warmed to Jazz immediately, it took her longer to trust us. But once she did, all she wanted was to be close to us. She loved kids and didn’t mind it when they crawled all over her to play. She was a good lady.

She was strong until the end but tonight we knew it was her time.

I’m going to miss her terribly.

Music: Tired as Fuck by The Staves

This video is about a year old now but boy is it pretty much a great description for having a chronic illness. I’ve been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia for about fifteen years now and while I have daily meds that (thankfully) haven’t changed much since I first started with my rheumatologist like a decade ago. The only think that really ebbs and flows regardless of pain is my energy levels. People tend to take a lot out of me, because I tend towards extrovert when I’m around people. Recovering can take a day or two and that depends on how many spoons I have on any given day. When you couple that with your just garden variety insomnia (which I’ve battled since I was a kid — I get it from my father and his father, we’re just night owls, period), getting restful, recuperative rest is pretty much not a thing that happens.

I feel like this song is pretty much my go to anthem for those days. Like, long Mondays with a lot of work on the table and not enough hours of sleep after a long weekend full of people. I also really enjoy the video (as seen below) because it’s obviously not trying to be more than it is. A bunch of badass ladies who are just… tired. A thing I can seriously relate to.

Ps. If you’re not familiar with The Staves and you like that kind of indie, folk-rock vibe, I highly recommend them. They don’t post often on YouTube, but their videos are usually pretty bare bones (which I like) and while they don’t have an extensive discography, it’s really, really good.


Working Though It; making list of small gratitudes

At work I tend to listen to a lot of podcasts, it’s a good way to get through the day and really helpful for a few good laughs. Lately though, I’ve had a lot of trouble focusing both at work and at home with all the writing projects I want to be working on. I’ve switched back over to favoring music both in the car (instead of audiobooks like normal). Even then choosing something I want to listen to has been difficult also, mostly because I want stuff that’s going to pump me up or at least make me feel good. 

Putting together the two schwarmerei playlists [one, two] earlier this month was actually really helpful, I had to think about the sort of music that was honestly going to be a good way to alter my mood for something good. Currently I’ve got all these projects I want to work on but can’t seem to get myself to pick them up. 
Most of the things in my life are pretty good at the moment. I finally got the promotion I’ve been waiting for and a nice bonus along with it. But, we also just found out our oldest dog, Piper, has metastasized cancer in her lungs. We’ve had her almost exactly ten years, making her fifteen (maybe a year or two older, they weren’t sure of her age when we rescued her). But two years ago we lost one of the greatest doggie loves of my life, Jazz, and I’m missing him a lot as I look at the way Piper is declining. They were pretty good puppy friends and I feel like I can see him next to her some days, sitting or laying nearby one another like they used to. 
We’ve been expecting for so long that we’d eventually have to watch Piper pass, but now that we’re watching her last few weeks, maybe month, I’m not ready for it. 
I don’t want to make this a completely sad post about Piper’s decline, no one really wants to read that anyway. But it’s definitely a weight I’m carrying around and even if I’m not actively thinking about it, it’s there in the back of my mind taking up space I’m usually using on something else. 
So, like a lot of times in my life, I’m turning to music to help shift my mood. For a week or two I found myself just binging all those episodes of Supergirl. It’s easy to hide in long television binges. I had to tear myself away from it this week (made a little easier by the fact that I was definitely losing interest in the second season’s plots — more on that another day). Instead, I’ve been playing some Overwatch, which I find kickstarts my brain a little, and this weekend I actually sat down with something more than this blog to write on. 
TBH writing blog posts every day is helpful, even when they’re small. I feel like they’re little bits of gratitude, little reminders for myself of things I am honestly enjoying. 
So let me mention a few things that are really helping me at the moment. 
  • The first IS a podcast: Good Christian Fun — I’ve mentioned this one before and it’s still great. I laugh at every episode and the 2nd service episodes have been both fun and informational, getting me thinking about stuff. (Kevin’s love for the Paddington movies also made me watch Paddington for the first time, and I can confirm it’s an earnestly adorable and light-hearted good time.)
  • The song “Good as Hell” by Lizzo (which I put on my first playlist up there)
  • The song “Two Fux” by Adam Lambert (which is on my second playlist linked up there)
  • Old and new episodes of Critical Role — I just finished episode 75 of the first campaign and I laughed through the whole thing. Those nerds really make me happy. 
  • The new show by Polygon on YouTube — Overboard, where members of the staff of play board games.
  • The new song by Janelle Monae “Make Me Feel”, because hell yes & the video for this is a bisexual’s happy place. It’s amazing. 
  • This isn’t a thing, but it’s important to me: with my work bonus I was able to pay down my student loan quite a bit. By the end of the year I might have that paid off and that’s such a weight off. 
If you’re struggling right now, I highly recommend finding some songs or some shows that’ll make you laugh or dance, at least draw your focus for a little bit. Getting your brain a little kickstart with something that triggers a happy thought gives it something to focus on whatever you don’t have the energy for right now. Plus, if you’re like me, making a list of 5+ things is always a good time.

Trying for Joyful; I’ve Got This Round by Mamrie Hart

Recently I finished reading I’ve Got This Round by Mamrie Hart, a popular YouTuber. This is her second book and in both her first one, You Deserve a Drink and this one, she shares humorous personal stories about her life. In her first book many of her wacky adventures can be written off by her youth, or her drinking, or both. In the second, the stories all take place within the two years since her previous book. So she’s older and more successful than before but her stories don’t feel that different. She’s still telling stories about wacky adventures that don’t sound much like she’s changed.

But really this isn’t a review for her book. (Or it kind of is, and it’s kind of more.)

I mean, if you like her or her humor, read it. She’s an engaging writer and you’ll find her new round of stories fun and on-brand. I just don’t think it’s for everyone, which I’m sure even she understands.

However, reading it did get me thinking. Mostly because I recognize how strange it can be to read the stories of people that have more money or time or influence. When they do crazy things like purchasing tickets to Paris, or going on a cruise all on a whim, it’s hard to imagine yourself in their place.

Mamrie is a person in a uncommon position of privilege. Her status as an influencer and as a YouTuber personality grants her opportunities the rest of us don’t get. So connecting to stories about being fabulous places where she can drink and have fun adventures, is difficult.

Here though, is where I started thinking about what else her stories have in common, and where it’s not necessary to read her book to grasp the concept.

This about finding the joy in things. What she does is say “yes” to new opportunities. She reaches out to friends and loved ones to share in her adventures. Sometimes, when life is hard or we don’t feel good, this is the sort of thing it’s hard to do.

I find it difficult to lean in to new experiences.

And that’s the thing I found most often in her stories. Sometimes there would be a turning point… that moment where it’d be really easy to kick back. Sure, I find a day at home with video games or movies enjoyable. I’m a homebody and an introvert and once I’m in comfy clothes it’s hard to get me out of the house. But this isn’t just about getting out of the house. This is about getting out of a comfort zone.

Sort of like I talked about in my post about going to Omaha recently. I was there for a purpose – to see my favorite poet. But several times I tried to talk myself out of it. I tried to avoid going by myself somewhere fancy for dinner. In the end, I had an extremely enjoyable dinner and saw a great show.

I think reading this book was a little reminder that it’s worth it sometimes to push yourself a little more. And it’s doesn’t have to be big moments either. It could be saying yes to little things, like singing loudly in your car, or inviting someone to have lunch with you at work. I’ve also been considering how easy it is to hide the things we’re passionate about.

There’s a story Mamrie tells about going on the Backstreet Boys cruise. And I couldn’t help but admire the joy in that story. Not only do she and her friend just completely lean in to enjoy the shit out of that cruise as best they can, but there’s a whole cruise ship full of women doing the same thing. Sure, maybe their all there for different reasons but if you’re buying tickets to the Backstreet Boys cruise, you’ve really embraced your love for that band. And I kind of love that.

We talk a lot about this kind of idea in fandom circles; how not to yuck someone else’s yum, and letting people enjoy the things they enjoy whether it be a certain type of story or character or art. I think there’s more to that we can apply to just every day life. Being present for the things we love and opening ourselves up to opportunities to love more stuff.

Really it’s part of why I wanted to do this blog, or any blog again. I’m a huge fan of video games, comics, music… and it’s fun to be able to talk about them more, or share them to people who might not otherwise know about them. So, I’m really trying to embrace that whole concept of being present for the joy I have in the things and people I love, and being open or confident enough to do it even more.

Taking Myself Out

So, I drove myself about three hours north early Friday afternoon for a concert. I got into Omaha right about dinner time, leaving me enough time to eat something before going to the show. Now, I’m familiar with the city a little bit, but not the part the show was in. So I drove there first, making sure I knew the area a little. Then I found a place nearby that looked worth trying out for dinner.

Now I’ll be really honest and say it took me longer than I’m proud of to find a place to eat dinner. Mostly because I couldn’t settle on something but also because the conditions around the place for the show weren’t ideal. It’s really fucking cold outside and I didn’t wear shoes for walking a long way, because I’d planned to just park and eat somewhere near the concert venue. So I drove around a little bit while making my decision.

I had to have a good talk to myself during this little drive. A good, stern talking to. Because it’s so, so, so easy to fall into something easy when conditions are out of the norm or at least out of the expected. As I was driving I considered, a couple of times, stopping at some fast food place and eating instead of bothering with anything else. But here’s the thing. I drove three hours to a different city and I had both the time and the money to eat somewhere that wouldn’t make me fucking miserable. Plus, while I could’ve eaten quickly and sat in my car or at a coffee shop for two hours, I would’ve been bored and miserable just scrolling my phone. AND I knew afterwards I’d be kicking myself for not taking the chance to do something else. Hence the very stern talking to I gave myself to just make up my mind and get something.

I had to spend some time finding parking but I managed and the walk was brief. But I ended up at this nice restaurant near the concert venue that was actually a little fancy. I don’t drink alcohol often or much when I do, but since this was a treat for myself and at a restaurant with a wine and cocktail bar, I opted for a drink to.

Let me tell you. I’m so very glad that I listened to myself. I had a fantastic meal, even if it was a little awkward to eat alone. I sat at the bar, ordered a glass of wine and my meal and texted a bit while I waited for both. It’s not the sort of meal I could have often or would choose for myself when I’m home, but it was the perfect sort of experience for taking myself out. A little like a date. Fancy food, nice drink, and a good show.

Duck with endive and sweet potato chips, with a side of scalloped sweet potatoes smothered in Gruyere.
(Not pictured: a glass of Dr. Loosen Riesling.)

Once I got to Omaha and saw the parking, felt the cold, it would’ve been so easy to give up. I even thought about just skipping the show once I realized it wasn’t the sort of venue where you can easily grab a chair. I had so many tiny battles with my anxiety. But it was worth it.

After the show, I didn’t linger because I was eager to drive back home again, but the whole way home I thought about how glad I was to see the thing through.

Oh, and get this. The place I opted to eat for dinner is closing in two weeks. I found that out near the end of my meal. The owners are shutting it down after Valentine’s Day so they can do something new. The place was packed while I was there and the bartender was talking about how busy she expected it to be over the next week and a half. She loves the place and couldn’t speak highly enough of it. That’s an experience I’ll never be able to have again, even if I wanted to. So that’s pretty cool all on its own.

(And if you’re in Omaha before Valentine’s Day, check out Lot 2 in Benson. You might have to go early to get a seat, or sit at the bar, but the food is definitely worth it.)

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Creature Comforts Taken for Granted

cw: illness
One of the things we never really think about when we’re sick is how nice it is to be at home, surrounded by our own stuff and the comforting environment we’re used to. Early last year, I had a really stark reminder of that when I had a really bad case of Pancreatitis that led to a several day stint in the hospital and having my gallbladder removed. There was nothing quite like being at home once I was well enough. I was surrounded by all my own stuff and the peace and quiet of familiar comforts for the days I needed to fully recover. 
Of course being ill in the hospital is a little different. There, you have doctors and nurses looking after you and the minor annoyances of their frequent interruptions are for your own benefit. They give you medicine and see to your dietary needs or restrictions. You’re looked after in a way that you can’t get at home, despite the lack of familiar.
This weekend, my grandsons were over so their mother could get in some much needed study time for her nursing courses. The littlest, who is two, got sick sometime around 3 in the morning and I spent the rest of the morning up with him. He was understandably miserable. Not only was he sick, but each time he got sick, his mom wasn’t there to comfort him. Grandma is only second best in those moments. We sent him home for mom to care for sometime in the mid-morning after which he improved immensely and I don’t think it was all timing. Being around mom works wonders.
The following day we drove across the state to attend a visitation and funeral. Sometime Sunday night after the visitation, I started feeling pretty sickly myself. I have a pretty shit immune system thanks to Fibromyalgia so getting sick shouldn’t have been a surprise, but still, it was miserable. We’re fiveish hours from home and I spent all night Sunday violently ill. I missed the funeral Monday because I was sleeping off the night before. Being sick far in a hotel, far from home, isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. 
Even spending the day sleeping and recovering isn’t the same. I’ve missed meds, had trouble with food and clothes and what I really want is a day at home in my own bed to really feel 100% again. The weather has turned colder and as a result of being sick, sleeping all day and the weather, I’ve spend most of tonight up with a horrible migraine. I don’t take my migraine medicine with me everywhere because they’re intermittent, and so those are home. 
In a few hours we’re supposed to drive home and while I look forward to getting home, the stomach bug passed to my husband, who normally drives because I get incredibly sleepy in the car. So we’re going to figure out how to get home tomorrow, both of us tired and miserable. Then we’re both expected back to work on Wednesday. A strong reminder how much being an adult and having to care for yourself can really suck. 

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