All I Do Is Write, Write, Write No Matter What

Saturday, April 13, 2024

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All I do is write, and I write so much that I never have time to write. This is my primary complaint about my life, and I know, that makes it a pretty damn good life. But in becoming a professional, full-time writer, I spend so much time writing that I have no time or energy for personal writing.

The result? This blog has become so neglected that I can no longer call myself a blogger; these days, I'm lucky if I can even squeak out a verbose Instagram caption. But everyone seems to have a Substack now, and I want one, too. They're new and shiny, like blogs felt back in 2008 or 2011.

In fact, I subscribe to a few of them, ones written by bloggers I read back when I first started here, the OGs who have long since abandoned their corners of the Internet (like Valorie and Simone and Amy). It feels so thrilling to see their words on digital paper again, and I think, I could do this, too! But then I think: Would anyone read it? And then I think: Would I ever even write it? Because truthfully, I write so much, for work and for my freelance pursuits, that I hardly have time to read, either; too many o my friends' words sit unread in my inbox, just like my own sit in my head, unwritten. 
I'm not mad about it. I am a professional writer. When people ask what my dream job is, I don't really have an answer, other than to say that maybe I would be a different kind of professional writer, bcause the truth is that this is all I have ever really wanted to be and all that I can imagine ever being. I love it, and I am good at it, and I don't fall asleep on Sundays panicking about waking up on Mondays. Who can ask for more than that? 
At my day job, I write medical content that genuinely helps people, articles that people read in moments of anxiety and fear when they're awake at 2:00am and Googling out of sheer panic. I write the stories they send to their children out of love, or to their aging parents out of worry, or to their girlfriends to say, "Don't believe everything you watch on TikTok."
Through my freelance work, I write articles that help Clevelanders connect to their city, to find restaurants to enjoy with friends and to bookmark for date nights when they can find a babysitter. I tell the stories of small business owners who are trying their damndest to turn their life's dream into their life's work. I get to show off the city I love.

And in my personal time, sometimes, I still share pieces of myself on social media, sort of. It's mostly on Instagram now, and not nearly as often or as in-depth as it used to be, because I never quite made the transition to "content creator" that the algorithm insists upon, and I increasingly have less interest and more shame (in a good way) and fewer hours in the day to spend on it. But I'm still there — writing, talking, storytelling, sharing.

In so many way, I'm more of a writer than I've ever been... and at the same time, I'm less of one than ever. I guess that's how life goes, right? The push and the pull of it all, the continual attempt to shift and balance your identity and figure out what's right for you in the moment — what respects the past and plans for the future while honoring the now.
I'm too busy wriitng. I miss writing. 

And I'll say  

I'm the fabled

one that let you down.

The greatest escapist

the world has ever known...

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What I'm Watching

Friday, March 1, 2024

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A very long writers' strike, followed by a very long actors' strike, meant a very long while without any new TV shows. Agonizing, I know! When there was nothing new to watch, I turned to some older content, and now that things are starting to come back, I'm thrilled to be catching up on all things new.
I've dived right back into the entire Dick Wolf universe (all three Law & Order shows, plus Chicago Med and Chicago PD), the return of The Rookie, and the current season of The Bachelor (which is great). But I've added some new things to the mix, too! Here's what else I've been loving.

The Traitors
Is there anyone who isn't watching The Traitors at this point?! I'm not normally one for competition shows, but this one is just so fun. It brings together a supergroup of reality TV stars from various shows, all competing in a glorified game of Mafia in a Scottish castle. Oh, and the host is Alan Cumming, who wears lots of flowing capes and fanciful hats. (Peacock) 

I've loved this one for a while, and I was so excited for it to come back, especially because it was very nearly unceremoniously axed amid the writers' strike. It's incredibly cheesy and unrealistic and probably poorly acted, but I'll be damned if the theme music doesn't hype me up every single time. Come for Shemar Moore's Hondo, stay for Street, Tan and Deacon. (Paramount+)

Will Trent
This show didn't particularly appeal to me, so I don't know why I started watching it, but I sure am glad I did. Ramon Rodriguez plays Special Agent Will Trent of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation; his childhood friend and on-again/off-again love interest Angie Polaski is played by Erika Christensen (Swimfan!!!!!!!). (Hulu)
Six Feet Under
I'm not yet done with this one because I had to take a break for a bit (a little too serious for me!) but I'm really glad that I finally started this early 2000s hit about a family that runs a funeral home. One of the stars is Michael C. Hall, though, who I only know from Dexter, so I confess that I keep expecting sweet David Fisher to heinously murder someone... (Netflix)
My Life with the Walter Boys 
I expected to hate this cheesy show about country bumpkins, but when the first season ended, I was desperate for more. It's based on a YA book about Jackie, a teen who moves from NYC to a farm to live with family friends after her parents and sister die in a car accident. Once she arrives, she... falls in love with two of the family's teenage sons? I don't know, man, it was terrible and I loved it. (Netflix)
Boo, Bitch
I was thrilled to see Lana Condor in something new, and while this was a sort of absurd little show, I thoroughly enjoyed it. The premise is that two high school friends, Erika and Gia, find Erika's body... and surmise that she has died and become a ghost. She starts living her best high school life before she crosses over, and hijinks, of course, ensue. Ridiculous but fun. (Netflix)

I don't know when this macabre show is coming back, but I'll be waiting with bated breath. I've watched season one three times and am on my second rewatch of season two. When a private plane carrying a teen girls' soccer team crashes in the Canadian wilderness, they must do whatever they can to survive. It flashes back and forth between their 1990s storyline and the present day. (Showtime on Paramount+)

Mike wanted to watch Kitchen Nightmares, but it felt too mean for me, so this show (which I used to watch back in my New Hampshire days!) was our compromise. We started with the most recent season, then went back and watched three more; we didn't watch them all, but we accidentally spoiled a few. Honestly, I was sort of devastated to run out of seasons because this competition show for home cooks is just a joy to watch. (Hulu)
Next Level Chef
When we ran out of seasons of Masterchef, we started on this show, another from FOX that's also hosted by Gordon Ramsay, along with Richard Blais and Nyesha Arrington (both former Top Chef contestants). It's got an interesting premise: 15 chefs, 1 building, and three kitchens of varying levels of prestige. With each dish they make, they move up or down a level, to a better or worse kitchen. (Hulu)
Have you seen any of these shows? What are you watching? And what did you mist most during the strikes? Hit me with your best recs! 

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2023 in Review: Ups, Downs, and a Lot of In-Betweens

Sunday, December 31, 2023

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Honestly, these recaps probably aren't really for anyone but me at this point because, like... who's reading these? But still, they feel valuable to me  so valuable, in fact, that I'm finally completing this post at the end of January 2024, having failed to finish formatting it sooner, and I'm backdating it to December 2023, just for posterity's sake.

Usually I break down my year-end recaps by month, but this time around, I went down a slightly different path. It's turned out to not be my favorite format, and I probably won't use it again, but rather than rewriting this one, I'm just going to say to heck with it and get it online already.
Here's what happened in 2023.

We were approved to become adoptive parents. 
Mike and I completed our adoption paperwork and were officially approved to adopt. We've since started working with multiple adoption agencies, and our profile was presented to a few birth mothers, though we weren't chosen. 

When we shared the news, we were bowled over by the love and support we received from friends and strangers alike. We're hopeful that we'll start our family soon. (PS, if you know of anyone who is pursuing an adoption plan, we hope you'll keep us in mind. Here's our photobook.)

We spent quality time with family. 
We were lucky to spend a lot of time with our family this year. At the start of the summer, my aunts came up for a weekend so they could see our house, and we spent a beautiful day at the Cleveland Botanical Gardens. We also hosted a backyard pizza dinner for my dad's side of the family so they could see our house. 
In August, we traveled to Portland, OR, for vacation and for the beautiful, joyful wedding of my exchange student sister, Anielis. Then, in November, we traveled to Hilton Head, SC, to spend a quick but relaxing Thanksgiving holiday with my family.
Christmas was also full of family. We drove to Nashville to spend a few days with Mike’s sister and their parents. Then we spent Christmas Eve with my dad's family and Christmas Day with Mike's aunt and uncle.
One more thing, and speaking of family, this is a big one: I met my half-sister for the first time. It's a story for another day, but suffice it to say that it was a truly wild moment, and it has turned into a really beautiful friendship for which I'm so grateful. 

Friends visited us, and we visited friends.
In January, I met up with some of my best friends for a rainy girls' weekend in Berkeley, CA, and though we barely got to leave the house, it was a joy just to be together. In May, I traveled to New Orleans for my friend Emily’s belated bachelorette weekend after hers was canceled in 2020.
In June, we drove to upstate New York (practically Vermont!) to celebrate the wedding of our friends Ashley and Cody. In December, we spent 24 hours in Pittsburgh, visiting our friends Nick and Susan and checking out a Home Alone-themed bar that made me, like, the happiest ever.
We hosted visitors, too. When our friends Adam and Kristina came to visit from Philly, we took them to as many fun places as we could within a very short time. My old roommates, Jason and Gavi, also stayed overnight as they drove from Chicago to their new home in New York.
I felt proud of my personal successes. 
I made more money freelancing than I ever have before, adding three new outlets to my regular-ish, rotating roster. I don't necessarily do it for the money; I genuinely love it. But the money sure doesn't hurt, you know?
My biggest story of the year was writing Cleveland Magazine's Best Restaurants feature, a profile of Cordelia. It was really cool to see my story on the cover and get to celebrate such a great spot... and that piece got the attention of another outlet! "Best Restaurants in Cleveland," which I then wrote for, was published with little fanfare, but I'm still very excited about it. 
I'm frustrated that I didn't quite hit all the goals I'd hoped to this year at my day job, but I did do well enough to receive a small raise. I also had the opportunity to attend the Marketing AI Conference, aka MAICON, with some of my colleagues, where I got to watch both my boss and my husband present from the big stage and deepen my understanding of AI for writers.
Finally, toward the end of the year, I was invited to join the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism and to participate in the Mandel Symposium, a leadership development program run by the Jewish Federation of Cleveland

I did a lot of boxing.
Before the first month of the year was up, I earned my Challenge Coin, a rite of passage for boxers who expertly ace a 49-punch combo. I'd been working toward it for more than a year, and it was one of my New Year's resolutions for 2023, so that felt very gratifying.
As the year went on, I passed Tier 5 of boxing! And I passed Tier 6 of boxing! And then finally, I passed Tier 7, effectively graduating from the program. My classmates and I celebrated by eating cake and wearing our boxing robes to a dive bar.
Oh, and in between, I spent a weekend at my alma mater, Kent State, attending boxing training camp and learning how to become a trainer. 
I pushed myself outside my comfort zone.
Mike and I did a polar plunge in the Atlantic Ocean for no apparent reason.
I got up on stage at Imposters Theater to tell the story of the time I broke my tailbone in college... which was then the basis of comedy sketches performed by a very funny improv troupe.
I did an outfit-a-day challenge with my friend Jenny to try to hone my personal style.
I also got Botox for the first time... with my mom! It hurt a lot more than I expected (needles to the face, of course it hurt), but I really liked the results. 
And I met up with lots of previously Internet-only friends, including Meghann, Abby, and Becca.
And, of course, I did lots of fun stuff around Cleveland.
My friend Megan had a super-fun bachelorette party day that included a Tiki Barge and a nightclub in The Flats, which I felt entirely too old for. I went to Candytopia and loved it. And some friends and I celebrated Galentine's Day by making our own floral bouquets at Blossom Flower Bar, which was very adorable and happy. 
Mike and I visited Daffodil Hill at Lake View Cemetary while it was in full bloom. I'm obsessed, and next time I'm taking someone who has more patience for taking photos.
And as usual, I ate lots of good food and found some new favorite places, like AbundanceCordelia, Jaja, Patron Saint, Ready Set Coffee, and Floressa, to name a few.

There was plenty more that happened this year, and I documented it less than ever. But it was a good year, a hard year, a busy year, a hopeful year. May the coming year be even better. 


How was your year? What are you looking forward to in 2024? 
If you want to read past year-in-review posts, check out 2011201220132014201520162017201820192020, 2021, and 2022, along with my overall recap of the 2010s.

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Seven Things on a Sunday

Sunday, November 26, 2023

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How was your Thanksgiving? We spent it in Hilton Head, S.C., with my extended family. My aunt and uncle own a vacation rental home there that we have been fortunate to use for the holiday each year. It's always nice to spend time with them... and just as nice to get home and usher in the winter holiday season.

This post is a riff on "Three Things Thursday," a series that Stephany does sometimes, where she picks 10 categories and shares three things that fit into each of them for her right now. It's a fun way to share recommendations, random thoughts, and some life tidbits, though I've instead chosen seven categories because, well, I like alliteration. 

Here goes.

Three podcasts I'm listening to 
  1. For Heaven's Sake: Israel at War is a podcast from the Shalom Hartman Institute, hosted by its president, Rabbi Donniel Hartman, with Yossi Klein HaLevi, author of Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor. In this difficult, emotional, traumatic time, this podcast is one of the things that's keeping me grounded and helping me figure out my feelings. 
  2. Who? Weekly is a long-beloved celebrity gossip podcast that I somehow didn't start listening to until recently. Wanting to do things right, I started from the very first episode... in 2016. That means I'm still working my way through years-old D-list celebrity gossip; I just hit 2020. 
  3. The Unsub Is a White Man is an episode-by-episode recap of the TV show Criminal Minds, hosted by two friends and coworkers who just... you know, recap the show. And make fun of it. And try to decide whether it was ever really any good. 
Three things I’m looking forward to 
  1. I've got a few holiday parties to go to this year, all in a row, including my work gathering, Mike's work dinner, and one for alumni of the Rekindle Black/Jewish Fellowship here in Cleveland. I'm also going to go to the Hanukkah menorah lighting on the West Side. 
  2. We're headed to Pittsburgh for a weekend, sort of a belated anniversary gift to ourselves and to visit our friends Nick and Susan, who I haven't since since before the pandemic. And we're going to a Home Alone-themed pop-up bar!
  3. Mike's family is going to Nashville for Christmas, and though he and I aren't staying for the holiday itself, we decided to go for a few days beforehand. His sister has lived there since 2019, and I've never been to visit, so I'm really looking forward to it. 
Three apps I'm using a lot
  1. I've been using Fetch for a few months now to rake in rewards by uploading receipts. You get actual gift cards in return. (Use code 4E9W73 to join and get 500 points free.) 
  2. I use the NYT Games app every day to play Wordle, then Connections, then Spelling Bee; every once in a while, I'll go in and play weeks' worth of Crosswords, too. 
  3. I still don't feel like Threads has replaced Twitter in any satisfying or lasting way, but I'm also accepting that Twitter is dead. So I guess Threads is helping numb the pain? 
Three books I'm reading 
  1. The Night In Question by Kathleen Glasgow and Liz Lawson is the second in a short series of YA mysteries about two unlikely friends who team up to get to the bottom of their classmates' mysterious deaths.
  2. How Minds Change: The Surprising Science of Belief, Opinion, and Persuasion by David McRaney is one of the most interesting books I've ever read. It's not an exaggeration to say that it's changing my life. 
  3. Radically Content: Being Satisfied in an Endlessly Dissatisfied World by Jamie Varon is half memoir and half self-help book, not the type I would typically read. But I used to know(ish) the author, whose book is being made into a Netflix series, so I wanted to check show some love. 
Three recent purchases 
  1. Nike Air Force 1 Wilds were my big Black Friday gift to myself, even though there was no coupon for them. I did get 12% back from using Rakuten to purchase them! 
  2. I've been wanting to try faux leather pants, so I grabbed the PU Leather Wideband Waist Leggings from Bloomchic for just $23. I'm always surprised by the quality of their clothes. 
  3. Have you ever heard of a Rocketbook? I like taking notes by hand but of course never want to translate them into tye afterward, so I bought myself one of these reusable notebooks, which does it for me.
Three items on my to-do list
  1. The trees in our yard are finally almost bare, but I need to rake the flowerbeds before it snows... which is supposed to happen tomorrow night! Woof, home ownership. 
  2. I've been cleaning up and trying to get rid of things (a neverending task), and I've got three bags of stuff ready and waiting to be taken to Savers. The sooner I can get rid of it, the better.
  3. I  rearranged my office and moved the daybed that had been in here. We're going to move the Peloton in here to make way for a crib in the future nursery and inspire me to start riding again.
Three things I'm proud of
  1. Before the holiday, Mike finished the last of our adoption agency applications (for now, anyway), which means we're officially in the thick of the waiting process and hopefully better positioned to become parents soon. 
  2. Last week, I was named to the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism, which is effectively the board of the organization where I used to work. I'm so honored and can't wait to dive into the work. 
  3. I've been doing a lot of freelance writing lately, and I can't wait to see some of my bylines in print! I have three stories in the January issue of Cleveland Magazine, an upcoming piece for Oberlin College and two upcoming food stories for
What have you been up to lately? Got any good podcasts to recommend? Or brag on something cool you've done as of late? I wanna hear it! 
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In a Parallel Universe...

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

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Did you ever read the book Dark Matter by Blake Crouch? I loved most of it, but I hated the ending so much that I gave it a very low rating on Goodreads and still complain about it to this day. But that's not the point! The point is the concept of the multiverse, of alternate universes and lives and stories and versions of us. 

Maybe Matt Haig's The Midnight Library is a better example, in which a woman who tries to die by suicide first experiences all the other possible variations on her life, had she made slightly different choices along the way.

All the Sliding Doors versions of her life, if you will. I guess this is a tale as old as time, huh?

Anyway. Tobia recently wrote a post about all of the jobs she might have and lives she might lead in a parallel universe, which got me thinking about what my own might be. Here's what I came up with.


In a parallel universe, I'm a magazine editor. I know, I know, magazines barely exist anymore, but my dream of working for one still does. Every '90s movie seemed to feature magazine editors as the pinnacle of success and prestige, and there's some life in which I am, too.

In a parallel universe, I'm a neuroscientist, studying neuroplasticity and the ways brains work, change and grow. In this life, I'm the opposite of a scientist, with no real understanding of the way bodies function, but there's some version where I put in the work to make this side interest my main focus.

In a parallel universe, I'm a marketing executive, maybe at a nonprofit or at some sort of high-powered company. I work all the time and I'm never too far from my email inbox, and I'm probably proud but not particularly happy. 

In a parallel universe, I'm a court stenographer, capturing every word spoken in the courtroom for the sake of posterity and impartiality. I've turned my curiosity about crime and my love of documenting stories into a meaningful career that impacts people's lives.

In a parallel universe, I'm a rabbi, having turned my passion for helping people and giving advice into a higher calling that allows me to provide guidance on a personal and spiritual level. I'm with them for their highs and lows, their good and their bad.

In a parallel universe, I'm a lifestyle influencer. What lifestyle am I influencing people to have? Listen, I don't know. But in a parallel life, it panned out for me, all the years of blogging and social media use. People know my name, follow my stories, and trust my opinions. 


In this universe, though, I'm just me: professional healthcare writer, prolific freelance writer, sometimes-blogger, mediocre social media user, aspiring future author. I'm pretty happy with the life and career I've built for myself, and I can't imagine it any other way. I hope all those other versions of me are enjoying whichever version of our life they're living! 

In a parallel life, what (or who) might you be? What other versions of you could be out there somewhere, in the ether, and what might they be up to? 
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Why I'm So Obsessed with Acupuncture

Wednesday, November 8, 2023

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The first time I ever got acupuncture, I was living in New Hampshire and experiencing significant back pain. I also happened to have more disposable income than ever before, thanks to the military paying my rent (miss that). I booked an acupuncture appointment on a whim, and I was surprised to find that it was the first thing that ever truly helped relieve the chronic back pain that I’ve dealt with on and off since being diagnosed with scoliosis as a preteen.
I eventually left New Hampshire and started paying my own rent, and truth be told, I forgot all about acupuncture and how much I loved it. When I started my current job, though, a coworker recommended a place in Tremont, where I was living at the time. She swore up and down that it was the best acupuncture she'd ever received, so I quickly made an appointment to try it out for myself.
Two years later, I can’t say enough good things about the experience of seeing Fern at Acupuncture First. Her schedule speaks for itself, as she's regularly booked out weeks in advance. That’s how good she is; that’s how relaxing it is; that’s how good it feels.
If you’ve never had acupuncture done before, you might be a little scared about the idea of it. Needles in the skin? No, thanks! Look, I get it. I used to pass out when I had blood drawn. But acupuncture isn’t anything like that.
The needles are solid, not hollow. They're also so hair-thin that, for the most part, you can’t feel them going into your skin. A little bit of a twinge or a tickle every once in a while, maybe, but very, very rarely has one of them actually hurt going in. If it does, Fern quickly remedies the situation by massaging the area or by removing the needle and avoiding that area altogether.
Once the needles are in, nothing hurts. I’ve even been known to fall asleep on the table while waiting for her to come back to remove them!
When I was dealing with infertility, she focused on my abdomen; when I’m dealing with allergies, she’ll put a few needles in my forehead, or in between my eyebrows. She's helped me with the foot pain of plantar fasciitis and general back pain and plain old stress. Sometimes, if I’m lucky, she’ll add on a little bit of cupping, which feels incredible, even if it leaves me with strange, circular alien marks on my back for a few days afterward. And she always cracks my wrists, which I weirdly love.  
This year, I forgot to sign up for a Flex Spending Account, which I used to use to pay for acupuncture. That means I didn't get it nearly as often in 2023 as I did in 2022... because everyone knows that having an FSA feels like having free money. But never fear! I just signed back up for an FSA in 2024, and I'm champing at the bit to get back to acupuncture ASAP.

Have you ever tried acupuncture? And if not... what are you waiting for?!
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If We Were Catching Up Over Coffee...

Monday, October 30, 2023

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If we were catching up over coffee, I'd probably still be drinking an iced coffee, even though it's finally gotten chilly. I thiiink I might be one of those people who drinks iced coffee year-round now?
If we were catching up over coffee, I probably wouldn't seem as outgoing or chipper as I usually do. I would only go into it if you asked, though, and even then, with caution. I recently deleted my social media apps for a bit because the Israel/Gaza war has been weighing so heavily on me. Things feel really bad right now, and I'm scared, and it's affecting literally everything.

If we were catching up over coffee, you might ask me how the adoption process is going, and I'd do my best to update you without inundating you. It's long and slow and arduous and honestly kind of heart-breaking because we just want to be able to become parents but can't rush the process. We are in with two adoption agencies and applying to a few others, and we're just trying to continue to believe that it will happen when the time is right.
If we were catching up over coffee, I'd try to change the topic by telling you about some of the fun things I've been up to lately. I saw both The Jonas Brothers and The Eagles recently (I am a woman of many interests!), and I "graduated" from my boxing program but am still going to classes. One of my best friends recently moved down the street, and I also just went to a two-day work retreat, where I got to see my remote colleagues in person. 

If we were catching up over coffee, I might nervously reveal to you that I have been struggling with body image and self-esteem lately, which is, I guess, nothing new, but that doesn't mean it's not still difficult to deal with. I've gained a little more weight, yet again, and I just can't seem to stick to any sort of healthy eating regimen or shake the extra weight even when I do. (Halloween candy isn't helping.)
If we were catching up over coffee, I'd tell you about how I convinced Mike that we should go as Harry and Marv from Home Alone for Halloween. Though he initially felt that I was doing too much in the pursuit of the perfect costumes, I feel that you can never do enough when it comes to Halloween. People really enjoyed our costumes and most importantly, we loved them, which made for a very fun holiday party with friends.

If we were catching up over coffee, I'd tell you that I miss blogging and that I worry that I'm never really coming back to this space. I want to, I mean to, I intend to, but then it always falls by the wayside. I wrote all day every day for my job, and I've been doing a ton of freelance writing, and I'm so grateful for all of it, but it means I don't want to keep sitting at a computer and writing when the day is done.

Speaking of writing, if we were catching up over coffee, I might have to leave early to go work on some freelance projects. I'd share how lucky I feel to be overwhelmed with the work, which is something I literally attempted to manifest (do I believe in manifesting? I dunno), but now here it is... overwhelming and overloading me on a regular basis. What a blessing! What a stressor!
Relatedly, did I write this blog post instead of meeting two fast-approaching deadlines? Yes. Yes, I sure did.
Guess that's the end of this coffee date. How are you?

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Pop Culture That's Making Me Happy Right Now

Saturday, September 9, 2023

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I started to make a list of things that are making me happy, generally, and then I realized just how much of it was media-related. Listen, I know there's more to life than movies and TV and podcasts and books, but they're the things that tend to lift my spirits most — or at least the things that are easiest to identify sometimes.
Hope you can find a recommendation or two in here. And I'd love to hear some of your faves, too! 
I finally saw the all-pink film phenomenon whose marketing campaign so relentlessly and cheerfully tortured us all, and it was just as delightful and decadent as expected. It was the first time I'd been to a movie theater since before the pandemic (!), and I was surprised to find myself laughing out loud surprisingly often.
Ugly Betty
My mom used to watch this show and was constantly recommending it to me, but for whatever reason, it never much interested me. I recently wanted something a little bit light-hearted, so I turned this on, and I was immediately in. Some of it doesn't hold up, in terms of language, terminology, and, of course, jokes, but in terms of vibe? It's timeless.
Who? Weekly
This is another one that's been recommended to me for a while (though more like months, not years), and I finally got around to starting it. I decided that I needed to start from the beginning... except the podcast started in 2016, which means I'm currently listening to seven-year-old gossip about D-list-and-below celebrities on 1.6 speed... and loving it.  
Radically Content
I used to "know" the author, Jamie Varon, back in the OG blogging days. I always admired her writing and how effortlessly cool she was. It's wild, then, to read this memoir-slash-self-help book about her own experiences and self-esteem issues and massive, intentional emotional overhaul — further proof that we never know what anyone else is really going through. 
The Godfather
No, I'd never seen The Godfather before. Yes, I recently watched it for the very first time, and I was surprised to discover how much I loved it. I don't know what I thought it would be like, but it was very Sopranos-esque, so of course I loved it. Young Al Pacino was so hot! I finally get it. We've started watching The Godfather II, but I needed a little intermission.  
The Golden Bachelor
OK, OK, this new spin on an old reality show hasn't started yet, but I'm really looking forward to watching Gerry Turner, a 71-year-old grandfather from Indiana find love a few years after losing his wife. And as always, I also look forward to listening to two of my favorite podcasts, Bachelor Party and Love to See It, recap the fun.  
"Plastic Hearts"
This song is a few years old, but I started listening to it after I first heard Miley Cyrus's newest song, "Used to Be Young." I love that one, too, but "Plastic Hearts" is just so damn dancy. I discovered it on an afternoon when I'd done a little day drinking at the nearby food truck park, and I just played it on repeat while I tipsily bopped around my kitchen and washed dishes.

Soooo what have you been watching/reading/listening to these days? Always taking recommendations! 
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We're Trying to Adopt!

Sunday, September 3, 2023

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I've shared this news on Instagram and Facebook, but I might as well share it here, too, even if it feels a little weird, for some reason, to do so.

Mike and I recently publicly shared that we're going through the adoption process. We started it last summer, soon after it became clear that we probably wouldn’t be able to have biological kids. I still grieve my 2020 miscarriage, and receiving my infertility diagnosis was devastating. (I've written about it only in passing here and here). But we knew we wanted to become parents. 

Because of the makeup of our own families (stories for another day), we know better than anyone that it’s love, not biology, that makes a family. That made adoption an easy decision. 

But that certainly doesn't make the process itself any easier. 

The road to domestic infant adoption is a long, slow, and complex process, and we haven’t even yet gotten to the point where we inevitably experience speed bumps and letdowns and the stress and sadness of scenarios like not being chosen or having an adoption fall through. We know it will continue to be difficult.

But we also know that it will be so, so worth it on that day when we finally bring our child home (into the nursery that’s already waiting for them!)

We also know that it will take a village. Our request to you, if you’re so inclined to help, is this: If you know of a birth parent who is seeking an adoptive family for their child, please keep us in mind. Though we are on agency waitlists, we are also able to match privately with a birth mother, should someone hear about us and choose us. We have a completed home study and are fully approved to become adoptive parents!

Pretty please: Spread the word. Tell a friend. Share our story. Here's our adoption profile.

I don’t know how much of the journey we’ll continue to share, as this is an emotionally grueling and intensely private process. But our hopes are high and our faith is deep.

Our child will grow up knowing that they’re doubly loved — not just by us, who wanted so badly to become their parents, but also by their birth parents, who made the difficult but loving decision to give them the best life possible. And they’ll know, too, about the friends and relatives and even the complete strangers who were rooting for them and for our family from the very beginning.

We’re so ready to become Mom and Dad, and we truly can’t wait to meet the child who will become our whole entire world. Thanks for cheering us on along the way.

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What I've Read This Spring and Summer

Monday, July 17, 2023

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I haven't posted a books recap since March because I guess I am sort of not really a blogger anymore these days? Ugh, I hate that for me. But I'm always trying to get back into it and not disappear entirely, so here's what I've been reading for the last few months. As you'll see, I've been particularly into one genre in which alllll the books have extremely similar covers, oops. 

The Black Queen by Jumata Emill
Nova is murdered the day before she's supposed to be crowned the school's first Black homecoming queen... and everyone assumes her enemy, the rich, bratty, racist Tinsley, is behind it. I liked the perspective flips between Tinsley and Nova's best friend Duchess and Tinsley, though the former was written to be so mean that it defied reality; I don't love when a character like that exists at all, much less gets a redemption arc. Still, I couldn’t wait to learn how their story ended. ★★★✰✰
Missing Clarissa by Ripley Jones
I mostly really enjoyed this book, about two teen BFFs who start a podcast about a girl who disappeared from their hometown two decades again... but wow, was the main character an idiot. Like, it’s one thing to be quirky and offbeat, but Cam was just straight-up not smart in her decision-making — and a bad friend, at that. I far preferred her best friend, the other protagonist, but we didn’t get as much of her. The ending was fairly predictable, but it was a decent read overall.
Missing Dead Girls by Sara Walters
Tillie transfers schools and meets Madison before the year even begins, but on the first day of classes, their peers receive a mass text blaming one girl for the death of the other. This book was billed as a thriller, but in reality, it was a love story, a friendship story, and a sort of meandering bit of mystery that just didn't work for me. This book had so much promise, but it simply didn’t deliver, preferring to focus on flowery in-the-moment language over cohesive long-term storytelling. ★★★✰✰
No Way Home by Jody Feldman
This book was terrible bordering on unreadable. I stuck with it only because the idea of it was so good: A teen girl is studying abroad as part of an American/Italian exchange program when the Italian teen staying with her parents FaceTimes her holding a knife to their throat as they sleep. She goes on a wild goose chase set up by her host family, trying to find... what, exactly? No idea. This book was promising in plot but an utter mess in execution. Do not read it. ★★✰✰✰
Going Dark by Melissa de la Cruz
A college student returns home from a vacation abroad, but his influencer girlfriend doesn't come back with him, and she's never heard from again — or is she? Where could she be, and what has he done? This book got some negative reviews for not being realistic enough in its portrayal of young people online, but for me, now a certified old person, it was an interesting, fast-paced, fun read. It had a mystery twist that I sort of saw coming and sort of never imagined, making it unpredictable enough to be worthwhile. ★★★★✰
Queen of the Tiles by Hanna Alkaf
Najwa is back at her first Scrabble competition since her best friend died — or was murdered? It seemed like a cut-and-dry scenario at the time, but now Najwa is getting messages and riddles from Trina's long-dormant Instagram account. When she pairs up with Trina's ex to try to get to the bottom of things, what they uncover makes Najwa mistrust everyone she thought she knew. A fun read with an impressive vocabulary and a realistic portrayal of the nuances of grief. ★★★★✰
Four Found Dead by Natalie Richards
This book was… fine? Weird? Not nearly as good as it could’ve been? In theory, it’s an interesting premise — a bunch of teenagers stuck in an abandoned mall with their murderous boss. But, like… there are only so many descriptions you can take of an abandoned wall and the same teenagers running around it trying to escape said murderous boss. It got really repetitive really quickly, dragging the whole thing on for much longer than it should’ve. ★★★✰ 
Nothing More to Tell by Karen M. McManus
Four years ago, Tripp and two classmates found their teacher's body in the woods. Now, his old friend-turned-enemy Brynn is looking into the case as part of an internship. Though a few reviews say this book has too many characters, I like that about it. Real life has a lot of characters, too, and when books only ever mention a select few, it's easy to predict what’s coming. In this one, the truth of the case was anything but linear, full of moving parts, misdirects, and mini-mysteries within the larger one — a proper, satisfying mystery. ★★★★✰
You'll Be the Death of Me by Karen M. McManus
This isn't my favorite McManus book, but she really knows how to craft a story, and this was no exception. When one-time friends Ivy, Matteo and Cal find themselves skipping school together for an impromptu trip to Boston, they happen upon the scene of a crime and race against time to figure out who killed their classmate. It was all horribly improbable, as McManus's stories often are, but it was still a great read. ★★★★✰

What are you reading? Any recommendations for me? Follow me on Goodreads to keep in touch and to see what I've read in months past.
My "What I Read In..." posts include Amazon affiliate links to the titles I discuss. If you buy a book using one of these links, I will receive a small percentage of the commission. Please don't feel any obligation to use these links, but if you do, it will help me buy more books.

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