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Thirteen, Thirty-One, Forty-Nine

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Some years back, I was at a neo-Pagan shop picking up a particularly nice-smelling incense they specialized in.  After he’d fetched it for me, the clerk suddenly gave me an intense stare, peering at me through his glasses and between his shaggy bangs.  “When’s your birthday?” he asked.

“……why?”

He grabbed a notepad.  “I want to do your numerology,” he said.  It was a bit slow at his counter, but that still doesn’t explain why he was that determined to give me a complete numerological workup at that exact moment.  He asked me my birthdate and name, and then, pen flying across the paper and fixing me with intense looks as he spoke, he gave me a five minute dissertation on numerology, complete with telling me my birth number, how to calculate it, what such a number portends, and how to calculate a separate number based on my name and how it also affected me.

I have forgotten nearly all of what he told me – I’ve always been a little dubious of numerology – with one exception.  “The thing about life,” he said, “is that it goes in eighteen-year patterns.  Or, more like pairs of nine-year patterns,” he added, sketching a curved line for me on the page – up, then down, then back up.  “It takes you nine years to go from here to here,” he said, pointing first at the beginning of the line up high, and then the valley.  “And then, it takes another nine years to go from the bottom here back up to here.  And then it repeats,” he said, continuing the line in a few more swoops up and down the page.  “So if you want any insight into where you are now, a good way to find out is to look back eighteen years to see what was happening to you then.  That’s when you were at the same place in the pattern.  Not nine years,” he warned, staring at me and tapping the paper.  “Eighteen.  That’s the pattern.”

In late June Alex told me he was moving to Los Angeles.  It wasn’t entirely surprising – he’s always wanted to get into screenwriting, and after visiting friends there this spring he came back saying that writing jobs were “free-flowing” there and I suspected this would happen.  What did surprise me was how his brave leap started me thinking about what I’m doing with my own life as well.  “It looks like you’ve triggered a midlife crisis,” I joked to Alex, “it’s just manifesting as something deeper than a facelift.”

He moved out this Monday.  But I had a decent amount in savings, so I’ve chosen to treat August like a sabbatical – take my time finding the next roommate, and otherwise live alone, trying to do some digging into my own brain and clearing some things out while I did the same with the apartment.  It’s going to be a tough job – not only have I built up an amazingly stupid amount of junk in this apartment that should probably go, I’m afraid that I’ve buried some bits of myself out of necessity and they need to be unearthed.  Doing that out of sight of any other human is probably going to be a very wise move.

It’s scary as hell, I’m not going to lie.  It’s triggered some really uncomfortable moments at work, where I’ve had to fight back the urge to burst out crying at my desk out of sheer frustration that I even have to be there instead of….somewhere else, doing….something else.  But that’s the thing, I haven’t been sure yet what the somewhere and the something else are, or what I want them to be.

But it’s a start.  And looking back a couple of eighteen-year jumps, it looks like that may be the pattern.

Eighteen years ago I was 31.  That spring I’d been working as a secretary in a bank while working as a stage manager when I could, mostly at a little company on the Lower East Side five minutes’ walk from my house.  I wrote a little bit for them as well.  But then in June, the department I was working in imploded, and they laid off about 70% of us, me included. But at my meeting with Human Resources, they presented me with an eye-poppingly huge severance package.  “Ah,” I thought.  “I’m not being laid off.  I am having a summer of theater funded.”  The first rehearsal for the latest show at my theater was that evening; I’d been tapped to be the company dramaturg, and I turned up early to tell the director, “you know how you didn’t want to ask me to stage manage because of my job?….Good news!”

That summer was the beginning of a full-bore concentration on theater.  I dedicated myself to it more intently than I had before, a move which carried me through another seven years and nearly 30 shows, an Equity card, three Fringe Festivals and a stint off-Broadway complete with seeing my name in a review in the New York Times.  It also led me to doing double-duty in writing – that same director moved on to another theater the following year, and when they needed someone to write program notes for their shows, he called me up and even offered to pay.

Relatedly – although I didn’t know it was related at the time – that summer also introduced me to my friend Colin.  But “friend” wasn’t what we were thinking initially – we actually met through an online personal site, and…er, in the interest of discretion I’ll just say that that was the avenue we explored at first.  We dated only very briefly, but had already been talking about working together by the time we called that quits – so when Colin called me literally the next day to ask “I know we just broke up, but…do you still wanna try working together?” I surprised myself by saying “you know what?….I do.”

First we tried working on a quick fundraising event for his own company, and then I gave him some help at another event, and a couple months later he invited me to join his company fully, a move which lead to us co-producing another 10 years’ worth of plays and founding a playwriting contest that at last count helped to launch the careers of three different writers.  I was there to see him meet Niki, the woman he would ultimately fall in love with (and ultimately move to Colorado with last year), he was there to see me meet the man I fell in love with (and who ultimately broke my heart).  I helped him and Niki paint their first house.  He did my taxes for two years simply because he was convinced I could do better than taking the standard deduction.  He teased me for being a sucker for plays about people growing up Catholic, and I teased him back over his soft spot for bioplays about Shakespeare.

We developed a conversational shorthand that relied heavily on quotes from Princess Bride and Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy and a professional decision-making method that involved southern barbecue and pitchers of margaritas. We worked in the same office for nearly eight years and only had two major arguments, neither one about work (they were instead both about politics, which lead me to decree that henceforth, on Election Days, we were only allowed to talk to each other about puppies).  We once giggled ourselves into breathlessness over the title of a play we received – “To Barcelona!”, complete with exclamation mark – because after three hours neither one of us was capable of saying the name without heroically shouting it in a Castillian accent and pumping a fist in the air.  We both nearly got trampled at a protest march when a group set fire to a banner in the middle of the crowd behind us, sending a crowd of people stampeding at us from behind and a flying wedge of cops charging at us from the front (I grabbed him and dragged him onto a side street barking that we’re going to walk this way RIGHT NOW, please). We both recognized in each other a few years back that “it looks like neither of us is really into theater any more,” and I know that helped me face that it was time to close that chapter of my life.  He has an insight into me and my mind that I have come to value tremendously.

Eighteen years ago today, I didn’t know any of this was ahead of me – I was likely only just finding Colin’s profile online and sending my first “hey, how are ya” message before slipping off to rehearsal for the show I’d just started working on.

Eighteen years before that I was just thirteen.  I was only a few months into puberty, something I find comically ironic now that I am likely only a few months away from the end of that part of my life.

I don’t really remember all that much of that year. I keep on thinking of things but then realizing they came either a year or so before or a couple years after; meeting my best girl friends Sue and Cliona came when I was eleven, writing a goofy book with Sue and another friend came in high school, when I was fourteen.  I even tried browsing a couple history sites for news events from that year, but save for clinically noticing that “okay, I remember that movie” it didn’t trigger anything.

But doing the math that may be because there were things that went down that spring that I’ve wanted to block out.

I was bullied as a child for a solid three or four years, pretty much from fourth grade up through seventh.  Not for any real definitive reason that I know, either – I was a little bit quirky, prone to nerdishly obsessing over random things, and perhaps some kids didn’t know how to relate to that so they turned on me.  Or, maybe it was just the reason any kid gets bullied, because I was there and I usually didn’t fight back.  I didn’t know how to fight back, either – when it started, my parents advised me to just ignore it, which I internalized as “even though you do hear what they’re saying and it hurts, don’t let them see that you’re hurt.”

And a lot of times the things they said would seem like compliments if you were to type them out and read them.  They would tell me I was smart, I was pretty, I was their best friend.  They would wave really big at me when I walked into a room. They would tell me that my hair was pretty and my clothes were cool.  But they said it in exaggeratedly sarcastic, syrupy-sweet overly fake voices that made it obvious that they were picking on me.  It was especially insidious, because how was I going to complain to a teacher about that?  “They’re picking on me by telling me I’m pretty”? I had friends, but only a couple, and they weren’t always around and didn’t really know what to do to help me either.

And so I sat, in classroom after classroom, in lunch room after lunch room, for four years, listening to the giggles and sarcastic whispers telling me that I was sooooo smart and sooooooo pretty, and knowing they meant something completely different from what they said and not being able to do anything about it. To this day I have a hard time trusting praise or compliments from anyone because my bullies taught me that sweet words are usually insincere.  Only when I know you well will I believe you if you praise me, and sometimes not even then.

Still all of that was prelude to when I was thirteen.  It wasn’t constant, either – it came in fits and starts, as different people saw me in different classes.  But that spring it suddenly got physical when a group of girls in my gym class took to laying in wait for me after I changed out of gym clothes and was trying to get to my next class.  When I was with my friends, they would leave me alone, but when it was just me, they’d giggle and follow me, trying to corner me against a wall and…and I didn’t know what they wanted to do and I didn’t care, I saw enough menace in their eyes.  Once they even trapped me in the stairwell and one threw the threat of a punch at me, all of them giggling when I flinched.  It got worse as the semester went on, with them not even waiting until after class sometimes, trying to corner me in the gym itself.  I’d spend most of class trying to dodge them and escape their notice, and was not always successful.

But sometime that April, at the beginning of a gym class when we were playing volleyball or something, the teacher told us to all form ourselves into groups for games.  I saw my buillies heading my way and I was cowering, knowing they were going to try to pull me into their group so they could corner me – and suddenly three other girls from class that I didn’t know got to me first, standing around me in a protective huddle.  “Hey, wanna play with us?” they said, a mite louder than necessary.

“Uh….okay?”  I dumbly followed them, and they introduced themselves to me as we found our way to a net.  We played a haphazard game – the three of them had known each other a while and had a lot of in-jokes that I didn’t really know how to relate to, but they treated me decently, and we all were equally bad at volleyball so it didn’t matter as much that I was bad and I took their laughter when I blew a serve as the good-natured laughter it was.  I was still puzzled about why they’d sought me out, but went with it.

After class they told me what they were doing.  “We don’t like seeing you getting beat up by the tough girls every day,” they said.  “We decided we wanted to do something.”

“Really?”  The thought that anyone even noticed what was happening to me, much less actually wanted to do something about it, floored me.

“Why don’t you tell the principal?” one challenged me.  “You don’t have to take that.”

“I don’t know….I don’t think he can really do anything, he won’t understand.”

“That’s stupid!” she retorted.  “Of course they can do something.  And you don’t have to take that, it’s not fair to you.  You should tell him!” When I still hesitated, she added, “I’ll come with you and hold your hand, want me to?”

She did hold my hand.  Literally, as I sat in the principal’s office and sobbed and hiccupped my way through finally telling someone what was happening, she sat in the chair beside me with my hand in hers.. She’d taken it when she saw me start crying and held on.

The school mismanaged it, of course, by trying to set up a mediation between me and each of the other bully girls, and I had to sit in front of the principal as they lied through their teeth about what they’d been trying to do.  Schools usually mismanage bullying, in my experience.

But the notion that someone standing outside of my hell had even noticed me, and had decided to try to help me, was a crack in this sense of self-belief I’d been constructing that told me I didn’t deserve anything better. I was on my way to believing that this was just what I deserved and that was that.  Those girls reaching out just that one time was the first inkling I had that that was bullshit.

I didn’t realize I was thinking that the August I was thirteen.  Mostly I was just relieved that round of bullying had ended, and I was trying not to think about it any more.  It’s only now, 36 years later, that I realize that it was the last time I was properly bullied at all.  I did have a few more people try a time or two over the next couple years, but I thought differently about it; it was a reflection on the bullies, not on me.

The August I was thirteen was the end of a hard few years and the beginning of realizing that I deserved better.

I’ve had a hard few years.  I was starting to believe that the rut I’m in is as good as it can get; I had to settle for less, just to protect myself.  But that’s over now.  I’ve started looking into ways to change the path I’m on and do more with it; it will take time and years to get there, but I’ve started to remember I am worth that path.  And it’s very possible, if my history repeats itself – as it seems to have done – that the things ahead of me might be rich indeed.

Eighteen years.  That’s the pattern.

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Summer Doldrums

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So hi, I’m tired.  Why I’m tired is a complicated and thorny situation, with a good degree of heat combined with some money hiccups combined with the evening news making me want to hide under the covers. Basically my life has turned into the theme song to Friends (“Your job’s a joke, you’re broke, your love life’s DOA”) only with global warming.

This is fortunately timing itself with my CSA ramping up production, which forces me into the kitchen to deal with a mountain of food.  I have signed up for the “single” person’s share, which still leaves me with 7 pounds of different vegetables every week that ends up all being for me (Alex is a supertaster and partakes of very little of that), plus a couple pounds of fruit and a half dozen eggs every week, and a pound of coffee every other week besides.  And all the food is farm fresh, and that combined with my natural New England “must not waste food” frugality and I have a lot of things that I have to figure out how to use up before it all goes bad.

Fortunately I’ve taught myself how to freeze some vegetables (all the shell peas I got were immediately shelled and stashed in the freezer), so that does make a dent, as well as creating a pantry to fall back on when the harvest is done; my CSA does have a winter share, but it’s less frequent, and relies heavily on root vegetables and there are times in the winter when I’ll be thinking “I need to eat something that’s a color other than beige”.

I’m also thinking in terms of improvising recipes based on what needs using; for instance, a quiche can be a catch-all for random needs-to-be-used-in-a-hurry vegetables, and will also knock out some of the eggs.  I did something similar with an overlog of fruit last year; it was a great way to poke through the various just-about-to-go-bad fruits littering the fridge and the counter, the things that weren’t quite enough to make a pie on their own but too much for me to eat quickly (I also had great fun calling the resulting concoction “Usufruct Pie”).

The best bit of all of this, though – aside from keeping me fed and busy – is that it gets me away from the trash fire that the online world has become, and grounds me in something hands-on.  I have a lot of resources at my hands, and I just need to do something with them.  It keeps me fed, and busy, and also keeps me hopeful.

A Contemplative 4th

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About 20 years ago now, my Irish friend asked me a really interesting question – “what is America?”  What she meant, she explained, was that she was trying to get at some kind of unified-field-theory to sum up America’s identity.

This being a multi-verse of a nation – especially now – that was a impossible question to answer.  But it gave me a great idea for a July 4th observation – every year, I spend part of the day reading books about America’s history and culture and thinking about her question.  I tend towards collections of first-hand source documents, too – anthologies of letters, eye-witness accounts, speeches, and the like – so I always have time for at least something every year, whether it’s just a couple essays read on the subway on the way to a cookout or a couple hours’ worth of reading on a blanket in the park.  I’ve got a big enough library assembled for this, too, that it’s high time I share.

  • History Lessons: How Textbooks from Around The World Portray U.S. History.  This is one of my favorites – it’s an anthology of excerpts from high school history textbooks, but they’re all textbooks from other countries, discussing their perspective on interactions they had with the United States over the years. So you get the what the British textbooks say about the Revolutionary War, for instance, or what the Canadian textbooks say about the War of 1812, or French textbooks’ take on D-Day, etc. It’s a fascinating take on some familiar stories, and a reminder that we are one of many nations in the world.
  • History In The Making:  This is another book by one of the same editors as History Lessons above.  It’s also a collection of excerpts from textbooks; this time, though, the textbooks are all American.  With this book, the editors have selected a handful of incidents from America’s history, and studied how history textbooks from different time periods have reported on the same incident.  So you can watch how a small border skirmish between the United States and Mexico gets an exhaustive report in the years immediately following, to a couple paragraphs 50 years later, to a single sentence today.  You can also see how different eras emphasize different elements of each story.
  • Witness To America: This is one of three different collections of first-hand documents I have – anthologies of letters, court transcripts, interviews, and speeches, running the gamut of the momentous to the mundane.  You have everything from a transcript of Neil Armstrong’s comments during the first moon landing to a kid who rode for the Pony Express talking about what life in the saddle was like.
  • The Cartoon History of the United States: Okay, first let me say that Larry Gonick, the man behind this book, is a phenomenal writer.  This is just one of the many cartoon guides to things he’s published – there are also cartoon guides to Statistics, Ecology, Physics, and Sex in his quiver, as well as an even more ambitious Cartoon History Of The Universe, which is more accurately a 6-volume history of our own planet from the days of the Big Bang up to 2004.  I learned of Gonick through that last series, and was stunned how exhaustive the series is – he covers things that are rarely included in most Western-world published “World History” books, like the history of the Mali Empire to a discussion of the impact of the Black Plague on non-European countries.  His books are so well-researched they’re often assigned as supplementary reading in college classrooms.  This book only covers up through the late 80s and the collapse of the Berlin Wall, but it still covers a lot of ground.
  • America Eats! On The Road With The WPA: The Venn diagram between “foodie” and “fascinated by the history of the Works Progress Administration” is probably very small; nevertheless this book fits that niche.  During the Great Depression, the New Deal had a program designed to give work to writers; one idea they had was to send writers out into their communities to report on the various food traditions where they lived, as well as any public food-related events – an account of a traditional New England clambake, an article about a Baptist church’s ladies’ auxiliary fundraising supper, a piece about hunting in the backwoods of Louisiana, things like that.  The intent was to publish one massive book about “American Food Traditions”, but the project was interrupted by the attack on Pearl Harbor and the manuscript was archived for 50 years.   This is one of a pair of books that was eventually assembled from the archive – author Pat Willard combines passages from the archive with her own writing, chronicling a handful of trips to revisit some of the bigger events from the archive to see how they’ve changed.
  • Travelers’ Tales – America:  Some of the best travel writing is in the Travelers’ Tales anthologies, a series I’ve been diving into for years. Technically this is a travel anthology, but the editors focus more on the writing than on the topics covered, so this isn’t yet another series of anecdotes about family vacations to national parks or the like; instead you have things like an account of life on Skid Row in Los Angeles, to a comedic take on a lackluster bus tour of Cincinnatti to an essay on camping in Yosemite.
  • The Journals of Lewis and Clark: Speaking of travelogues – do yourself a favor and read these. This is the firsthand account of the expedition where Meriwether Lewis and William Clark explored and mapped the Louisiana Purchase, an expedition that at the time was akin to the Apollo 11 mission.  So Lewis and Clark took copious notes about the things they saw and heard along the way, all of the people the expedition met, and countless little incidents and hiccups.  There’s a section chronicling a five-day stretch of bad luck that befell one of their boats that literally had me laughing out loud.

I actually have a new book to crack into this year; will not report on it just yet, I’d like to give it a thorough read first.

March Update: Year Of Challenges

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Let’s look back in on this.  I admit that my performance in the Year of Challenges has been a little spotty; mid-January threw me a financial curve ball, and February threw me another one – and kept me inside all month.  This past month I was finding my footing at a new job, and I’m still kind of in the “I don’t know what I’m doing and my head is exploding” stage.

But I’m trying:

  • Visit a New Neighborhood: So I finally did this!  I’ve been wanting to check out Flushing, Queens for a while now – there are three “Chinatown” districts in New York, and this is the biggest one.  I originally was planning to eat my way across the neighborhood, but ended up only getting dumplings and going to a tea tasting, each of them in little hole-in-the-wall shops in malls down in basements.

    But the dumplings were at a stall once feted by Anthony Bourdain and the tea tasting was an eye-opening half hour.  It’s in a little cubbyhole of a place tucked into the back room of a mini-mall, a place selling gourmet tea and fancy-pants tea implements.  But for a mere five dollars, the shopkeeper will sit down and conduct a tea tasting with you – pick your choice from the menu, and she’ll sit down with you at a table, letting you smell a scoopful of the dry leaves first and then taking you through a sampling; the tea is high-quality enough that the leaves can be re-used five times, and she takes you through five steepings of increasingly longer duration.  I picked the poetically-named “spring rain in the desert” green tea – and was stunned at the variations in taste that came simply from changing the length of time the tea was steeped.  The first time it was steeped for only a matter of seconds, and I picked up a surprising edamame flavor to it that was gone the next steeping.  It was a gracious and fascinating pause to the day.

    I also had the bonus gift of running into a friend from back in my hometown – a few of us theater kids all moved to NYC at the same time and scattered to our different paths; but every so often our paths cross, like when I was walking up to the historic Quaker Meeting House in Flushing at the precise moment that my friend Dan was walking out after meeting.  After squealing at each other, he snuck me inside for a quick tour.

  • Eat lunch at a restaurant in my neighborhood:  In February I made a point of hitting up a crab place that opened up on my block.  I’m still looking for a place in Brooklyn that does clam rolls, but this made for a good seafood fix.  And this past weekend was a visit to a Vietnamese place which was blessedly a little empty – so no one saw me becoming a stupid doof when I was confronted with Vietnamese iced coffee for the first time. (I had to ask the waiter twice about “how do I work this coffee maker thing again?”…..)  I also got messy and fumble-fingered with their crispy spring rolls – four deep-fried rolls of vermicelli noodles stuffed with shrimp, presented alongside some big lettuce leaves and a sprig of mint for me to further wrap around the rolls as I saw fit.  At least, I’m assuming that I was supposed to wrap the lettuce around the rolls rather than dropping the lettuce on the floor.
  • Reading Challenge: Okay, the Penguin UK site finally posted a list.  And I discovered it in enough time to get through the one for March; a reread of Kate Chopin’s The Awakening.
  • Brooklyn Museum’s First Saturday: Big fat goose-egg here this month. Trying again.
  • Chinese Cookbook: This is back!  I found a simple edamame recipe, with the pods spiked with Chinese five-spice powder instead of solely with salt (as is done in Japan), and something called “Russian soup”, a concoction of oxtail and potato with a broth seasoned by ketchup.  Which brings me to:
  • NEW Soup Cookbook Challenge. …I didn’t do this.  New-job head-messery tempted me to hit up Grubhub for more dinners than usual this month, so I didn’t do much cooking overall.  But the cost of those Grubhubs is nudging me back towards cooking, and I’ll be revisiting this; my theater days taught me the value of having something ready on hand when you come home from work exhausted and all you want for dinner is “I don’t care as long as all I have to do is microwave it”.
  • Five Photos every weekend: The weather has sucked.  I’ve only wanted to go outside two weekends.  Leave me alone.  ….April will be better.  Pinky-swear.

Some Movie Crash Course Administrative Announcements

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So, heads up:

A few weeks ago I rolled out the new official home for the Movie Crash Course.  Since then I have been double-posting reviews in both sites, as a transition phase.  But after next Friday, April 4th, I will no longer post the movie reviews for the Movie Crash Course on this site; from then on, the reviews for the Movie Crash Course, will be posted exclusively over there.  If you’re following me for the Crash Course, this is your first warning to switch sites.

However!

There are contemporary movies I’ll see now and then too, and I’m most likely going to want to talk about them.  So that movie talk, I’ll keep here.

Got it?

Good, because I saw Us this weekend and I’m going to have to prepare a post for it because holy God I have many many thoughts.  (One of which is how surreal it was to be explaining to Alex the in-depth history of Hands Across America, complete with finding the theme song – something I had not listened to in over thirty years.)

Des Rêves Entre Mes Deux Mains

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So, this was a blog before the Movie Crash Course came along.  And while I wasn’t saying much, one thing that did get me talking a lot was how much I liked Paris.  ….Actually, “liked” isn’t a strong enough word; I flippin’ adored it.

I visited for the first time for New Year’s Eve 2016, and loved it so much that I went back again only six months later.  I gushed about it so much that when I got back from my second trip, at least three co-workers asked me if I shouldn’t seriously think about moving there.  ….And I did, for about five minutes; then realized that it would be untenable for a number of reasons; as much as I love Paris, I love New York more, and this feels more like home.  Also, from talking to a couple of expats, it would be nigh-impossible to get a residency visa.  (If I ever win the lottery I’m getting  a second apartment in the 11eme arrondisment on Rue Charonne and going bi-residency, though.)

There isn’t even anything I could necessarily point to about Paris that caught my heart; it’s more about who I am in Paris.  I’m more indulgent, I appreciate smaller pleasures, I live in the moment more.  It was after my second trip that I came up with the expression “carpe gaudium”, a Google-translated Latin for “seize the joy”.  I can get a little too ascetic at times, and I think that’s bad for me; I want to be more engaged with the world, open, in the moment, and effusive.  And Paris reminds me how to do that, and also reminds me that you don’t need a lot of money to do that, either.  While moving wasn’t an option, I did gush after my return in a starry-eyed Facebook post that “I’m going to be making annual visits to Paris for the rest of my life!!!”

….Weeeell, that didn’t happen.  The only reason I was able to make that second trip was by begging my parents for help with the money; I was underpaid at my job and had some debt I was politely ignoring by paying the minimum towards it every year.  I did finally get out of that job the following year, but didn’t feel right planning a trip only a couple months into a new job; so I didn’t go in 2017.  I was gearing up for a mid-September trip last year, but then needed some dental work and had to dip into the travel fund I’d started to cover it.  Then the thing I did in mid-September instead was to put on my big-girl pants and take care of some financial hygiene – build up that six months’ worth of emergency savings everyone recommends you to have, and wipe out that debt once and for all.  I’d started a small savings account for a travel fund – and I sighed and decided it was going to be better served as my emergency savings fund.  “….Paris will still be there,” I told myself.  “This will just take a couple years.”

Fortunately, a couple of tiny windfalls have come up recently which are helping that a lot.  I’ve been keeping careful track of the debt, and right now….barring any major life upheaval, I very well may be debt free by the spring of 2020.  And as soon as I’ve paid off the debt, all the money I’ve been applying to that will go into the savings, and I’ll have 6 months’ worth built up by Christmas of 2021.  That is not that far off.  My travel is pretty much set for 2020 – a couple of family engagements have been forecast – but 2021, I think I will finally be returning.

But this is 2019 and that means I’m kinda stuck here.

However: a major spelunking into one of my storage closets reminded me that “oh hey, I have a lot of crafting stuff I’m not using.”  I also live near some amazing thrift stores, with things that are begging to be re-purposed and gussied up and done over.  And – polishing up finds from the marches des puces is a very Paris thing.

was going to head out to Staten Island today, but the snow is going to make that transit path a little too hairy; so I think, instead, I’m going to hit up a couple of Williamsburg junk shops, wander down to a craft store and then head home for some crafting, making a bit of Paris with my own hands.

Preview For The Next Review

So I’ve been doing more than a few Oscar-related posts but not as many films for the regular Crash Course format.  That is because (pick one):

  1. I wanted to get the Oscar posts done before the Oscars.
  2. I’ve been coping with paperwork processing for onboarding for a new job.
  3. I’ve been wrapping things up with the old job.
  4. I’ve been taking advantage of Alex being away by doing some spring cleaning of the house and Kondo-izing the hey out of a couple closets.
  5. The movie I have to review is Citizen Kane and that’s intimidating.
  6. I’ve been trying to get all the movie reviews copied over to the new site so I can start rolling it out to bloglists and such.  I have only fifty more to copy over and I’ll be done.
  7. It’s my birthday (today) and I feel idleness on one’s birthday is a…birthright.
  8. My procrastination has been taking the form of crafty things (I’ve made five container candles and upcycled a Pringles tub into a tea canister, gave some wall art a makeover and have actually done tablescapes with candles and trays from thrift stores and the like). These are things that do occupy time somewhat, and make other messes so then you need to clean them up, especially after you’d just spent a half hour scrubbing the sink…
  9. I discovered that Netflix has streaming rights to a British TV series with British comedienne Jo Brand where she follows around various RSPCA staff and vets trying to rescue and re-home tiny adorable homeless kittens and to be perfectly frank that kind of television can’t watch itself.
  10. All of the above.

But I’m determined to get the next review done tonight, so I can watch the next film tonight- and get that reviewed in time to watch the next two films after Alex returns.  He’s on his own personal movie challenge – a rewatch of classic horror films – and wanted to piggyback on The Wolf Man, coming up in the next couple days for me.

Right.  Citizen Kane. Here we go.