About To Hither and Yon

November 28, 2020 2 of 8

At the beginning of November I said that I wanted to write one perfect introductory blog post that I could pay Facebook to promote and see if I could grow my audience.

This is that post. Or the first draft of it, at any rate.

My “name” is Olivia (not my real name, but I hate my real name, so why not take a pseudonym, right?). Olivia actually in some way relates to my real name, but . . . anyway.

The original plan for this blog was to blog about travel. Places I’d been, places I wanted to go, places I was when I wrote specific posts. I’d post my favorite pictures from each location and then monetize it with a goal of making my hobby of travel self-perpetuating. Travel -> post -> cash check -> do more travel.

It has never quite gotten to that point. At first, I didn’t want this blog to look like a *total* cash grab, so I held off on attempting to monetize it. Then, I began posting Amazon Associates links (if I can’t find a book germane to the topic, I refer to it as a “Gratuitous Amazon Link”). By the time I felt comfortable enough to think about putting ads on the pages, Google had canceled my ads account from lack of activity.

So now I just have the Amazon Links, which are not exactly making the dough roll in.

Since I haven’t been able to use this to do the travel I needed to make content for the blog, my focus has broadened. First, I added book blogging, which seemed to be a good fit with the attempted monetization through Amazon. Then I began talking about a project I’m starting where I will be working my way through my cookbooks. That is still book related, but also cooking-related, so there’s that.

And, occasionally, I post about my life and what’s going on in it. I spent November doing what’s called National Novel Writing Month, where you attempt to write 50,000 words in 30 days. I’ve done better this year than in any year before, but I’m not likely to actually reach 50,000. In order to hit that point, I’ve started talking about medical topics and also Internet content creators that I enjoy (kind of like book blogging, but with YouTube). I don’t know if those will stick around after November.

So, since I’ve talked about the Gratuitous Amazon Link in the text above, here’s one so you can see how it works. I guess that since this is not in the regular continuity of the blog, I will go outside the continuity of my Gratuitous Amazon Links for ideas. What book have I given the highest rating to on my Goodreads page and that I absolutely love? Hm. Let’s go with No Normal, by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona, the first compilation of the adventures of Kamala Khan as Ms. Marvel. I’ve loved comics since 1974 and this series is especially wonderful.

What Did We Have for Brunch?

November 26, 2020 Part 2 of 8

I spent my dad’s whole brunch-eating period writing a post on headaches. I’m almost done with my food, and Alex got a start on his then had a dinner appointment somewhere else.

So I guess I can use the past tense, since 2/3 of us are done-ish.

Anyway, since COVID is still a thing (and getting worse — we had over 1,000 cases per day for the last couple of days), we ordered Denny’s in as a sort of faux Thanksgiving brunch.

I got an Ultimate Omelette (for Easter, I somehow ordered it without the sausage or onion, but couldn’t figure out how to do it this time, so I pulled them out as I came across them. It was still delicious, though), Alex has a ham and cheese omelette, and my dad had steak and eggs.

I’ve finished my omelette, half of my toast, and about 1/3 of my hash browns. My dad has eaten everything and is taking a post-brunch nap. Alex is still not feeling 100% so he ate some of his hash browns. His future roommates are having a big dinner starting soon, so he’s there right now.

We started having brunch for every holiday when Alex was little. Well, maybe before then.

Let’s see. My mom always wanted to go to a champagne brunch on Easter and when I was a teenager or young adult, we noticed that the nice hotel on Halsted Street — I think it was a Hilton, maybe? (cue short break to see if that hotel is still there (I found where it was, and it’s a vacant lot now because of course it is*)) had a champagne brunch. Now, if I recall, my mom was more interested in the decadence of the champagne part, but since alcohol has always tasted nasty to me, I was more into the brunch.

We continued Easter brunching once Thomas and I got married and moved to Texas. We went to Easter brunch at the Hyatt Hill Country hotel for years. After a couple of years, we added Christmas brunch (we were still going home to Chicago for Thanksgiving at that point) at what was then the Adam’s Mark hotel downtown. Eventually, the hotel changed hands and those brunches stopped.

When we had Alex, we expanded to brunch for every holiday. Alex was an awesome baby who literally was only cranky when he was tired. When he was a baby, we’d put him in his clothes while he was still half-asleep and by the time he woke up, we were there. He was nice and rested and cheerful for the duration, then, with a full tummy, he’d nap for a while and be cheerful and rested for the rest of the day.

After Thomas and I split up and my dad moved in with us, we kept going to the Hyatt Hill Country for a few years, but then my dad decided that we should go to a hotel closer to home. The brunch isn’t quite as nice, and they don’t have waffles with strawberries and chocolate chips, like the Hyatt Hill Country used to have, but it is nice (and also less expensive!).

We generally go for Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, but this year they aren’t having brunch, because, well.

So we did Denny’s for both Easter and Thanksgiving. What will happen on Christmas? Probably Denny’s again.

Maybe we’ll return to real brunch at some point in 2021.

*I later found an article saying that they were plans in late 2019 to put a casino at the southwest corner of the intersection between Halsted and Interstate 80, which is right there. I’m not sure if it’s going forward, what with COVID and I’m not sure if it’s going on the brunch hotel side of 174th or the other side, though.

We begin the Discworld’s “Industrial Revolution” storyline in today’s Gratuitous Amazon Link Moving Pictures. I’m not sure if I’m crazy about this arc. I really was in the beginning stages of Discworld fatigue by this point. It seemed odd that Pratchett was going to skip from the late middle ages/Renaissance to the 19th/20th Century like this. I know, the books are more social commentary than anything else. I don’t know. I guess maybe someday I’ll pick up the project again and see what I think. I’m not at the end of my spate of reading the Discworld books — I still have 12 books before I finally had enough of marching lockstep through them, but we’ll see what we get when we get back to the books someday.

I’m Going to Be Keeping Busy for A While

November 28, 2020 1 of 8

So. Alex is moving out in a few days. I’m totally not ready for this. I mean, he’s 21 and that’s a perfectly appropriate age to leave the nest.

But I feel that there’s a whole bunch of unfinished stuff. We started an audiobook series for our road trips, and now we’ll probably never take a road trip again. I bought a bunch of food for dinners that we’ll never have.

I’m, quite frankly, mourning.

And as a result, I’m going to be doing a lot of introspection into my own life. What do I want? What do I need? How can I make a new, Alex-less, life for myself?

I mean, I’ll hear from him a couple of times a year. I still have his college fund. But will he go with me when I can face scattering Phobos’s ashes? What about our annual national park trip? I’d decided on four close by ones that I wanted to do with him (Big Bend, Carlsbad, Hot Springs, Jean Lafitte). Additionally, those four would take care of our next four audiobooks.

When I was mourning the end of my marriage, I used the anger part of it to get a bunch of work done around here, including painting my bedroom. Can I use the anger part to end my current inertia and either find an audience for this blog or find another alternative source of income that will actually pay me income?

Can I use it to get the things together that I need to do to make the career changes I need?

Can I use it to finally pick a foreign language and get the stuff I wanted to do to prepare for that degree (getting familiar with a *lot* of classic literature in my target language)?

Can I intentionally spend most of my time in “anger” and “acceptance” and ward off “denial” and “depression” entirely? What should I do about “bargaining”? Can I somehow bring that into play? Like when Thomas and I split up, I didn’t really do much bargaining. I made the offer to try counseling and when he turned me down, I washed my hands of him.

Depression hit really hard, though. I went to see a counselor on my own, and I was so scattered that I required a standing appointment. The counselor said that the only other time a patient had needed that, the patient was in end-stage dementia. So. Yeah.

Alex keeps telling me that if I text him, he’ll keep in touch. But I know myself. I have. Er. Had a really good friend whom I’ll call Catherine. We saw each other every two weeks or so for about four years. Then she started dating a guy that she really liked, married him, and they had a baby. She disappeared from my life after the wedding. Suddenly it was all about her in-laws. They had so much stuff going on that she didn’t have time to call me, or text me, or meet me for dinner or anything. I got tired of trying to find a way for us to see each other, and so I just let her go.

Basically, I feel forgettable. Once people aren’t looking directly at me, I feel like I might as well never have been part of their life. I’ve always assumed that friendship is not perfectly, but almost like that game where you have two strings and each string has a handle on both ends. Threaded on the string is a ball. and the game is that the players each spread out their arms by turns, which sends the ball to the other player. I don’t expect it to be perfectly my turn-their turn-my turn, but I do expect to have the ball come back my direction occasionally. And if the ball doesn’t, well, eventually, I figure that the other player has stopped playing and I’ll put my handles down and walk away.

And that’s what happened with Catherine. And it’s what I’m terrified will happen with Alex.

New Updates on Goodreads Account

November 24, 2020 3 of 8

I’m not sure what to make of this. When I first started these blog posts for this month, I’m pretty sure I had 270 read books on my Goodreads account.

I’m now up to 304.

I mean, I know I’ve added some new books, but 34?

I’m going to go back over my books, which are in date read oldest first order right now (to make it easier to find (a) books I haven’t read yet and (b) the longest-ago read ones for my Gratuitous Amazon Links) and rearrange it to date added, newest first just to count them up.

Oh! I figured it out! I hadn’t put any of my FoxTrot books on there, and with the ones I haven’t reread yet and so are in my currently-reading queue, and also the non-FoxTrot books I’ve added, I’ve actually added 47 books. I still have 13 FoxTrot books unread.


Next up in Gratuitous Amazon Links, we’re back to Nancy Drew. This time it’s The Bungalow Mystery, by Carolyn Keene. I wonder why I didn’t read these strictly in order. I seem to recall checking ebooks of them out of the library, even though I still have my childhood hard copies. Maybe I got them in whatever order they were available? It was three years ago, so the answer is likely lost in the misty depths of history.

I Need to Write Something Today

November 27, 2020 1 of 1

I’m not even going to lie to myself that I’m going to do more than the one post. I may not even make much of this one post.

I mean, one of my standard posts is what I had for dinner. And what I had for dinner was one human-palm-sized chunk of duck breast with barbecue sauce to make it slightly less dry.


So. Post.

Oh! How about if I write about the dream I remember from last night.

I was getting still another degree in education. I mean, the first one, the one I got when I was awake, was a mistake. Why would my subconscious be “Hey, why don’t you dream that you’re getting another one?”

And this was a mistake as well. In real life, I wasn’t exactly popular, but I had a few friends in school. In my dream, everyone in my program hated me. It was like grade school all over again but with adults.

And I had a class that I forgot about. This is a pretty standard dream for me. Usually in my going-back-to-college dreams I’ve forgotten that I’ve gone back to school at all until the end of the semester, when I have to somehow get myself together for finals when I know nothing about what the finals are on.

This was earlier in the semester, fortunately. How much earlier? I don’t know.

At any rate, I was with the same group of students for all of my classes and I saw them walking and caught up with them. I asked where we were going and they all just kind of looked at me and were, like, “Physical education. Duh.”

I didn’t remember having a physical education class. We all walked into the gymnasium together and they started changing into bathing suits. I realized then that we were having a swim class.

The pool was an entire room. It was like, there was a balcony that was where you stand to get into the pool, and the room itself was just water. I think this pool has appeared in my dreams before.

I believe I went in search of a bathing suit. Maybe like a bookstore or something? I’m not sure. There was some extra guy in there, and I guess it all became illogical and dreamlike after that.

I got my state park pass today, so that’s good.

I also have tomorrow and Monday off, so hopefully I’ll be able to make some actual progress on NaNoWriMo on those days.

I’m still cleaning up my Goodreads account. There are so many books from series that sounded promising but fell apart towards the end (I’m looking at you Michael Vey) and I just don’t want to revisit them at all. So I’m just assigning January 1 of the year I added them to my Goodreads list as the date I started reading them and December 31 of that year as the end date. Then my undated books will be ones that I want to reread to add accurate dates to them.

Speaking of Goodreads, our Gratuitous Amazon Link for this post is a return to the Nancy Drew series. We have The Clue in the Diary, by Carolyn Keene today.

What’s for Dinner Tonight?

November 24, 2020 2 of 8

Diane Seed’s The Top One Hundred Pasta Sauces book has a stripped-down version of Spaghetti Vesuvio that is just canned tomatoes, olive oil, oregano, salt, and Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses.

Me being me, of course, I stripped it down farther, into canned tomato sauce with garlic, oregano, and basil, and Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses.

I also don’t really like Parmesan cheese. All I can taste and smell is the butyric acid, and the less said about that in a food post, the better. However, the sauce tastes flat without it, so I put the smallest amount of Parmesan cheese that will make the sauce more interesting (a little less than 1 tablespoon) directly into the sauce.

The recipe also says that you are to leave cubes of the mozzarella cheese in the pot with the pasta for three minutes until it starts to melt. This makes it resemble lava and gives the dish its name. I tried that, and every time I tried, my pot must not have been hot enough or something, because I still had unmelted chunks of cheese. So instead, I started topping the spaghetti with shredded mozzarella. It lacks something in terms of presentation, but it’s delicious, which is all we need here.

When I started this going through my cookbooks project, I noticed that this book lacks a recipe for Amatriciana sauce, which must have been the 101st top sauce and didn’t make the cut, I guess? I am going to try to dig up a recipe for that to make someday, but not, like, now. I’ve still got too many cookbooks to pore through.

I Have a Headache

November 26, 2020 1 of 8

I might actually make it to eight posts today. Probably not, but who knows?

I was going to post about our upcoming socially distanced brunch, but I have a headache and that’s pretty much all I can think about. So. Headaches.

I have been having headaches for as long as I can remember in the sense that I can’t remember the first headache I ever had. I do remember my first migraine.

We were living in the house that we lived in from my birth to age 11 and suddenly my head started to hurt. At that point, the only painkiller I knew about was Aspergum. Mmm. Aspergum.

Okay, an aside about Aspergum. Aspergum was a gum that was, what’s the word, impregnated? I don’t think that’s the word I’m looking for, but we’ll stick with that.

Aspergum was a gum that was impregnated with, well, aspirin. My mom used to give it to me for sore throats, of which I had a bunch. I figured it was just for sore throats, so of course I wouldn’t think it would help with the headache. And since it’s aspirin, of course it would’ve helped.

The pain of that first migraine was *so* bad. I actually thought that I might have had a brain tumor. Sound and light hurt and so I went to my bedroom then lay there in the dark with my pillow over my head and hope it went away.

Just a bit of a brush with childhood trauma here. I wasn’t yet at the age where I hid out and so I did kind of expect my folks (we lived in a really small house and I am an only child) to notice that I was gone and ask where I went, but no one ever said anything.

I was already kind of feeling like I was getting lost in the shuffle, and this contributed to that feeling. I got the impression that my pain and illness didn’t matter to my parents and kind of internalized that.

Back to physical illness. Eventually the headache passed and I emerged. I don’t remember if if I had what I came to refer to as the “bruisey” feeling afterwards. It really is hard to describe. It’s like having bruises behind your eyes.

Anyway, I suffered from the headaches off and on for years and we eventually got a book that is kind of like a pre-internet Dr. Google. And, just like Dr. Google, everything is cancer.

I thought that my migraines might be migraines, but when I looked them up in the symptom book, it said that I would have nausea and vomiting when I had a migraine. (Put a sort of mental bookmark here; we’ll be back to it in a minute or two. Or ten.).

So, years passed. I would retreat into my bedroom, wondering if I really did have a brain tumor and my parents still never seemed to notice that I was gone.

We moved into another house and I started hiding in the semi-finished basement on a regular basis, watching the TV that used to be in parents’ bedroom and sitting/lying/reclining on the sofa that used to sit in the living room at our old house.

For my high school years, I went back to my folks’ living room because my grandfather was living in the basement. When he passed away in 1984, I went back to the basement.

During these years, I still hid in my bedroom during migraines, but my folks didn’t really notice because they were used to me not being right there in the living room with them.

When I was 21, I started dating Thomas. On one of our dates, he said something about having a migraine, but he didn’t, like, go away to throw up or anything. I asked how he could have migraines without nausea or vomiting and he seemed surprised. He explained that you don’t *always* throw up with migraines. I described these debilitating headaches that I’d had for, at this point, more than 10 years, and he armchair diagnosed me with migraines.

The next time I had a migraine, I gave it its correct name and my mom gave me this snarky accusation me of thinking that I could have caught them from Thomas.

I told her that I’d been having them since before I was 11 years old. This came as a total surprise to her. So, I guess she really never did notice when I retreated to my room to hide during my headaches.

At some point, I realized that aspirin, acetaminophen/paracetamol, etc. helped with the pain and so I retreated into my room less often.

I lost some time from changing majors and transferring schools, so at 21, I was heading into my junior year of college. I went away to school for my last year and a half and this is when I realized that I was a “weekend migraineur.” That is when you have the migraines once the pressure is off. I would go visit Thomas at his college and enjoying time with him and his friends (who were awesome) and would have a migraine during the weekend, like, every other time.

So, since I had an on-campus medical clinic right there (it literally was like, thee doors down from my dorm), I went to the on-campus medical clinic where I finally got an official diagnosis of migraines. I also got a prescription for Inderal to prevent them and Cafergot when they flared up anyhow.

This kept them mostly under control until my wedding. I had long since gotten used to the Inderal keeping them under control, so I stopped filling the Cafergot. I got a migraine right after we came back from our honeymoon and just couldn’t eat. I’d had a gastrointestinal virus just before my wedding, which led me to being so hungry on my wedding day, I ate my dinner and my maid of honor’s (she didn’t like it and was going to throw it away anyhow). I ate fine on my honeymoon, but when the migraine finally hit, I had my one and only experience of nausea and vomiting from a migraine.

In the years since my wedding, they discovered that a combination of aspirin, acetaminophen/paracetmol, and caffeine (sold as Excedrin Migraine) will stop a migraine. Retail is stressful enough that I don’t have that many migraines anymore, and generic Excedrin Migraine takes care of the ones I have pretty well.

I do still get the occasional regular headache, and I still take the generic Excedrin Migraine for that, because, well, it’s not like there’s any specialty medication in there, and this helps me use up my generic Excedrin Migraine before it expires. If I reserved it just for real migraines I’d probably be throwing away nearly full bottles all of the time.

Have I read any books in which the main character gets migraines? I actually think I have, but can’t remember what book it was. I’m sure I’ll find it again during my intensive reread to update my Goodreads account.

So it looks like another Gratuitous Amazon Link for now. So. Discworld or Nancy Drew. Let’s find out. Discworld it is. Today we introduce probably the most popular (or second after the witches, maybe?) character set in the series, the City Watch, in Guards! Guards!

What Are We Having for Dinner Tonight?

November 25, 2020 1 of 8

Alex and I had Kraft Macaroni & Cheese.

Thank you for coming to my TED Talk.

The story was a little more complex than that. Today is the day before US Thanksgiving and my store was kind of a mess. Things were relatively calm in the pharmacy, but outside the pharmacy? Eek.

So I took a quick break to get some dessert for tomorrow (more on that, well, tomorrow). My coworker rang me up so that I could avoid the lines. However, as I was leaving the store, I realized that I didn’t know what we were going to have for dinner tonight.

I figured that I could pick up one thing really fast and maybe it wouldn’t be so bad. I So I swung through the frozen foods department and I remembered that I have two Michael Angelo’s frozen dinners — baked ziti with meatballs and chicken piccata.

So when I came home, I suggested that to Alex, who still feels under the weather. He wasn’t crazy about that idea, so in desperation, I suggested Macaroni and Cheese. He liked that idea, so that’s what we had.

Alex is going to move out in another week or so, and so soon my “What Am I Having for Dinner Tonight” posts will be returning to going through my cookbooks.

For our Gratuitous Amazon Link, let’s see what we have: Eric, by Terry Pratchett. This is the 9th Discworld book and it features Rincewind.

My Goodreads Account

November 22,2020 2 of 8

It seems like I shouldn’t need a Gratuitous Amazon Link this time. I mean, this post is about books. My Amazon link should be organic. I’ve already done all of these books that I’ve mentioned, though. Well, this blog isn’t chronological, so let’s just use the first book that I mention in this post even if it is a repeat.

I really need to get my walking in for today. But first, reading and writing. No ‘rithmetic. Sorry.

Anyway, I finished another couple of books recently, leading my currently reading list to be 22 books. I think we started at, like, 35?

My favorite of the statistics . . . things at Goodreads is the Books by Publication Year. It’s a scatter plot graph with dots at the intersection of the date read and the year published. Of course, with the way I read, there’s no real trend, but it’s cool to look at anyhow. I haven’t reread any classic literature in the time I’ve had this account, because the oldest book there is The Hidden Staircase. I wonder why that is. I mean, shouldn’t the oldest be the oldest Nancy Drew book, The Secret of the Old Clock? I wonder if I somehow picked the wrong edition. I’ll have to look into that.

But as of this month, I have a, like, vertical line of blue dots where I’ve reread all of my Ms. Marvel and Unbeatable Squirrel Girl comics and also my Avatar: the Last Airbender books. I wish I could specify a date range on that graph so that I can see this month (or even just this year) more clearly.

More Clues in the Mystery of What Language I’m Going to Specialize In

November 25, 2020 1 of 8

With “clues” and “mystery” in the title, I think I may have done too many Nancy Drew books for my Gratuitous Amazon Links. However, for good or ill, we’ve still got dozens of Nancy Drew books to go.

I’m thinking that the language I’m going to focus on for my modern languages degree is less likely to be Vietnamese than Czech. I did the Pimsleur conversational Czech and now I’m doing Pimsleur Vietnamese I. Czech came to me much more easily than Vietnamese, despite my having less exposure to the language prior to starting.

Of course, Vietnamese is a much harder language for an English speaker to learn. Looking at the Defense Language Institute site, my guess is that Czech is a Level III language and Vietnamese is Level IV.

The Pimsleur course says that if you are getting about 80% of the questions right, you’re ready to move on, and I am taking a *very* generous interpretation of “80%.” I’m still bumping up against that problem where the pause to figure out and say the sentence is too short and so I’m pretty sure that I would’ve come up with the right sentence in 80% of the cases. I really should be doing each lesson *three* times, but . . . .

I was only going to see what was left of my Rosetta Stone Vietnamese really quickly before the end of the month, when the language for my apps will change to Italian and I’ll go back to ChinesePod in the car, but this is so frustrating that I’m not sure whether to give up or to try to figure out how to fit the Vietnamese in around the Italian and Chinese.

Back when I was playing Pokemon Go harder than I am now, I spent more than 45 minutes a day in my car driving to gyms and raids. I could easily fit a daily Pimsleur lesson and at least one ChinesePod lesson in in that time, but now I’m in the car for a Pimsleur lesson and about five minutes of Spanish radio. That extra five minutes isn’t long enough for even one ChinesePod lesson.

If only I’d thought of Vietnamese back at the beginning of October. I could’ve done each lesson three times and still knocked out 20 of them.

I know I could do my Pimsleur, like, in my bedroom or something, but I’d find it awkward to sit there speaking very bad Vietnamese by myself in my room. If I could count on my cat to sit there and let me practice on him for half an hour a day, it might be doable.

And Vietnamese would be so useful for me right now. I have a bunch of Vietnamese patients and their grasp of English is okay, but it would be nice if I could meet them in the middle a little.

Oh, well. It’s 5:30 am and there’s not much Vietnamese I can do right now anyhow. I’ll sleep on it and see what I can come up with.

Our Gratuitous Amazon Link today is. I don’t even know. My Goodreads page was set on trying to find books that I’m reading right now so that I can add them to my currently reading page. Give my computer just a minute to catch up to us. Okay. Our Gratuitous Amazon Link for today is The Mystery at Lilac Inn, by Carolyn Keene.