So. 2021.

As anyone who has been reading here knows (Hi!), I’m in San Antonio, Texas. You know, the San Antonio that just had a snowstorm and then the electricity was down for much of the city for most of last week? That San Antonio?

Yeah.

And, as these things happen, I went into a fairly mild depressive spiral around then. I think it was just how haphazard everything was. I didn’t know what I would be doing, job-wise, from one day to the next. Our store was only open for four hours on Monday, and I was paralyzed by fear. I mean, I grew up driving in snow, but I haven’t done it in probably 15 to 20 years. That and there are basically three routes from here to work — a major highway, which was closed, a major street that’s hilly, or a less-major street which isn’t well-traveled at the best of times and where I was afraid I’d have trouble finding the street under the snow.

I was, like, “I wonder how long it’d take me to walk to work from here, because I sure don’t feel comfortable driving today.”

By the time the store opened, my shift was nearly done, so they told me just not to come in. I made it in on Tuesday, taking the less-traveled road, which had been driven on enough that I could find the road, and we lost electricity after about five hours and so we went home about an hour after that.

Wednesday, the store still didn’t have electricity, so we opened late, and then Thursday, the store didn’t have electricity at all.

So, guess what work was like on Friday.

Gratuitous photo time. This is Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, one of my personal light house goals. We’ll probably see this photo again when I do a retrospective of Alex and my trip to North Carolina in 2013.

On top of this, the electricity was off and on at my house. Sunday night we were one of the houses that got the rotating blackouts, 15 minutes on, 15 minutes off.

Then Monday morning, the electricity changed to five minutes on, 55 minutes off while the sun was out. Once the sun set, it was just off. When I washed myself before work on Tuesday, I could see steam rising from the sink in the light of my cell phone. Wednesday night, the electricity came back on and has been on since.

The freezing weather seems to be over. It’s 50 degrees outside right now and should peak at 66 tomorrow.

I’m actually upset that there were so many stressors this week, because normally I love the snow. When it snowed a few years ago, I was over the moon because aside from being a little white-knuckled on the way home, there were no stressors. I knew that my job would be there in the morning, and, while we had to run the faucets to keep the pipes from freezing, the electricity stayed on, so I knew that if I went out and got my feet all wet from the snow, I could dry them off in the warmth afterwards.

I wonder if I could plan a snow vacation this fall. Maybe the mountains in New Mexico?

Another thing I’ve learned from this is that I need some semblance of a routine for my mental health. A while ago, I tried to start heading to bed at 10:30. I don’t have to go to sleep then, but I at least have to be in bed and reading or whatever. I think I’ve even watched a YouTube video or two at this point. It’s 11 now, so I missed that goal for today. Better luck tomorrow.

I’m going to try to get back to blogging on a daily basis for now. I’m going to try to schedule them ahead of time, every other day, so that anyone who reads here won’t be hit with a firehose of blog posts. This will post immediately, though.

Now for our Gratuitous Amazon Link. I went digging to see where I left off on GAL’ing my Goodreads list. Today we have Soul Music, by Terry Pratchett, the 16th book in the Discworld series and the third featuring Death and his family. At first, I thought that this was where I burned out, but, guess what? I still have six more Discworld books to go.

My Reading History

Part Something of Some Number

Wow. It’s December 5, and I’ve completely gotten out of the habit of writing every day. Well, not out of the habit as such, but, well, I realized that I hadn’t finished posting my 24 Hours of Happy project (and I missed a couple of hours along the way, too) and now I can’t find the file it was in.

So I’ve spent the whole month so far with File Exploder* (or whatever they’re calling it nowadays) searching my entire computer in the background for the word “Pharrell.” So far it’s found some music and a backup of my blog. This is no help.

Last night I was having trouble sleeping, so I started organizing my reading projects in my head and I realized that I’ve had a lot of “phases” in my reading. The first phase I had was probably Nancy Drew starting at about 10 years old. Then I had an Agatha Christie phase. After that, was maybe gothic romance? I think that was late middle school or early high school.

Somewhere around then was my Erma Bombeck phase. I still love to reread those books.

Then it was genre fiction. Mostly it was epic fantasy with a side order of science fiction, but there was a lot of supernatural stuff, too. That phase lasted years.

I never left genre fiction entirely, but I did go back to gothic romance again. At some point, I attempted to read all of the books of Victoria Holt. I think I only scratched the surface, but I’ll have to do some digging to figure out what percentage I read. I think that might have been around the time of my Ann Rule phase.

At some point, before Amazon became a thing, I began to scare myself with how fast I was killing off the books, so I joined the History Book Club in an effort to slow myself down. I still have a bunch of books from back then that I haven’t read. I’ve got to make some decisions about them.

Then I had cancer and my reading became no longer as fast as it had been. There’s a condition known as “chemo brain” where people who have had cancer have more trouble concentrating than they did before. And that was definitely me. I left the history books behind then, because reading anything successfully was a challenge at that point and haven’t really gotten back into them. I did go back to focusing on epic fantasy, supernatural, etc. for a while.

At some point, I entered a kidlit phase. I really enjoy this in a way that kind of resembles my enjoyment of epic fantasy, but in a way, it’s actually maybe more enjoyable. I think this is because the books are shorter and they may deal in heavy topics like interpersonal relationships (not just romance, but friends, family, coworkers, etc.), trauma, etc. but they do it in a way that isn’t so traumatic. Or something like that. The other thing is that since the books are shorter, I can cover more genres. Science fiction, fantasy, thriller, mystery, whatever. If it sounds interesting, I’ll give it a shot.

Crap. I had a historical fiction phase, too. When even was that?

When I say “phase,” I don’t mean that I read this to the exclusion of all else. Rather, it’s more like, I don’t know. I just read so many books that I don’t know if I could ever read just one genre to the exclusion of all else. I’m trying to come up with a good analogy. Or even a bad analogy. Maybe it’s like meals. You can have the same thing for breakfast every day for a long time, but you’ll still have a varied diet for lunch and dinner? I think that’s as good as it’s going to get for now.

It feels odd to have a Gratuitous Amazon Link here, since this was about books, but since I didn’t discuss any specific book, it’d be weird to shoehorn that in just so that I can have a Germane Amazon Link. Looks like Men at Arms, a City Watch book of the Discworld series is up next. Let this be a warning to anyone reading this — be careful how many books in the same series you read. You may have to end up posting links to them in your blog someday, and that will be *really* monotonous.

*I don’t know if that’s original to Thomas or if he got it from somewhere else. It certainly isn’t original to me.

Argh!

November 30, 2020 3 of 3

It’s 10:30 and I need to get to bed soonish. I’m also 15 words short of hitting 30,000 for NaNoWriMo.

As a result, I will be just blathering more than usual. I realized that I posted a lot about my Goodreads account, but not much about the books I read this month. I guess that’s because it was a lot of comic book rereads and such and not really something I really had much to say about.

I’m rereading The Glass Sentence (yay for germane Amazon links), which I recall really enjoying when I first read it five years ago, but not really the details. I guess I could write about that once I get away from “I need words and I’m panicking!” mode.

I have made a nice habit for myself of sitting down to write every day. I hope to continue that, maybe in a more considered way for December and January.

I’m already two weeks ahead on posting at one post per day. If I can keep this up, I should stay two weeks ahead, which will be nice if/when I catch COVID. I’d probably be out of commission for two weeks at that point.

I’m going to continue reading and come up with more content creators to feature in posts and we’ll see where we are when my first practice NaNoWriMo for 2021 hits in February. Maybe I really will make it to 8 posts a day then.

Or maybe not.

My Goodreads Account — OMG

November 30, 2020 1 of 8

Every once in a while, it hits me — I have a shelf full of Ranma 1/2 manga and a couple of Naruto ones. I’ve read all of them, but can’t remember when.

It’s the 30th and thus the end of NaNoWriMo. I’m definitely not going to make it to 50,000, but 30,000 is looking good. And so I don’t really *need* to keep going lockstep through all of my comics compilations, graphic novels, etc.

But I really probably should. I am, after all, going to try to take another stab at writing 8 posts per day going in February, 2021, so I may well need the additional books some day.

Or maybe not. I was going to do the words “Ranma 1/2” above as a not-gratuitous link to the first volume of the series only to find that you can only get $14 used copies of volume 1 right now. So, I guess it’s going to be Gratuitous Amazon Link time. Today we have Small Gods, which is a standalone book. I get a kick out of how it is currently titled at Amazon: Small Gods: Discworld Novel, A, like the computer finally figured out how card catalogs worked and is going a little nuts with it.

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.

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.

Wow.

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.

Yeah.

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.

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.

My Poor Bed

November 20, 2020 2 of 8

I worked my way through most of those books in that photo I posted a while back and then went into Alex’s room and got more.

So now I have more FoxTrot books and a few other novels, including two that I had totally failed to put on my Goodreads page on the other side of my bed.

I’m thinking that I may have to buy ebooks for most of my collection and then take the hard copies to, like Half-Price Books to unload them. Most of what I own is books, but I own so many, that when I downsize back into an apartment, I may have to use books as my furniture.

I hope it doesn’t come to that. I think I need to make a definitive list of all of my books and maybe even start buying milk crates or something to store them in and then move them into the storage room, just to get some kind of idea of how many books I have and make some sort of plan for them.

I mean, Tsundoku is a legit hobby separate from reading the books, but I think there has to be a limit.

I was thinking I could add whether I own the book to my Goodreads page, but there are so many books there (I’m up to 295 read books), that it’ll probably take forever.

Well, I’m going to give that a shot. I’m only going to be counting books that I have in hard copy. No ebooks. No audiobooks.

For our Gratuitous Amazon Link, I bring you the second Discworld novel: The Light Fantastic, by Terry Pratchett.