Where did November go?

I mean, seriously, where? I ended my last post by saying I hoped to update more often and then somehow did not. I guess I just got in the weeds at work and busy re-acclimating to being back home and then just wound up not posting. I also hate starting posts by talking about how I meant to post but dropped the ball, but I really did keep meaning to post and somehow…didn’t.

Anyway, so here we are. A list to catch up (sort of):

1. I do have a voting story, which I plan to share one day. The short of it is “do not forward your mail if you leave town in the month before an election.” The long of it is a blog post I hope to write someday. I hope I can remember all the details.

2. So, yeah, how about that election, huh? Whew.

3. Also, as mentioned in my previous post, my daughter’s friend is staying with us now and will probably be doing so at least through the new year. My daughter is thrilled because she has always wanted a sibling and now the house isn’t so lonely during the pandemic. I affectionately refer to both of them as “The Twins” since they’re the same age (e.g., The twins went to the boba shop or The twins are watching a movie).

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H is for Half of What You See #PandemicAlphabet

I grew up watching soap operas, and one of the biggest tropes in soaps (yes, I see what I did there) is that Character A sees Character B in a compromising–or shall we even say, less than flattering–position/situation. This typically leads to lots of misunderstandings and, of course, amps up the drama. One of my mom’s favorite refrains when we would watch these shows was always “Believe half of what you see.” She would say it almost every time. Because the truth in those situations was almost always somewhere in the middle as we viewers knew. Half of what Character A saw was true; the other half was usually filled in by what they thought they knew.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot during COVID-19, especially in this age of social media where people often post pictures or videos online. I have Very Strong Opinions about what is and is not acceptable behavior, especially as the number of COVID cases keep rising and more and more people keep dying. I protest what I believe is inappropriate behavior mostly by not liking posts/pictures that make me uncomfortable and by making snide comments to my phone or computer in the privacy of my own home.

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It’s Monday & I have consumed some media

I’m finally home after my five-week (!) Eastern time zone adventures. There may be a lot to say about that some other day, but I have read some books and watched some TV & movies, so let’s get into that first. Also, if anyone is on Letterboxd, give me a shout so we can follow each other. (Or, you know, sign up and then we can follow each other. Either works for me.) My username over there is englishist.

First, the books:

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When There Is No Fine Print: Adventures in Car Rentals

On Saturday, I was slated to leave Tennessee at around 1 p.m. to drive to Florida so I can visit my parents before I head back to California. The plan was to go to the airport, pick up the rental car, drive the car to Florida, and then return the rental car to the airport in Florida the next day.

Reader, that is not what happened.

First, we were a little late to the airport because my friend had to pick up the grocery order. That part was fine except that she forgot some of the groceries in the car, which meant my daughter and I were out of some of our road snacks. This was not entirely my friend’s fault because it wasn’t until we were almost to the airport that I realized I had forgotten the fruit. So that was sad, but you know. Easy enough to deal with.

Then, once I got to the airport I discovered that they wouldn’t rent me the car.

As I have mentioned before, I am committed to getting out of debt. Part of that commitment means that I cut up my credit card over a year ago and have gone cash/debit only. Now, on the rental car company’s website it says that they take debit cards. The website even says to double check that the location you are using takes debit cards. So I double checked, and the location does indeed take debit cards. Yet, NOWHERE on the ENTIRE SITE does it say that you cannot use a debit card for the security hold thing if you’re going airport to airport UNLESS you are scheduled on a flight FROM the airport you are returning the car to. And I know it doesn’t because I read through the fine print AND double checked the debit card policy.

So obviously I didn’t find that out until I got to the actual counter of the rental car company.

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It’s Wednesday & I have an ashy eye

Okay, I’m going to get into the ashy eye story in a minute, but also I just want you to know that I got a COVID test after flying across the country, and it is negative. So…whew.

But, yes, I have an ashy eye.

So I discovered this ashy eye issue the day I was packing/prepping to fly across the country. My eye had been bothering me since Thursday. It kept watering for no reason, which honestly happens to me quite a bit, but I thought it was just allergies. You know, a fire was raging, and debris was flying through the air, so it seemed logical. But that night I couldn’t sleep with my eye mask on because it felt like something was stabbing me in the eye.

Then, on Friday, my eye was still bothering me. It was still with the leaking and all, but I could smell smoke in my house, so, again, I just banked on allergies. Also, my daughter told me I looked like I had gotten punched in the eye because my eye was swollen. “Yes,” I told her. “It’s the allergies.”

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F is for Flight #PandemicAlphabet

I decided to leave California.

If you’ve been following the news, you know the wildfires are very intense there, and the air quality is terrible. The one closest to me–the Bobcat Fire–caused smoke bad enough that several friends of mine in a neighboring city were put under an evacuation warning last Wednesday night, and my job closed the campus last Thursday. Because I am an idiot (no, really this time), even after getting the alert that my job (which is down the street from my house) was closed because of extremely poor air quality, I still attempted to go to the pool. I wound up lasting all of ten minutes before I started coughing because, you know, the smoke was so bad. Oh, and Thursday night, my city was also put under an evacuation warning, though it was for the northern part of the city closer to the mountains.

On Thursday night, I finally packed my evacuation bag.

On Friday morning, I could smell the smoke in my apartment, so immediately ordered an air purifier on Amazon to be delivered the next day (they were sold out locally).

By Friday afternoon, I had booked a plane ticket for Sunday to Tennessee with plans to stay there for two weeks and then to drive to Florida and stay for two to three more weeks. My return flight is currently booked for five weeks from now.

Here’s what got me to decide to leave:

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5 Books I Wanted to Nominate for My Book Club’s Middle Grade Mystery Theme & the One I Did

So my book club is doing middle grade mysteries for October, and unfortunately, I can only nominate one book. One! This is sad for me because I have a lot of books that I could recommend because I want the people in my book club to read and/or talk about them. Just for context (do I need more context?), after I taught the detective literature course at my school last fall, I said my dream would be to teach the class again and focus solely on middle grade capers or puzzle books. (I was sick of all the murdering and violence in the adult literature.) The point is that this topic lives close to my heart. 

So, anyway, here are all the books I wanted to nominate for my book club to read and the one I did wind up nominating in the end.

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It’s Tuesday & I watched some movies

Also, I guess I should confess that the new block editor for WordPress isn’t that terrible. I think last time I either got sent to some incomplete version of the editor OR I just was not in the headspace to deal with the change. Or a combo platter. Either one. The point is that it’s not that bad now. Is that because I am very enamored of the star rating block? Maybe. But also I have written/drafted my last few posts with the new blocks and haven’t wanted to throw my computer across the room, so.

But you’re here for the movies! So let’s get into them.

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Book Review: The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Look, The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates is a well-written book with beautiful language, but my rating/review is probably (mostly?) more about WHEN I am reading it than the book itself.

The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates



The truth is this is a book club pick and if it were up to me, it is not what I would be reading. I have also read a lot (A LOT) of slave narratives and books about slavery. If I were new to the books about the slave experience game, I might feel differently about it.

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It’s Monday & I bought a couch

Except my couch is actually a loveseat. If you don’t know the difference between a loveseat and a couch, let me just explain to you that I now understand why it’s called a loveseat. Because, see, the loveseat is very intimate. In fact, you basically have to love the person sitting next to you on that thing because there is no space for anything between you except love.

The lump/leg on the right is my daughter.

My daughter has also made it a sport to poke me for no other reason than I am in reach. She, as I was writing this, asked me to come sit next to her so she could mess with me. It’s a lot of fun. (It’s not a lot of fun.)

I bought the couch loveseat without going to see it in person because I trust the brand and knew it would be comfortable. I also took measurements of my old couch so thought I knew exactly what I was getting into. Learn from me, people, because the length of the loveseat is the length of the non-chaise part of my previous couch, but what I didn’t account for nor measure was the size of the cushions.

It’s very plush and cute (I love the color), but those armrests take up way more room than you might think. My friend (who is moving out of the country this week–the tl;dr blog post about that is “I can’t believe she’s leaving me”) stopped by today to drop some stuff off, so got an opportunity to sit on the loveseat and test it out. She did not want to get up because (a) she made the mistake of sitting down but also (b) it is so comfy and cozy. She also said, “Our thighs would definitely be touching if we both sat on that thing.” By the time she’s back stateside (she claims she’ll be back in six months, but I’m not holding my breath), I should have a full-sized couch as well, so I don’t think it will be an issue. But I’m just letting you all know that the love part of the loveseat is accurate.

Anyway, the loveseat is the perfect size for the space, and I am very happy with it–it’s just going to take some time to be so closely seated next to whoever sits on the other side of me, even if it is just my daughter for now.