When you can’t buy new ones…

Ya read the old ones. That’s where I’m currently at, and I’m sure it’s a place where many of you are far too familiar. Budget constraints (separation will do that do a person) mean that I CAN’T BUY ALL THE BOOKS, and not working at Powell’s anymore means my access to arcs is pretty much nil these days, so…I’m revisiting my not-insubstantial library. The last two titles are newer, but one was a gift, and the other was a gift to myself for my birthday. As will the next title be. But after that? It’ll be titles that I’ve had – some for YEARS – that I’ll finally be making time for. Because this is typically me:

But on the plus side – I’m finally really enjoying reading again. Covid pretty much just…wiped me out. Not personally – I’ve been blessed to not get it (that I’m aware of) and I have gotten my vaccine (GET THE VACCINE, PEOPLE). But I lost my beloved job at Powell’s when they shut down and then closed to store I worked at, had to get another job with good benefits and stability because – separation (which, don’t get me wrong – I do *love* my job and I’m good at it – but it does NOT provide me with ALL THE BOOKS)…homeschool with a teen who was *miserable*…it was just *a lot*. I read very inconsistently, when I read at all, and I missed it. So it’s feeling kinda nice to be back in the reading mindset!

So if you see a review for a book, and you’re all “Jeez, lady. That came out AGES ago.”. Well, yeah. But I was so busy buying and only reading some and then not really reading at all, that I have *a lot to catch up on*! And who knows – maybe someone else will be in the same boat and find a recommendation for something THEY haven’t read either! Because old(er) books still have fabulous tales to be told to SOMEONE.

Review: For the Wolf

When your destiny is already chosen for you, by an action done hundreds of years before you were born, where do you draw the line between giving in – and fighting back? In this twist on the classic Red Riding Hood/Beauty and the Beast tales, nothing is as it seems and the consequences of your actions may just kill you.

This was a book that REALLY IRRITATED ME – because I didn’t know going in that it was only the first one. And now I have to *wait* for the next one. And I *will* be anxiously waiting, because I truly LOVED this book. So you’ve been warned.

Red is the second daughter of the Queen. As such, it is her destiny to be given to the Wolf to – hopefully – release the long-awaited kings and keep back the monsters. Her twin sister, older by just minutes, is destined to rule. But things go awry when both women decide that they should have a say in their own fates.

One of the things I enjoyed most about this book is that both main characters are strong women in their own right. Essentially neglected by their mother, they’ve leaned on each other for love and support, knowing from the time they were little what path their lives would take. When Red is banished to face the Wolf, both women have to face life without their twin – and their refusal to just go along sets them up for some choices that will have life-altering consequences, for them and for those around them.

The writing kept me engrossed – I essentially read this in a day. The worldbuilding is fantastic, particularly when getting into this entire other world that they only *think* they understand. The characters were sympathetic – even those who were doing “bad” things were trying to do them for what they saw as noble reasons. Because isn’t that most of us? We generally don’t start OUT bad – but we make a series of choices that are grey, and then it just gets easier and easier to make more choices that lean more towards wrong than right, with the justifications that we tell ourselves to make it ok.

Even though this is marketed as an adult novel, it truly feels more YA or NA to me. Both girls are only 20, so maybe that’s why? But had I not already known, I would have guessed YA. Honestly, more mature 7th or 8th-graders could read this and love it.

I know some people complained about the characters feeling “flat”, or that they couldn’t get into the story – but I feel so much of that was because this book was compared to The Bear and The Nightingale, so expectations were super high. There are few things – if any – that can truly be compared to that book or its trilogy, so if that’s what people were looking for? I can see why they would find this lacking. I had, quite honestly, forgotten about that comparison when I read this. And I think *because* I had forgotten it? I had no expectations going in. I was able to enjoy the story on its own merits instead.

If I still worked at Powell’s, this would go on a list of my Top 10 Novels thus far for the year, and I would be doing a shelf-talker and sharing with ALL THE PEOPLE. Unfortunately, I don’t – so I’m telling y’all. RUN, do not walk, to get this book. Unless you don’t like waiting for follow-ups. Then, maybe, do it anyway. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Review: Prom House

How well do you know the people around you? As well as you think you do? Might one of them…be a killer? Take a dive into Prom House, by Chelsea Mueller!

Prom Night. You’ve rented a house, with several other of your friends. It’s got a pool, and *you’ve* got a teeny new bikini and a brand-new boyfriend. Nice and secluded so the neighbors can’t complain about the music – or anything else. It ALSO means – they can’t hear you scream.

When people begin disappearing – and then turning up dead – it becomes a race against time and the elements to stay alive. If you’re locked in a house with your best friends and a killer? The question becomes whether your friends are who you’ve always thought they were.

It’s not horribly gory – more suspense than blood, which is personally how I prefer things. My 14 year old does as well, so I’m looking forward to her reading this and letting me know if she guesses who the killer is. ๐Ÿ˜‰

With some definite “Scream” vibes coming off the pages, this was a fun, quick read *perfect* for the pool or the beach. While it’s YA, it wouldn’t be amiss to think of more advanced 7-8 grade kids reading it either.

TW: There is some discussion of teen partner, alcohol, and drug abuse. It’s definitely *not* out of the bounds of reality, and it’s perfectly accurate for a YA title, but just a head’s up for those who may struggle with those topics.

Being a mom

I just need to…write. I guess. I’m not sure what else to do.

It’s the weirdest things that will set me off right now. My son has a motorcycle – bought and paid for himself. He’s rightfully proud of that bike, and loves to ride it. Every time I hear a motorcycle go by, my heart stops. Not too bad – except that I live by a major interstate.

I just got an alert on my phone to remind me (as if I needed reminding) that his birthday is coming up. Not even 20 years old, and his future is at stake.

I need to eat, but…the thought of it makes me physically ill. I *did* have some tea this morning, so that’s progress.

I have some pretty rare book sets, and I’ve thought about trying to sell them to raise money, but…it would take too long. By the time I’ve done that, it’ll be when I’ll have my paycheck anyway. In the meantime, I worry about whether he’s getting the messages I’m sending, or seeing that I’m trying so hard to schedule calls and visits with him. He’s young and scared, and has no idea how any of this works.

And that breaks my heart even more. Does he think we’re ignoring him? Does he know that I’m LIVING by my computer, trying to get information, to schedule calls and video visits? Taking my phone literally everywhere with me so as to not miss a call if he tries?

I can’t stop crying. My heart is shattered. And I feel so goddamn useless.

Fix the system

You know those things that you think will never happen to you? It always happens to *someone else*? Yeah, well…it DOES happen to you, and in the way you least expect it. It’s why kids still die of overdoses and drunk-driving accidents – because they too think it will never happen to them.

My son is currently in jail. First offense, something 100% stupid and he knew better. 19 years old, still a boy and yet considered an adult. And for this, he will probably spend the rest of his life paying in one way or another. But here’s the thing – he’s still MY SON. I knew about the stupid thing, and had *hoped* that because of his age and it being a one-time thing and no history of trouble IN THE HISTORY OF EVER that nothing would happen. In my heart, I knew better, because as we’ve always told the kids – the law is what it is. You do something stupid, you take the chance. And here we are.

I’m such a raw mix of emotions – like, I don’t even know what I feel at any given moment. My eyes look like they got stung simultaneously by wasps and I’m honestly so damn confused. But here’s what REALLY kills me.

The system is not set up for people who don’t know what they’re doing. Finding information is like pulling teeth. And the system by which you try to contact your loved one is a fucking SCAM. Seriously. They charge for *everything*. And you have to have two accounts you pay into – one for the inmate (god i hate that word), and one “Friends and Family” account. The *fees* they charge are absolutely astronomical.

They make a phone call? First minute is taken up by simply reciting a stupid message about notifying them of an injury or something, then you have to actually approve the call. After that? I had 3 minutes before the “call failed”. Or his 5 minutes were up. 3 MINUTES OUT OF A 5 MINUTE PHONE CALL. Because of course, you have to pay for more.

And I’m relatively privileged – I don’t have enough money for bail, but I can make sure I can talk to him. I have a cell, I have a computer and internet, and I have access to try and help him however I can. What about those that DON’T? What about those who find themselves in my very same position, but have less access? Shit, I can hardly find out information on how the damn process is supposed to WORK, let alone what *I* should be doing. And again – holiday weekend. Good luck talking to a lawyer on the fucking 4th of July.

Listen. I’m not here to complain about my son getting shafted or anything like that. But I do believe that the system is a mess. And it makes things so much harder for people like me, let alone someone without my access to resources. Honestly, I don’t even know if I’ll post this – I just feel the need to vent. Because at this point? I just don’t know what else to do. And how many others out there, navigating a frightening and sad situation for the first time, find themselves in the same position? It shouldn’t be this way.

PS. Before you come up in my mentions all “shoulda stayed out of trouble”? Don’t bother. I know that, he knows that, fuck off. Seriously. I cannot think of one single person who hasn’t made a stupid mistake – some are just more stupid than others, and SOME JUST HAVEN’T GOTTEN CAUGHT YET. So again? Fuck off. I will block the SHIT out of your ass.

One Week…

I’m panicking. Things have moved so quickly – and yet they’ve crawled. People know now, and I’ve started packing. But I am freaking TERRIFIED.

Don’t get me wrong – this is definitely for the best. I can’t stay with someone who lies to me, and who hides how much he drinks. Who has never learned how to communicate, and views counseling as a weakness for *other* people. It’s exhausting to live this way, and so I need to go.

But here’s the thing: I haven’t lived on my own in 24 years. Well, a little longer if you count us living together before we were married. I’ve known this man for LITERALLY my entire adult life – I met him at my first duty station when I was 18. And I’ve *definitely* never been responsible on my own for raising a child. And not just a child, but a teen who plays a year-round competitive sport, is getting her first job this summer, and doesn’t yet drive. The parts of me that scream loudest are the ones saying that I’m going to screw this up – screw HER up – in ways as of yet to be recognized. That the comfortable lifestyle is worth dealing with all the rest. As we get closer to the move, it’s harder to drown those voices out.

And yet. My mental/emotional health are worth so much more than a comfortable lifestyle. And I’m teaching my kids that it’s ok to recognize when things are broken beyond repair, and that placing value on oneself is important. At least – I *hope* I am.

So…I’m off to continue packing. 24 years of *together* is so hard to separate. I’m truly thankful that, thus far, this is amenable and there really is no rush to get everything out all at once. Now if I could pack up my fears in some box, but throw it away instead of moving it…

Note: This was actually written a couple of weeks ago. We’ve since moved and I will be talking about that as well – but these emotions? Haven’t gone away.

Weirdly emotional

I mean, maybe it’s not? But *I* am. It was my choice, my decision. It’s necessary and it will be better for everyone. And yet, as I’m packing some of my most beloved things, I’m veering wildly between emotions. Wanting to cry, and then feeling accomplished with another box done, and then dancing to a particularly good song, and then back to teary-eyed. Other than after the birth of my kids, I don’t think I’ve ever been this emotional – and much of THAT was related to the wacky-ass chemicals in my body. It’s so…exhausting.

I’ve been doing pretty well, for the most part. But something about being so close to the actual move date (a week), and packing some of the stuff I’ve collected over the years is just tearing at my heart in so many unexpected ways. It’s not about the choice, necessarily? More, I think, about finally saying goodbye to the hopes and dreams that I had with this marriage. To really believing that it could be saved, and then hanging on even after I knew it probably couldn’t – just in case. To admitting, finally, that my dream had already died and it was time to go about picking up the pieces.

I’m trying so very hard to remember the advice of my aunt – to “feel all the emotions”. Not to hold them in. But that’s made harder by the fact that I’m essentially separating the family – our teen daughter is moving with me, and our adult son, who’s trying to save up money to move out, is staying with dad. And *everyone* is here while I’m packing, and I ask myself how I have the right to sit and sob in front of them when it’s *my* choice that has led us here. My choice not to live with the lies, and the hiding, and the drinking…to believe that I deserve better…to want to show the kids that there are consequences to actions, and that it’s never too late to stand up for yourself. But – it’s still my choice that has me packing now.

I have a feeling that after the move, there’s going to be some time where I’m just…tired. Crying. Hurting. And, hopefully, finally figuring out how to make peace with this new life.

Miss Addie <3

Miss Addie & Carl

I’ve talked in prior posts about fostering for an organization called Northwest Battle Buddies. Run by a *fantastic* dog trainer, out of her kennel, they train dogs to be service animals for veterans. These animals get some of the most training out of any veteran org out there – a minimum of 6 months *before* they’re paired with their new person, and another 6 weeks *with* their person. It’s an amazing org, and if you’re so inclined, you can learn more here:

We’ve fostered three pups thus far. Our first one washed out – too fearful to make it through. So he went to some good friends, and has made a *wonderful* pet. Our second one, Miss Addie, is the one you see above. We had her longer than usual due to covid, but she finally finished her training and has been paired with her veteran just last week. I blacked out his face because it’s not my place to broadcast him – but trust me when I say the smile on his face matches the joy shown by his hat.

I’ve had SO MANY people ask me how I could bear to give her up. And today, I can fully give that answer. Because the sheer JOY for him beats our sadness. Because this man – and by extension, these veterans – *need* these animals more than we do. And because at the end of the day? Anything we can do to help someone else out is what we *should* be doing. Some of these veterans haven’t been able to go grocery shopping, or out to dinner with their loved ones, or to a theater for YEARS – because they were too afraid. And now, they’ll be able to live their lives with more joy and comfort with a constant companion that loves them no matter what.

Miss Addie

I’m not gonna lie. I sobbed when I saw this picture, and the rest that went with it. But the tears were JOY. My heart is so full right now, knowing that she has her forever human (and based on that hat, is probably a pretty darn good one). I’m STILL tearing up, to be honest. But I’m so proud of her for completing training, and so excited for her next chapter – and that she’ll be *useful*, helping someone who has helped all of us.

For anyone curious – no, we don’t train the dogs. We don’t do anything but love them and house them and feed them. Only requirements are a fenced-in yard, patience, love, some toys, and a place for them to sleep.

Here’s a link to a short series of videos about why Northwest Battle Buddies was founded, why it’s so important, and about some of the veterans who have benefited. They *do* take donations if you’re not local or can’t foster, but I urge you – if you can foster a pup? Do so. Your heart will grow 3 sizes. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Cookbooks of Yore

So, part of this whole “leaving my husband” thing means that there is about 24 years worth of *stuff* to go through. Part of that means a WHOLE LOTTA BOOKS. And of those, a *lot* of them are cookbooks – including some that I got when my grandmother passed away. I can’t keep all of them, much as I might like to. So I’ve been setting aside the ones I want, and flipping through some of the others before I find homes for them.

And boy – people ate some weird stuff. Check out this recipe I found:

Um. Yum?

CHILI BEEF LIVER. Like…people actually ate this? And pay *very close* attention to the cooking instructions….

ON HIGH, it says. POWER LEVEL 7, it says. People. The authors of this cookbook EXPECTED PEOPLE TO COOK LIVER IN A MICROWAVE. Y’all…that’s just heinous. That is “cooking fish in the break room” kind of heinous. House would reek for *days*.

But just in case you’re interested in finding this classic and exploring its recipes for yourself? Get a load out of where it came from:

I HAVE QUESTIONS, Y’ALL. A *microwave cookbook* from JCPenney’s. Soon to be a relic of memory just like this book. Here’s just a small sampling of some of the other quality recipes in the cookbook:

  • Veal Cutlets Cordon Bleu
  • Potato Pork Dogs (with instant mashed potato flakes, natch)
  • Onion Cheese Pie
  • BAKED EGGS IN BOLOGNA (So much ew right here)
  • Broccoli Egg Divine (hollandaise sauce mix, broccoli, hard-cooked eggs, swiss cheese, bread crumbs, butter, and paprika, for the curious about how “divine” it truly is)

Truly a classic cookbook for the ages. Sadly, it’s one I won’t be able to keep. I just hope whoever ends up with it find they are much more excited about the recipes within than I am…

A strange thing about plagues…

Or any sort of disaster, really. There’s always ALWAYS a bright side. It might be remote, it might be something that you aren’t seeing, but it is rare that there isn’t a chance to see something positive when something terrible happens. In my case – weird as it may sound – it’s the impending separation and eventual divorce.

Now, I know there are people out there who are all “You should never get divorced after a traumatic experience like this!”. And in general? I would agree with them. But here’s the thing – this has been YEARS in the making. But going through the last year has actually been the thing I needed to gain the courage (or maybe just be fed up enough) to make the move.

I don’t intend to get into the so-called “salacious details” of all the problems. I will probably touch on them here and there, but while I’m leaving him – we still have kids together, and over 24 years as a couple. Dignity seems to be a four-letter word these days, what with “reality” tv all the rage. But – he’s the father of my kids. And he’s not a bad person, just not a good husband. So.

Having said *that* – here’s a little outline of why I suddenly realize I’m CAPABLE of going through with this. When covid hit? I had a job I enjoyed, working part-time at a local bookstore. His income paid for pretty much everything else. We did OK, able to pay for our daughter’s gymnastics, pay the bills, and so on. His job is a good one, and typically pretty crazy-proof. When covid hit, I got furloughed. So, I worked my other small business, and he kept working. Then he got furloughed too. We knew it was coming – warning in September, pretty serious in October. I got a full-time job starting first of October, and as of November 1, he wasn’t working.

The job I got, I will absolutely admit that I never even knew IT EXISTED. This was *not* my “dream job”. But it sounded interesting, it was in the healthcare field (which I have absolutely no background in), and I was qualified. Doesn’t hurt that it came recommended by a good friend. But then, working my first full-time job in more years than I care to admit? I found I *liked* it. I like it, and I’m damn *good* at it. I like getting those paychecks. I like doing my job. I like having that sense of independence. It’s been far too many years since I felt that way.

And here’s that silver lining: I found that, finally, I could envision in truth what my gut had been yelling at me about for years. That I could make the leap, and be ok. That maybe – just maybe – my future didn’t have to be the same as my past.

And so? Here we are. My blessing in a time when it seems strange to even say that such a thing exists. My hope, my happiness, and my future – so much of it was brought out by a plague. And while I don’t say this to discount the sadness and pain far too many others experienced, I do feel that acknowledging the positive things is what will help us move forward. This? It isn’t necessarily *happy*, but it IS positive. And I’ll take it.