Monday Minutiae – 01.18.2021

Spiral Instruction

Do you ever just get tired of yourself? I don’t mean in the serious, mental health concern way, but rather you pause and think, “I am in a rut, not a groove.” Like many, I have certainly been struggling with this whole pandemic thing and at the beginning, which is now eleventy billion years ago, I was ready to go with it and make it all work. And then it kept going.

And going.

And going.

And going.

Cue “Big Sigh.” So, I tell myself, “Okay, time to change things up!” (again) and at this point I balk a little at the work entailed in continuing to be creative, and yet it is also in my nature to keep doing it, even if at a much slower pace right now. Here’s what I’m trying right now: returning to knitting, returning to this blog to keep me from staying inside my head too much, returning to writing (eventually) something new, changing up the exercise/movement routines, tackling house projects that everyone else in the world tackled ten months ago. Do you see the pattern of “returning” included with the new? Everything is a cycle.

Plus, I’m remembering the vaccine is coming. We have a long way to go ahead of this, but the proverbial light at the end is finally visible.

What about you? What are you doing to get over yet more hurdles during this time?

Language Elective

I started reading Fredrik Backman’s latest, Anxious People and both the writer AND language instructor in me got a kick out of a couple of early lines.

"Okeydokey!" the real estate agent chirrups, as if that were a real Swedish word.

Backman’s books are originally published in his native language of Swedish, so as I read this translated copy, I wonder, did Backman truly write “okeydokey” in English, and thus the translation above is quite literal? Or was there some other nonsense word in there instead?

And then there’s this:

"It's called House Tricks! Get it? Because when you buy an apartment, you want to buy from someone who knows all the tricks, don't you? So when I answer the phone, I say: Hello, you've reached the House Tricks Real Estate Agency! HOW'S TRICKS?"

This translation of the real estate agency is based upon a play on words. Did the translator have to come up with something completely different than what the Swedish version was? And if so, how difficult was that to do?

I did some digging to see if I could find out. So far, I’ve not found an answer, but I did find this fun interview of Neil Smith about translating literature in general and what I most appreciated was this: “Capturing the tone of a book is simultaneously the most difficult and the most rewarding part of the job: once you’ve nailed that, the rest flows fairly naturally.” So many great bits in the interview, I highly encourage you to check it out.

Test Prep

Are you curious about the publishing journey? About the process behind what authors do once their book is on the verge of getting out in the world and into readers’ hands? Author and avid reader/podcaster Zibby Owens has a really great post that highlights many things the average reader might not know. (h/t Kathleen West)

Currently Reading (print): Anxious People (A) -Fredrik Backman

Currently Reading (audio): The Sound of Stars (YA) – Alechia Dow

Song of the Week:

I’m going with hope this week, even though I have a bit of nervousness, too.

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Monday Minutiae – 01.04.2021

Reflection Journal

I think it goes without saying that 2020 had a lot of tough moments-hours-days-months. My family has been extraordinarily lucky in that we all still have our jobs and have been Covid-free (as far as we know), and that in itself is a huge win. The start of the school year was the roughest one I’ve ever had (and I’m not even a classroom teacher anymore, so go figure THAT) and while I still love my job, it’s more exhausting than usual and harder to step back, even when that is exactly what I need to do sometimes. The plus side, though, is I work with a great team. On occasion I wonder how I would do if I were still teaching vs. doing tech support and I think I’d be okay. I have a wealth of varying educational experiences in my background (including online teaching) which would help ease some of the continual changes and transitions this school year continues to bring.

Personally, I cycle through the pockets of joy and pits of despair a little quicker than I used to, but the key has been to remind myself the cycle will continue. I try to focus on the wins: I finished another manuscript this past year. I have ideas for another. We have new, better leadership ahead. Great books continue to get published and I get to read them. 😀 We have a vaccine.

Learning Objective

My one-word resolution last year was FLOW. On retrospect, what a prescient choice it was! I wrote last year, “I’m leaning into my personal motto of “It’ll all work out” and allowing myself the slower transition to some professional changes and taking deep breaths as I prepare to query my latest novel.” As the year turned into something few of us could have predicted, I know I made conscious choices to truly let myself flow with it all. It’s not like it was always easy, but I think I did well with it. This year I considered “resilience”, but I think a more accurate resolution is ELASTICITY. On the one hand, one definition is the ability to resume an original shape after being stretched, but the second definition given is the one I most want to zero in on: “ability to change and adapt”. Honestly, I pride myself on already being able to do this, but as I look ahead at some personal challenges I have for myself, I foresee needing an elasticity beyond what I’ve had. Bring it, 2021.

Reading Minutes

What would my first post of the calendar year be if I didn’t reflect upon my reading goals? And no, I don’t set a number of books to read as a goal because A) stressful and B) I don’t need a goal to keep me reading. (No criticism of those who have a goal of # of books! It’s just not for me!) Instead, I’ve been continually trying to increase the percentage of books I read to be from #ownvoices – ie: authors from underrepresented populations and writing of their own lived experiences.

2018: 45% of books I read were #ownvoices

2019: 46% of books I read were #ownvoices

2020: 57% of books I read were #ownvoices

I’m really proud of my progress. I don’t really have a goal percentage, but higher is always better! The best part, though, is I read so many truly great books, which is really the whole point, of course.

National Standards

Here are some of my top reads of 2020:


On Earth We Are Briefly Gorgeous – Ocean Vuong

Loathe at First Sight – Suzanne Park

Such a Fun Age – Kiley Reid

Love Lettering – Kate Clayborn

The Mountains Sing – Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai

Salvage the Bones – Jesmyn Ward

The Vanishing Half – Brit Bennett

All the Devils Are Here – Louise Penny

You Had Me at Hola – Alexis Daria

Get a Life, Chloe Brown – Talia Hibbert

The City We Became – N.K. Jemison


Like a Love Story – Abdi Nazemian

Picture Us in the Light – Kelly Loy Gilbert

Punching the Air – Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam


A Good Kind of Trouble – Lisa Moore Ramée

Continuing Education

If you are active on Instagram, or would like to be, I have some recommendations!

For racial and social justice, I have found great value in the following accounts. They tell it straight and keep me on top of news and awareness:





I tried to get into yoga, but wasn’t successful. I did, however, hang onto this great account. She posts like crazy, but also, the posts are super body-affirming:


Writers! These particular ones are delving into some great IGTV series about writing, books, and motivation:






Currently Reading (print): A Thousand Questions (MG)– Saadia Faruqi

Currently Reading (audio): When Dimple Met Rishi (YA)– Sandhya Menon

Song of the Week:

It’s a new year, hopefully a better one. Let’s go with “Good Things” by the Bodeans

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Ad Hoc Pandemic Post 22

Number of times a tech support request came in and I just sat and stared at it blankly: 4

Sometimes I’ll get a question like, “My phone sometimes makes a weird sound” or “Why isn’t GridView working?” or “How do I make the Google ‘Message sent’ alerts go away forever?” And I just want to say, “I don’t know” and “Send”. But because I like the “Message sent UNDO X” Google alerts at the bottom of my email screen (seriously, who doesn’t? I don’t get it), I hit “UNDO” and give a different answer. Except for Grid View. Seriously, folks, I have no idea why Grid View doesn’t always work. I didn’t write the script for that nifty little extension.

I felt this tweet especially keenly, as one who hasn’t written in a month and am not sure how to start up again:

But I guess I can always transfer the writing skills to the grocery store adventure (h/t Annee Brizo):

Tell me, how many of you could get a daily blackout on this (h/t Kimberly Morain)?:

And finally, thanks to Jamey Vavra for finding this song for me. You all know I love the pandemic parodies/originals. It’s not a tuba, but still features some low brass and quite catchy. I love it:

Be well. Find joy and laughter when you can.

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Ad Hoc Pandemic Post 21

Number of times I said, “this snow is stupid” in the past three days: 17

I did a thing, and I want to post it, but it will violate copyright and I don’t really want to get a take-down order or have my blog banned or blocked anywhere, so y’all are just going to have to take my word for it that the staff I work with sent in bunches of AWESOME clips to make a lip-sync video of PANIC! At The Disco’s “High Hopes” and it turned out great! Here’s a link to the offical video so you can listen to it in the background while you scan the rest of this post. 🙂

In case you thought I didn’t really follow Nick Heath and his #LifeCommentary #LiveCommentary feed, you are mistaken. He’s posted a few fun ones lately and this one came through today:

He posts them on FB, too, if you aren’t a Twitter user. And probably Instagram.

My friend Sharon posted this fun book-spine-title-story about being in quarantine:

Youngest Child and I decided to make a few mini-stories/poems of our own (it IS National Poetry Month after all). Here’s what we came up with. I’d love to see some of YOURS!

I knew holding on to all of these books would come in handy.

BTW, one good thing that has come from all this mess right now is that people are trying harder to connect in ways they haven’t before. My family near and far met in Zoom tonight for a get-together. Would we have made that extra effort to do this in the past, even though the technology has existed long before now? We hadn’t, so I guess not. Unintended consequences aren’t always bad. It was great to get together with them and laugh.

Be well. And may you find laughter when you can.

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