House stuff is still on track (!!) but I keep oscillating between being incredibly excited and out-of-my-mind terrified.  So maybe I'll do some crowdsourcing here: for those of you who own, what's one thing you wished people had told you before you became a homeowner?  What's the stuff you HAVE to have, or do, or remember that it seems like no one ever talks about?  Are there any super secret tips that you had to figure out the hard way?  All horror stories with implicit lessons welcome!


I just finished reading Ready Player One, which I devoured in about two days.  If you are nerdy, a gamer, or feel at all nostalgic for the 80s, I cannot recommend this book highly enough.  If you're not any of those things... y'know, I'd still recommend it.  Hell, I barely remember the 80s, and I'm not much of a gamer, and I still loved every second of it.

Other fun things the internet has shown me lately:

- Since my whole life is in upheaval, I'm currently obsessed with Adulting and The Storage Geek.  Adulting, in particular.  Just... genius.

- Janice Hardy passed along the best plotting advice she's ever heard.  The advice from Cheryl Kline  stopped me in my tracks when I read it on her own blog, and then again when Janice mentioned it, so apparently it's good stuff.  Also, I have the memory of a goldfish.

- I stumbled across David Foster Wallace's 2005 Commencement Address to Kenyon College (excerpted nicely here).  I've always been a sucker for a good speech, but he said some things that resonated with me in that way that things tend to do when they hit you at exactly the right moment.  He was so clearly struggling, as I suppose he had been, and obviously continued to be, and the speech itself is raw with that struggle. The whole thing basically screams, "WAKE UP!"  And I love it.

But of course there are all different kinds of freedom, and the kind that is most precious you will not hear much talked about in the great outside world of winning and achieving and displaying. The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day.
That is real freedom.



Chris over at A Writer's Expanding and Slightly Warped Universe is regularly and deservedly lavished with awards from other bloggers, and he has been kind enough to pass along two of them to me.  (What he doesn't realize is that I'm mere seconds away from breaking out my Oscar speech.  What... you don't have one of those?)

First was the Liebster Award.

As Chris noted, "this is a blogging award that has been around for quite a while, and is passed on to 'new and upcoming' bloggers (those who have less than 200 followers), in order to give them more exposure."  The "rules" dictate that upon acceptance I pass this award along to 5 other blogs, which I'm thrilled to do.  So, some delightful people I think you should check out:

  1. Stephanie Scott over at A Girl and Her Diary, who blogs about writing and YA and TV and other fun things
  2. Lost Star at Many Steps Sideways, who writes about life and transitions and punctuates it all with lovely pictures
  3. Kern Windwraith at The Odd Particle [Re]View, who rocked A to Z even with a concussion, and, when she had to bow out toward the end, got by with a little help from her friends (one of my fave A to Z moments, actually)
  4. Amalie Berlin, who tells some of the funniest stories I've ever heard
  5. And finally, Iliad Fan at Story Gush, who blogs about the books you really should be reading

After that, Chris was sweet enough to grace me with the Kreativ Blogger Award.

The rules are: 
1. Thank and link back to the person who presented you with the award.

2. Answer the ten questions below.

3. Share ten random facts/thoughts about yourself.

4. Nominate seven worthy blogs for the Kreativ Blogger Award
As for number one, it's not difficult to encourage you all to head over to Chris' blog - not only is he one of the nicest guys on the block, but I'm always excited to see that he's posted.  His blog is just a fun place to hang out, y'know?  So go!  Go I say!  Go see for yourself!
 And now for the ten questions:

1. What is your favorite song?
Sha-whaaaaa?  I have no idea how to even begin to answer that question.
Okay.  Okay.  
After some serious iTunes perusing and some deep thinking about what songs I've come back to over and over and over again in my life, I think Ani DiFranco's Joyful Girl is probably my favorite song of all time.  It's quiet, gorgeous, and "The world owes me nothing, and we owe each other the world" was my senior quote.  It makes me think of all the people I love, and it has a lot of good reminders tucked away inside.  So there you have it.

(This actually isn't the version I was thinking of - this is the live version, but still beautiful.  Just scroll in about 35 seconds if you don't want to hear pre-song-chatter.)

2. What is your favorite dessert?

Chocolate.  Anything chocolate.  Preferably dark.

3. What ticks you off?

Stubbornness and an unwillingness to grow.  Pretentiousness.  Cruelty.  People who honk in traffic like it's going to make any of us move any faster.

4. When you're upset, what do you do?

Shut down, process alone, regroup, and try to respond thoughtfully once I've calmed down.  (I've found this is the only way I'm able to incorporate love and empathy into my response, which is my goal when I'm upset but trying to repair and move on.)

5. Which is/was your favorite pet?

Well, that question's just wrong.  I will say this: I have owned, in my lifetime, several cats, dogs, and fish, a ferret, a hedgehog, and a chameleon.  So, favorite?  Come on.  Apples and oranges, my friend.  Apples and oranges.

6. Which do you prefer to wear, black or white?

Black.  Mostly for the disguising of the spills.

7. What is your biggest fear?
The death of any of my family members.  And natural disasters/plagues that wipe out civilization as we know it.  (Uh huh.)

8. What is your attitude mostly?

Introverted, friendly, and loyal, with a dash of type-A OCD anxiety thrown in for good measure.

9. What is perfection?

10. What is your guilty pleasure?

Oh boy.  That would be, uh... *hangs head* Grey's Anatomy.  I just... I just love it.  (Go ahead and judge, but that show has colorblind casting, queer characters, and a whole lotta well-scripted twists, which is more than can be said for most everything else on TV.)  (Did that sound too defensive?  I just love it.)
Okay, now for 10 random things about me:
1. My Meyers-Briggs test puts me at an INFJ, and wow is it spot-on.
2. I'm kind of obsessed with the Neti Pot right now.  Allergies be gone!  (Yes, yes, brain-eating amoebas: use filtered water, folks.)
3. I can't draw.  Like, really.  Even my stick-figures are lopsided and misshapen.
4. I've never been out of the country.  I need to fix this soon.
5. I own a pair of these (and yes, people do give you weird looks).
6. I can recite all of the states in alphabetical order, really fast.  (Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas...)  It's my go-to talent show talent.  Shout out to my 9th grade civics teacher!
7. I wrote a poem in kindergarten about the headless horseman that ended "For he got away with a bat... for he got away with a bat." In the margins surrounding the poem, I drew a picture of a baseball bat as well as a flying-animal-bat. To this day, I have no idea what the hell my 5-year-old self was talking about.
8. I once fell forward onto a cactus, and had to pull out close to 50 long, thick needles from my legs. Also, I had gotten a terrible sunburn on my back earlier in the day, so… yea, it was a pretty bad day.
9.  I have never served on a jury, and now that I’m a lawyer, I’ll probably never be chosen for one. 
10.  I had to start wearing glasses in the 3rd grade.  I remember putting them on for the first time and being just so absolutely filled with wonder that trees had leaves, and grass was made of individual stems, and brick walls weren't just giant red slabs.  Everything was sharp, and in-focus.  Everything was new again.  I try and remember that moment every time I write.

Alright, now I'm supposed to nominate 7 people for this award.  But that's kind of a tall order at the moment, since my brain is melting.  So I'll just say this: chances are, if you read my blog (and comment, so I know you exist), I read your blog.  And I love all the blogs I read.  I could nominate every one of you.  SO, that's exactly what I'm doing.  I'm nominating you.  Thaaaat's right: YOU, there, reading this, right now.  Congrats!  You really do deserve it.  Now get to answering those questions!  :)


  1. Homeownership...well....there's all the yard equipment you need, the furnace, a/c and gas fp need to have annual servicing, you have to punch down the salt in the water softner regularly cause it tends to bridge if you don't...you always need a little money tucked away for those unexpected repairs....dehumidifiers are a must for the basement...I could go on but I won't.

    and...congratulations on the award.

    1. Water softener! THESE are the things no one says! :) Thank you, all of that is excellent advice. Now I'm on the hunt for a dehumidifier...

  2. Guidelines to home-owning? Here's an easy one: Budget more than you expect. For everything -- remodeling, repair, painting, whatever. Take your most outlandish worse-case expectation and add 10-15%.

    And, of course, the corollary: Plan on longer than you expect. Every one-day project will expand to at least two, and so-forth in an exponential ever-expanding time-vortex.

    But the good news is that those are really the only ones you ever need to worry about -- you have enough time and money and you can solve any and all issues related to home-ownership. ;^)

    But say you follow my advice and then find out later that you really didn't need to budget all that time and money? Then you'll be sitting on a nice little nest egg with lots of free time to spend it. Sounds like a win-win proposition to me. ;^)

    Also loved learning more about you, Jes! I'm convinced we're differently-aged twin siblings of different parents, lol! I'm also an INFJ, although I do drift into the INTJ depending on what test I take -- that's the one aspect I tend to be close to the middle on.

    1. So... get really rich, and find wrinkles in the time-space continuum. C'mon, you're making this sound easy, Chris. ;)

      I think it's awesome how much we have in common! INFJs 4EVA. (If you ask me, that's a knuckle tattoo waiting to happen...)

  3. I'm pretty sure I'm an ISFJ as well! And this might not be the BEST time to ask for my opinion on home ownership stuff seeing as I just dumped an unexpected ~$850 into fixing/appliance woes, but I agree with the first comment's dehumidifier recommendation. Also, look into whether or not your gas company has a monthly "protection plan." Mine offers 24/7 assistance with furnace, hot water heater, range, and dishwasher for $18/mo. I could've used that coverage over the weekend, but naturally, I didn't have it.

    Also, my old boss once told me that whatever you want to do in your house, do it in the first year you own it. If you don't, you'll just grow accustomed to the status quo and you'll never fix/change/redo it like you wanted. I thought he was silly and I dismissed his advice. 8 years later, I see how right he really was.

    And my MOST IMPORTANT piece of advice: do not have 2 chocolate martinis after work on a Friday in the summer, then return home and take a sledgehammer to your bathroom wall under the foolish guise of "redoing my bathroom" in one weekend. Biggest. Mistake. Ever.

    I'm not sure how close you are to family. I'm 700+ miles away and have found myself reconsidering how smart it was to buy so far from family.

    1. Thank you for the "monthly protection plan" advice!! I will *definitely* look into that. As for the chocolate martinis and impromptu remodeling... that is so something I'd do. Alcohol-induced projects never end well, sigh. (To be safe, I'd better just never keep a sledgehammer anywhere nearby.)

      Sadly, I'm not very close (geographically) to my family. It's a bummer, but they live in the south and I'm unwilling to live anywhere that my marriage wouldn't be recognized. They're pretty settled where they are, too. So, for now, we live a few hundred miles apart. But who knows what the future will bring...

  4. I loved 'Ready Player One!' It was a pretty thick book but went down way easy.

    Congratulations on all the awards -- well deserved! So sorry about the cactus ... !

    1. I didn't think I'd love it as much as I did, but it was great, wasn't it? And thank you. :) As for the cactus, well... chalk it up to experience. Painful, pointy experience.

    2. 'Painful, pointy experience.'

      I'm not supposed to chuckle at that, am I?

      And yes, RPO was great in that, who cares about anything except that I am loving reading this and can't wait until I can sprawl on the easy chair with it, again way. :)

  5. Hi Jessica, first time visitor and follower here. And I picked a perfect time to stop by and really get to know you.

    1. Hi Stephen! Thanks for stopping by! Yeah, you really couldn't have planned that better. Heading over to your blog now... :)

  6. Thanks for the tip on READY PLAYER ONE - it sounds perfect for me, and the paperback comes out next week - sweet!

    Thanks also for the Janice Hardy tip - I used to be a regular there, but I couldn't keep up with all her posts. And they're all good!

    Bookmarked the other two sites, and I got a live version of "Joyful Girl" with the Doc Severinsen Orchestra I'll send you.

    And thanks for the award, too! I'll have to start a blog so I have somewhere to hang it.

    Sincerely, a fellow INFJ OCD who's been only to Canada and who plans to one day watch of all of "Grey's Anatomy." :-)

    1. Let me know what you think of it after you read it!!

      (And yes, Janice Hardy rocks. Prolifically.)

      I wonder if INFJs are predisposed to write...? There seem to be several of us floating around.

      Also: the day you start a blog will be a *really* exciting day for me. Not kidding. :)

  7. Thanks for passing on the Leibster; I've done it before and I think I'll pass this time, but THANK YOU!

    I'll have to check out Ready Player One. Also, Janice Hardy has such a great blog, I've learned a lot about writing and editing from reading it. Those ideas for how to extract conflict are super helpful. I just finished "Save the Cat" about screenwriting, but I'd seen it recommended by many fiction writers. Same kind of concept there. Plotting is something I definitely need to work on. Thanks for the link!

    1. I've heard such good things about Save the Cat - probably time to read it, though I have used the plotting sheet before and found it really helpful (even for this pantser). Good to hear you enjoyed it! I'll have to check it out.

  8. And just when you thought you couldn't get more awards --

    I've given you TWO new ones: The "Stylish Blogger" award and a "Versatile Blogger" award. Check out my blog for the scoop...

    Hope you don't mind, but if I get one, guess who's going to get it too? ;^)

    1. Wow, thanks Chris! My cup runneth over - well, actually, YOUR cup runneth over, and then it keeps dripping down into my cup, but I'll take it. ;)

  9. Stopping in to pass on a Versatile Blogger Award and a Lucky 7 Meme. Love your blog!


  10. Congrats Jessica! "Disguising of the spills." LOL

  11. Congrats on the award and the house! I would definitely say to buy a good vacuum, something that will last a long time. Some things you don't want to skimp on...vacuum, mattress Lawn mower and a drill! These are all things you'll use too much to not get something that will always work as you need them to.

    1. Ooh, EXCELLENT point about the stuff you shouldn't skimp on. My house has mostly hardwood floors so maybe I can hang onto my crappy vacuum for now, but lawn mower and drill - wouldn't really have thought too much about those, but you're so right. And mattress for sure. You spend half your life on those things! :) Thanks for the advice!