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Spring Into a Beer Before Dawn

Back to basics! On St. Patrick's Day, my husband and I and our best party friend Esperanza (maybe, LOL) will meet up at 7:00 a.m. for our old Irish-American tradition of pre-dawn breakfast and beer. We haven't kept up with this tradition after moving out of our downtown apartment (near a lot of bars and taverns) years ago, and we certainly haven't celebrated this way since our daughter was born. But this year, she's eight, and that's a fun age.

Mama will be the DD (I never finish a beer anyway), and our daughter will have gelato with her breakfast instead of beer. We'll celebrate at the massive, rustic grocery store down the street, which has grown into something like a redneck / hipster mall where you can get Guinness on tap at 7:00 a.m., unfettered access to a free coffee bar, free cheese and wine and beer samples, sometimes live music, and hot deals on fruits, vegetables, and bulk dried legumes.

I am also looking forward to purchasing some kind of multi-pur…
Recent posts

Fat Tuesday Flu

I need one of those masks to get through this whole week without scaring anyone. Not because I'm hungover from Fat Tuesday but because I caught a chain of viruses culminating in this year's nastiest flu strain.

But it's okay that I missed the Lenten kickoff revelries. I don't do Lent anymore. I think the only people who really need to give up their favorite things right about now are child molesting priests.

This season, I'm celebrating Girl Scout cookies. Happy Trefoils! Merry Momoas!

Recessionista Genie aka Genie of the Shell, 10 Years Earlier and Later

10 years ago, I started the Magic Nutshell as a blog for the "poor and fabulous." It was a bit like the Mr. Money Mustache brand for people without rich parents. My blog didn't earn money or become famous. It was, however, gloriously silly, so there's that. Over the past 10 years, I've become un-poor and evolved the Magic Nutshell into a catalogue of the thoughts of an aspiring novelist. It is has become a blog for the "bougie and prosaic" during a strange time for our country, when the middle class and normalcy are both endangered.



Now in my 30s, I've made it to a comfortable place in my life, not by investing money so much as investing thought, practice, and pride into the originally imagined American Dream, which financial advice website The Balance paraphrases as "equal opportunity to pursue a personal vision." That's a lot broader, and a lot different, than pursuing wealth and fame to keep up with the Joneses. Or the Kardashians. …

Laying Down My Should-Shield to Follow a Could

There is a contrary wisdom in the opposite of Jeff Goldblum's famous quote from Jurassic Park: "Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn't stop to think if they should." 

"What should I do?" is a perfectly useful question to ask in a life-or-death situation involving dangerous megafauna on the loose. The classic fight-or-flight response primes our bodies and minds and helps us narrow our focus to a brief set of options so we can answer that question with immediate action.

This response is rarely helpful in the context of contemporary, real-life stressors such as writer's block or weather that might ruin weekend plans.

Like this bombogenesis thing coming at Michigan right now.

This week, the afterglow of my family vacation to Florida has worn off, and we are facing down a fresh hell called "bombogenesis" (a "weather bomb" or rapidly intensifying sh**storm) which is affecting weekend plans, moods, bo…

The Afterglow in the Vortex

A polar vortex is a BIG MOOD, isn't it? A week after our return from the subtropics, I'm trying to draw out the sun-doping afterglow long enough to use it to refresh my creative work--and my regular day job work, and life in general.

When I go away for a long time, I always hope that problems I left undone in my wake will have been resolved or at least forgotten by the time I get back. Usually, that is the case. The stuff we stress about when we're due for a break is often way less important than we think it is before we regain our perspective.

This time, though, hmmmm. I left in a polar vortex storm and came back in another one. And then survived another one. My daughter has now had 11 snow days, and they aren't all for the quantities of snow so much as icy, windy conditions and the sort of cold that seasoned Michiganders are describing as "offensive" and "insulting."

At work, my comrades are hang-dog weary. The bad moods I left behind in my nonpr…

Snowbirds, Snow Leopards, and Other Exotic Beasts

It's February! How are your New Year's resolutions holding up? I am slaying my goal to BE BESTIAL, and it is making me feel like a natural woman.

When the record-shattering Midwest polar vortex struck during the record-smashing government shutdown, instead of going into hibernation mode as we would normally do, this time my family took a harrowing chance on migration--and we made it! And sweet baby Zeus, it was satisfying. We took the snowbird route from Michigan to Florida, traveling with my parents and brother to visit my mother-in-law (Nonna) in Pasco County. Nonna is no longer a snowbird, having settled permanently in the Sunshine State; she has now evolved into a snow leopard (explanation to follow below).

The timing of our trip could not have been better. We slipped out and back into Michigan right between two catastrophic winter storms and two government shutdowns, and we managed to take a long vacation during the school year with no more than two absences on record f…

Yeet Me Into the Sun

I don't know exactly what "yeet me into the sun" means, but my daughter and her friends think it sounds hilarious, so they say it just to hear each other giggle. They also laugh at buzzwords that are familiar to me from my work in social justice and my own personal healing--like "anxiety" and "triggered"--not in a mean way but in a cleverly playful way, which I think is healthy and gives me hope for the kids these days. So yeet me into the sun that my triggers and anxiety may be pwned.


I am looking forward to taking a break from both my day job and my creative work-in-progress to spend some quality time with my daughter and other family. We are going someplace sunny during this brutally cold time in the Midwest. And it's not just the weather I'm talking about.

Social justice is the Lord's work if there is any, but damn if it isn't hard. Hateful, ignorant people are the easy part. They can be ignored, dismissed, deleted, blocked, or ask…