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NaNoWriMo: How It Started vs. How It's Going (Not Today, Santa!)

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Happy Thanksgiving 2020! Scroll down to the bottom for a turkey bone broth recipe, or keep reading for a dramatic story of despair and redemption. Choose your own adventure! Allora. Those of us with survival instincts are locked down in our own homes this holiday season with no guests, and some intrepid aspiring novelists have taken advantage of this fall's pandemic isolation to try for a NaNoWriMo win. To all you crazy kids who have already certified your 50,000 words so that you can relax on this day of joyful gluttony, congratulations, winners! I am not one of you. Not this year, anyway. When I wrote the blog post below (originally entitled "Final NaNoWriMo Weekend Squeeze,") life was extremely different. I was a wildly busy, messily eager, child-free young adult who didn't let a little thing like a holiday slow me down in my race to become a WINNER WINNER TURKEY DINNER.  So what did I win, exactly? To put it simply, I received a near-delusional shot of confidence

$Monday: The Life-Preserving Magic of Hunkering Down

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Here I am trying to show off the new silver streak in my hair that matches all my cozy gray loungewear. There's no banishing the gray this year--the hair, the clouds gathering outside, the moods of quarantine, the mental fog--so we might as well embrace it with as much warmth and compassion as we can. In a dreadful and lonely time, my anxiety tells me I need to get out and do more, to do people favors, to keep someone company, to reach out, to find a change of scene, to earn more money in case of financial disaster, but my rational mind knows that the most helpful thing I can do for my family and community during a pandemic is to hunker down.  Settle in, simmer down, think small and simple and safe. Make smart, long-term investments of time, attention, energy, and resources for the next year. This is not the season to hustle and produce more, it’s time to wait patiently and conserve. The best most of us can do right now is damage control. A pandemic is no time for big risks or gamb

TBT: Thrift Shopping

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During a recession, sales of secondhand clothing go boom ! I wrote the post below during the last recession, way back when I went thrift shopping at brick-and-mortar resale shops, for fun, every new season. Ha! This new recession is different for a couple of reasons. One is that fashion is kind of irrelevant while those of us with functioning survival instincts are all staying at home. Shoes? Handbags? Why? The only accessories that matter at all are things you can see on a Zoom call, like earrings, and pandemic face masks that are fun enough to distract from the horrors of why we must wear them every time we leave home now. The second major difference is the rise of options for buying secondhand fashions online. Personally, I'm not in the market for new clothes at this time. I've fully embraced bog witch style , which is pretty much freegan meets Professor Trelawney for drinks, but if you must purchase new fashion items at this time, I recommend virtually pawing through second

$Monday: A Room of Her Own (Pandemic Tween Bedroom Makeover)

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Before the pandemic struck, my family had planned to use every last bit of our spare time and cash in 2020 on badly needed updates to our deteriorating kitchen and main bathroom. We were going to start the work in the spring or summer, when we could have windows open for ventilation (just for the dust and fumes! ha!), and then the pandemic came along and shifted our priorities. We spent part of our stimulus check on an electric log splitter, a new fridge and dishwasher to replace our breaking-down old ones, and one professional plumbing fix. We postponed all cosmetic and non-emergency kitchen and bath work, made ourselves a temporary pantry in a torn-out hole in our kitchen, and invested the rest of our renovation funds (and my year's worth of vacation time) into a bedroom makeover for our nine-year-old daughter. The pandemic made it less important (because we aren't having guests inside the house) and more dangerous (because of the likely need to bring in professionals) to co

TBT: The Magic of Essential Oils

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Oh essential oils, beloved friend of loopy-goopy women of my own demographic marketing cohort, along with magic crystals, mystic doulas, organic pesticides, multi-level-marketed leggings, anything labeled as "herbal supplements," and alternatives to vaccination. The essential oil craze is something that has a basis in scientifically verifiable reality but has been endowed with magical, holy, pseudo-scientific properties for marketing purposes. I bought into it wholeheartedly before I learned that not all that crunches is harmless. All too often, legitimate fears based in reality (of toxic chemicals, unnecessary medical interventions, pharmaceutical side effects, etc.) are stoked to induce women like me to jump from the frying pan and into the fire of an "alternative" that may be at least as harmful as what it is supposedly protecting me and my family from. I still use certain essential oils for cleaning and other purposes, and I think everything I've stated in t

$Monday: Grant Her Your Clearness of Sight

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If you have a daughter, you may recognize this excerpt from Neil Gaiman's picture book Blueberry Girl .  Ladies of grace and ladies of favor and ladies of merciful night, This is a prayer for a blueberry girl. Grant her your clearness of sight. Words can be worrisome, people complex, motives and manners unclear, Grant her the wisdom to choose her path right, free from unkindness and fear.  This week, I took my daughter to the optometrist for her annual new pair of glasses. Unfortunately, she has inherited my severe myopia. Fortunately, she has access to comprehensive vision care , which has a huge return on investment (ROI) across the lifespan, allowing her to succeed academically. (America, maybe soon we can finally achieve comprehensive health, vision, and dental care for all children!) While I never would have chosen for my daughter to inherit my nearsightedness, there are always unique experiences available to those who perceive the world differently. My daughter receives the a

TBT: Miss Moppet and Her Upwardly Mobile Home

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In a pandemic, mobile homes have some advantages over apartments in multi-unit buildings: it's easier to stay safe from disease transmission when you don't need to share entrances and common spaces with people outside of your household, and in many cases you can find more peace and quiet for working from home when you don't share walls with others. There are also disadvantages to mobile homes: more expensive and unreliable heating and cooling as well as challenges with maintaining and replacing trailer-specific appliances and fixtures. In both mobile home parks and apartment buildings, there is a rising risk of exploitation by unscrupulous landlords, ironically causing ostensibly cheap housing to cost renters more in the long run and push dreams of home ownership even farther out of reach. Cheaply rented living spaces are not ideal long-term housing situations for most people, but hey! 2020 is not the year when we can expect everything to be ideal. Transitional housing can