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What Your School Supplies Say About You

by Mel

I am rerunning this post from a long time ago because we just bought school supplies. The kids and I were talking about decorating binders, and I told them I had vague memories of once writing a post about it. So rather than write this whole damn thing again, I’m running it mostly in full. Because it still holds true: Your binder is like your face; it is the face of your school supplies .

We just completed school supply shopping; that frantic scramble through the office supply store for reinforcements and lined paper. We have our highlighters and sharpened pencils. I nixed the ChickieNob getting a second stapler as a friend for her first stapler.

As we walked through the aisle, we talked about one of the sole joys of school: decorating your binder*.

There is a science to this. I always wanted a solid coloured one (vs. one with a picture) — so I could write all over it in Sharpie. (I also wrote all over my Keds with ballpoint pen, starting with that rubbery ridge around the side of the shoe and slowly moving onto the canvas when I ran out of space.)

I usually started planning out my binder decorations in the summer. All binder decorations began with a solid base of a 50/50 split between inside jokes with friends (you know, the sort that you hoped someone in class would read on your binder and wonder what it meant and just how much fun you must be to write such crazy, amusing things) and song lyrics. If you planned early enough, before anyone had touched pen to Trapper Keeper plastic, you could coordinate the inside jokes across your binders. The same went for song lyrics. You didn’t want to have the same song lyrics — that would be stupid. But it was nice to have similar song lyrics. Such as two different Violent Femmes songs. Or maybe I’d go with The Smiths and another person would go with The Cure.

You never never never wrote the name of someone you were dating on your binder because (1) your parents wouldn’t buy you a new one if you broke up and you’d be stuck looking at that person’s name all year and (2) even if your parents were crazy enough to buy you a new binder because they felt sorry for you, you’d have to redo all of the song lyrics and inside jokes. So no names of boyfriends/girlfriends.

The other rule of the binder was that you never wrote on someone else’s binder. Writing on their pink rubber eraser — totally within the boundaries of decency. But never on their binder. Your binder was like your face; it was the face of your school supplies. (Secondary only to the paper bag book covers our mothers made for our textbooks which were also decorated within an inch of their life. I cannot even explain the horror of the year my mother purchased book covers instead of folding them out of old grocery store bags. The paper was glossy and everything smeared.)

No one wanted to save their binder because so much changed over the summer. The inside jokes changed. New songs were released. You saw movies and wanted to write a new list of actors and actresses names on the inner flap. Who knows what will be binder-worthy this year? It’s been a long summer.

How did you decorate your school binder/book covers/locker when you were little ?

* The twins didn’t laugh at all when I pointed to the wall of three-ringed binders and said, “These must be the binders full of women.” I thought it was pretty funny.  I mean, it wouldn’t have been funny if I had said it in 2012.  But circling back to it in 2015?  That should have won me a snicker.

Side note: Tomorrow is #MicroblogMonday.  Get writing !

559th Friday Blog Roundup

by Mel

So the veterinarian extended the antibiotics last week, but we needed to take a trip.  I mentioned that this was going to be a problem and she stared at me blankly.  “Cancel the trip,” she said.

“Well, I can’t cancel the trip,” I began.

“What were you going to do with him while you were away?” she questioned.

I cocked my head to the side like I was sure there was a right answer to this question and I was not about to give it.  “Um… I was going to leave him for the night.  With food.  And water.  I’ve always heard that it was okay to leave a guinea pig alone for a night.”

The vet just stared at me without speaking.

She finally looked away.  “You’re going to have to get someone to give him the medicine, or you’re going to have to take him with you.”

We took him with us.  Truman is not the biggest fan of long road trips.  He attacked his nemesis, water bottle. taking a running leap at him and batting at it with his little paws.  He would tug it with his mouth and slam it into the wall of his cage.  He took out all of his fear out on water bottle.  We’ve taken to calling it his Moriarty.

He was pretty confused the whole trip.  He especially hated hearing a toilet flush for some reason.  It would cause him to go back to beating up Moriarty.

But you have never seen a happier animal than Truman when we set him back down in the living room at the end of the trip.  He was so happy that he ran around in a circle, wheeking.  It took him about 5 minutes to calm down and eat the lettuce we gave him.

I love my happy boy, even when he gets totally curious and pushes his nose into the camera.


The best part about the road trip?  I got to see Justine .  We drank coffee and walked around her town which has a haunted hotel (which makes it cooler than a regular town) and found one of the keys of Fillory in an antique store.

Her daughter is an awesome photographer.

Even when we start to fall out of the frame.


Stop procrastinating.  Go make your backups.  Don’t have regrets.

Seriously.  Stop what you’re doing for a moment.  It will take you fifteen minutes, tops.  But you will have peace of mind for days and days.  It’s the gift to yourself that keeps on giving.

As always, add any new thoughts to the Friday Backup post and peruse new comments in order to find out about methods, plug-ins, and devices that help you quickly back up your data and accounts.


And now the blogs…

But first, second helpings of the posts that appeared in the open comment thread last week.  In order to read the description before clicking over, please return to the open thread :

Okay, now my choices this week.

Gypsy Mama’s Family has a post about going back to work .  It has a great opening thought, “Not much work-related has changed in my absence, but being back has made me realize just how much I’ve changed .”  I just loved this post because you can hear the peace of heart in all of her words.

The Empress and the Fool has a heartstopping post about scattering her son’s ashes .  This line made me hold my breath: “It’s easy to be overcome by a sense of infinity in Montauk, its wild and wind-blown vastness: one understands how it earned its moniker, “The End.” He lives here now, body and spirit mingling in the silt and current, unshackled and omnipresent .”  Please go read the whole, gorgeous post and help her hold the memory of her son.

Lavender Luz has a post about the new book, G-d and Jetfire. about open adoption .  It’s an interesting piece putting open adoption on trial, though she points out that she needs to stop the trial analogy because it doesn’t work even though people often want to see things as black-and-white.  It’s a very interesting, thoughtful take on an emotional issue.

Grumpy Rumblings has a post about perfection coming in the form of Internet trends.  For instance, KonMari method circles through the Internet, and suddenly the measuring stick is how well you tidy up.  She writes, “It’s great to try these things out, but if they don’t bring the solutions you were looking for, that doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you .”  It’s a nice balance to the cheerleading out there.

Lastly, Something Remarkable has a series of posts about a book that seems to be making its way through the blogosphere: I Know How She Does It .  She writes the first post in 5-minute chunks, showing exactly how she puts the advice into action.  She writes, “We’ve now entered the third 5-chunk of time in which I’ve written this post, which is one of Vanderkam’s strategies… making use of the ‘time confetti’ and smaller moments .”  I’ve been interested in the book, but sort of more interested in the discussion I’m seeing on it.

The roundup to the Roundup. Truman came on our road trip.  I got to see Justine.  Your weekly backup nudge.  And lots of great posts to

read.  So what did you find this week?  Please use a permalink to the blog post (written between August 14th and 21st) and not the blog’s main url. Not understanding why I’m asking you what you found this week?  Read the original open thread post here .

The Terrible Truth and the Wonderful Lie

by Mel

Oh damn you, Bio Girl. you and your book recommendations .  I finally got to check I’ll Give You the Sun out of the library and spent a weepy week with it.  It’s a good book.  You can see the twists coming from many miles away but that doesn’t make the book any less enjoyable.

The book is about twins who are best friends at 13 and not speaking by 16, and you learn what drove them apart.  I got the sense that the author both knew twins and that she has never spent real time with twins.  These twins were like the John Green equivalent of twins.  You know how John Green teenagers both act like teenagers and nothing like teenagers at the same time?  These twins were like twins and nothing like twins at the same time.

And that is not a criticism.  If I want real twins, I can walk into the kitchen.  If I want real teenagers, I can call my niece.  Most of the time, when I am turning to a book, I don’t want reality reflected back at me perfectly.  I want a little hyperbole so I can notice things in my own life.

Anyway, a small fear I have — in the back of my heart — is that my twins will one day grow apart.  I believe it is possible and I don’t believe it is possible.  They have always been each other’s best friend, and that continues to this day even as they gravitate towards people outside the family.  But I also know that relationships change.  They wax and wane.  Maybe one day they will grow apart.  Or maybe they won’t.  In any case, I told them the plot line, they collectively rolled their eyes and informed me that they would never destroy their relationship and did I know fact from fiction, Mum?

Um… yes.  I was just checking.

I’m a little sensitive with twin-themed books.

Anyway, there were three passages I noted in the book that I will turn over to you for discussion.  None of three actually require you to read the book.  They’re just questions the text raised inside my brain.  The first and third sort of loop together, but I think I’ll ask these questions separately so I can see how I want to phrase the last one after I see the answers to the first.

So here’s the first question:

Would you rather unknowingly have your life be a terrible truth or a wonderful lie ?  Meaning, you would never know that your life was a lie; there would be no horrible moment of knowledge.  So with that fact in mind, would you rather unknowingly have your life be a terrible truth or a wonderful lie?

Does It Bring You Joy?

by Mel

I read a post on SheWrites that resonated with me a lot.  Emily Lackey applied the ideas in The Life-Changing Power of Tidying Up to social media.  She asked a simple question: did it bring her joy?  Facebook itself didn’t make the cut.  Twitter was cleaned up to a manageable size; a feed that made her feel happy when she looked at it instead of like crap about her own life.

I loved the idea until I went to apply it to my life.

The reality is that there are a lot of things I read each day that don’t make me happy.  They definitely don’t bring me joy, and on many occasions, they make me downright frustrated.  They make me feel like crap about myself.  But the thing was, there wasn’t a single blog or person that I encounter that does that 100% of the time.

There was no one to unfollow, no blog to delete from my feed, no site that I needed to stop visiting.  Unlike the simplicity of the KonMari method where a shirt is either worn or not worn, blogs and social media feeds were much harder to cull because sometimes they fit me and sometimes they don’t.

I agree with Lackey that mental clutter is detrimental to our well-being just as much as physical clutter, but I still couldn’t see anything or anyone to cut.  Not when I knew that every single story that I follow is valuable to me in some way.

Here’s the thing, I went to a reading last week for two authors.  They’re married and sometimes work together, but mostly work apart.  I’m not going to name them because… well… this story isn’t really about them .

Anyway, one of the authors is wildly popular and the line to get him to sign books looped around the whole room.  Admittedly, we were there for him, too.  But his wife turned out to be the more interesting speaker with the more interesting book.  She had a much much much shorter line, and many times she was left at the table with nothing to do except smile at the people in line to see her husband.  We ended up going out in the hall to buy her book and got back in line to have her sign it.

As we stood there, I noticed something.  The first writer had exuberant fans who were clearly happy to get a chance to see him.  They walked out of the room in droves, clutching their signed books and looking pretty damn happy.  But the second writer had thoughtful fans who were clearly moved to get a chance to see her.  People lingered in front of her for a long time, sometimes very emotional, telling her their own similar story.  It was a smaller group who walked out of the room clutching her book, but they also looked deeply at peace; like they had plugged into something that recharged them and focused them and connected them to something larger than themselves.

If you only look at the numbers, the first writer is the more successful writer.  But if you drop the numbers, if you don’t look at success as checking off boxes, the second writer was clearly the one that stuck to people’s hearts.  No small feat.

It was what I thought about when I tried to declutter my lists and sites I visit.  The person clearly got rid of the people she sees to be first author types — wildly successful so they make her feel sad in comparison — and kept the second author types — people she loves connecting with.  And that is certainly one way to do it.

But I thought about it this way: what if that wife stopped writing because she saw her husband was so successful that it didn’t feel worth it in comparison?  Then all those people wouldn’t have gotten to have their moment with her at the table; her book wouldn’t have come out.

Instead, she sat there and smiled at his success, and enjoyed her own, smaller version, which turned out to be equally if not more important.

I don’t know the point of all of this except to say that I couldn’t cut one site or person out of my reading list.  And that success comes in many different forms if we’re willing to be open minded.  And for some reason, the story of the reading popped into my head the moment I tried to cull my lists to only people who make me happy.

Do you think you can apply the KonMari method to social media ?

#MicroblogMondays 51: Turn it Off

by Mel

Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is? Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too .


I was listening to a recent Nerdist episode with Andy Samberg. and they touched on being tried in the Twitter court of public opinion.  Even as a sketch is unfolding, people are tweeting their opinions of it, and it influences the performer’s… self-esteem?  Work?  Future projects?  All of the above?

Who wants to be creative when creativity can bite you in the ass?

Anyway, Samberg admits that when he hosted SNL, he simply didn’t go online for a bit.  And Chris counters that doing so (shutting out that court of public opinion) shows how much we do have control over how we perceive our reality.  We can tune other people out simply by not going online.

Easier said than done.

If you knew there was a post written about you, could you stop yourself from reading it?  What if you knew for a fact that it was negative?  What if you knew for a fact that it was positive ?


Are you also doing #MicroblogMondays? Add your link below. The list will be open until Tuesday morning. Link to the post itself, not your blog URL. (Don’t know what that means? Please read the three rules on this post to understand the difference between a permalink to a post and a blog’s main URL.) Only personal blogs can be added to the list. I will remove any posts that are connected to businesses or are sponsored posts .

Category: Forex

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