Mutant’s Guide to Using Miami Dade Public Libraries in 2015 For Meghan and Other People Too

My friend, Meghan, loves books but I just found out she doesn’t have a library card. She explained her reason for not having a library card was, “I get one every few years. I go and get a book or two but they never really impress me. Then I let it expire.”

That’s when I realized that Meghan, like lots and lots of my fellow book-loving Miamians, doesn’t know some super simple tricks for using Miami Dade’s Public Libraries.

There was a time where I too didn’t know the modern ways of our local libraries. I had similar experiences to Meghan; but then, many years ago I ran out of money and needed to read free books to distract me from the fact that I had no money and also maybe even so that I could learn how to not run out of money again in the future (spoiler alert: I did learn and I mostly don’t run out of money anymore, hooray).

My number one gripe about the whole library thing in this modern world was the fact that I had to actually go to a library, and then walk around looking for stuff, and mostly not finding what I was looking for, and then randomly selecting something that was or was not great. I don’t mind doing this once in a blue moon but I have limited reading time and I want to make the most of it. So, here is how you make the library work for you!

Step 1: Obtain a library card

You have to go to a Miami Dade library branch, find one closest to you right this very moment by clicking here, with your photo ID that confirms you’re a resident of Miami Dade. Fill out the application and get your library card. While you’re there, you can browse and remind yourself how not productive that experience is. You can also ask your librarian where the shelves are for the Hold Requests. Some libraries keep them behind the counter and the librarians pull them for you, while other libraries keep them out front and you pull them yourself. You will also want to take note of where the Self Check Out computers are. Once you do all that, you are now ready to go home and use the library the Mutant Supermodel way.

Optional Step 1a: Prepare a List

Once you do the hard work of getting your library card, you want to be able to use it right away and to do that I suggest you prepare a list of what you want to read. You might even HAVE a list already, like your giant Amazon Wishlist that’s 75% books or maybe you have a Goodreads account with a To-Read list that’s looking slightly challenging. If you don’t have either of those, you can refer to a list like Time’s 100 best novels of the 21st century or this awesome list of 50 great books written by women. Check out Oprah’s Book Club. Write down all the books you can think of as fast as you can. Use MY Goodreads list as a reference. Either way, have a list. I would suggest a good mix of new and old stuff.

Step 2: Register Online

When you get home, or to your office, or to your school, or anywhere you can get computer access, get online and register your library card by clicking here. If you have kids and you were an awesome parent and got THEM library cards too, you can register them individually as well so that they too may use the library the Mutant way. They will also most likely find out cool things much faster than you and then teach you the cool things so it’s a win-win. Once you’ve registered your card, log-in with your library card and pin number and get ready to rock.

Step 3: Preferences

When you log-in, you need to make sure you have your contact info and preferences set up. I am not sure if with a new registration you are prompted to do this or if you have to go and do it yourself. I am going to assume you have to do it yourself and show you what’s important to know here. If you get the welcome screen, click on Contact Information and Preferences.

What you want to pay attention to is the email and phone number stuff. Make sure that is correct and decide how you want to receive library notices. I really like the email way. They can also call you or text you. I don’t suggest mailing address because that’s just silly.

Also, here you can ask them to maintain your reading list. I did not know that until now. If you want to remember all the books you read, check that box. They’ll tell you that law enforcement will be able to get that info if you check that box. If you don’t care, proceed. If you do care, cancel. Once you’re done updating, click Sumbit Change Request and get ready to rock.

Step 4: Search

Place your mouse over where it says Explore in the top rightish section of the black menu bar. Then, click Quick Search under Catalog. I am going to search for a relatively new and popular book called In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume.

When you start typing, you will notice Quick Search uses Auto Complete so I will be lazy and click the Auto Complete suggestion. And boom there it is! Everything I need to know about this book for my purposes is right there. I can see that it is super popular because it has 15 copies and 139 holds. See why I told you to have a mix of new and old stuff?

139 sounds like a lot but with 15 copies it goes really fast. You can’t renew books that have hold requests on them so people have 30 days to read them and the library will only hold your copy for you for one week. So I’m going to jump into the party and click Place Request.

You then select which library branch you want to pick up your copy at. The default is where you got your library card at but you can make it whichever branch you want. There’s a box at the bottom that says Activation Date and it’s set to today’s date. This can be useful if you are placing a BUNCH of requests and want to stagger them so they don’t come in all at once. Since there are SO many requests for this book and you’re just getting started, I would leave this as is. But it’s a good tool to know about for when you get addicted and go Request Crazy (it’s only a matter of time).

Once you do that, you click Submit Request. The library will find it hard to believe you are a patient soul and tell you that there are 139 active requests for this book and make sure you really want to request it. You, being the masochistic book lover you are, will click CONTINUE because YOLO.

You will then get a confirmation of your request and a reminder in red at the top that if you don’t pick up your book within one week of them notifying you, you will be charged ONE DOLLAR and lose your book. I like that they made it a sad face at the end. ):

At the bottom, you can choose to go back to your Search Results, go to your List of Hold Requests, or Log Out. My suggestion is you go back to your Search Results because that’s how you continue searching for more books.

When you click that, you might not see the Search bar. It’s there, it’s just hiding and you have to scroll up to find it. Delete what you searched for and type in something new! You just do that until you are satisfied requesting books and then you Logout and wait a few days for your notifications to come in. If you have a Kindle or like reading eBooks then, there’s more work to do!

Step 5: eBooks

At the top of the page again, hover over My Account and click OverDrive under Digital Media. There are other options to click in this section too and I’ve heard they’re great but I haven’t used them yet even though I really need to figure out that Zinio thing because I heard it’s amazing.

Click on Account and login with the your library card and pin number. You can checkout TEN ebooks and place holds on TEN more (or audio books but I don’t use those so I don’t know anything about them). The selection here is much more limited so I would go here with a more open mind to trying stuff out and with a longer list.

The good thing is when you click Menu you can see all kinds of easy ways to browse some collections including Most Popular which I’m going to click. If you have a Kindle, you can narrow your search down by pressing the plus sign next to Format. Click Kindle Book.

Ok so you will notice there are some books with black book icons on them and some with gray. The black ones are the ones you can download right now, the gray ones are the ones you can place holds for. It’s like a real book– there’s a limit to how many digital copies the library has.

Because I think of the Kindle as my Ultimate Instant Gratification Device, I further filter it down to books Available Now. And there, right at my fingertips are all the books I can get on my Kindle RIGHT NOW.

Hover over the one you like and press Borrow. At the top, the book pops up, you click Go to Bookshelf. You then click Download and you select what format you want. I want a Kindle Book. So I click that check box and then at the bottom I click Confirm and Download.

At that point, it connects to Amazon and will likely have you login. You do that and and it takes you to the book on Amazon. If you’re ready to read it RIGHT NOW, you click the yellow button that says Get Library Book on the right hand side and you choose what device you want to send it to. After that, it follows normal Kindle procedures!

If you have a device that’s not the Kindle just click on the Help button next to the Search Bar and then click OverDrive Help. You can search or you can scroll down for some guides.

Step 6: Read, Read, Read Some More

That’s it! Read your ten eBooks on your Kindle while you wait for your library to notify you about your books waiting for you. When your notice comes in, get to your library within the one week grace period and find those shelves you asked your librarian about. My favorites are the ones where you do it yourself because I feel like a total Book Ninja grabbing them, going over to the Self Check Out computers, checking them out, and sauntering out of the library in less than ten minutes. Maybe smile and wave at your librarian as you saunter out, “Have a great day!”

Now that you have read this ridiculous guide, you have NO excuse to be a library card carrying member of Miami Dade Society. So enjoy and Happy Reading!

P.S. You’re welcome, Meghan!


Summertime and the living is easy

Ah, Summer. I love it’s lazy pace. I love how the pressure dials down. It’s hard for me to feel too stressed out when Summer rolls in. The heat sucks, especially down here, and while I don’t like being caught on the road in a huge storm watching one rage outside your window is delicious.

The kids have been attending Summer Camp and are happy. My parents took off to Alaska. Unlike at the medical campus, the pace definitely changes at my new campus. People are in and out. Many have special summer hours. I don’t really think it slows anything down either– it’s just different.

Nights run late during Summer. Friends are in and out of my house on any given day. Adventure is in the air.

I can’t believe we are in the last half of 2015. I feel so good. There have been bumps and there have been slumps but the bottom line is this year has gone exceptionally well. I am starting to think about next year and when I do, it’s with more excitement.

I feel a lot more confidence in myself and in my ability to recover from not good things. I feel better about uncertainty. Before it made me so anxious when I didn’t know where anything was going. Today, it still does but anxiety is not the only emotion I attach to the unknown. I’m excited too, curious. In other words, I am not freaking out that because I don’t know what’s coming, it will surely be bad. The fact is not knowing what is coming can also mean something amazing is coming, or even nothing at all.

I think that another thing this year has helped me with is come to acceptance with where I am in life. I have struggled with this so much in the past. I have felt that I was behind and that I should be much further along in so many ways. I felt I was too old to have so many silly issues still hanging around.

But now, well some of the issues are gone. I fixed them and that’s that. Others I am actively working at. Still others I have come to accept that they’re not fixed right now and they’re not likely going to get fixed in the short term and that’s ok because they give me something to keep working for. Some have even gotten worse to a degree but they don’t make me freak out anymore.

I think more than ever, and I expect this will become stronger every year, I am really beginning to understand that there is no standard I need to be at other than the one I hold to myself. Captain Obvious, am I right? But it’s become really clear to me this year as I’ve strengthened and made moves how much I hold myself to other people’s standards.

While I am not ready to dismiss the fact that I take a lot of emotional cues from the people surrounding me as a bad thing, I am ready to dismiss the fact that the only expectations for myself that matter, are my own. There are some challenges with that, mostly when it comes to the people that I have made central to my decision making processes who are being removed from that pedestal. But overall, it’s a good change to make.

We all have opinions about what’s best for the people we care about. I understand that and I respect that. To a degree, I’ll even listen to it. But at the end of the day, the person I have to live with every minute of my life is myself. I have to take ownership of my choices and I have to be ok with those choices. The more voices I listen to, the harder that gets.

I think this becomes the issue with oversharing regardless of whether it’s digitally or in person or whatever. I never really thought of it that way. I always thought that asking for input was a good thing to do, a smart one. Now I’m starting to realize that while there are certainly situations where that’s the case, more often than not it’s a sign you don’t trust yourself.

I am done not trusting myself.

And because of that, I feel better even though things aren’t perfect. I feel ok about how things are. I know there are things going on that might not be great, but I know that I am deciding on my own how to fix them and that helps a lot.

Anyways, enough with the heavy ponderings…. Light stuff is called for!

We watched Inside Out and it was fantastic. Intense, yes. But it is a great movie and can be helpful for parents in figuring out how to discuss emotions with their kids.

My friend and I keep making our silly videos. We have a lot of fun making them and we are spectacularly dorky in them. I think if you want to laugh at a couple of ladies being silly, you will enjoy them.

Also, we are officially foster failures. A foster failure is someone who was supposed to temporarily house an animal until it found it’s furever home but the foster falls in love with the animal and can’t let it go. And that’s what happened to us. This dog is everything we ever wanted in a dog and the idea of letting him go was not pleasant. So he’s here to stay. Happy endings happen all the time!

Furever Family


Skimming through life

I have had lapses in my writing for various reasons. I usually understand them but I don’t really get what’s going on right now honestly. Life is good. There have been some changes and some important things are different than they were when I last posted a few weeks ago. Usually I would be itching to tell you all about it but right now that’s just not the case. It’s not like I’m bent on keeping things to myself either, I think maybe I just find that I am really distracted by a lot of other things.

The first of those is work. I really like my job. I love my team. I look up to my boss. I feel insanely comfortable here and greatly appreciated. I am happy. I like to work. I like to make things happen and make people proud and make their work easier. I really enjoy learning about all this science stuff. There are so many cool creatures out there you guys. I’ve learned cool stuff about toadfish, and mahi, and crocodiles, and sea slugs, and corals. Just neat, neat, neat.

Other distractions are friends and silly side projects like Toys and Coffee. I am getting out more often. I am seeing more people more often. I am widening my circle. I have even more time for that now. Which is funny because I thought that I would be bored, but I think these days I am even busier than I was before the changes happened.

There’s also a foster dog in my house. He’s a sweet boxer and my kids and my boyfriend have fallen head over heels in love with him. I like him A LOT too but I’m scared to commit to dog ownership. I have another week to decide whether or not to adopt him or to continue as a foster and help have him adopted out. There is A LOT of pressure from most people to keep him– except for my mother and my grandmother who absolutely hate the dog completely and are furious with me for having him in my house. My mom actually stopped talking to me for a few days so that was interesting and gave me some more stuff to think about and be distracted by.

In other words, there’s  a lot to write about, there really is but I’m just not finding the urge to sit and hash it out. Even this skim is way more superficial than it could be. There’s more to even just mention but I dunno, it’s late, I want to relax, and this just isn’t relaxing to me right now. Weird how things change right?

On Creating

On the way home from an event that is sort of billed as a by artists for artists event, my friends and I had an interesting conversation about the creative process. Mostly it was about where your best work comes from. It seems that a lot of work that’s out there is dark and comes from a dark place. The story behind a piece is often that is littered with anxiety, sadness, and/or frustration. And so that energy becomes a beautiful work of art.

It’s a really nice story. It’s one that is often told and one that seems to be intricately woven into the stereotype of the artist. It goes without saying, I hope, that this is not only for the artist that deals with lines, colors, and canvas. And yet, it’s something that I reject.

For starters, I find that it just doesn’t apply to me. I find that I am most creative when there is energy and while negative emotions do cause some sort of energy for me (i.e. anxiety) that does push me to create, I feel that the work that comes from that is not my best. It’s desperate work. It’s unpolished and sort of frantic. And while it is attractive material to others, I just don’t feel it reflects what I am actually capable of.

That work, I feel, comes from good energy. Take for example, this current binge of ideas my brain is exploding with. It is coming from an outpouring of positive energy that I charged into the beginning of the year with. Of course it has had it’s lulls and setbacks but for the most part, it’s been a good year for me and it’s been easy for me to tap into the goodness. Last night, I went out with friends, really enjoyed myself, and today I am BURSTING with ideas for all sorts of things. I want to not only create things but I want to share the energy and share the creation.

That really is something that is unique to this sort of creativity for me personally. Things that come from dark places are very similiar to cries for help. I am uncomfortable with cries for help. And so with those creations, I am cautious. With these, I am eager.

A big part of me finds frustration in the darkness associated with artists. It is cool to be edgy, dark, and controversial. Tragedy wins an audience like nothing else. And yet, I can’t help but wonder if that is the easy stuff. It is often said Misery loves company but what about Joy?

What has changed in our culture that has made positivity unfashionable? I have heard so many times that being happy or optimistic is exhausting! People are distrustful of smiles. Happy relationships and their public displays of affection make people roll their eyes and wonder what they’re really hiding. There are lots of posts and memes about how everyone has their own set of problems and we just never know it but doesn’t everyone also have their own set of triumps and victories and achievements we are also clueless about?

Is it better to celebrate than to sympathize? Or do we need both equally? And if we do need both, why are we denying the former so viciously?

What do you think? What gets your creative juices flowing? The darkness or the light? Or is it simply a matter of a deadline, mental state be damned?

Things I did this weekend that I really liked

I really enjoyed my long weekend. Like, really, really, really enjoyed it. And because I have heard that making lists is good for you, here is a list of the things I did this weekend that I really liked:

  • I went on a date with my love
  • I ate a lot of delicious food on that date
  • I tagged along on a trip to the outlets in Homestead
  • I had a delicious bubble tea
  • I stayed up late playing Assassins Creed with my love
  • I went to Key Biscayne with my love and my friend and we walked/jogged across the bridge
  • Afterwards, we collapsed on the beach and I ate an arepa and a frozen lemonade
  • We decided we wanted to go kayaking but then didn’t do it because they warned us the wind was out of control and we were exhausted. I don’t care that we didn’t do it, I’m happy that we decided to do it at least
  • I passed out and took a power nap when we got home
  • My friend and I recorded a new unboxing video
  • I went to Barnes and Noble
  • I had friends come by and I barbecued food. We ate, we drank, we hung out. Our kids played and we talked and talked

Now you tell me all the things you liked about this weekend!

Things that are happening

I think that if you go by what happens on this blog you might think that things are very boring at the House of Mutant. And to some degree, you’re right. And to another degree, you’re not quite right.

I am really good at keeping myself and my family busy. There is always something happening. I like doing things. I like getting out of my house. I like living and changing and learning.

Have you noticed that an entire school year has pretty much happened? How did that happen!? I think that it has a lot to do with whatever is behind 2015. There is a LOT of momentum in the air around here. I am absolutely steamrolling through this year. My friends are too. So are my loved ones.

I continue to have a lot to be grateful for. I have an amazing partner in my life who is having an amazing year. He is just blasting through all kinds of barriers and I am watching him grow into this person and it’s weird saying that about someone who is almost 40 and yet not really because if we stop growing, we start dying. So yeah, he’s amazing.

My friends too. They’re making all kinds of breakthroughs in life, career, relationships. It’s been a really significant year for almost everyone that I know really well.

This is NOT a coincidence. I went into this year feeling really strong, really determined, and really energized. And it paid off. I rallied my loved ones together and we have been on mission after mission. Now, halfway through the year, I am a little stalled and am ready to re-energize.

My friend and I started a YouTube channel on a whim called Toys & Coffee where we basically drink coffee and open up some toys. We’re doing this for nothing more than the fact that we find it very fun and amusing. If you think this is something you will find entertaining, join us! We are also on Periscope, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

What about you? What’s happening?

Thoughts on Motherhood

I went to a Mother’s Day prayer service at the kids’ school today. So pretty and so humbling and so empowering at the same time.

When I first had kids, I was really alone in the mom world. None of my friends had kids and until Eldest started at school, I wasn’t really around other mothers enough to bond. Now I’ve gotten older and parenthood has happened to many of my friends.

I have to say, what a dizzying and complex array Motherhood is!

There are so many kinds of women out there who make up this group of humans called Moms. And the only thing they have in common is that they made and carried a child inside their bodies for many months and then the child came out of their bodies somehow, some way.

After that, the story unfurls into this whole crazy range of different experiences. What’s impressive to me is how many of those really do value and care for their child. There’s a really long and silly history of women being cruel to each other. I can’t understand it– especially among women who can share the motherhood experience.

I guess what it comes down to is the simple fact that we love our kids. And because we love our kids, we want to do what is best for them. That’s where the problem is, those five little words, “what is best for them.”

We all have our own ideas and beliefs as to what is best for our kids. Those beliefs come out of who we are as people and our life experiences. They might change with some new information, but it’s still something that is tied to who we are and that’s a hard thing to let go of.

I think that’s where the in-fighting begins. Because we are so convinced that we know “what is best for them” it’s hard to see someone else do something that flies in the face of that. What I wonder is how much more beautiful our world would be if at least the mothers got together and decided to respect each other fully. To understand that “what is best for them” is an individual concept, but that it always comes out of a place that is good because it comes out of a place of love and caring.

Gosh people love to villainize Moms. And sure, there are crazy moms out there the way crazy people exist anywhere in any position. But, from my experience over the past several years in the Mom club, I feel pretty confident saying that the concept of Crazy Mom is way overused and overrated.

So this Mother’s Day, my hat’s off to you mothers out there. Let’s be gentle with each other. Let’s learn to respect each other’s decisions, to let us make our way and choose our paths. Let’s even let each other make mistakes because even if harm happens as it sometimes does, as long as it remains in the family unit, let’s be forgiving and move along.

Happy Mother’s Day ladies. I think what you do is pretty darn impressive.

Book Challenge: 15 down, 25 to go

Every year, I give in and participate in Goodreads’ Annual Reading Challenge. This year, I went with 40 books since I failed the 2014 challenge to read 45. Here’s what I have devoured this year:

  1. Etiquette & Espionage (Finishing School)I figured I’d start with a familiar book and was in the mood for light and fluffy. This hit the spot. I found it to be a really fun YA book and enjoyed the concept of girls training as spies and boys as evil geniuses. Bonus Points: My son read it and loved it.
  2. A Fighting ChanceGreat book! I love her writing style and I am on the same page as her with the issues. I found her work to be super fascinating to read about as well as her path to Congress. I really, really like her and hope her story and her experience motivates more women to get involved in politics.
  3. The Ghost Brigades (Old Man’s War)I actually had to go back and re-read Old Man’s War because I forgot absolutely everything I read in that book when I read it two years ago. Some serialized books, that’s not necessary but I felt that with this one, it was. It was as fun a read the second time around even as some of hte twists and turns came back to my brain. I have the next three books in this series and do plan on getting to those this year.
  4. Lock InYou know what you read when you finish a book by Jon Scalzi? Another book by Jon Scalzi. This one was actually a bok for my Book Club and I really enjoyed it. One thing that we agreed on in our discussion was that this book could have gone way deeper. This first book felt a bit shallow as far as development is concerned. Scalzi has some AMAZING ideas in here and this book went SUPER fast. It was definitely the kind of book you’d wish you could really immerse yourself into a bit more which is interesting given what the book is about.
  5. Lost in Temptation (Regency Chase Family Series, Book 1)Thanks to Nicole and Maggie, 2015 will likely be the year of the Regency Romance. These books are like potato chips– you can’t read just one. This was the first book of this kind I’ve read and it was good enough to set me off in search of more like it, which I did largely by perusing this post by Nicole and Maggie.
  6. The Book of Life (All Souls)I read book one in November 2012. I read book two in May 2013. This one got read in March 2015. Overall, it’s completely entertaining. I couldn’t put it down once it really got revving. I did have a hard time with the beginning because it has been a couple of years since I had read book two but necessary things clicked into place well enough. These books are just so massive that I really think they’re best read together in one go instead of spaced years apart. I feel like I missed things and probably would have felt more satisfied with the ending had I read them back to back. I think authors who write these mega stories don’t realize how easy it is for readers to lose track for the stories or to even have their feelings for characters change and fade. The authors live with these characters and stories. It’s different for readers especially for readers like me who just aren’t big into re-reading. I say go for it but try and get them all read in the same year.
  7. Curtsies & Conspiracies (Finishing School)We continued with Gail Carriger’s Finishing School and continue to be highly entertained. I think my son read this one in one single day. I’m enjoying the characters as they get older and progress through their training. Such a fun series. This reminds me that I need to request the third one!
  8. Simply Perfect (Simply Quartet)A thing that happens to me when I randomly pick up books at libraries is that I sometimes have a tough time telling if a story is part of a series and where it’s place in a series is. This is what happened when I picked up Simply Perfect. That being said, it didn’t matter AT ALL that this is the 4th book in a series and I’ve read not one of them. The Regency Romance continues with this one. Sometimes, you’re in the mood for unlikely characters, plot twists, and unrealistic happy endings. Sometimes you want to indulge in a world that is simply perfect because the one we live in isn’t. And when that is what you crave, a book like this hits the spot.
  9. More than a MistressMORE REGENCY ROMANCE! This one was pretty fun and extra unlikely and extra scandalous because of the plot twist in it. I highly recommend this one for reading in a hammock, or a bathtub, or in a bed on a stormy day. Might also be fun on a plane but I don’t know because I haven’t been on one of those in years so I’m out of touch.
  10. No Man’s MistressYou know what’s better than one Regency Romance novel in a book? TWO REGENCY ROMANCE NOVELS IN THE SAME BOOK. The story continues with MORE scandalous behavior from this crew. There was a great quote in this one that I’m sad I didn’t write down. The female character says something like “We are not respectable, but we are respected.” That pretty much sums up the funness of this cast of characters perfectly.
  11. Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake (Love By Numbers)Apparently Regency Romances are highly contagious. As somewhat of a joke, I tossed this one as a suggestion at our Book Club meeting and it WON! My friends are cooler than yours. This by far was the steamiest of the Regency books I’ve read. Like WHOA MOMMA aren’t you totally improper right now? This one was by far my favorite. The main character was buckets of fun. The sexy stuff was tres sexy. While I do have another Mary Balogh waiting for me on my nightstand, I can tell you that I am MOST interested in reading more by Sarah MacLean.
  12. Bite Me: A Love StoryThis is another situation where I wandered through the library and found this book and was like, “OK I’ve read Christopher Moore, let’s read more.” And then when I logged onto Goodreads to tell the world how I felt about it, I found out it’s book 3 of a series. So, the thing with this book is that for the first several pages I doubted my ability to read it. The main character is Abby Normal who is a perky goth teenager. The book is written from her POV and it’s um overwhelming to deal with at first– especially as there is an attempt to catch a reader up in a rapid fire manner. I’ll probably maybe try and read the others in the series because I do appreciate how ridiculous Moore’s books are.
  13. CarameloSo, the second time I went into the library for a stroll I took a different approach. This time, I opened my Goodreads app on my phone, pulled up my To-Read list which is way too long for life, sorted it by author, and went to the Fiction section. I started with A and went through looking specifically for female or non-white male authors because I really do enjoy diversity in my reading selections and it’s easy to get stuck reading a bunch of white guys. This is the first book I read from this trip and boy am I thrilled to bits. Really beautiful story that is truly woven masterfully. There are lots of layers, lots of designs. So much ties together, and often in subtle ways that don’t really occur to you right away. They’re more like an after taste if you will. This is the kind of book that reminds me a great story is wonderful but a great story that is beautifully written is a treasure.
  14. The AlchemistAnother book from my library quest, this is one I’ve waited too long to read and am so glad that I finally did. This is seriously a modern classic. I read this in one sitting pretty much. It’s a perfect story and one that I would LOVE to own because I feel like the re-readability is high as heck on this one with lots of pretty things to find every time. Great, inspiring quotes abound in this one. Give this to someone who is lost. It will light the way.
  15. The Secret Life of Bees This one is another from by recent library quest. I’m glad I’m finally getting to these. Apparently, this one has been sitting in my To-Read list since 2011!! I liked this one as well. It’s a really pretty story, the kind of book you can easily drink in on a lazy day- maybe in a hammock with some iced tea.

Right now, I’m reading Middlesex which is another book that has been sitting on my To-Read list for way too long. This came from my library quest as well and even though I don’t think the author counts as a non-white author, I felt that the simple fact the main character was intersex made it worth adding to my list. I’m not too far into it and have found that I’m not as entralled as I thought that I might be. I’m actually in the part of the book where things are weird with the grandparents. I’ve been reading it in slow bites although I’m totally intrigued.

What are you reading?? Have you recently read anything totally awesome that I should add to my list?

Autism Speaks Miami

Hi everyone! This is just a quick post to let you know that I will be participating in this Sunday’s Autism Speaks walk here in Miami. I set myself the very amibitious fundraising goal of $500 and have just 2 days left.

I am hoping that maybe you’ll be in the mood to do a Random Act of Kindness for a stranger and make a donation no matter how small to this fantastic organization. I am walking in support of my boyfriend’s niece and nephew. This is a great cause as Autism affects so many people. The research that has been coming out has been incredible and so many advancements have been made. Your support keeps these developments going.

So, please do consider making a donation today. Maybe pass on a snack or a drink or a treat and put your $5, $10, $15 to use!

Thank you from the bottom of my mutated heart!

Tapping Into Me

A few weeks ago, I realized something really interesting– adults are always telling young people and children that they can’t possibly know what they really want and who they really are because of how young they are. They haven’t lived life, how on Earth do they know what they’re made of? They haven’t been tested.

And yet it occurs to me that this is precisely why young people, especially children, know themselves better than we as adults do. I think that there is this interesting thing that happens to us in life. We start out young and amazing. We know exactly who we are. We know what we like. We know what we don’t like. And we live our lives. Changing your opinion is natural and easy– one day you like pink and then suddenly purple is the best color EVER and that’s that. You don’t like spinach and suddenly you do. Changing your mind isn’t a crisis and people don’t freak out about it– calling you out for flip-flopping on your views or pointing out “But the other day you said…”.

But then we get older and people start telling us “You don’t know who you even are” and we believe it I think. Not at first, because we are REALLY confident when we are younger. But definitely later, especially when life starts getting harder. Cruelty comes up. Fights happen. You cry a lot. Things don’t make sense the way they used to. And suddenly, for some of us more than others, other people’s opinions matter– a lot. And that’s when things get really scary and complicated because you suddenly realize– you DON’T know who you are because you tucked yourself away to proctect yourself.

It happens in different ways and at different times. Bullying in middle and high school really get things going. And I mean real bullying not this crazy crap where some kid teases you one day and makes you cry and everyone freaks out. I mean the relentless kind of bullying that happens almost every single day for a year, two years, three… And then, getting involved in toxic relationships which is easy to do when you’ve panicked and hidden yourself away.

Before you know it, you’re in your thirties and you’re clearing the rubble, shining around your flashlight wondering, “Where are you? You can come out, now it’s ok. I get it now. It’s safe. You can’t get hurt anymore because I finally GET IT. They don’t matter, you matter. Where are you?”

You tune your ears to the sound of your heart and you begin to pay attention for even the lightest of whispers. You follow the sound, and it gets louder and louder.

Of course, there are still other voices and it’s hard to drown them out entirely because for years you listened to them more than you listened to yourself. And yeah sometimes the doubt creeps back in but it’s ok.

Me. Finding me in my thirties. How the hell is that even a thing? And yet it must happen all of the time. I imagine people who go through a mid-life crisis do so because their hearts just burst after being trapped for so long and chaos blows in. It’s as if it’s screaming “I’M IN HERE YOU IDIOT! SAVE ME!”

The thing is, tracking myself down again, following the clues, it’s fun. It’s not painful or sad or anything like that. It’s fun and happy and that’s how you know you’re on the right path. You’re around the right people. You’re listening to the right music. You’re reading the right books and watching the right shows. You’re doing the right things. For you.

And it seems silly to think that things like going to musicals, and dyeing your hair, and listening to music could you lead you to you and they’re not really but they help. They make things comfortable. They recreate a time when you were more SURE. They help you remember what it was like when you listened to yourself more than ANYONE else.

So, today being in touch with me means singing along to ska music. Last night, it meant playing with watercolors. The other day, it meant staying in bed with books most of the day and then staying up way past my bedtime lost in a great story. The day before that it meant going to a salon and finally (FINALLY) doing something fun with my hair (hello hot pink ombre).

It means standing up for myself and for my kids. It means loving them and cuddling them and talking with them when they are worried or frustrated or confused. It means watching and listening to them proudly.

It’s pretty cool being me. I like it. I like it a lot.