Just checking in with more positive distractions and a bit of rambling 💖📚📺💡
So, quick update. I originally wrote this post on Monday, I think, (It's Thursday now) but then the Big Sink Disaster happened. They were powerwashing my building this week and ended up clogging up vents on the roof and screwed up the plumbing all through the building. Water from the laundry room backed up into my kitchen sink, a pipe burst, I can't even describe the mess. So the last couple of days have been devoted to plumbers and drains and stress and bleaching everything, which is about as fun as it sounds. Silver lining, I guess, I got a whole new sink with a ridiculously fancy faucet that so totally does not belong in my tiny kitchen lol. This photograph really does not convey how tall it is-- I keep seeing it out of the corner of my eye and thinking it's a person standing in front of the sink! 😂 IDEK anymore, peeps. I'm grateful to have a working sink again, but I sure could have forgone all the extra drama! So, anyway, that ate up a few days, and I sincerely hope none of you have had to deal with anything like that this week! Now on to our regularly scheduled ramblings, because what else are we gonna do, right?
Hello, humans. I hope this post finds you safe and healthy and that you recently washed your hands. You've all been in my thoughts since the last post, and I wanted to check in with another list of positive distractions and just catch you up on how things are going here. Again I'm cross-posting this from my newsletter, so if you'd like to sign up and receive occasional lists of positive distractions, along with book news whenever that might occur, you can sign up here.
Well, the calendar says it's been about two weeks since my last newsletter, although it feels more like a year and also like five minutes. Things have changed quickly since then, and if you weren't spending most of your time indoors last time we talked, you probably are now. I know the extroverts in my family (there are a handful, lol) are struggling more with social distancing than the rest of us. It's hard for me to comprehend that, honestly, since I prefer to not be around people anyway, but I do feel for everyone who's getting anxious, as I can certainly relate to that.
If you've been around here a while, you've probably heard me talk about my grandpa-- I used to post updates when he first learned how to text and would send me pictures of his breakfast every morning, lol. He's home isolating now because he's had pneumonia, but he's starting to feel better and itching to at least get out in the yard.
My family has scheduled times to drop groceries off on his front porch, and my siblings and I have each claimed a day of the week to call or text him so he's constantly in contact with someone and doesn't get too bored. My grandpa is SUPER social, but also extremely diligent about isolating. He lives in a tiny town where every single person knows him, so he says he's been getting visitors every day who stand on the other side of the glass door and catch him up on the local gossip. (This mostly includes who's planting what in their garden. Sounds like beans are a popular choice in case you were wondering.)
In other news, I've become email pen pals with six of my nieces and nephews, which is a very entertaining glimpse into the lives of some five to ten-year-olds lol. I get a LOT of Minecraft screenshots, which, I kind of don't really understand, but I am always entertained by their emails. Want to hear a writing joke from my ten-year-old nephew? Of course you do.
The past, the present, and the future walked into a room.
It was tense.
Come on, you laughed, admit it. 😂
Last week I helped my cousin plan an alternate at-home birthday party for her son who turned 12. He was supposed to go to a trampoline park with some friends, which of course didn't happen, and she also ended up doing most of his birthday shopping at the grocery store. If you've ever done that (I totally have-- if I ever gave you play doh for your birthday that means I bought it on the way to your house, oops, sorry) you know it led to a kind of unusual collection of gifts. So, to make it more fun, we made up a sort of scavenger hunt where she hid the gifts around the house and in order to find them, he had to text family members for clues which would lead him to presents and another number to text for the next clue. It ended up being really fun for everyone and I think it helped make a weird birthday a little better.
So, even though some things are bizarre and new and scary right now, I'm glad there are also some bright spots to share with you all. I hope wherever you are, however you're doing, you find a reason to smile today. And in keeping with that theme, let's move on to our list of positive distractions!
While some of these are things I've seen online, honestly, most of them are links to things family and friends have sent me, because I'm texting a lot more than I'm internetting right now. I hope something here catches your eye and distracts you from our surreal reality for a bit. Let's do this!
Alright, let's start with some links to cool twitter threads and videos:
Here in Chicago, while the Shedd Aquarium in closed to visitors, the animals have the run of the place. Here's a link to some videos of penguins and other animals visiting each other!
They're not the only aquarium with unexpected guests-- here's a video of some puppies visiting the Georgia Aquarium.
More of a cat person? Here's a very entertaining twitter thread about someone fostering a new cat during quarantine.
And here's a video of a chameleon painting a picture, because we love all the animals, right?
Speaking of brilliant performers, here's a video of twelve-year-old twins giving a violin concert.
This might be weird, but I love this video of someone unlocking an elaborate antique safe. If you're a person who like satisfying visual stuff like crayons being made, this is that kind of thing. (If you have no idea what I'm talking about, it's still cool, lol.)
Okay, here's a video I was reminded of last week that is one of my favorite things ever. Last year around this time, a friend and I accidentally went down a Nathan Carter rabbit hole. If you don't know about this Irish country music star and his brother Jake, this weird, dorky, sweet video of them singing You've Got a Friend in Me will probably make you a fan too lol.
So one of my brothers is really floundering a bit without sports, (I admit, I had the Red Sox opening day circled on my calendar last week, and it stung crossing it off.) and he's recently started watched marble racing. I guess this isn't a new thing, but it seems to be gaining popularity now, lol. Here's a link to one of the races he sent me.
Oh, and speaking of baseball, if you haven't seen the Ken Burns Baseball documentary, PBS.org is currently airing it here. I've seen it a few times and definitely recommend it even if you're not a huge sports person.
Most of my siblings have kids and have been homeschooling or are getting ready to homeschool. A couple of them are doing that build a volcano science project, which I always really wanted to do, and two of my nieces who take dance classes have moved their classes online and now the whole family can participate. Art class is a big favorite for everyone, so we've been sending lots of crafty links back and forth.
Here's a link to instructions on how to make an origami Pikachu. They've all been using yellow post-its to do this, but you can use any kind of paper.
And here's a post about making hair bows. I'm not sure anyone has actually attempted this one yet, but I think it's on the schedule for next week.
The Kennedy Center YouTube channel has a daily drawing class with Mo Willems here.
Playbill.com has a collection of Broadway plays and musicals you can watch from home.
Here's a list of free online classes offered from all sorts of places if school is what you're into right now. (School is never really what I'm into, but I still might check some of these out.)
Blkcreatives.com has an awesome list of resources for creatives.
Here's an interview with romance author Beverly Jenkins. I love author interviews and hers are always the best. I just started reading her book Destiny's Embrace, and while I'm still not doing a great job focusing on reading, I'm enjoying it a lot. Historical stories are a little easier for me to read than contemporary ones these days, I think. (Btw, when I went to grab the link, I saw that all three books in the series are on sale for $1.99, so writing this newsletter just cost me $3.98 lol.)
So, not only is it baseball season, it's also Girl Scout Cookie season. If you love Girl Scout Cookies (Thin Mints FTW), but are missing out on grabbing them locally this year, here's a link to order them online and/or donate them to first responders or places in need.
And last but not least, here's a rundown of what I've been watching lately when I'm not attempting to read or write or sleep. I bingewatched the whole season of Feel Good on Netflix. (And by whole season I mean six half-hour episodes, so not as impressive as it sounds lol.) It was a bit angsty, but also very funny and human and relatable to me personally, so I liked it a lot. My sisters keep trying to get me to watch Dexter (I know, I know, I'm like the only person who hasn't seen it.) but I'm not quite ready to delve into that so instead I'm still watching a lot of holiday movies, mostly in the background while I try to work, but sometimes I get sucked in to one and watch the whole thing.
I'll be honest, I feel like there is a real shortage of people snowed in together movies, which is one of my favorite tropes (Enemies to Lovers + Forced Proximity = Happy Misha) but here are some of the holiday movies I've really enjoyed. You know, in case you're looking for Christmas movie recs right now, lol.
Jingle Belle (Amazon) is about former high school sweethearts who reunite to write music for their hometown Christmas pageant. Second chance romance and small towns aren't usually my go-to tropes, but the reconnection was snarky and fun, so I really enjoyed this one.
Home for Christmas (Netflix) is actually a holiday miniseries (awesome) about a nurse who tells her family she's bringing home her boyfriend for Christmas... and then has to find a boyfriend. But it's really just as much about family and friendship as it is about romantic relationships. I watched this before Christmas last year while I was writing Naughty AF (probably obvious I watched a ton of holiday movies while writing that lol) and I just watched it again. Lots of enjoyable characters.
The Holiday Calendar (Netflix) is one of those "maybe it's magic" movies about a calendar that tries to lead the heroine to love while she falls for the hot new guy in town and her obviously perfect for her best friend pines over her. You know I love pining, plus this one has a sweet grandpa.
I don't know exactly why some people are embracing Christmas so hard right now, but it seems like I'm not the only one. There are a lot of stories here in Chicago about people re-decorating for Christmas. But hey, take your happiness wherever you can find it these days, right?
I just realized that I don't think I ever recced On the Twelfth Night of Kinkmas to you all. (Or maybe I did, but I'll rec it again.) Tamsen Parker's kinky MF romance came out last year in a holiday anthology, but if you missed it, you can get it free now if you subscribe to her mailing list here. (She also sends out great monthly newsletters, so win-win.) If you like snowed-in-at-a-kink-club Santa/elf roleplay (and who doesn't, amirite?) grab that one!
I can't believe I'm reccing Christmas books and movies in the middle of spring, lol. Strange times we're living in. Weird that I want to write another holiday book right now, right? Lemme tell you all, writing anything at all feels super weird. It feels overwhelmingly trivial to be writing about romance and everyday love problems in this climate. But it also feels like the most worthwhile thing I can do, since one thing we all need right now is a few hours of enjoyment when we can throw ourselves into someone else's life. Getting lost in other worlds, whether reading or writing, has always been my escape from difficult times, but right now even that is tough, since it's so hard to concentrate on anything for long. But it's still my job and I'm still doing the best I can, just like I'm sure you all are. I guess we're still in the figuring everything out stage, and that's okay.👍
One of my nieces sent me an email last week that said she knew if we all worked together, we could come over. It took me a minute to realize that she actually meant overcome, not visit each other. So now when I feel my anxiety ramping up, I take my brain aside and tell myself we're all going to come over. Honestly, I don't know if it makes me less stressed, but it does make me smile.
So, I guess I'll end this now, since I'm out of links and out of ramblings. Sorry this one wasn't more books focused, I guess that isn't where my brain is so much right now. But I'm going to try to add a couple of things to my book recs page this week and you can always find all of my books here on Amazon/in KU if you're in reading mode. Hopefully I'll have another one to release before too terribly long, 🤞 like everything else, that's kind of a day-to-day question mark based on what else is going on it the world, but I'll get there.
I'll try to send out another newsletter like this in a couple of weeks. I don't think I'll have a shortage of links any time soon. Wherever you are, I'm wishing you all the best and hoping this provides some positive distractions. Be safe, be smart, and hopefully we'll all come over soon.