Out of the Blackest Black:

Well, I wish I had some good advice to give you, friends. I don’t.

In truth, I have both a bucket of nothing and everything as I sit here reliving the past year. 2019 left me with wreckage that was beautiful, heartbreaking, and completely soul-rearranging.  Parts of it were so heavy that, at times, I felt my chest would cave in or burst. Ever felt like your whole body was encased in a compression sleeve? If you have lived life and experienced struggle, I’m sure you can relate. Right now, however, it feels like the calm after the atomic bombs, and I’m going to carry these leftover bricks with me into 2020 with hope and grace in the chance that I can set up new foundations and habits, make something pretty out of the rubble. Write more. Read more. Create more. Nothing is remarkable about my pain, but I hope to make something remarkable out of myself.

Books aside for a moment, let’s chat a little bit more about death because so much in life sits on its lap. I am forever changed. Transformed. When we nearly lost my mother, I felt as if my body was carrying a bag of skin around. My skin bag (sounds gross, but still using it) went to hospitals and emergency rooms. It tried to sleep. It listened to doctors. It researched the heart’s anatomy. My brain couldn’t connect to the present moment. Then, when I lost my brother, my family and I felt the kind of loss that you would never wish on anyone. Let me pray that each of you never have to receive that call first, that you never have to hear your mother cry over a lost child. When people say grief comes in waves, I know now what they mean. It’s a tsunami that becomes a hurricane. The storm never ends, but there are moments of reprieve.

Pain changes the landscape. The lens from which I see the world now has been permanently corrected. There has been a pinpointed focus applied to living in the present moment now, along with a monumental shift of beliefs. I take care of my time. I treasure it. I value it. I believe in God. I protect my new marriage, which is my one bright spot from last year. I look at problems and my own faults with an intensity I never have before. When it feels like all is lost and there is no hope, the world goes from blackest black, to black and white, to gray, and then, ultimately, to all the shades of color you never took time to see. It’s the pain that turned the leaves from green to gold, the sadness that made me stop to feel the warmth in the patch of sunlight on the grass again. And like I said, these feeling aren’t original, but DAMN, it it still feels nice to dump them out on the page.

Let’s get back to books and reconnect to my original intentions. This post isn’t so much about my brother and loss as it is about beauty. To get through the blackest black, I started working through my hopelessness, depression, and anxiety with therapy and medication (Thank you, appropriately parceled doses of Prozac, Xanax and B-12); during the black and white phase, I started to try to improve my health in small ways: eating less fast food, hot yoga, listening to friends with good intentions and advice, drinking less- I started to read again; during the gray phase, I questioned everything about myself, how I spent my time, my choices, my work, my passions, who I am, who I want to be, how I treat others day-to-day, the last words I say to people. It didn’t happen overnight, but I started to see colors again. It is in this spirit that I’ve decided to share with you a few books that I read in 2019 that allowed me to discover bits of beauty and hope and color. It’s the least I can do for anyone else that is entering blackest black or leaving the gray.

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

I found this book on Bill Gates’ “Summer Reading List.” I thought, “Well, if Bill Gates likes it, it must be decent fiction.” Replace “decent” with “enchanting.” I believe Amor Towles has become my all-time favorite modern author. A Gentleman in Moscow was transporting in a way that I needed at that exact moment. I connected with the idea of being confined and imprisoned yet surrounded by magic that could be found in the ordinary, a book, a conversation, a room. For me, I was captivated by the delectable words – words that made you want to roll them around on your tongue for a while. His book made me want to read and write poetry, eat fine foods and wines, have tea with a stranger on a rooftop, appreciate freedom. All the descriptions made you feel as if you too were staying at Hotel Metropol, finding treasures, feeling lost and found, finding love, companionship. Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov’s relationship with Nina and his commitment to his friends, Andrey and Emile, sharing secret dinners in the kitchen. Oh! What a treat. It’s not a dense or easy read, it lies somewhere in the middle. And once you devour it, immediately pick up Rules of Civility. Also amazing.

Educated by Tara Westover

Any recovering homeschooler will want to read this memoir. ::raises hand:: Think Glass Castle or Running with Scissors, but darker and less humorous. It’s so graphic and painful that every few chapters or so I had to put it down and take little breaks. My own parents went through what I thought then was an extremely religious period in life where I felt the fire of God was constantly breathing down my neck. My Dad played Satan in the passion play. We spent three days of the week at church. However, there is no comparison of my upbringing when compared to the threat-laden junkyard of the Westover family in the mountains of Idaho. Without giving too much away, I’ll say this. If you are struggling to overcome something heinous or any type of abuse, this memoir’s author and all she accomplished, amidst battling her father’s dangerous belief system, will give you hope. It will leave you with a feeling, in what I call your “deep tummy,” of both hope and sadness.

The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

Kate Quinn = creator of the most memorable characters. The heroines are so poignant, the villains so despicable. I read the Alice Network in bite sizes, savoring and appreciating its rich characters, picturesque post-war landscapes, and poetic language. The heroines, of which there are many in this book, (Charlie St. Clair, Rose, Eve, Lili, Violette) each seem to capture a raw, zestful spirit and exhibit angles of the female psyche that aren’t as often portrayed in historical fiction. Though these women may have bent stems and withered petals, they are empowered by their harsher edges and experiences. These “Fleurs du mal” that spied throughout the Great War personified the fury and passion and unraveling of the many unknown victims of a war that was fought by woman who kept to the shadows, risking their lives to pass secret messages and codes to the resistance, wrapping them around rings and hairpins. I really enjoyed all of the dead ends, loose ends, paths, and routes taken in this book. Whether Finn was at the wheel of the Lagonda or Eve was steering her Luger in a certain direction, everything about the story was in motion and each road was interesting and felt necessary. I’ll be honest that I did have to put the book down for a few weeks when I realized I was getting close to discovering or witnessing what happened to cause Eve’s disfigured hands. And, man, that scene was oh so painful and oh so poignant at the same time. I will never see Baudelaire the same. Yeats all the way, for me.

The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George

I think it was in 2006 that I went to Paris with my brother, my friend Julian, and our French teacher, Mr. Hanks, from our High School, who we begged to be our chaperone and show us the sights. We saw the Louvre. Ate snails. Went to Versailles. It was the first time me or my brother had taken a trip together or left the state of Texas, and I’m so grateful to have those memories of magic. What this book did was make me want to revisit France as an adult, and if I can’t, I’ll just reread this book over and over. The main character, Perdu is a character that makes you want to unhinge your barge and float downstream peddling books like medicines for those with maladies of the heart and mind. And the tango scene. I must learn to dance tango immediately.

The Bullet Journal Method by Ryder Carroll

Last, but not least, if you are obsessed with lists and tasks and goals and spreadsheets, you have to read up on The Bullet Journal Method aka #Bujo. This book is a tool that will make you remember your love of putting pen to paper, writing notes in hand. Even if you find yourself lost in technology and your various machines, you can appreciate this method of removing and prioritizing brain clutter. I ended my 2019 with this book to begin my 2020 with a clear path and plan ahead.

Note: It was before the death of my uncle, our troubles with Iran, and the national coverage of the devastating fires of Australia that I began to write this. It feels very inconsequential to explore personal feelings and hardships when so much of the world is suffering or on that brink of the blackest black. Ultimately, opted to share, but not without deep regard for current affairs, fears, and loss.

Life as a Toilet

Lately, creatively speaking, I feel like — well, there’s no triple-blend, cotton-soft way to put it — a toilet. Not a fancy toilet with shiny white porcelain with a bidet or some cool island-themed mango air freshener and Cottonelle wipes around. Nope. More like a true vintage version that never quite fills up all the way or flushes properly.  A little bit foul.  Stained around the rim despite a barrage of bleach products. And don’t even think of opening the tank. It looks like a murky scene from the Titanic in that thing.

What life as a creative toilet fills like (see what I did there) is pretty much how it sounds. I spend most of my days spinning, flushing thoughts and hopes and fears around like perky little turds. Nothing much happens. Thing go in, come up, or get sucked into a dark oblivion….only to begin again. And what doesn’t sink, floats. And, as we all know, floaters aren’t always a good thing.

My Personal Floaters: anxiety, how spaced-out and forgetful I can be at times, the dead ferns in my front yard, fears of the future, dead pine needles collecting on my rooftop, things I can’t control, three records I haven’t mailed out to people who have paid for them, sadness and anger suffered by friends and family, spells of social media time-wasting, not learning things, the Christmas lights that are still up, not taking vacations, the old garden hose wasting away in my yard, the mountain of “recycling” that has taken over our garage, dirty dishes, the lack of groceries, the staph infection in my finger (after three rounds of heavy antibiotics), lists, lists about the lists, bills, work-related to-dos, pictures not framed, house envy, child envy, furniture envy, the light that comes in the window when I’m trying to sleep…

Why have I spent the past few paragraphs spewing crap? A few reasons: 1)  It helps to clear out the bowels of the mind. 2) When I write I’m not having a panic attack. 3) I used to really enjoy writing. 4) Perhaps other people I know feel like a toilet too, and maybe we can celebrate or compare mental BM’s like true butt buds.

And before anyone whisks in with their favorite brand of bowl cleaner or anything that doesn’t sound like, “I feel that way sometimes too, and it feels terrible.” Hold it in. Wait until your next Buc-ee’s truck stop. Believe me I know I can step out of my metaphorical bathroom. Some people can’t. I know I’m lucky as hell that there are other rooms of my brain barn to hang out in. In those rooms I feel so so thankful. But sometimes it feels good to sit and acknowledge the excrement, to drop a load, to piss away a few minutes time, to feel a little lighter.

 

Why I Hate Mothers

CUTE KID ENVY

I hate mothers. There. I said it. Why? A) I’m not one. B) I’d like to be one at some point. C) That some point isn’t here and probably won’t be anytime soon.

When I see cute kids, I don’t think, “Oh my gosh, that kid is adorable. Good job, mother of cute, adorable kid.” I think, “Why the heck is that kid not my kid? Why is that your kid? What did you do to get/have/make that kid?”

The same is true for engagement rings and new houses and horses and miniature pigs. If you have those things, I probably don’t immediately think happy thoughts when you post a picture of them on Facebook or tell me about them. And that’s okay.

It’s okay, especially at 30, to be okay with not being okay. As a woman, there is so much pressure to conceive and to have a family, and when it doesn’t happen in your early twenties and you live in Southeast, Texas, well, you start to feel sort of faulty.
I’m saying “you,” but I mean “I,” and I’m obviously only speaking from and because of my own personal experience as a non-mother.

STORIES ABOUT YOUR CHILD POOPING

In the same way that my “mom” friends idealize my “freedom,” I idealize their ridiculous “you-wouldn’t-believe-what-baby-so-and-so-did-the-other-day” moments. Your kid shits on the rug. Funny. My dog shits on the rug. Gross. Your story is cute. My story is just sad.

BIRTH HORROR STORIES

For those mothers who had a kid the old-fashioned way, I am grateful, however, for the relief of not having something growing inside of my body like an alien. The one, singular thing that frightens the poop out of me about natural birth (See what I did there? Because that can happen!) is what it may do to my body. When you are creating a human and becoming a host for a giant parasite that is, in a sense, going to be stealing your life force for the rest of your life, the body suffers. The stress of birth, the stress of worry, the stress of worrying about the body after the birth, these things are all going to be there, sitting on my hips. Hanging onto me, hanging out of me. And though it sounds like a horror story, I’ve heard that if you have too many children, your bladder starts falling out. That’s right. Your. Bladder. Can. Come. Out.

Also, having a baby isn’t a miracle. If it is, I never want to witness a miracle again. I was there in the room for my nephew’s birth. What happened in that room was one step removed from Dead Alive. Keep your miracles to yourself. Jesus. Christ.
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Do I still want to hatch one? Okay. I guess. I think so. Maybe. One day? Three years from now. After I go for my PhD? After I live in Costa Rica for a year. No. I think I’ll adopt. Only if it’s an accident. No. Yes. No. OF COURSE I DO. Tonight!

SELFLESS OPTIONS

See. Here is the other problem I have with mothers. If you are a good mother, you’ve probably already started to limit your personal options. You drink less. You cook more. You’ve quietly and neatly and selflessly started closing off certain paths with child-proof safety locks, fastening those doors of opportunity from the inside. I’m a little annoyed that you now have a plan that consists of raising your spawn right and trying not to screw that up. I’m stuck with arrows that point in five hundred directions. My future is one big question mark. My sister is 21. She had my nephew, Alexander, at 19. She is one of the best, most energetic mothers I’ve ever seen. When she tells me things like, “Well, one day, when you’re a mother, you’ll understand,” (To be fair, she’s only said this once.) I want to run face first into the nearest wall. At least if I’m knocked unconscious, I don’t care about all those mommy perspective secrets, and I don’t care about not having something to care about.

FREQUENT LIES

Mothers lie. That’s the truth.
At first I think it comes from a good place. Santa Claus. Easter Bunnies. Tooth Fairies. I get it. Your mom always wants you to see the magic in the world. I’d rather my mom have told me about Leopard Seals. Those things are cooler than any princess or fairytale. See: http://www.ted.com/talks/paul_nicklen_tales_of_ice_bound_wonderlands

No, but really. My mother lied to me all of the time. I could walk in the kitchen with an oversized Korn t-shirt, a mouthful of braces, and play hackey-sack, and my mother would commend me on my talent and my style. She’d drop pearls of less than convincing wisdom as she balanced one of my sisters on her hip and opened a pack of Ramen Noodles with her teeth. She called my moles, “Beauty Marks.” LIAR.

All of this is weird to me. I want to tell my kids the truth. The first one being that they were hatched out of eggs by dinosaurs on another planet and then sent to me by the mail.

CHEETO FINGERS

At my sister’s high school graduation party, I watched something so horrific I almost threw up. It was a two-year-old eating Cheetos Puffs. At the time, my best friend was watching my face. She said, “If you ever look at my future child that way, I’m going to punch you in the face.” She is now a mother. At her beautiful daughter’s birthday party a few months ago, I watched her grab what she thought was a piece of tape from her daughter’s finger only to find that it was a booger. I repeated my look. We are still friends.

SUPER POWERS

I know you have them. All of you.

Lastly:

YOU KNOW WHAT YOUR KID WILL LOOK LIKE.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you ladies that kill me with inspiration! I hate you. (but love you too) (a lot) (more than you know)

Here are some pictures of my Mom. I hate her the most. I will never be able to live up to this beautiful woman who raised five kids with so much love and compassion. ❤
Hot Momma

I love her face.
I love her face.

Love,
Non-mother, Ashlynn Ivy

Visiting The Magician and His Wife

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When I was 19, I fell in love with a poet. When I was 23, the relationship ended, and I was left with a deep-rooted friendship, a head full of lovely words and experiences, new interests, poems, books, films, and most importantly, an extended family that gratefully asked to keep me. For the past ten years, Stella Jane and Ken Meaux have let me stay in the inner circle of their light, a magical place where we all sit in a cozy kitchen in Kaplan, Louisiana and talk about ghosts and life and recipes over strong coffee. It’s a relationship that has evolved into something that I can’t quite describe in words. For me, they exist as the physical embodiment of mystery. They fill my heart up with stories. Each visit is a release, a renewal. Confession is a long drive followed by cake and coffee. Communion is a bowl of red beans and rice. Salvation is a blanket in the sun encircled by the hymn of birdsong. Mr. Ken, also known as “The Great Boudini” (Google it), still performs magic shows on the weekends and is slowly perfecting his performance for his last “BIG show,” an event that will be held in a small haunted cabin in the woods.

THE HOUSE ON GOLDEN GRAIN ROAD
Eight miles East from Kaplan on Golden Grain road sits an old house with a rusted tin roof and boarded up windows. It is guarded by an angry rooster and a pair of chickens. The small field across the street is littered with white tombstones. It’s a forgotten cemetery that is always bright and baking in the sun. For the past nine years, on each visit, I make a special trip past the rice and crawfish fields to see this house. I take pictures of it from every angle, always trying to get a glimpse inside through its exposed beams. I’m not sure why I’m attached to it or why I keep going back.

I hope it’s always there.

FOR THE BIRDS
Stella Jane calls the blackbirds “Mardi Gras Birds” because they shine “an iridescent golden blue, green, and purple in the sun.”
“How do they sound, babe?” She asks Ken.
“Like glass dropping,” he replies.
“It’s like rusted hinges,” she tells me, mimicking the sound. “To him, every blackbird is a crow,” she says. “But there are so many different blackbirds. Red-winged Blackbirds, Starlings, with their speckled bodies and yellow eyes, Grackles.”

It’s obvious how their son became a poet.

GHOST STORIES
“Kenneth had a show at an old house near Evangeline. I was standing up and I felt two small taps, like a small child’s fingertips pressing against my back. I asked Kenneth if he had touched me, and he said he hadn’t. Kenneth spoke to the owner of the house, and he said his family had moved and that they now lived in Houston, but he still stayed in the house when he was in town. He said at night that there were always sounds upstairs. When they lived there, his daughter’s room was also upstairs. He told her if she ever needed anything, to call him, and he’d come get her. He didn’t want her falling down the dark stairs at night. One night, he woke up, and she was in the bed with he and his wife. He asked her why she didn’t call him, that he didn’t want her coming down the stairs on her own. She said, ‘But Daddy, you carried me.”

This first night I couldn’t sleep. I tried to force Annie to cuddle with me. She wasn’t interested.

CARDBOARD
I’ve always believed that my purpose in life has been to craft meaningful relationships, to try and be a benefit to someone else’s life, to create something beautiful out of my connection with other human beings. I know that even for my closest friends this can be unsettling. I get too wrapped up in the problems of others, have too many relationships that I can’t live without, become a beacon of anxiety. Empathy can be a curse, and sometimes I feel like I’m plowing through emotional war zones in my tank, armed with what I think is goodness, but in the end, the tank is made of cardboard and my bullets are just tears, and the only power I have is to carry weight, not lift it. Sometimes though. I think I’m getting it right. I just keep hoping all this cardboard is stronger than I think it is, and that all of these interesting and strange relationships I’ve made are perfect. And even if cardboard isn’t strong, with enough imagination and a bit of mystery, I can make my cardboard tank a boat, a house, a time machine, maybe even a spaceship. See. There is enough room for everyone.

*I would have loved to have ended this post with the poem that Kevin Meaux once wrote about his parents called “The Young Magician and His Wife.” I wish I had it at my fingertips, but my poetry books are all packed up from my last move, and I can’t remember it word for word. Samantha Meaux (always understanding and lovely wife of Kevin Meaux, if you read this, post it for us! Secretly. I know he probably still hates all forms of social media.)

Read This Valentine’s Day Story About Poo

The future scares the shit out of me. In fact, right now, this very second scares the shit out of me. There. A Valentine’s Day post that starts with something straight from the heart. Here’s my love story.

I can’t remember who said it, but a few months ago a friend of mine made a comment on a picture that I posted on Facebook that said something like, “One day, when I grow up, I hope my life is as exciting as yours.” Hold the phone. Cue the music. My real life doesn’t look anything like my Facebook timeline.

I hope that this is no surprise and that most of you feel the way that I do about social media. It’s a perfect distraction from feeling anything too deep. It keeps our heads on straight, filter-perfect. When I’m scrolling through all of my friends’ posts, I don’t have to think about much. It’s just a stream of non-thinking amusement, sometimes horror, sometimes sadness. Mostly though it’s just a dead-pan, zoning out thing I do to keep myself from thinking and actually doing anything productive.
It can be great.

And then there’s the posts and status updates. My BA and my MA are both in English, so I can generally use words to get a certain feeling out of people that I want. Now that I think of it, it’s sort of manipulative in a way. Adrienne, one of my best friends and bandmates, once said that I could post about poo and would get 100 likes on Facebook. If I could, it would only mean that I wrote about poo in a way that others found somewhat captivating. While they were doing their version of a zombie-Facebook-dance, I cut in and dipped them back. That’s how this shit works. Pun intended.

Also, I know I’ve met many of you in various bands that I’ve been in. Whether it was a solo project or singing with Mad Maude and the Hatters, some of you only know me through music endeavors. My actual day job, however, is as a Marketing and Communications Coordinator. I spend eight hours each day perfecting how to most effectively craft and sell a message, a mission. At this point, I’ve raised over half a million dollars for a nonprofit that I love, so I guess I’m okay at it. So keep that in mind if I ever write a poo post that gets 100 likes.

And let’s not forget about vanity. My grandmother and my grandmother’s sister died of lung cancer, my great-grandmother died of throat cancer, and my mother is a respiratory therapist. You know why I quit smoking? Because I don’t want wrinkles. So, if you see a cute photo I posted. I probably took twenty. I probably made my friend take twenty and then put a filter on it.

So, why do we play pretend? Well, because life isn’t so pretty. Take this photo for example:

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If we would have taken this photo an hour before, you’d have seen my head in Hattie’s lap, screaming and convulsing. This was the day that I had watched my brother fall back into the hands of addiction. For eight months he tried like hell to stay clean, but addiction is a daily, irrational beast to battle, and sometimes the problem feels like the solution. If you would have taken the photo at 2 a.m., you’d have seen me in a t-shirt, choking on tears and rain in the middle of the street, calling out for my brother. At 3 a.m., it would have been a calmer scene. Perhaps a black and white of the two of us, my brother and I huddled together on the porch, crying, wishing we could both fix each other. Loving each other at our worst.

That’s real life. Real life, real love isn’t always pretty. These raw images aren’t the kinds we’d want others to “like.” We all have them, tucked right beneath the surface. The worries. The doubts.

As I mentioned earlier, my fear of the future is debilitating. I’ve always tried to find a way to control it. I buy those Dollar Store planners and try to fill in every box, every day with an event, a future dinner, a coffee date, a talk with a good friend, a Rockets game. Worse than not having a plan, you see, is not having a plan and being alone. Filling in the spaces makes me feel complete. This process helps to curb the anxiety, the uncertainty of the future.

In terms of relationships, I’ve spent the last nine years of my life with three men who I tried to box into a plan. If they didn’t quite fit the part, fulfill every single need that I’d dreamt up, I left. At times I thought that it was a wedding ring, a kid that looked like me, or a move across the country that would have made the plan work.
During this search for the perfect future-version of my life, however, I forgot to see that the plan, that greater “future” that I had no control over was working.

I found out that I was about to turn 30. That I had built a world of relationships with people, co-workers, family, strangers, best friends, crushes, ex boyfriends (even ex boyfriend’s wives) and new semi-boyfriends that made me appreciate the hell out of Valentine’s Day. So, here’s to real life and real love.

I’m going to end this post with a few PARTY TIPS from Andrew W.K.
1. Doing what you love = partying
2. If you need someone to be your Valentine tomorrow, you can count on me.

Andrew W.K. playing his pizza guitar. Pizza=love
Andrew W.K. playing his pizza guitar. Pizza=love

Crystal “Clean” Beach, TX

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For the past few weeks, I’ve been driving back and forth from Beaumont to Bolivar Peninsula, where I’ve been, among other things, cleaning beach cabins with my grandmother. This “in-between” phase of my life is covered in Comet, bleach, Lysol Kitchen Cleaner, dust, Windex, dirt, Pledge, as well as all sorts of grime, and I couldn’t be happier.

After leaving my former full-time job to pursue other life opportunities, I’ve found myself again. When I have half of my body shoved in a stove and am wearing plastic gloves up to my elbows in a sea of Easy-Off, I smile. When I’m pulling out each drawer of a fridge to soak up a pool of fish blood left by a renter (not joking) at the bottom, I unroll the paper towels and soak it all up. I soak up that feeling of being young and motivated and free to choose what field or job I pursue next. With a rag tucked in each of my pockets, I make sure to step out on the porch every now and then. The ocean reminds me that I’m right where I’m supposed to be. Some days it’s still and peaceful, other days it’s littered with whitecaps, but one thing remains constant and awe-inspiring. Near sunset, this muddy sea filled with the runoff of the Mississippi turns purple and blue, and the sky bursts into flames of pink and orange that lick the skyline.

In between jobs, I drink coffee and listen to the waves. I take pictures of wildflowers. I listen to my grandfather play his saxophone. I walk down to the shoreline and watch the waves bite at my feet. I pick through seashells. The “in-between” is not so bad.

Though my advice may be a bit warped due to both sun and chemical exposure, it is rather simple stuff:

Comet works best for sinks. Magic Erasers are actually magical. Never clean with things that smell like lemon or pine trees. Fabuloso smells nice and is great to pour into toilets after they’ve been cleaned. Dyson’s are spectacular.

If you fold your toilet paper ends into a lovely, little triangle, you win at life.

Sometimes love is hard, and sometimes love is a hardback.

Inspired by Cassandra Neace’s bookish Valentine’s she posted about this past week, last night, I decided to order a large pizza, finish up Nancy Mitford’s Love in a Cold Climate, and attempt a few of my own.

A rare gem that I found at our local library’s yearly sale, was a hardback edition of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Sonnets from the Portuguese. The title is a bit misleading. As it mentions in a note, before Elizabeth Barrett Moulton-Barrett finally left her father’s house and eloped with Robert Browning, he had called her his “little Portuguese.” The sonnets were published in 1850.

What I love about this edition are the amazing cameos that were done by Fred A. Mayer. Across from every sonnet is a little scene that makes my heart melt. Let it be known, I love cameos. LOVE.

 

So, DING! My Valentines were born. You see, I’m one of those people who collect all sorts of paper and scrapbooking materials, but I do not own a single scrapbook. Once, after a feverish trip to Hobby Lobby, I did complete a single page, which I come across every now and then and can’t bear to throw away.

Here they are in all their glory:

I scanned the pages of the book on resume paper to give the image a slightly older look, sparing the original pages of my lovely book. Then, I went glue-happy with bits of paper. The little text hearts were made from two pages of Byron criticism, which I find sort of funny.  I still hated to tear out those two pages. Tearing a book page is so so so strange, even if you’ve read the book and know it can go.

If I were less lazy, I’d send all my bookish friends one, but I ran out of steam after the fourth piece of pizza.

Oh, and look at this:

My friend April put this adorable crochet heart in my mailbox the other day, and I thought it was the most thoughtful little gift. I’m not going to lie. I probably cried. I’ve been trying to learn to crochet for years. Now, I have an extra bit of motivation.

Is it weird that all I care about getting on Valentine’s Day is a nice meal? Feed me, and I’m yours. I’m sure someone has some food inspired Valentines around here. I’ll look.