Let’s see how the formidable 30-30-30-10 formation fares.
I live in the Mid-Atlantic region so we have four seasons and Winter Is Cold.
I used to work full-time so I remember the sheer terror of hunting through the closure lists, trying to determine if both the school and the daycare were closed, if I had calls or meetings that could be rescheduled, if moving those work-related appointments around would reflect poorly on me, if I would be able to get any work done with two small people who only pay attention to me when I’m on the phone or computer, both of which I needed to do my job.
I’ve been at home for five years. (I don’t know if you’ve heard, but being a stay-at-home parent is a job too. People assume I haven’t heard because they keep telling me.) I don’t have that particular kind of snow-day stress anymore. If parents need me to watch their kids during a two-hour delay or a closure, my door is always open. (I don’t do crafts unless my daughter comes up with an idea and the supplies are easily accessible.)
This winter doesn’t seem particularly bad, but we had a rough stretch of cold weather that led to an early dismissal, two-hour delay and a closure last week alone. My nerves started to fray yesterday when I got a text while I was at the bus stop, alerting me my kids (fresh off a three-day weekend) would be sent home because a storm was due to arrive around 3.
The storm came at 9.
This morning, we woke up to two inches of snow and a two-hour delay. OK, that made sense, the roads hadn’t been plowed and the buses making their rounds after rush hour meant a lower risk for accidents. Then, 30 minutes later, a text announcing that schools were closed.
For two inches of snow.
This is how the day went:
7 am: Wake up daughter, tell her there’s a delay and she should go back to sleep.
7:05 am: Instantly alert, she gets her brother up.
7:30 am: Inform offspring they have the day off.
7:45 am: Husband leaves for work.
8:00 am: Trainer from the gym texts me that roads are bad, he’ll see me on Friday.
8:30 am: Neighbor texts me about sledding. We agree going to a huge hill 15 miles away may not be the best option, settle on the hill behind my house at 10:30.
8:30-10:15 am: Research meteorology programs, settle Minecraft disputes (I don’t play the game; they’re fighting over IMAGINARY THINGS IN MAKE-BELIEVE WORLDS; even Mr. Rogers would have reached his limit), ensure everyone has breakfast that is not Pepperidge farm goldfish.
10:15 am: Shower.
10:20 am: Daughter flies into the bathroom during my shower to inform me SLEDS CANNOT BE FOUND. I suggest looking in the garage, maybe using cardboard boxes would be a good alternative.
10:23 am: Son flies into the bathroom during my shower to inform me he has shoveled and salted everywhere without having to be told, a medal and/or a parade would be great.
10:25 am: Daughter returns to the bathroom during my shower to reassure me the sleds have been found.
10:30 am: Friends arrive.
10:40 am: My son has two different gloves on, and one is not snow-proof. He lost the other snow-proof one at school.
10:45 am: My son calls it a day. Other parent graciously keeps an eye on my daughter and his kid.
11:00 am-12:30 pm: Everyone returns inside, we have hot chocolate, kids play a game and adults chat.
12:30-3:00 pm: Kids rotate between television, Minecraft and the computer. I finish Book Four of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series. (I will write more when I finish the whole thing, but Books Three and Four were great. Four stars on Goodreads.)
3:00-4:00 pm: I start Book Five and it’s an Hour of No Electronics while kids do their own reading.
4:00-5:00 pm: I debate asking my husband to bring home dinner, and decide to scan Pinterest for ideas instead. I settle on one and both kids ask what we are having, I respond “chicken, rice and salad,” and they say OK. If I tell them Honey Dijon Garlic chicken, their faces may permanently stay scrunched up in disgust.
5:00-6:00 pm: I eat the Honey Dijon Garlic chicken, rice and salad. My daughter helpfully reminds me this is the third day in a row we’ve had chicken (slow cooker chicken fajitas, roasted chicken with veggies and tonight’s offering). I count to 10 six times. She and my son decide to make bagel pizzas. I call my husband to let him know I made dinner, could he bring me home some soup.
6:00-7:00 pm: Husband texts me at 6:05 and tells me he’s home with soup, dinner is yummy. The kids and I are at piano lessons. As we are leaving piano lessons, son hits daughter with two snow balls. Rainbow Connection is playing in the car on the way home and I turn it up HIGH to drown out the litany of complaints daughter has about son.
7:10 pm: Come home to garage door open, garage lights on, husband has not cleaned up his meal. He proudly declares he has soup AND has started the dishwasher without having to be told, a medal and/or parade would be great.
7:15 pm: BREAKING: Online Offal’s shaky grip on the last tendrils of her patience.
7:30-8:00 pm: “Kids, let’s leave Mom alone for awhile.”
8:00-8:30 pm: Bath and bedtime edicts.
It’s supposed to be 50 degrees by Saturday.
When the kids went back to school in late August, I reunited with Netflix. Our wifi is abysmal but refusing to submit to Comcast is a hill I’m willing to die on, so if a child is on the computer or a tablet, Netflix for me is out.
I felt guilty enough for watching so much uninterrupted television that I decided to start crocheting, and ultimately made nearly every family member an afghan for Christmas, about 9 in total. (A young niece and nephew got hats, and I made my grandmother a matching scarf and hat.)
Here’s what I watched:
Sports Series That Lived Up to the Hype: 2017 World Series
Documentary About Some Badass Women: The Keepers
Unsatisfied with local law enforcement’s efforts to find out who killed their beloved English teacher, Sister Cathy, her former students–now in their 60s–combine their resources to find out what happened. It’s so frustrating how their efforts are thwarted at the local and city levels, and it made me angry that a young nun’s death could have been covered up to help keep secret what priests were doing to girls in that high school. The former students are steadfast and unflappable in their pursuit of justice.
Comic Book Series I Hate-Watched: The Iron Fist
The best part of this white-washed show was the villain and then she turned out to be boring, too.
Comic Book Series I Watched With My Blankie and One Hand Over My Face (Which Made Crocheting Really Hard): The Punisher
Unrelentingly violent. From the first episode to the last. Like … I get your point, Frank. I really do. I thing everyone does. Please do something more productive than drawn-out torture. Please.
Period Series That Were Very Good
After losing her parents, the (actress who played) Lady Sybil Crawley goes to a relative’s hotel to live and work. She soon realizes something is amiss, and uncovers a smuggling ring that includes almost everyone in town and is carried out in a most disturbing way. The series is based on a Daphne Du Maurier novel.
An Irish immigrant is convicted in the double murder of her employer and his housekeeper in Canada, but a psychiatrist is sent to determine whether she is to be pardoned; it’s unclear whether she was a full participant or an accessory. (An unreliable female narrator? WHO KNEW) The psychiatrist soon becomes obsessed with his subject. This series, like A Handmaid’s Tale, is based on the work of Margaret Atwood.
A Science Fiction Show, Complete with Subtle Conspiracies, That Does Not Seem Like a Science Fiction Show Until You Realize It’s Normalized Resurrection and Reincarnation #waitwhat: Glitch
A bunch of people come back to life by digging themselves out of their own graves in what at first could be a cliched happy ending to Pet Sematary. But! Some people have been dead two years, others decades. Their loved ones have moved on. They slowly remember how they died. A cop—whose dead wife is one of the resurrected—and a physician—who has an affair with another—have to figure out what’s going on without stirring up too much attention, and to keep safe from another group of people trying to kill them. Both seasons are pretty strong, and the writing and acting are great.
Science Fiction That Started Out Great But Declined Into a Hate Watch Series: Continuum
It started out with a promising, if trite, premise: can you change the future by going back to the past? But Continuum lasted two seasons before its writers were all, “Well what do we do now?” and introduced confusing temporal paradoxes and contradictory character development that made the show watchable. Oh and the answer to the question, according to this show, is yes.
A Science Fiction Show Whose Writing Was So Lazy I Couldn’t Even Hate Watch: Dark Matter
Six people wake up on a spaceship with their memories wiped and eventually find out they’re criminals who are employed as enforcers. What makes it interesting (and hopeful) is that they instinctively work together–people are inherently good, after all!–to solve their initial crisis in the pilot show. But huge plot holes arise and much of the conflict in the next two is resolved off camera and relayed through casual dialogue. #nope.
Science Fiction That Handled Time Travel and Reincarnation Quite Well: Travelers
Catastrophic events make the future a decidedly not swell place to be, but people have figured out how to send consciousness back in time. These people, called Travelers, take over a person’s body right after the person’s supposed time of death. The Travelers have a specific purpose: Prevent an asteroid from colliding into Earth, which triggers global-warming enhanced famine and destruction. The show basically takes the same premise as Continuum but with far better results. The first season was pretty solid but I still have to see Season 2.
A Show That Successfully Incorporates Science Fiction, Comic Book and Western Genres: Wynonna Earp
Wynonna, second oldest daughter of Wyatt Earp, reluctantly and sullenly returns to Purgatory to fulfill his legacy of killing demons. She has help from her indefatigable younger sister, Waverly; a federal agent, Dolls; some cops; and a never-aging Doc Holliday. Come for the witty dialogue; stay for Wynonna’s baby shower.
Procedural Series That Are Still Great in Their Third Season:
Hardy and Miller investigate a rape this time around, although we revisit their controversial past case tangentially.
I love Olivia Colman, who injects such empathy and compassion into her characters. Her chemistry with David Tennant (aka The Official Doctor of Online Offal) is wonderful, and illustrates that yes, indeed, women can work with men without any sort of underlying sexual tension.
The show transitions from focusing on Pablo Escobar to the three brothers comprising the Cali Cartel, who swooped in to take advantage of the power vacuum after Escobar’s death. In particular, it focuses on a man who defects from the cartel to become an informer of (handsome and winsome) agent Javier Pena. It’s an ultimately frustrating tale of how much one is willing to put up with a trade wreaks havoc and destruction because the people who inflict it are part of a larger political agenda.
Procedural Shows Inspired by/Similar to Broadchurch Just to Remind You People Everywhere Have the Capability of Being Truly Disgusting to Their Fellow Man: (Alternate Description: Brooding Male Detective in New Environment Overcomes Internal Angst to Solve Unspeakable Crimes)
The Break (La Treve) (takes place in Belgium)
Hinterland (takes place in Wales)
Case (takes place in Iceland)
Wallander (takes place in Sweden)
Bordertown (takes place in Finland)
Shetland (takes place in a archipelago north of Scotland; technically the UK)
Procedural Shows in Which the Brooding Detective is Female:
Marcella (takes place in London)
Deep Water (takes place in Australia)
Paranoid (takes place in the UK)
A Procedural Show That Takes the Best Parts of Stephen King’s It and Stand By Me: The Five
A boy goes missing after hanging out in the forest with his older brother and the brother’s friends. The show explores how the effects of the disappearance can still reverberate after 20 years. It comes to a deeply satisfying conclusion and reinforces the inexplicable power and healing that childhood friendship provides, even after two decades have passed. TL;DR: Your buddy Online Offal was a puddle of tears after watching this show.
A Procedural Series I Didn’t Know What to Do With: Mindhunter
I couldn’t tell what the point of this show was: a retelling of Silence of the Lambs? An FBI agent turns to serial killers to make him a better boyfriend? Serial killers act the way they do because of their mothers? Understanding serial killers will help us in trying to identify and/or prevent prospective ones?
The series starts out SLOW and even though Jonathan Groff is extremely pretty, I couldn’t get what this show was trying to accomplish. All that being said, the scenes of two FBI agents interviewing serial killers in prison juxtaposed with a man preparing to and beginning to kill is eerie and compelling.
Honorable Mentions: Stranger Things 2 (Serviceable, Got the Job Done) and Ozark (The Only Character I Liked Died; I Don’t Care What Happens to Anyone Else)
I read a lot of formulaic and utterly predictable romance novels last year. I know there’s good writing in every genre, but I was so embarrassed about what I was reading that I didn’t even count those books toward my annual total. It was like eating comfort food (e.g., raw cookie dough, queso) that feels good for maybe two minutes and then my mind would remind me how these books reinforce gender stereotypes and don’t feature any interesting characters who have something important or different to say.
That being said, I did manage to get my hands on the equivalent of some literary vegetables that were invigorating for my mind and overall wellbeing. The list below is about books I’ve read in 2017, not necessarily about books that were published in that timeframe.
Bad Feminist, by Roxane Gay
I follow Roxane Gay on Twitter, and this collection of essays encompasses her wide-ranging areas of interest, from Scrabble to Real Housewives to (most importantly) race. Her immensely talented voice translates nicely from 140 (now 280) characters to long form pieces. Every single essay made me think. (Full disclosure: I was inspired to write this post after she published a similar one on her tumblr.)
On Beauty, by Zadie Smith
This book has been on my shelf forever and I’m so glad I finally got around to reading it. This story about a mixed-race liberal couple whose son falls in love with daughter of a conservative scholar really resonated with me this past year, and offered an insightful look into the stuffy, claustrophobic world of academia.
Best Book We Read in Book Club
The Storied Life of AJ Fikry, by Gabrielle Zevin
Storied Life is unique in that it was a quick read but was NOT fluff. Fikry is a cantankerous bookseller who finds himself raising a child who was left in his bookshop. That’s what any standard summary will tell you, but it’s so much more than that: it’s a story about marriage, parenthood and books.
A Book I Thought I Wasn’t Going to Like But I Did
The Royal We, by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan
I decided to read this fictional account of the courtship of Kate Middleton and Prince William just after Prince Harry announced his engagement to Meghan Markle. It was utterly charming and heartfelt, demonstrating that indeed good writing can be found in romance.
Books That Got Great Reviews But I Found Them to Be Underwhelming
Sisterland, by Curtis Sittenfeld
This is the third book I’ve read by Sittenfeld (Prep and An American Wife are the others) and the third book that I thought had great potential but fell short. I will keep trying.
What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty
I know Big Little Lies was a huge deal but I thought that book was OK at best and didn’t bother to watch the miniseries. I took one last trip in Liane’s World of Selfish and Self-Involved Privileged Rich White Ladies and I am DONE.
A Book by Anne Tyler That I Think Will Be As Good As Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant But Am Ultimately Disappointed
Spool of Blue Thread, by Anne Tyler
I hope I will have more categories next year.
Area Woman’s Brilliant Friends Are Planning to Call Their Google Home “KITT” And She Is Secretly Upset She Didn’t Think of That First (She Doesn’t Own or Plan to Own a Google Home)
Child Who Loudly Complained About Dinner for a Good Thirty Minutes Is Puzzled His Mother Is Ignoring Him and Drinking a Beer
Child Who Was Disappointed She Had to Go to School Yet Had an Early Dismissal Due to Inclement Weather Is Now Bored
UPDATE: Bored Child Who Procrastinated on Schoolwork Is Now Miserable
Child Who Threw a Fit Last Night at Dinner Because Vegetables Are Gross Eats All Kinds of Ice En Route to Bus Stop
SAFETY CORNER: It’s Been 0 Days Since I’ve Stepped on a LEGO