T.S. Eliot claimed April is the cruelest month, and in many ways he was right. The last few weeks have been a roller-coaster - full of ups and downs, highs and lows, abandoned plans, new goals, and a whole lot of pollen. We planted our spring garden at the end of March and in many ways that set the tone for April. It's been a month of growth beneath the soil, laying the groundwork for things to come. More on all that later. For now, here's the rest of what's been keeping me busy these past few weeks.
White Tears, by Hari Kunzru. It was my book club pick this month, and it was wild. At first, it's about two white boys who love the blues so much they end up appropriating it for their own commercial success. Half way though, like flipping a record to hear the B side, it turns into a ghost story about race and retribution that goes places I never saw coming. The structure was ambitious but Kunzru pulled it off beautifully. This book will haunt me (but in a good way!) for a long time.
Leftovers, mostly. I'm convinced they're the unsung hero of the kitchen, and am always happy when I can get two nights of meals out of one night of cooking. Embracing leftovers also helped us finally get our grocery budget under $400 a month, which has been a long-time goal. Hooray!
Nurse Jackie. The whole series (80 episodes!) is on Netflix and we've spent the last month or so working through them. It's about a talented and passionate ER nurse with a drug addiction, and it's really, really good. Funny and dramatic and sad and exactly 25 minutes long, which is the perfect way to end a long day. Plus Edie Falco, who plays the eponymous character, is a graduate from my alma mater, SUNY Purchase, which is pretty neat.
Peppermint tea. In an effort to trim our booze budget and also cut down on booze in general, I bought a box of peppermint tea. I realized that a evening glass of wine or beer had become more about the ritual then a desire to drink every single night. Replacing that ritual with something equally delicious and "special" tells my body it's time to relax without risking my budget, my body, or my brain. (Hangovers in your 30s are no joke.)
30 minutes a day. A few months ago, I finished another draft of my novel-in-progress and handed it off to a few good readers. In the meantime, I've returned to short stories. In April I committed to writing for 30 minutes every morning before work, a good habit that had gotten away from me. I managed to meet my goal most days, and it's already paying off! I just placed a story with a journal I love (see you in July, Joyland!) and I'm excited about some new drafts. Oh! And I forgot to mention this, but I published two things in March - "Anatomy Lesson" appeared in Cleaver, while storySouth published "Dark Matter." Overall, it's been a good season for my fiction.
Outdoor projects. Nathan and I love starting projects, but we're not always the best at finishing them. This month, thanks to a few pockets free time, we finished a ton of them! We got new chicks, which spurred us to improve the coop. We already built two new top bar hives for the bees we ordered over the winter. We rearranged the kitchen and cleaned out some junk drawers. We sold a bunch of stuff on Craigslist and organized things for a yard sale. The start of a new season is always inspiring, but there's something particularly energizing about spring. I'm glad we were able to take advantage of the momentum and make so much progress in our home and yard!
An overhaul of this blog! Regular readers might have noticed that I don't blog nearly as much as I used to. I've been thinking a lot about what I want to do with this space - mostly, how to keep writing about my life in a way that balances my desire to tell stories with my need for privacy. I think I've figured it out, and I'm looking forward to kicking off May with a new design, a new URL (!), and a new focus. I'll still write about my life (I couldn't stop if I wanted to) but I think a fresh focus will give me the motivation and enthusiasm I've been lacking. Stay tuned!