NYC Midnight 2019 Flash Fiction Challenge: Round #1 Submission

For those of you who are unfamiliar with flash fiction, here’s a simple definition:

Fiction of a type characterized by being very short, typically consisting of only a few hundred words.

Thank you, internet.

For this specific challenge offered by NYC Midnight, the stories have to be 1,000 words or less. The writers are broken up into groups and each group is assigned a genre, a location, and an object. Putting all these pieces together, each writer has 48 hours to create a piece of fiction written in their assigned genre that is 1,000 words or less where the setting is the assigned primary location and the assigned object must make an appearance somewhere in the story. All stories are reviewed by a panel of judges and then ranked. Writers gain points through the ranking process and the more points you have, the better shape you’re in. All writers compete in rounds one and two and then only writers with a certain amount of points move on to round three, and then the same idea again for round four. It can be pretty fun; this is my third time participating.

While I certainly don’t think this is my best writing, I know it’s not my worst. And while the challenge provides writers with 48 hours to complete their submission, Andrew and I only had five hours to dedicate to the challenge due to unforeseen circumstances. I originally wrote it in the past tense and then changed it to present tense to ratchet up the suspense, so I was really worried about there being major tense mistakes that I overlooked. Given the circumstances, I’ll take it. It was in before the deadline and I ticked all the boxes. So without further stalling or explanation, here it is:

Genre: Horror // Location: A Surprise Birthday Party // Object: A Loudspeaker

Birthday Surprise

Jenny sucks in a breath and holds it. She’s one block from home and she’s positive the butterflies in her stomach will flutter out if she exhales. All day she’s been dreaming about her “surprise” birthday party. Did my parents order a red velvet cake? Will my crush be there? Am I getting a car? Her best friends, Amber and Megan, are great friends but they’re terrible at keeping secrets. The girls had spilled the beans about the party earlier that week and Jenny was thrilled.

Surely the guests will be peeking through the blinds awaiting her arrival. She rounds the bushes, walks up the driveway, and down the walkway to the front door. She slides her key into the lock, gives the handle a turn, and pushes. 

“Surprise! Happy birthday!” echoes loudly from inside the dark sitting room off the entryway but it sounds odd, almost tinny. The darkness inside is inky and jarring but Jenny plays along though she can’t see anyone yet. Why hasn’t anyone flicked on the lights? she thinks. 

“Oh my goodness! What a surprise!” she says and fumbles for the light switch on the far wall. Her facial expression is ready for her adoring friends and family if she can only find the damn switch. Finally—flick.

Her smile melts as she takes stock of the room, her mouth falling open in disbelief. A three-tiered cake in the corner is splattered with blood. Presents on the coffee table are sitting in a puddle of red. The white walls look like Jackson Pollock paintings adorned with crimson streaks and strokes. 

Jenny’s chest heaves, her pulse races in her neck. Eyes widen, palms sweat, and mouth goes dry. She steps deeper into the room, her shoes slick with blood, a metallic odor fills her nose. Tears start falling as she inventories the familiar faces. Mom, dad, brother. Amber and Megan. Aunt, uncle, cousins. The next door neighbors who were more like family than neighbors. Even Daisy, her golden fur soaked with blood. Everyone’s throats had been slit down to the bone. All of them. The white vertebra peeking through the bloody gashes is too much. Sick rises in her throat, she can’t catch her breath, she clenches her eyelids tight and she’s ready to scream when there’s a sharp click of a loudspeaker turning on followed by consistent background hiss. 

A voice cuts through the noise. 

“Jenny? Do you know what day it is?” It’s a male voice and his tone sounds like he’s grinning. Paralyzed by fear, Jenny can’t answer.

“Well, DO YOU?” the voice yells followed by a sharp pang of audio feedback. Jenny slams her hands over her ears.

“Yes!” she manages, eyes still shut tight, “It’s my birthday.” Terrified to move, she silently cries, tears and saliva fall from her face and join the pool of hot urine and sticky blood beneath her. 

“That’s right, Jenny. It’s your birthday! It wouldn’t be a birthday without a present, now would it? But I have to sing you Happy Birthday first.” 

“I don’t want a present! I don’t want a song! I just want to get the fuck out of here!” Jenny screamed to nowhere specific in the room. 

“Come now, that’s not the birthday spirit. You’ll like my song, I promise. Then you can have your present.” The familiar tune began to play but it was in a minor key. It was darker, sinister sounding. The voice sang: 

Happy birthday to you, 

You don’t remember the things you do. 

You’ve killed everyone that you love, 

So why not just kill yourself too?

What?” Jenny says opening her eyes slowly.

“You don’t remember, do you? Shame, you brought all your rage to this knife fight, if we can even call it that. They didn’t have anything to fight back with. You were a murderous marvel, truly.”

Jenny screams toward the loudspeaker, “What the FUCK are you talking about?”

“You know those pills your mother got you for your acne? Those were actually for your anger issues. You know, where you get so upset that you blackout and can’t remember anything?”

A spotlight turns on highlighting the blood spattered birthday cake in the corner. An ebony handled knife is sticking out of the top tier. 

“Here’s your present, Jenny. It’s a choice. Everyone you love and care about is dead by your hand. You have no one left. No one to love you, no one to help you, no one to share your life with. What kind of a life is that? So choose—to live a worthless life filled with nothing but loss and pain, or join the ones you love and murder the last living person you care about.”

Jenny stares at the handle, chest heaving, eyes bloodshot, the sound of blood pounding in her ears.

“Tick-tock,” the voice says, then screams, “WHAT’S IT GOING TO BE?”

Jenny lets out a long guttural scream and sprints across the room toward the cake, hurdling over bodies, before clenching the knife in her fist and plunges it into her stomach. She stumbles against the wall behind her and slowly slides down. Her breathing slows and she closes her eyes one last time.

“Jenny? Jenny, can you hear me?” asks the voice. The air is thick with anticipation. There is no response. 

“Okay, can we get a confirmation please? Everybody hold positions until confirmation is complete.”

A man dressed in white enters and takes Jenny’s vitals. He reports to the room, “Confirmed, subject #36 is deceased.” 

The same male voice from the loudspeaker, but now chipper and energetic says, “Thanks, everybody, that’s a wrap for today. Get yourselves cleaned up and get some rest—that was a tough one.”

# # #

Post-Experiment Report: Trial Series 7, Subject #36

Gentlemen,

While we are indeed making progress, further testing is required to perfect the formula. Please acquire and prepare additional test subjects and hire appropriate actors for further scenarios.

Sincerely, 

Dr. Hildabrandt

Chief Behavioral Coercion Officer

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101 Waterfalls

This past Christmas, in lieu of gifts, Andrew and I booked a cabin and headed up to one of our favorite places: Maine. We love the quiet, the beauty, and the nice, welcoming, hardworking people. It’s great.

We planned an overnight stop in Freeport before heading to our main Maine destination further up the coast. While Freeport has become a little too congested and focused on outlet shopping for us to consider it our final respite destination, we are big fans of L.L. Bean and this town happens to be the home of L.L. Bean’s headquarters, including their flagship store which is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Not that we’re typically jonesing for outdoor gear at 2:00 AM, but this is A) an interesting quirk for a tiny town of just 7,879 people (according to the 2010 census), and B) sometimes it’s nice to shop once the worshipers of the all mighty nickel have returned home from their outlet shopping pilgrimage.

While we were leisurely strolling through the different departments around 10:00 PM, I came across this book in the hiking section:

Andrew and I have a soft spot in our hearts for waterfalls. We had an amazing experience in 2009 while visiting Dominica (not to be confused with the Dominican Republic) where we swam at the base of a waterfall in the middle of the rainforest.

https://www.trover.com/d/QXiy-middleham-falls-saint-paul-dominica

Disclaimer: While this is indeed a picture of that particular waterfall, this is not our photo. I’ll save those for another post.

This memory is so vivid I swear I can still feel the rush of cool water over my skin, feel the mist spritzing in my eyes from the surface of the pool, feel the pressure on my chest from the cascading water hitting the basin after a 200 ft drop, and feel the adrenalin pumping through my body while trying not to think about how deep the pool might be or what creatures might call this basin home. Sometimes when I’m in the shower, I’ll turn the temperature down really low, plunge my whole head under the running water, close my eyes, and ruminate in that memory for a quick moment. But not for too long because that water was damn cold despite being in a hot and humid Caribbean rainforest!

So when I came across this book in L.L. Bean, we both offered an enthusiastic and in tandem, “Oooooooooooo!” That was enough discussion to know the book was leaving the store with us. We bought the book and soon after started making plans. The book contains 101 waterfalls throughout New England and we plan to visit all of them in 2019. Some of them are on the easier side and some of them will take a little more planning and effort to reach, but who doesn’t like a good challenge?

We’d be honored to have you follow our challenge and we hope we won’t disappoint. We’ve started already and have some good stories to share soon. So come back to read about our ups and downs (literal and figurative), see pictures of some beautiful places throughout New England, and maybe get inspired to do your own challenge in your own way. Maybe you want to read every novel written by Agatha Christie. Maybe you’re interested in visiting every battleground in your state. Maybe you want to try the delectable offerings of every food truck in your city. (Okay, totally do that one, just please invite me along for the ride!) Figure out what YOUR kind of adventure is and go for it—what do you have to lose? With the right planning and motivation, (almost) anything is possible.

One last tidbit. Andrew and I exchanged gifts the night before we were married. This is what I gave him:

Our relationship started with an epic adventure to Europe and we knew we’d have many more in many different forms. It’s who we are; it’s what we’re passionate about. And while this compass offers clarity and direction for our adventures, I’d argue these adventures offer clarity and direction for our lives.

A Renaissance of Sorts

Why, hello there. Remember me? This is kind of embarrassing. It’s been “a while” since I last posted and even that’s being exceedingly generous—try three years and three months, or in cringeworthy terms: 1,185 days. Barf. That feels pretty wrong while professing to be a writer and all. So here I am, back in the proverbial saddle, gearing up to write on a more consistent basis about regular topics, experiences, and musings. The timing of this resurgence feels apropos with Email Debt Forgiveness Day having just passed on April 30th—you know what I’m talking about, fellow Reply All fans. So in the spirit of this relatively new “holiday,” I decided to focus my energy toward my withered, malnourished, neglected, but never forgotten, blog. Please forgive me for my lengthy absence and allow me to give you a preview of what’s to come.

To go forward, we must first go back. For those of you that don’t know, Andrew and I bought a house last year—yay!—but in a new city an hour away from Malden—boo. That meant passing the torch to a new facilitator for The Malden Writers’ Collaborative. Chris Hickey, a longtime TMWC member and a dear friend of mine, began facilitating the group this past October with the beginning of the 2018-2019 season. It sounds like he’s doing a great job and I’m especially thankful to the group for embracing a new leader and extending grace and understanding with the transition.

On a personal level, I’m grateful to now have a peer that understands the delicate minutia, relationships, and intricacies involved with nurturing a living, breathing, growing creative group like this one. It’s easy to assume the facilitator’s job is, well, to facilitate, but there are behind the scenes responsibilities that demand time and energy as well, two things one’s own creative muse incessantly begs for too. So while I absolutely loved founding and subsequently facilitating TMWC for eight years, there were more than a few trying moments and some downright discouraging moments along the way. Thankfully, there were other moments that recharged my batteries and sustained my spirit: a sentence within a member’s submission so beautiful it literally stopped me in my tracks, a brilliant piece of feedback from a member who usually remained quiet during workshops, a prompt response from a member who adamantly proclaimed, “Oh, but I’m not a writer,” even after the rest of us picked up our jaws from the floor because of how stunning the writing was, or a submission so unusual that I still haven’t stopped thinking about it since 2014. Moments like these are what kept me going and made any sacrifice or stress feel completely worthwhile.

So am I sad? Yes. I miss the group. I miss the camaraderie. I miss being transported into different settings and meeting new characters with each new workshop. I miss the safe space we created, full of acceptance, respect, and joy, and void of negativity, jealousy, and judgement. I wish I could have kept facilitating but the commute would have been nuts, especially for a volunteer position. So am I also happy? Yes. I’m thrilled to take the energy I put into TMWC and focus on my own creative writing once again. I’d convinced myself that my involvement with the group counted as writing. And sure, maybe in some small way it was—like a wannabe chef who goes out to dinner every night but never practices their knife skills or researches new recipes. While it’s relevant, it’s not really practicing the craft. I definitely wasn’t getting my butt in the chair and cranking out pages, that’s for sure. This long lead up is here to help me say you can expect more creative writing from me here in this blog now that I have the dedicated time and energy. Don’t expect it to be stellar right away, but like with anything, it will get better with practice.

Now that we’re done going back, let’s move forward. Andrew and I have a fun challenge arranged for 2019. It’s proved trying already—hey, we’re still alive, so that’s a plus!—but we think it will be well worth it in the end. I’ll divulge specifics in my next post—guess you’ll have to check back again soon.

And what good is writing if you aren’t reading too? Feel free to disagree, but you’ll be wrong. So I’ll be reading more, which will lead to more book reviews too.

So that’s what’s in the works right now. With everything, you gotta start somewhere. Cheers to fresh starts and I’ll see ya back here again real soon.

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

SpeakSpeak by Laurie Halse Anderson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I picked up this book on a whim. If I’m being honest, I was feeling uninspired in the YA section of my local bookstore and grabbed this book solely because it was a National Book Award Finalist. My thought was, someone thought it was worth reading, I’ll give it a shot. As I read the book, I kept feeling more and more nostalgic for my own hometown and high school experience. It was uncanny how much I actually felt like I was walking through the halls of my alma mater. I got a chuckle at how the story was set in a suburb of Syracuse, NY (I, too, am from a suburb of Syracuse), how the school mascot went through an identity crisis throughout the book and finally settled on the hornet (my high school’s mascot is also the hornet…), and how the main character talks about driving west into the “big city” (my high school is east of Syracuse as well……). Curiosity got the better of me and I had to look it up. Low and behold, the author, Laurie Halse Anderson, and I are alums of the same high school — small world!

I’m certain this book resonates with many readers specifically because of the plot. Just read the author’s letter in the beginning of the book and the poem that follows composed of lines from different letters and emails she’s received over the years from readers. Without a doubt, this book has struck a chord with many. And while I found the plot compelling too, I fell in love with this book in a different way, from a writer’s point of view. I wish I had read it during grad school because I could have written fifteen different annotations about it.

The book is made up of vignettes, or snapshots in time, and this provides the reader a great view into Melinda’s day-to-day life, moments she feels are worth mentioning. The way she uses nicknames for other characters (Hairwoman, Mr. Neck, Principal Principal, IT, etc.) tells the reader as much about these characters as it does about her. We, the readers, start to feel like Melinda’s only friend, her confidant, within the confusing world of adolescence. As if teenage years weren’t confusing and stressful enough, Melinda is hiding something from everyone, even herself. Melinda allows us into her mind, into her thoughts and feelings, and we root for her to overcome.

The language is also approachable while still witty and intelligent. I love how the author was able to covertly teach a few English lessons within the book too (symbolism, passive voice vs. active voice, and “lively adjectives”).

The way time is handled within the story felt fresh and new too. The story moves forward in time, from Melinda’s first day of ninth grade to the last day of ninth grade, while the secret, which happened before the story actually starts, is slowly brought to light through breadcrumbs. Low-grade suspense, curiosity, and fear all run in the background for the reader as the story approaches the reveal of the secret.

The thing I was most blown away by was when the author “broke the rules.” There were some places within the book where conventionality stepped aside for the betterment of the story. The most notable place was where Melinda finally spills the beans to the reader about what happened that night over the summer. Socially acceptable rules about dialogue, punctuation, structure, form, and pacing were broken here but for a perfect purpose. And it works. That is the thing that is most notable. Sometimes authors break the rules and it feels false or forced, but sometimes it really, really works, and this is a great example of successful rule breaking.

There are many other aspects of this book I could mention but I’d rather say just enough to entice you to read the book yourself. I’d love to read the book that made Speak a National Book Award Finalist instead of a Winner because this book has so much going for it. A++

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Sleight of Hand Supermarket Magic

Greetings, my fellow Savers!

Tonight I’m writing about one of my biggest supermarket pet peeves. It’s something I refer to as sleight of hand supermarket magic. Let me explain by example:

I love, love, love baby bella mushrooms. On pizza, with steak, in omelets, even by themselves. Yes, I’ve been known to eat an entire package of them for my dinner on occasion. So when they go on sale, I get excited. Recently, the husband and I were at the local Stop & Shop picking up some ingredients when I stumbled upon this beaut:

IMG_1852

Two 8 oz. packages of baby bella mushrooms for $4.00. “They’re on sale — I gotta get in on this,” the unknowing shopper might say. Assuming this shopper is as fanatical about baby bella mushrooms as I am, I can imagine them saying, “$4.00 for 16 oz. of mushrooms is a great deal!” They see the large sale sign, its flashy colors, and focus on the $0.98 overall savings. Unfortunately, they’re wrong — this is not a great deal. I know where to look when the supermarket is trying to focus my attention somewhere specific.

IMG_1855

You see, the larger 16 oz. package of baby bella mushrooms has a regular everyday price of $3.69. That’s $0.31 cheaper than two 8 oz. packages that are on sale. Same amount of mushrooms, for less money, without the flashy sale sign or sale price.

I know some of you will think $0.31 is such small savings that it’s not even worth the brain power to figure this out, and that’s okay, I’m not going to argue with you. Instead I’ll just remind you that small savings add up to bigger savings, and tell you how I’ve saved enough through couponing and cost comparisons over the last year to pay off an entire student loan. So please, tell me again how it’s not worth it…

I share this tip to encourage you, to empower you, to invigorate your inner Saver. Always check to see if the everyday price of a larger size/quantity of an item is less expensive than the smaller on sale size/quantity. We use a handy little app called Which Price to do this when we’re out deal hunting. It has you plug in quantities, prices, and units and then calculates the better bargain.

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It’s easy to get caught up in what’s right in front of you, but stop for a few seconds, think for yourself, and take it all in. Don’t just focus on the deal that’s begging for your attention — there just might be a better deal hiding on the shelf above.

Happy Birthday, Tom

The ocean’s breath keeps steady time,
hissing, kissing the shoreline.
Circles, within circles, within circles,
of friends and feet
press deep into the dampness of soil and souls.

Floating on the wings of seagulls,
are the sounds of memories in the making,
but also the sounds of the past.
The disc sails through briny air,
hoots and howls chase after,
like a vibrant comet tail.

Men revisit their collective youth,
but through eyes of the present.
Thirty years has passed since it all began,
yet hearts and spirits are strong,
buoyant amongst the turbulent sea,
holding on to the things that matter most.

Like sediment settling into distinctive layers,
today is another page for the mile-high pile.
Another picture for the album, another stamp for the collection.
One more article, competing to be the favorite,
amongst artifacts so valuable there are no replacement prices.

Fleeting and permanent, somehow the same,
this moment will not be forgotten.
Specifics will slip away, like grains being dragged out to sea,
but the steadfast boulders will remain,
heavy, immovable, prominent,
to be revisited by the same tides over and over again.

Strings Attached by Joanne Lipman & Melanie Kupchynsky

Strings AttachedStrings Attached by Joanne Lipman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

For me, this book has a trifecta, albeit I’ll admit it’s an unusual one: music, specifically classical music, even more specifically classical violin music, a strong father/daughter relationship, and a murder mystery. Although I’m a classically trained violinist, and I love my father deeply, and I watch more Dateline than any rational person should, I don’t seek out stories with all three of these elements under normal circumstances, but in this case, they work well together to tell the story of a man and his painfully beautiful life and legacy.

This book has a few things going for it in terms of uniqueness. First, it’s written by two different authors. One being Mr. K’s daughter, and the other being Mr. K’s former student. This allows the reader a much more in-depth and well-rounded understanding of the main character, Mr. K. It also gives the story a wonderfully refreshing flow. The image that comes to mind is an egg being delicately tossed back and forth between two people. Both writers were gentle yet honest with the story and how they intended to tell it. High praise to both Melanie and Joanne.

The other interesting thing in this book is the chronology of the story, or rather lack thereof. The book starts in 1991 but jumps back in time to when the authors are young girls learning violin and viola, growing up in East Brunswick, New Jersey. While the story is told chronologically for awhile, breadcrumbs are scattered throughout pointing toward the tragedies to come. But then, pretty late in the book (page 253), the story is pulled back into war torn Ukraine in the 1940s. The backstory of how Jarema Kupchynsky grew up to become Mr. K is perfectly placed within the storyline, although it feels slightly uncomfortable at first. As readers, we want to know how someone or something came to be, it feels like necessary information to move forward. In other words, we want the backstory. But by waiting to give Mr. K’s backstory until later in the book, the focus is kept where it should be — on music teacher and father Mr. K, not Jarema Kupchynsky, the boy with an unusually tough childhood in Ukraine. The reader might look at Mr. K’s strict teaching style and demand for discipline through a different lens if Mr. K’s backstory came earlier in the book. I felt this was an important and intentional decision, although it did feel a little jarring at first.

I thought the writing overall was great, with strong uses of vocabulary and imagery. As someone who grew up taking violin lessons, the story easily took me back in my mind. It made me miss all-county and all-state auditions even though I hated them at the time. It made me miss the feeling of being one part of something bigger when you play in an orchestra. And oddly enough, it made me wish my teachers had been a little more like Mr. K.

I would recommend this book to anyone who grew up in practice rooms with Suzuki books and concertos tucked inside their case pockets. Also to people who had a teacher that inspired them to be something greater than they thought they could be. And to people who like reading about the human experience and the impact we can have on each other. Also to people who have lost someone they’ve loved, either suddenly and tragically, or expectedly from illness and age. What I’m trying to say is, read it — it’ll tug on your heartstrings one way or another.

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Let’s Get This Over With, Shall We?

The blog posts I dislike reading most are the first ones. Too often these posts remind me of one of two things, or people, really: the clammy handed nervous interviewee who is wearing too much makeup and perfume and has a hard time making eye contact, or the loud, overachieving, chatterbox interviewee with too much energy who seriously needs to take it down a notch. Simply put, they’re either forgettable or they make you want to forget as soon as possible. They’re not cool, calm, and collected, yet witty and personable. They’re not a comfortable middle ground that make you want to know more because you’re interested in what they bring to the table. Ultimately, they’re not what you’re looking for.

The good thing about blogs, compared to interviews, is that you get to show what you have to offer even after an awkward first post, which is really what should count anyway, right? With an interview, after you’ve explained the reasons why you want the job, and highlighted the reasons why you should get the job, and promoted the reasons why you would be a good fit for the job simply comes, the job. And that’s what your potential employer ultimately wants to know — that you’ll do the job and do it to the best of your ability. The interview is a process, a formailty, that needs to happen in order to move on. It’s something you need to go through, something that just has to happen, not unlike this first blog post. Trust me, I’m wiggling in my seat as I write this, yearning for it to be over, but it needs to happen so I can move on to writing about more focused topics, experiences, and ideas. In other words, so I can do the job and do it to the best of my ability.

So, potential blog follower, here are my “qualifications” and “areas of expertise” that I bring to the proverbial blog table:

– I have lived in Boston for almost 12 years. Go Red Sox!

– I have an advanced degree in writing (MFA). I probably shaved a couple years off my life getting the damn thing, but it was worth it. I will wear the early onset gray hairs like a badge of honor.

– I have visited 26 countries to date. I hope to visit many, many more.

– My average savings per shopping trip is between 25% and 55% depending on the store. 98% savings has been my most successful shopping trip to date. I walked out of CVS feeling like a criminal after paying $0.97 for three loaded bags of items.

– For five years I have facilitated a writing group for adults at my local library. No matter what your “it” is, there’s nothing like getting together with others who simply “get it.”

– I have been married to my husband for a little over a year and a half, but we’ve been together for 10 years this September. If you know him, you know this already, and if you don’t, I’ll tell you — he’s simply fantastic and I love him dearly.

– I began playing the violin at age 9. I dreamed of becoming a professional violinist, but after one year of college level performance training I fell out of love with the violin. It look me almost two years to ask it on a date again, let alone fall in love.

– We cook a lot because it’s more cost effective, it’s healthier, and it’s fun! Yes, by saying that I may sound like an overly excited home economics teacher from the 1990’s, but it’s true.

– I have taken ballet classes in my youth and as an adult, I attend the ballet regularly, and I have watched the entire series of Dance Academy three times on Netflix. Nope, you read that correctly, three times. All 65 episodes.

– I believe people should be reading at least twelve books per year. A 300 page book can be read in 30 days at a rate of 10 pages per day. In other news, a poll of 2,500 people revealed that an average of one hour and forty-two minutes per week is spent on the toilet. Based on that math, most people could easily read twelve books per year by only changing one thing: reading while on the shitter.

– I’m pro Oxford comma, if you haven’t noticed already. Get on board, use it with gusto, and relish in the fact you’ve joined the better team.

– I think it’s important to be a life-long student — learning should not end with formal education.

So there you have it. The dreaded first post, it’s over and done with. If you like what you read, stop by again for more focused writing on topics like Boston, food, music, ballet, coupons, writing, married life, savings, books, cooking, travel, and creativity. Part of putting your writing out there in the wild wonders of the internet is accepting not everyone will like it, but hopefully some of you found this post cool, calm, and collected, yet witty and personable. Hopefully you found this writing to be a comfortable middle ground that makes you want to know more because you’re interested in what I bring to the table. Ultimately, I hope my writing is what you’re looking for.