Monday, March 28, 2016

Being Nice Is Not Hard

So one of my dear friends was talking to me a while ago over email. We usually chat throughout the day as we go about our lives; she teaches art classes and I work from home on editing and writing projects, so we have weird schedules. More often than not, we end up emailing while she's getting her daily coffee and I'm just sitting down to breakfast after the first few news articles of the day.

Anyway, this particular morning, she was telling me about a group of ladies who were meeting for some kind of political club. She was getting angrier and angrier watching these women, who were avidly discussing the need to "help the poor" and "lift up those who need help" while being absolutely and astoundingly rude to the poor employee trying to serve their coffee.

Finally, my friend couldn't stand it any more, stalked over to them, and told them flat-out what hypocrites they were and made them apologize for their behavior.

She is my Intimidating Friend, and I feel like I could probably survive a zombie apocalypse if I could just get to her house.

Anyway, I was thinking about that conversation as I headed out to the grocery store about a ten minute drive away from my house. (My place is waaaaaay back in the very back of the road we live on, so it takes like five minutes just to drive out of my neighborhood onto a main road.)

I got to the store and sped my way through the shelves, all the time thinking about how weird it was shopping on my own. See, despite the fact that my husband and I both have a car, we always go shopping together, because it's an excuse to get out of the house and be around each other, and we don't have the money to just go out to eat every week for a date night.

Anyway, this week I had to grab some chicken for a meal I was making that very night, because we were having people over, and I wanted to make a nice meal. It required several hours of prep, though, so I couldn't just wait for my husband to get home, so there I was, at the grocery store by myself for the first time in almost three years.

Which was weird, I gotta tell you.

I was having college student flashbacks.

Anyway, I got up to the checkout counter, and the lady checking me out was one I'd seen before. She's a middle-aged woman who has, I swear to you, encyclopedic knowledge of every single sale going on at the store, and she's very enthusiastic about life in general. We talked for a bit, and, remembering the conversation I'd had with my friend earlier, I decided to turn my smile up to 100 and really actually engage with the people who were checking me out.

In addition to the woman scanning my groceries, there was a young man, probably a teenager but possibly closer to my age, I wasn't sure, who was doing the bagging. He was at least six feet tall, maybe taller, and he had that It's Tuesday At Lunchtime and I Am Exhausted look on his face, bless his soul.

But I turned to him and said, as brightly as I could, "Happy Tuesday!"

He looked surprised for a second and turned to face me as if he wasn't sure if I was talking to him.

I continued on, undeterred, "I mean, I'm always happy when Tuesday comes around and it's not Monday anymore, right?"

His entire face broke out into a grin, and he began animatedly talking with me. He told me that he had been born on a Monday, so he didn't bear it quite as much ill will as other people, and then we chatted with the teller about birthdays and the weather and such.

When I was finished paying for all the food I'd bought, the bagger offered to help me take my cart to my car. Now, being an independent woman and also being naturally wary of being alone with any stranger ever, I assured him that this wasn't a problem, but he told me he had to go get the carts anyway, so I let him cheerfully lead the way back to my car.

He helped me unload groceries while we talked about how cold it was that morning. (The flowers had finally started to bloom and then we had a cold snap. WHY.) I told him that I had lived in Utah for several years and that I loved coming back home to live in the South because it wasn't nearly as cold. He told me that he had grown up in Ghana, where there were only two seasons: wet and dry. And he hated the dry season.

We chatted about Ghana for a bit, and he seemed genuinely pleased to be able to talk to someone about his home country. When we'd unloaded the groceries, he fixed me with a huge smile and then toddled off with my cart.

When I got home, I was beaming from ear to ear.

I don't really have a "moral of the story" to this post or anything. It was just a nice pick-me-up moment that day, and I thought I'd share it. :)

Friday, March 25, 2016

My Easter Post

In my dining room, there is a gorgeous picture of Jesus Christ, a shepherd's crook in His hand and sheep behind Him, hanging proudly on the wall. It was a Christmas present from my parents, who have resolved to give me and my husband one single "big" gift every year to help us to continue to make our home our own.

It's probably one of my favorite things about my house right now, because it brings warmth and light into the dining room and the living room area, and it's a good reminder when I'm living in a sea of craziness, especially having a job working with the 24-hour news circus in the middle of an election year, or what peace and comfort I can find from my beliefs.

In that spirit, I wanted to share a video below for Easter.

Hallelujah.

Monday, March 21, 2016

The Different Types of Re-Reading

Okay, so as anyone who follows me on Tumblr knows, I've been on this binge read lately of the Hardy Boys books. I absolutely loved this series when I was about ten, but I had only read a few here and there that I was able to get my hands on in the school library or in secondhand stores and such. But I'm an adult now, which means I get to spend my money the way I want!

...Okay, so it means I can spend a carefully allotted portion, no larger than strictly necessary, which will not interfere with saving for adoption and/or paying bills...you know what, just run with me on this.

Anyway, because I can only buy about five or six at a time with my monthly spending money, I usually finish the books I've got about halfway through the month. But is that enough to sate my appetite? Oh no. Definitely not.

So I go back through the ones I own (I have almost 40 of the 65 bluebacks) and re-read them, and I've noticed something interesting. There are three different types of re-reads (at least in the case of Hardy Boys reading), and I use them all in my adventures.

1. The "Catch Everything I Missed the First Time Around" Method

So, okay, I'll be honest. The first time I read a book, I don't necessarily read every word. I just don't. I speed through the whole thing because what I really want to know is what happens and whodunnit and how they dunnit.

So this method is usually the one I employ on re-reads out of sheer necessity. I take it a little bit slower and notice things like Joe flirting with Iola that one time.

This is also my favorite method of reading things like the Harry Potter series because I swear to you I catch something new every single time I read those books. Every single time. And I've read them at least five times a piece (more for each book before book four, which is the point where I started reading the series in the publication life of those books). 

I like catching new things, because it makes me appreciate the books all the more! I like being pleasantly surprised and falling in love with little moments. It's a relaxing, enjoyable experience.

2. The "Only Re-Read My Favorite Parts" Method

Yeah. I do this frequently. Especially with my favorite books, like What Happened at Midnight and The Wailing Siren Mystery. Because sometimes you just need to read about Frank and his friends being intrepid heroes rescuing Joe from the clutches of evil. And sometimes you just need to read about Joe and Chet being cornered by the bad guys and unable to signal the danger to Frank.

I'll admit, this is usually the method of re-reading when a book is particularly exciting and I just want something to get my heart racing. Because there are some parts of a book that are always a guaranteed adrenaline rush, no matter what. Like the battles in Tolkien's works or the climax of a good Alex Rider novel. 

It's like when I re-watch Doctor Who on Netflix and just want to watch the parts in "Blink" where the Weeping Angels scare the living daylights out of me (y'know, back before they became "common" bad guys are were much more existentially terrifying).

3. The "Read the Whole Thing Exactly the Same Way Because It's Been Too Long" Method

The most embarrassing part of this method is seriously how often I have to employ it. Or maybe it's the fact that I'll be sitting there re-reading with a growing sense of "Oh yeah, that's how this goes!" *sigh* One day I will have perfect memory recall and I'll stop being surprised by books I only read six months ago. Seriously, Shelby.

And yet this is somehow still the most fun of all the methods, because it's almost like experiencing a book for the first time all over again, and isn't that what we all wish would happen? It's especially nice in mystery novels like the Hardy Boys books because if I forgot how the bad guys were doing their bad guy thing, how could I know the ending, right?

It's always fun to be surprised again. To forget about the fast-paced adrenaline of The Books of Pellinor that should really not scare me this much because I already read all four. To feel my mouth go dry as Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon are at odds in the Jedi Apprentice series even though I read that series like nine bazillion times as a kid. I like re-living those moments.

So maybe I take it back. I think I won't take that perfect memory recall upgrade, thanks. 

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Welcome to the New Blog!

It's the year 2016, and I'll be honest, I was pretty sure it was time for some changes.

I mean, first of all, my old blog hadn't been updated for months, because I'd sort of fallen out of the blogosphere for a while after my uncle died and then my mammaw had a health scare, but more than that, the old blog was the old me. I'd had it since I was in college, and while it was a good writing blog at the time, I really felt like it was time to move forward.

I mean, since I started that blog, I've gotten married, bought a home, started my own freelancing business, and started a journey of adoption that I'm still on and am still exploring. 

Even more than that, my own writing career has vastly changed as I've been writing for the news, for photographers, for company websites, and even done a little ghostwriting here and there. So I figured it was time for a change.

I'm still Shelby, and I still write, but it's time to do a little revamping. Clear away the clutter of dramatic college posting and start anew.

(But in case you want to read dramatic college posting, here's my old blog.)