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1st April 2023

Quarter reads 2023

At the beginning of the year, I posted on facebook for book recommendations to read over the new year and had multiple friends comment with recommendations. So I’m reading books this year that I might not have otherwise.

The Beggar King and the Secret of Happiness by Joel Ben Izzy. FB recommendation. I was really hesitant to read this book, as it sounded very much like “all things happen for a reason” and “God has a purpose for all suffering” which is one of the things that I left behind even before leaving my religion. I’m glad I read it, as it’s been one of my favorites of the year. Beautiful interweaving of story-telling and grief.
The Bird King by G. Willow Wilson. Friend recommendation. A story of a time in history that I knew little of (the last sultan in the Iberian peninsula). It started out so good – the first 3rd was fantastic, the second 3rd was mediocre, and the last 3rd painful. So disappointing.
The White Allies Handbook: 4 Weeks to Join the Racial Justice Fight for Black Women by Lecia Michelle. A finish up from last year. I was really hoping for an anti-racism 201 type book and this was not it. Still some good points.
Flying Solo by Linda Holmes. I saw this on a friend’s end of year list and thought it sounded good (plus I really love Linda Holmes’s writing for NPR). For being written by a happily single woman, there was a lot of emphasis placed on dating relationships.
Vita Nostra by Marina and Sergey Dyachenko. Friend recommendation. I have never read a book like this. Creepy and mind blowing in a philosophical way. It’s so very Russian (or rather Ukranian) and the whole thing felt foreign. I’m on the waiting list for the sequel.
Scales and Sensibility by Stephanie Burgis. Jane Austen meets pet dragons. Recommended in one of my fantasy groups as cozy fantasy.
A Charmed Christmas by Alison Cochrun. A short-story epilogue to The Charmed Offensive. I could have done without it.
Woman on Fire by Lisa Barr. Started reading this in November of 2022 for a book club that I couldn’t attend, so it kept getting bumped. It was a good thriller, but I didn’t buy the antagonist’s motivations.
Twitter Crush: A Gen-X Medical Romance by Em S A’Cor. I got this as an ARC from a physician writing group I’m part of. The writing was fine. There were several subplots that I had issues with, including the guy getting black out drunk on their first date, a “shrill” ex-wife, and a “romance” between the vixen chief fellow and the chair department, which was gross and lecherous and blamed entirely on the fellow. And while I really do appreciate writing from one’s own experiences, descriptions of vaginal dryness from menopause and impotence from antidepressants do not fit well with a romance novel.
I Kissed Shara Wheeler by Casey McQuiston. Much better than One Last Stop.
The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien, read by Andy Serkis. I’ve read the LOTR trilogy countless times – but I will admit to being guilty to skimming over Books 3 and 5 and getting to Sam and Frodo climb to Mount Doom. So there was a part in the beginning of Book 5 that I had to listen to twice because I’m pretty sure I’ve never registered it before. Anyway, Andy’s voice was amazing as always and I almost want to listen to the whole thing again. (He’s recording the Silmarillion right now, so maybe I’ll be finally about to get through that book).
And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie. My first Christie. It was a good murder mystery and I hadn’t quite figured it out by the end.
All Systems Red by Martha Wells. An enjoyable read, although I think I need to read the rest of the series in order to properly judge it.
They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera. Pretty much as it advertises on the tin. The premise gave me anxiety.

Moloka’i by Alan Brennert. Friend recommendation. Read this on my way back from a vacation in Hawai’i. Lovely story of perseverance and a good picture into old Hawaiian culture and the perfect cap to a wonderful vacation.
Healer and Witch by Nancy Werlin. A young healer tries to find a teach while navigating investigations by the Inquisition. Reminded me of T Kingfisher’s A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking. Not fond of romances between 15 and 24 year olds though.
-* Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries by Heather Fawcett. Loved this one. Emily’s a professor in the study of fairies exploring a small village trying to figure out their secrets and she can’t get along with the villagers and her too charming colleague sweeps in. I can’t wait for the sequel.
I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy. Audiobook. Friend recommendation. This one has been circulating my social groups because she was raised Mormon. That ended up making up very little of her memoir, rather it was more focused on her eating disorder and her relationship with her mom. It was an abrupt ending though and felt incomplete. An easy listen – each chapter was ~ 2-5 minutes.
Ejaculate Responsibly: A Whole New Way to Think About Abortion by Gabrielle Stanley Blair. Like everyone else, I was completely taken by her viral twitter thread about how men bear all of the responsibility of unwanted pregnancies. This was a meatier exploration and well worth the read.

-* Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner. Book club read. A beautiful book exploring mother-daughter relationships, grief, and culture. One of my favorites that I’ve read so far this year.
Tomorrow Sex Will Be Good Again: Women and Desire in the Age of Consent by Katharine Angel. Book club read. It’s been a while since I read a book where “feminism” was flung around like a dirty word (and yet, I think if you asked the author, she would tell you that she’s a feminist). The last part, exploring vulnerability, was great, but there was absolutely no discussion about how it was as unrealistic in sex as consent culture, which she chided for pages.
Autoboyography by Christina Lauren. Friend recommendation. Two boys fall in love in a high school in Provo, UT – the setting was so perfectly Provo that I was transported back there, but there were inconsistencies in the depiction of Mormonism that I’m pretty sure other fans wouldn’t have picked up on.
Fairy Tale by Stephen King. Friend recommendation. Also my first King book read. There was so much that I loved about it – the world setting was fantastic. It started to drag and become formulaic towards the middle end. I did nearly throw the book in disgust at the ending, because we couldn’t possibly have a 17 year old boy go back to the Real World without losing his virginity to a random character he never interacted with, right? Bah.
This Here Flesh: Spirituality, Liberation, and the Stories That Make Us by Cole Arthur Riley. Friend recommendation. I’m not sure that I am the right audience for this book as I no longer see myself as Christian or really believe in God or Christ at all anything, but, the storytelling was gorgeous and poetic, and some parts resonated deeply. It certainly is a brand of Christianity that I wish more would get behind.
The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna. Very much enjoyed this story. Had a lot of the same charm as The House in the Cerulean Sea.
The Gravity of Us by Phil Stamper. I was expecting a weightier book, something like The Darkness Outside Us. It was okay for what it was.
The Queer Principles of Kit Webb by Cat Sebastian. I walked into the book thinking it was a sapphic romance – nope! A fun little gay highwayman romantic romp, but was left a little unfinished.
The Perfect Crimes of Marian Hayes by Cat Sebastian. The sequel to above. The questions were mostly answered here and it was a good conclusion to the series.
The Mimicking of Known Successes by Malka Older. A friend and I tried out the “Buddy Read” function on StoryGraph for this and it was like a virtual book club where we could make comment and respond to each other. The mystery sort of fell apart for me, but it was an enjoyable novella.

Currently reading:
– The Ten Thousand Doors of January. Picked this one up in January and just haven’t gotten into it.
– Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde. I’ve realized that I’ve read very little in terms of classic feminist works. It’s just a slog for me to get through nonfiction works.
– Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clark (audiobook). I started to read JS shortly after it was published but I didn’t get more than half way through before it was due back to the library. It’s a slooooooow going book. Over 32 hours. It’ll be my commute book for the next 2 months at least.
– A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki. Book club read

Other friend recommendations for the year:
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
The School for Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan
What My Bones Knew: A Memoir of Healing from Complex Trauma by Stephanie Foo
Frogs in A Pot by K.D. Kinz (written by a nurse I used to work with.)
Scythe by Neal Shusterman
Kaikeyi by Vaishnavi Patel
Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zavin
Anxious People by Fredrik Backman
The Emperor’s Soul by Brandon Sanderson
Sweet Like Jasmine by Bonnie Gray
Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelk
(What would you all recommend? I’d like to round it out to 24 books).

Books picked up from the library: Glitterland by Alexis Hall, An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green, The Rose That Grew From Concrete: a collection of poetry by Tupac Shakur.

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4th December 2022

44th Birthday

On 11/22/22, I turned 44. As it was one of my magical “eleven” birthdays, I decided that I didn’t just want to have it home, with just my parents. I had asked for the week of my birthday off work, so I drove home.

I gathered together all of my Plethora friends for a surprise birthday celebration for me – for once, they knew I was coming into town, but they hadn’t remembered that it was my birthday. Liz made an apple cake, because I couldn’t find a last minute piñata, and had a candle left over from one of her kids’ birthdays.

We’ve been friends for over 20 years now and it was so great to be with them all. I stayed the night with Liz, talking until way too late, visited with AnnaJune who braided my hair:

I then stayed the night at Laura and James’s and helped their oldest daughter get ready for prom and listened to their youngest coax beautiful music from her violin before driving to Manila for the week.

My parents and sister and I celebrated my birthday on its actual day by having pumpkin pie.

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4th December 2022


I drove home to Utah for Thanksgiving. The way there, the wind was gusting until to 70-100 mph in the gorge, so we detoured and went south across the Oregon high desert. But on the way back, we had a more leisurely drive and stopped at Maryhill, WA. It’s a Stonehenge replica, the same height as the one in England, made of stone and cement (the stone here isn’t sturdy enough), as a WWI memorial.

It’s pretty awesome. I would love to come back for a solstice celebration, but alas, it was oriented to the astronomical horizon, so it doesn’t line up.

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3rd November 2022


(A devotional I gave at a Mormon women’s retreat called Northwest Pilgrims in April, after which I promptly came down with Covid).

– – Thread – –

Like Mendel’s peas, I inherit a dominant gene passed on from my mother. Hereditary multiple exostoses. It causes bony growths on the edges of my bones, twists my wrist, shortens my finger. All because a single gene, EXT1 on chromosome 8, had a mutation that prevented it from placing a heparin sulfate complex on signaling proteins that direct bone growth.

When I am 15, I overhear my grandmother, one of my favorite people in the world, telling a neighbor how selfish my mother was to have children and pass on this disease; that she wishes her son had married another woman and given her healthy grandchildren.

Selfish. For having me.

Was this the beginning of her dementia that warped her brilliant mind and turned her brain into a psychological prison of torture? Did I inherit genes from her that will cause the accumulation of amyloid plaques and tau proteins and break down my brilliant brain, turning me into a stranger to myself? 

– – Thread – –

By the time I’m 25, I realize that I won’t be able to have children. I have new pain in my hip, deep in my pelvis. My doctor finds a tumor the size of a grapefruit, arising off my iliac crest. He excises it, leaving me once again with scars. Imaging also reveals multiple small bone growths dotting my pelvis, shifting the way muscle tendons attach my back to my hips. I couldn’t carry a pregnancy without tremendous pain.

In many ways, I am relieved. I worried about passing on the dominant gene, of the surgeries and pain and disabilities my offspring would experience. 

My imaginary children won’t have my red hair and they won’t be diseased.

The realization of my childless future is a gradual one and I don’t mourn it. My friends have married and are having kids and I am their pseudo-aunt. My youngest sister, with her perfect EXT-1 genes, will have 4 perfect, healthy children, whom I will love and love and love. 

– – Thread – –

When I was 12, I discovered a place of pleasure between my legs.

When I was 12, I had my first interview with a bishop to determine my worthiness.

When I was 12, I stayed with my aunt for a summer. My aunt had left the church and had become a feminist who painted vulvas and hung them on her walls. She had a collection of books in her basement, and besides the guilt-reads of bodice rippers, there was another book collecting dust. The Miracle of Forgiveness.

Masturbation, I learned, was a sin next to murder, and if I didn’t repent, I wouldn’t be in heaven with my family for eternity. Worse, if I did repent and returned to my sin, my sins would multiply in their weight, because I would be rejecting the gift of Christ’s sacrifice. My words and actions and thoughts would be used to condemn me, the scriptures said, if I couldn’t master them.

When I was 12, I was suicidal and I was so petrified to die.

I confessed my sins to over a dozen bishops over two decades. Each time I got a temple recommend, having gone through repentance and fire, I never felt worthy.

– – Thread – –

I find myself in college and for the first time, I like myself. I make friends for the first time, since moving to my small, standoffish town at age 9. My high school years are a blur of bullying and unkind barbs because I was different and I’m all too glad to leave them all behind.

So I make friends, friends who will become family. We go to church together, worship together. I attend Institute where I study my inherited religion like I do other courses and I fall in love with my religion. My dad is a Mormon Democrat and like him, my faith influences my politics, and my political beliefs share my faith. I become Julia, Liberal, Feminist Mormon. 

When I leave my birth religion, after a decade of questioning and searching, when the identity of “Mormon” chafes as much as the elastic of the garment cuts into my legs, I don’t know who I am. I am lost and go to therapy to piece me, Julia, back together.

– – Thread – –

I went through the temple when I was 22 with my best friend by my side. I had completed temple prep and I hadn’t messed up for nearly a year. For the first time, I felt worthy. 

I loved the ritual and the symbolism. I loved the feel of the garments against my skin, holding and hiding my imperfections; loved how the sewn marks were tactile reminders that I was part of God’s family.

– – Thread – –

I had my first surgery when I was 12, followed by a half dozen more in high school. 

When I was a junior in high school, I pushed off the side of the swimming pool and a tendon caught on a bone growth like a crochet hook, leaving me unable to walk and in unbearable pain.

My grandmother, loving and desperate to help, visited an herbalist and sent me a package of dried alfalfa. If I took a capsule a day, all of the calcium would dissolve off my bone spurs.

I refused to take it. Science refuted that it would work.

My aunt demanded to know why I didn’t want to be healed. I guess, she said, you just like having surgery.

The blessings from my father, when he placed his hands on my head before every surgery, didn’t mention being healed.

– – Thread – –

I was supposed to get married by the time I graduated college.

I wanted romance, wanted somebody to see my flaws, see me and love me and want me.

It didn’t happen. 

My crushes were embarrassments kept deep inside. I longed for romance but couldn’t bear the thought of telling a righteous man that I hadn’t kept my virtue. I fell in love with my best friend from medical school and never told him. We made better friends anyway. (I never got a chance to find out). 

I never got a first kiss. I never got the sexual sacrament for which I tied my soul into knots. 

I’m happy and fulfilled being single. It suits me. 

Being unloved will always be a secret wound that sits deep in my heart.

– – Thread – –

A patient dies because of me. I didn’t put together the signs of their decline and two hours later, when the rest of the team arrives that morning, their low blood pressure that I had frantically tried to fix has caused end-organ damage and they never recover.

A patient lives because of me. For six hours, I stand by their bedside, taking them off the ventilator when it alarms that their oxygen is low, hand-bagging air into their lungs. I push meds of adrenaline and watch their blood pressure rise and fall, rise and fall, rise and .. stabilize. A week later, they walk out of the hospital.

I stop believing in a god of miracles long before I lose faith in the church.

– – Thread – –

I am 31. I have just placed my fingers on my clitoris, even though I had promised myself that I wouldn’t and I am crying after the orgasm. 

“Stop.” I hear in my head. “You are worthy. You are loved. And this. This is not a sin.”

I feel a wave of warmth that I associate with the spirit.

Was it an answer to prayer or just me, so tired of the endless guilt?

I buy my first vibrator that month and I feel whole. I stop being accountable to bishops and answer “yes” to any questions about my worthiness.

– – Thread – –

After I leave the church, I fall and injure my fingers. I can no longer bend them. I can’t shake hands with my patients, can’t place a central line, can’t intubate. I go through months of therapy with no improvement. I see a surgeon who diagnoses me with “an abnormal pain response” and dismisses my concerns.

I go to San Francisco Pilgrims and women from my faith background, women that I know and women that I don’t, lay hands on me – on my head and shoulders and broken fingers. I cry at their petitions. I am not cured. But I heal.

– – Thread – – 

I left my religion at 37 after hanging on by my fingertips for years. The infantalizing of singles, the treatment of women, the conservative beliefs – it rose to a blister on November 5, 2015 and I walked away.

The first few months after, I had panic attacks that I was throwing my life and my salvation away. My skin felt foreign without my garments. I didn’t like the sensation of the wind blowing through my jacket without that protective barrier.

I grieved the loss of my religion. I left behind my surety of my purpose in this life and the next. I separated myself from my community that welcomed me no matter where I moved. Relationships with my family and my friends altered – they couldn’t understand why, not entirely, and I was now outside the fold.

I also left behind shame. I no longer had to justify the actions of the church that I disagreed with, actions that hurt my loved ones. I discarded fears of not being worthy enough, of not being enough.

Leaving was the hardest decision that I’ve ever made. It was also the best.

– – Thread – – 

The destruction of the natural world aches now without the promise of rebirth. I struggle for purpose. I don’t know about God. I don’t like the idea of God.

I like the idea of humans though, of human emotion and human connection. I like the idea of a human family, brought together by our 23 chromosomes that are more alike than different. 

I find meaning in books and poetry, in the repetitive crash of waves on the beach, in writing the love stories I never got to experience, in the smiles of friends. 

I find comfort in the study of the brain. All that I perceive: touch, sight, pain, arousal, the position of my joints, the pressure of the atmosphere; is processed and experienced in my brain. All that I am is here. 37 trillion cells working in coordination to make me human. 

It terrifies me, too, this electrical jelly of neurons and salt and proteins, that makes up all that I am. 

I don’t know about what happens after death, if this consciousness continues. I don’t have answers anymore. I just have me.



And perfect.

And enough.

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2nd November 2022

Travel map

A few friends on facebook were posting this. I don’t want to do the arithmetic so I don’t know how many points I’ve earned. (ETA ooo, it calculates it for you!)

There weren’t really instructions so I made the following interpretations:

  • Lived Here: had a physical address OR (in the case of Wyoming), lived next to the state border and did half of my shopping/attended church, etc.
  • Stayed Here: stayed with friends or family at least overnight.
  • Visited Here: spent at least one day here.
  • Stopped Here: spent a few hours here. Delaware is on the cusp between visited and stopped.
  • Passed Here: at least crossed the state line.
  • Want to be Here: I want to be a lot of places, but then it would ruin the states that I’ve visited, so I’ve put the next place I want to visit. Puerto Rico, I am going to see you some day.
  • Never Been Here: so many islands.

You can fill out your own map here.

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1st October 2022

Books read (July-September)

Struck By Lightning: The Carson Phillips Journal. My last of Chris Colfer’s audiobooks and his first book. Not sure that a journal really was the best format, but I’m going to miss his voice.
The Secret of Life: Rosalind Franklin, James Watson, Francis Crick, and the Discovery of DNA’s Double Helix. In honor of the 70 year anniversary coming up, I’ve been reading a lot of books on the discovery of DNA. There was some uncomfortable fixation of Rosalind’s sexuality (much like Brenda Maddox books but she came to a completely different conclusion), and I truly loath James Watson now.
Nettle & Bone by T. Kingfisher. Oooh. A short, dark fairy tale. Highly recommend.
Rule of Wolves by Leigh Bardugo. The last book published (so far) of the Gishaverse. Definitely not a stand alone novel, but overall, a satisfying end to the series and leaving room for more books.
On Rotation by Shirlene Obuobi. There really aren’t that many good fictional books about being a doctor, much less about going through medical school. This really captured the stress and drama of med school.
The Once and Future Witches by Alix Harrows. Reimagined history, some strong characters (although maybe a wee bit too much of leaning into the maiden, mother, crone archetypes), beautiful story telling.
Of Sound Mind: How Our Brain Constructs a Meaningful Sonic World by Nina Kraus. Audiobook. Fascinating insights into how our ears and brain receive and perceive sound, and how it influences our language and cognitive development, if a bit redundant at times.
Orphan Black: The Next Chapter. Maybe a little bit of a cheat, since it’s a  episodic podcast, but it was on goodreads. I rewatched Orphan Black this spring and was eager to listen. Tatiana’s voices were amazing and I loved the new characters (her male voices were the weakest. 

Heat Wave (The Extraordinaries, #3) by TJ Klune. An excellent conclusion to the trilogy and so much familial love.
What Moves the Dead by T. Kingfisher. I’m not a big horror person, but I adore T’s writing. A retelling of the Fall of the House of Usher, with some cool biological explanations.
A Middle-Earth Traveller: Sketches from Bag End to Mordor  by John Howe. I loved his work for the Lord of the Rings movies, so I thought this would be a good introduction to my next audio project. Lovely sketches, some lovely behind the scenes insights.
Orphan Black: The Next Chapter (Season 2). This time, Jordan, Kristian, and Evelyn returned to voice their roles. I hope there’s another.
A Lady for a Duke by Alexis Hall. A fun little regency romp involving a trans heroine. Lots of feelings.
Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake by Alexis Hall. The story opens with one of my least favorite tropes: lying outrageously and then getting caught and I almost didn’t finish it, but I’m glad I stuck with it, because it really had all of the charm of the Great British Bake Off in a novel.
Husband Material by Alexis Hall. (All of my library books became available at the same time, so I read three of Alexis’s books in a week period). I had been charmed by Boyfriend Material; it wasn’t the best fake dating book that I’ve ever read, but I was invested enough that I looked for the sequel and I liked it even better than the first one. Laugh out loud hysterical, following the plot of Four Weddings and Funeral while still giving it at twist. Looking forward to Father Material.
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, read by Andy Serkis. This will be my listening project for the next year probably. Andy Serkis’s voice is amazing – deep and rich in timbre. I haven’t reread this one since early in college, it was much darker than what I remembered.
You’ll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey: Crazy Stories about Racism by Amber Ruffin and Lacey Lamar. Terrible stories, presented in a light-hearted, easy to approach manner. I’m planning on introducing it to my family and friends because it’s a really great way to highlight the pervasiveness of racism.

The Queen of Hearts by Kimmery Martin. I really wanted to like this book as it was written by an emergency medicine doctor about a group of medical school friends. And I didn’t. There were parts that truly resonated, such as when one of the main characters loses a patient, but the drama was so over the top.
Ramón and Julieta by Alana Albertson. Just a sweet little Romeo and Juliet retelling. A fluffy, easy to read romance which was just want I was craving.
The Antidote for Everything by Kimmery Martin. I checked out all three of her books at the same time, so I was really hopeful that this one would be better. And it was, but it still felt lacking. It also felt like the author was trying too hard to emphasize that “not all Christians” are homophobic, but there was still homophobic and transphobic views (one character was the definition of sassy gay friend) that belied that conclusion.
East by Edith Pattou. A reread because I found out that a sequel had been written and it had been literal years. Almost as good as I remembered, an excellent retelling of the fairy tale “East of the Sun West of the Moon.
West by Edith Pattou. I’m not sure that East really needed a sequel, but this one was well done and it completed the story.
Felix Silver, Teaspoons & Witches by Harry Cook. My god, did this book need better editors. So many sloppy mistakes.
So You Want to Talk about Race by Ijeoma Oluo. I started reading this 2 years ago and got distracted. A practical book, with some great real-time examples, but I’m not sure that it really made it easier to talk about race with some of my white relatives for example.
Doctors and Friends by Kimmery Martin. I almost didn’t read this because I had been so disappointed by her previous books, but I’m so glad that I did because it was the best of the 3. She started writing this book back in 2019, about a pandemic that affected the world, and it was a much deeper, emotional story than the other two (although many of the same characters were in it).
George (Melissa’s Story) by Alex Gore. Picked it up as part of Banned Books Week and you guys, I’m just tired of fake outrage. It was cute.
The Theft of Sunlight by Intisar Khanani. Sequel to Thorn, which I read earlier this year. Thorn was good, but this really developed the world. I’m excited for the 3rd book.

I may make it to a 100 books this year. *crosses fingers*

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9th September 2022

House progress

House progress

Last year, after I bought the house, I knew that I needed to do something about the deck as there were several rotting boards (the back deck saga I’ve written about previously). My house, if you’ll remember is all deck, and replacing it seemed daunting and very expensive, as lumber prices were astronomical. So I bought some pressure treated outdoor boards and my dad and I patched it up.

This summer, we found more rotting boards and started to replace them, but after doing that, we decided that it probably would be best to replace all of the boards with cedar boards so that it would last for years. This was our progress after nearly a week.

To say this project has felt daunting would be an understatement! Hours of hard work barely made a difference in the appearance.

My parents came out again this week and we tackled it again. And this time, finally, we’ve made obvious progress (we really hit a groove the last couple of days). The wood is gorgeous and cost $20 less than in July.

24 rows completed, 16 more to go for the next visit, plus more work on the stairs (I’m ignoring the two lower decks for now). I finally feel like I can see an end.

All of the wood we’ve pulled up in the last 4 days.

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1st July 2022

Books for 2022

I’ve had an unofficial goal to read 52 books this year – a book a week. Last year I read 49. For most of the past 20 years, since entering med school, I’ve read at most 5-10 books a year, so it felt like an ambitious goal.

I just hit 45 books so far. Some of them have been shorter books, but still. Reading had always been my escapism – is it a good thing that it’s becoming so again?

The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzie Lee (hated the first book due to the protagonist but liked the secondary characters and the overall premise. Much much more enjoyable).
A Marvellous Light (The Last Binding, #1) by Freya Marske (reads exactly like a fanfic with lots of longing and emotions. A favorite.)
A Modest Independence by Mimi Matthews (for a facebook book club). Victorian woman travels to India along with her not-quite-boyfriend. The descriptions were lovely, even if nothing happened the majority of the book.
Thorn (Dauntless Path #1) Intisar Khanani. A Muslim retelling of The Goose Girl. Really original and well told; the sequels are on my list for the year.

The Last Cuentista by Donna Higuera (my friend recommended the day before the Newberry Medal was announced).
Dread Nation and Deathless Divide by Justine Ireland (I am such a squeamish person that the fact that I read a zombie book AND it’s sequel says something). The sequel was not as good as the first book, but it ended satisfactorily.
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reed. I didn’t love it quite as much as everybody else has.

Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson. A book of prose/almost poetry. Just lovely.
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo. I watched Shadow and Bone on Netflix and really loved it, so I had to find the books. It’s a really enjoyable series, just different enough from the tv series to keep them exciting.
Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot by Mikki Kendall (started it in February for Black History Month, finished in March).
A Tale of Magic read by Chris Colfer. A year ago, I started listening to Chris Colfer’s books on the way to and from work. My commute’s only 15 minutes away, so I don’t make a lot of progress. Chris is an excellent voice actor, and while his books aren’t high literature, they are engaging and his characters live.
Something Fabulous by Alexis Hall. I read Boyfriend Material last year which I liked. I didn’t like this one as much, but it ended better than it started.
Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo. Sequel to Shadow and Bone. Definitely a middle book.

Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo. Conclusion to Shadow and Bone. I didn’t dislike the ending; I also thought that it was weak.
A Tale of Witchcraft read by Chris Colfer. Another middle book. His descriptions of teenage love are so hilariously earnest.
Rosalind Franklin: The Dark Lady of DNA by Brenda Maddox (again started for Women’s History Month in March…). Rosalind Franklin is a bit of an ideal of mine. This book frustratingly focused on answering whether or not she was pretty.
A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking by T. Kingfisher. A random find and what a great one. A baker with a little bit of magic has to defend his city. It’s a younger adult book, but it doesn’t shy from hard topics, such a death and poverty.
The Huntress by Kate Quinn (facebook book club). Hunting down Nazis after the war – told both in flashbacks and current time, with the flashbacks getting closer and closer to current time.
So This Is Ever After by F.T. Lukens. I loved their Rules and Regulations for Mediating Myths and Magic, so I couldn’t wait to read other books. This one was so delightfully tropey- happily ever afters, soulmates, misunderstandings. Perfect.
Paladin’s Grace by T. Kingfisher. After A Wizard’s Guide, I had to read others of her books. This was the first book of a trilogy of related books. One of those where I couldn’t put it down from nearly the first page.
In Deeper Waters by F.T. Lukens. Another charming story.
Ella Minnow Pea: A Novel in Letters by Mark Dunn. I’ve been wanting to read this one for a while – an epistolary story where every chapter loses a letter that the townspeople can use. It felt very fitting for this authoritarian world we’re getting into.

A Spindle Splintered by Alix Harrow – I love fractured fairytales and this one was a fun novella.
A Tale of Sorcery read by Chris Colfer (audiobook). The last book of his “Tale Of” series and it was a satisfying tie-up to the series.
Hyperbole and A Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things that Happened by Allie Brosh. I loved her blog back in the day and her comics would have me gasping for air. They weren’t quite as funny now, and I’m not sure why.
What We Don’t Talk About When We Talk About Fat by Aubrey Gordon. I still have complex feelings about this book.
Six Of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. Kaz my beloved. Inej my beloved. Nina my beloved. Jesper my beloved.
Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating by Jaigirdar Adiba. Sweet, if not very deep.
Paladin’s Strength by T. Kingfisher. It took me way too long to figure out the twist. But it was worth it.
Paladin’s Hope by T. Kingfisher. Hot. So hot.

I’m So Not Over You by Kosoko Jackson. A great idea (exboyfriends fake-dating) and so poorly executed.
Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo. A direct continuation of Six of Crows – so many twists I did not see coming.
Stranger Than Fanfiction read by Chris Colfer (audiobook). It’s not Shakespeare, but man, do I love hearing him make his characters come to life. I still have thoughts about the ending.
Minor Mage by T. Kingfisher. I love these stories about ordinary people with just a touch of magic.  
King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo. Nina my beloved.
The Darkness Outside Us by Eliot Schrefer. I read this in a day – really absorbing while reading it, falls apart if you spend too long thinking about the premise.
Clockwork Boys by T. Kingfisher. I love this world. I love these complex, world-weary, broken women and men who come together to try to save their world.
Swordheart by T. Kingfisher. I had to wait for the Wonder Engine to be available from the library. I need the sequels now.
A Mirror Mended by Alix Harrow. A Spindle Splintered didn’t need a sequel and I’m not sure that this was the sequel that should have been written.
The Wonder Engine by T. Kingfisher. An excellent finish to the series.
Here’s To Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera. I really didn’t like What If It’s Us that much – the characters were too young and differentiating between their first person perspectives was iffy. This was much better. I still would have made them a touch older, but it works.
One Last Stop by Casy McQuiston. I liked Red, White, and Royal Blue better and I wasn’t expecting a time-travel story. Still there was a lot of atmosphere and sweetness to the story.
We Are Okay by Nina LaCour. I really liked this although I still have so many questions. But this captured the feel of the outer Sunset district of San Francisco and made me homesick.

Midyear book review:

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15th June 2022

A Fresh Look

10 days later (thanks rain!) my house is almost all painted (there’s a few more finishing touches).

Karin and I argued a lot about the color. She wanted a light blue; I wanted a sunny yellow and we compromised with a green. It’s called peacock plume and it changes hues depending on the sun. Every house around here hasn’t been painted in 20+ years, so it really pops.

I love it with the contrasting white.

As a reminder, this is what it looked like before, a putrid, faded orange-pink brown that might have been rose colored at some point.

I had asked them to paint my garage door purple too, but things got mixed up. It’s fine – it looks great in a solid color too. There’s a small area of siding that I’m a little concerned about, but you know what, I’m giving it more protection than what it had before.

Onward to the next project.

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9th June 2022


For my latest knitting project, I have been making a doll. I started knitting it a year ago in February and have been working on it in small bursts before setting it aside again. The instructions have not been the easiest to follow. I actually had to redo the head because the first version was too small and stretched too much with the stuffing. It’s much better, but now my dolly is top heavy and won’t stand.

I still have the face and hair to do. I’m deciding between a rag doll type of yarn or a mohair that would make more realistic looking hair. I’m probably going to make them both up and decide which one I like better. Stay tuned…

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8th May 2022


It’s Day 6 since I was diagnosed/day 7 and a half since I first started getting the first hint of symptoms. I am feeling better, so much better. I started feeling dramatically better on Thursday, after I took the 3rd dose of Paxlovid. Fevers stopped, congestion improved. The sore throat has completely gone this morning and while I still have some congestion/post-nasal drip causing a cough once in a while, it’s also improved. My rapid antigen test is still positive, although less strongly, so I’m still in isolation.

I guess I’m getting used to the taste too, although I’m going to be so so so glad to be done after tonight and I’ve sucked on so many mints and cough drops in these last few days. Honestly, if it wasn’t for the terrible lingering taste, I’d be all taking these for other colds/flus.

I haven’t done anything productive really. I was going to use my time in isolation to write or catch up on books or TV and I’ve barely done any of that. I’ve watched The Big Family Cooking Showdown and Heartstopper, shows that take little mental energy to engage.

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4th May 2022

Day 2

A sore throat kept waking me through the night. Today I’ve been dealing with a sore throat, raspy voice, increasing sinus congestion, cough, and aching ears, but the low grade fever is a little better. I’m just wiped out. The oxygen sats are remaining high, which I’m checking twice a day. Along with getting up every hour or so so I don’t get blood clots.

I started Paxlovid today and as warned, I developed a really terrible metallic taste in my mouth about an hour or two afterwards. Drinking mint and lemon tea helps; the taste just comes back when I’m done. I just had my sister go and get some mints and see if that helps. It’s bearable: hospitalizations are increasing again and I’m not going to be that person who says “I’m going to be fine!” and then find myself in the ED.

I cancelled all of my meetings today that I could have attended since they were virtual and have just been lounging around. I’ve had colds and flus where I’ve felt sicker and dragged my body to work AND I SHOULDN’T HAVE DONE SO. It’s 5 days off of work, somebody’s covering my weekend shifts, and I’m going to aggressively rest.

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3rd May 2022


I had a fabulous weekend at a Mormon feminist women’s retreat, where I was open and vulnerable with women whom I have come to love. I gave a devotional about my faith journey, which I may share here. I sang at karaoke night and again at the devotional and my throat felt just the tiniest bit scratchy. I took a Covid test and it was negative and I just caulked it up to allergies or voice irritation.

Last night, I was kept up all night with low grade fevers.

It was blatantly positive within 5 minutes of adding the drops.

So I’m holed up in my bedroom for the next 5 days. My sister is bringing me food and we’re really hoping that I didn’t exposure her. I’ve got a prescription for Paxlovid that I’ll pick up tomorrow, as hospitalizations are increasing.

I’ve got sinus pressure and low grade headaches and just feel wiped out.


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18th March 2022

Help Julia Paint Her House

Painting the house has been high on my list of must-dos since I bought the house – the wood is starting to warp and really, really needs a protective coating over it, or I’m going to have to replace all of the siding, which I’m not eager to do quite yet.

As a reminder, this is how my house is painted now (minus the replaced siding).

I don’t know what color it has faded to, but muddy pink brown is not my favorite.
And it’s faded unevenly as well.

I finally found a company to paint. They’ll be coming in June, but as there’s all of these world-wide supply issues, I need to be picking out colors soon.

I’m a very indecisive person. After much (so much) hemming and hawing, I finally decided on an ocean blue with white trim and sunny yellow door: something that would remind you of the sea on a perfect day. Something similar to this:

Only with a brighter, sunnier yellow door. Isn’t that cute?

However, when I went to get paint samples, they recommended very strongly not using those brilliant shades of blue on exteriors because they’ll fade within a year wherever there is sunlight and I have very uneven sunlight. Instead, they recommended “historical paint colors” that keep their colors better. Which are duller, at least on the paint chip.

So I got three samples to try out on stock paper and on the side of my house when it stops raining: a light blue, a mediumish fern green (which is lighter than I thought), and a dark purple just to see if I wanted to go dark.

I honestly thought it was going to be a decision between the less vibrant blue and the comfortable green. And then I painted the purple on my sample boards and it’s this vibrant, gorgeous color that made my heart go pitter patter.

Here’s the light blue called Emily, with white trim and a yellow door. Not quite the “sea on a sunny day” but not terrible either.

Basically the original thought, only with a lighter and a little more muted blue. The blue does look more sky blue when dried.
I’m not sure about the white, to be honest. I think it’s all too pale.
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10th February 2022

a little less light (but that’s a good thing)

a little less light (but that's a good thing)

The rotting siding has been removed. The chimney was completely taken apart and cleaned and flashed properly – there were rusted holes where you could see the sun and where it was evident that water was just pouring in. The fresh air vent had a screen on it that had a hole the size of my fist in it – a hole where mice and ants could get directly into the house, and that’s been fixed now.

It was a 8 day process, 3 days longer than what the initial estimate was for (well, the first estimate was for 6-8 hours, but that quickly changed). The weather mostly cooperated (I won’t think about how that’s not a good thing for our climate or summer water supply). It was terribly expensive, but it’s done now and I can breath easier for a little bit.

Next up: getting a landscaper to put in a french drain and paver stones I think. I have an appointment to get the downspouts replaced next month. And I still have to get the house painted – I waffle about getting all of the siding replaced now and painting it afterwards, but I just don’t know. It would make sense from a maintenance perspective but just to have this small portion fixed was so much money that it makes me a little panicky.

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3rd February 2022

Testing crossposting.

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2nd February 2022

housing nightmare update

(This is long)

1) My washer decided that it wanted to be a helicopter this summer and started making “vroom vroom” noises and wasn’t cleaning clothes quite as well and then started leaking in October. Yeah. So I researched and got all kinds of contradictory information from friends about top loaders and front loaders and impellers and agitators. I fretted about it for weeks and visited Home Depot and Lowe’s and Costco to try out different models. I finally ordered a set from Costco that was on backorder. I knew they were bigger than my previous set, but they had the reversible doors that I needed, so at Thanksgiving, my parents came out and we tore down dry wall and moved the water faucet and the light switch so that they would fit.

They were supposed to be delivered the second weekend of December. The delivery truck arrived, some guy got out, ran upstairs to my laundry room and said that I had the wrong outlet for the dryer and that the space was too small and refused to deliver them.

My dad came out the middle of January and we installed a new outlet at the right amps and painted the walls. I ordered a new set, smaller so they’d fit into the space, so they’d be delivered while my dad was there, to ensure that we had everything right. Costco was out of the pedestals, so I picked up a set from Best Buy. Tuesday came. I heard the truck start down my driveway … and 30 seconds later, I heard it backing up. Their truck was too big so they had to postpone for a week.

A week later, they deliver the washer and dryer. It fits! And one of the pedestals was missing the installation screws. They installed the washer on the pedestal, refused to put the dryer on the pedestal, and basically left me a mess.

I nearly started sobbing on them.

I called up my parents and they offered to fly out on points for the weekend to help me get it fixed. We ended up having to get screws mailed from Amazon, because nothing was available at any of the hardware stores, and Dad and I jimmied things around with an appliance truck and got longer hoses so I could switch them around and finally got them in position – did I mention that I was working nights and had a really horrible weekend so was exceedingly sleep-deprived?


2) As I mentioned previously, I found rotting siding where the back deck had abutted to the house in the fall. I was hoping to get it replaced in the spring, but we’ve had new ants in the house and it was making me really nervous that I’d be seeing more furry critters soon. So when my dad was here, I found a construction company who came out and basically said that just replacing that part of the siding was too small of a project, but they recommended residing the entire house – well not residing exactly, but replacing the rotting wood and then putting a composite plank siding over it all. I was skeptical and it was expensive for the whole project so I waffled and called a handyman company.

The handyman service took my information and said, yep we can handle this. It sounds like it’ll be a 6-8 hour job, we’ll have a technician out to do the work tomorrow. The handyman arrived the next morning, walked around, took some measurements for 4 hours, and at the end said that it was going to be a 40 hour project with two people.

They started Monday. They don’t think they’ll be done on Friday. There’s no vapor barrier under the siding. The windows and the chimney didn’t have flashing installed. The flashing over the foundation had rusted completely away and half of it was buried by dirt. I’m going to be hitting $15k easily just to fix this.

3) I have ants coming out from the side of my tub at the joints. I’m pretty sure that’s the next thing to fall apart.

I hate it all.

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31st December 2021

End of the year reflections

TV shows watched: The Great British Bakeoff, Shadow and Bone, Bridgerton, Avatar: The Last Airbender, Ted Lasso, Long Way Round, Long Way Down, Long Way Up, Star Trek Discovery, The Mandalorian (season 1), Wandavision, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Loki (am I missing any?)

Movies watched: Tick, Tick … Boom, Single All the Way, The Prom, Black Widow, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Come From Away, The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring, Love Hard. I did not go to the movie theater (they didn’t open up here until June).

Concerts attended: none (cries in pandemic forever). II know I did a virtual concert but for the life of me, I can’t remember what it was.

Musicals/Theater attended (masks and vaccination proof required): Jesus Christ Superstar, Mean Girls, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.

Music listened to: I don’t do spotify so I have nothing “unwrapped.” Adele, Andrew Belle’s latest album, Darren Criss’s EP Masquerade and A Very Darren Crissmas, Lil Nas X’s Montero (Call Me By Your Name).

Favorite tiktoks/youtube follows: Dr. Glaucomflecken, B Dylan Hollis, Nerdforge

Fanfic written: I finished off the last 4 chapters of sure like never before in January and February and then I spent the rest of the year writing these inconvenient fireworks, which I finished the last week in November. 52,000 words this year.

Books read: Sometime near the start of the pandemic in 2020, I joined a facebook group dedicated to reading Rilla of Ingleside, which triggered a rekindling in my interest in books. As a former book worm, it’s rather astonishing how little books I’ve read in the last decade – I’ve read many other things, newspapers and magazines and fanfiction, but very few books.

I set a goal of reading 20 books this year. I surpassed that and read 49 books this year (I don’t think I’ll get to 50 by midnight.

You can read all of my reviews on goodreads.

Favorite book: The House In the Cerulean Sea. By far. I spent the rest of the year trying to recapture the feeling that that book gave me.

Book that I thought I had read before but most definitely did not and it haunted me forever and I’m still not sure if I understand what happened. Liar. No really, what was that ending?

Word I can happily never see again in a plus-size romance: voluptuous (I think plus-sized romances aren’t my thing).

Book everybody should read: The Sum of Us. Really well-written and researched.

Books attempted but did not finish:
The Gentleman’s Guide to Getting Lucky. I had forgotten how much I had hated the protagonist in the first book (I liked the plot! I liked the secondary characters. I hated Monty.) and couldn’t get through it. And I just got The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy from the library – we’ll see if the third times the charm.
The Essex Serpent. I tried. It’s going to be a movie. Maybe I’ll watch it and then try again.

Number of camping trips: 2 (Oregon coast and Wyoming).

Number of plane trips: 2 (Utah/Wyoming for camping with the family in July, and Arizona to see the family in October. Hopefully maybe more in 2022?)

Weather disasters endured: ice storm in February, heat domes in June and July, atmospheric rivers in September.

Number of houses bought: 1

Number of houses bought and regretted: …. zero?

Number of repairs still needed on house: *cries*

Number of items knitted: 3 scarves, the body of a doll which is still dismembered…

Amount of yarn purchased: *shifty eyes*.

All of the books by genre below the cut…

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2nd November 2021

the common denominator

When I was cleaning up the cross-post yesterday, because the wordpress plug-in I use always leaves all of these spaces between each paragraph, I accidentally clicked on one of the tag links on the side bar. Liz. My old college friend and roommate. Two posts down, I noticed that I had said something about how she was moving out.

I have absolutely no recollection of that happening. None.

My memory from those years, when I was in med school and trying to keep from drowning, was that she moved out when she got married six months when I was in Kenya, about 6 months before I graduated. The entries I made about her moving out were in May 2004, nearly two years before then.

I keep searching through my memories and I can’t recall where she lived. Did I visit her? Her sisters lived with me at some point, both of them. Was that before or after?

I don’t like these holes.

I’m … not doing well emotionally. Just this feeling that the earth keeps turning and I just … ride. I can’t separate out the years from each other – even this pandemic has now become where its existed forever.

I’m lonely. I live with my sister and we get along for the most part, so that’s a help in terms of being around other humans. But I only have one friend here that I see on a regular basis. Work colleagues I’ll meet up with dinner once every few months or longer and that died with the pandemic too.

Nearly all of my friendships from college and med school have withered and died. I’m still friends with Liz. I stay with her when I visit SLC, which may be why I was so stunned to read that we had had such a falling out 15 years ago. It’s a long distance friendship though and we’re not as close as we once were.

I haven’t heard from Chris in a year – I texted him a couple of times during those early months in the pandemic when he was getting slammed and he called once. His youngest was born with down syndrome three years ago. We talked a few weeks after she was born and he never mentioned it. I found out from a news article that his wife posted three months later after the baby had undergone some sort of medical procedure. It hurt too much to try to preserve that friendship, when it was all one-sided.

It’s been a year since my last conversation with Susan, where it felt like I had forced her into talking to me as a birthday present. I haven’t tried again.

They’re all gone now.

I had made my peace years ago about never having a romantic partner because I had been so richly blessed with these deep friendships. Just a few short years ago, I would make road trip plans, where I could see everybody and those plans would become longer and longer as I tried to fit everybody in.

I try not to dwell on the fact that there is something fundamentally wrong with me, but it’s been festering, destroying me from the inside. I’m the common denominator, after all. And I don’t know what to do about that.

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1st November 2021

I swore I’d never get a stash

Pictured: yarn I bought in the last 2 days

I also never thought that I’d have favorite yarns, but these definitely are very high up on the list. Rasta by Malabrigo, thick, bulky single ply merino wool in utterly delicious colors and feels like you’re knitting clouds. I made two scarves last year with it for my mom and dad:

The scarves were a lot of fun to knit – a simple pattern that knit up quickly but still looked complex and easy to tell where I made a mistake. I think I’m going to try some different patterns this time.

I can knit 4 scarves by Christmas, yeah?

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    • Quarter reads 2023 April 1, 2023
      At the beginning of the year, I posted on facebook for book recommendations to read over the new year and had multiple friends comment with recommendations. So I’m reading books this year that I might not have otherwise. January– The Beggar King and the Secret of Happiness by Joel Ben Izzy. FB recommendation. I was […]