Monday Earworm: Garbage (MOAR GARBAGE!!)

It’s been a wretched few weeks, hasn’t it? I don’t mean just the newsy bits, though those are definitely some 9th-circle nonsense with a bit of the 4th circle thrown in for toxic measure. For those of us in Texas, even beyond the reported ugliness, we’ve been dealing all month long with late-July/August type weather: extremely hot (more days with triple-digit temperatures than we usually have in a given summer) and no hint of rain. But at least we get near 100% humidity, so I guess there’s that, if you like living in a sauna. (I don’t.)

(We can debate about the reasons for all of this some other time — no, actually, there’s no need, because we know the reasons and they aren’t controversial, just disappointingly dumb.)

The drought here is bad enough in Houston that we might have to start watering the ground around the bases of our houses to avoid foundation cracks later this year. (That’s not a joke. This is a thing.)

But a few minutes ago, a thunderstorm started at my house. Not a lot of rain, nowhere near enough, but it’s something, there’s a promise of more, and I’ll take it. So here, have some Garbage. Enjoy.

Monady Earworm: The Cranberries

The Cranberries burst into my consciousness when I was in college. I loved Dolores O’Riordan’s gorgeous Irish accent and their moody music. This song in particular captured so much of what I was feeling and reeling from in my late teens and early twenties: the fallout that comes with being involved for too long with someone who leaves emotional destruction in his wake.

I love a lot of The Cranberries’ other songs, too, but every time this song comes on, I remember how gorgeous it is and how full of the feels. I’ve lived a lot and healed a lot since those earlier days, of course, and so this song doesn’t make me feel melancholy anymore. It’s just beautiful, and I like singing along with it.

I’m sharing two versions of it with you, both of them fabulous. The original video is pure ’90s MTV nostalgia, and the second isn’t really a video but has an acoustic version of the song that’s really nice. Enjoy.


Two Poetry Workshops Happening This Month (A FEW SPOTS STILL OPEN)

There are still some spots open in the two poetry workshops I’m teaching this month, in case you were interested in signing up for them but haven’t yet. Both will be taught on Zoom, so covid surges and geographical distances are not a problem here.  😉

Daily Dose of Poetry is a one-night-only experience through Write About Now as part of their Monday night poetry class series. You can do just mine — happening TOMORROW, June 13th — or get a bundle of weeks at a discount. In this generative workshop, we’ll try our hand at several different poetry prompts designed to kickstart your writing or refresh your writing practice if you’ve been away from it for a while. Each exercise is also translatable, to duplicate or adapt on your own after the workshop ends. You will also get a chance to share and/or workshop what you write during class. Click here for more details and to get the link to register:


grackle painting by Kerry James Marshall

Poetry: Grounded in Place But Not Confined is a four-week workshop through Grackle & Grackle. We’ll be meeting on Tuesday evenings starting this week, June 14th. In this generative and feedback-oriented workshop, we will look at ways poetry inhabits landscapes both literal and figurative and create poems along that theme. You can expect to write new poetry each week and to have at least two of your poems workshopped in a respectful and supportive environment over the course of the four weeks. (And if you’re able to attend most but not all of the sessions, don’t let that stop you from signing up, as I’m happy to share materials with you if you’re absent.) G&G is also great about offering discounts on their classes, too, so if you need one, try these: 15% sun; 25% squawk; 35% sweat. Click here for more information and to register:

I hope to see you in either or both of these workshops! Feel free to share with others who might also be interested.

Eco-Efforts: Blueland

Over the last few years I’ve made some concerted efforts at becoming a more ecologically responsible person. At this point, everyone with even rudimentary common sense or reasoning abilities or interaction with the world recognizes that our planet is endangered. We also know, pretty widely, that most of the technology to fix this constellation of problems already exists and that we are capable of mitigating the damage. Political will and outright foolish stubbornness are among the enormous obstacles we face. But I’m not here to rant about that.

I want to tell you about the active efforts I’ve personally been making to minimize the negative impact I and my household have on the environment. Rather than give you a long list of things all at once, I’m going to focus on just one effort in each post. Please note that I have NOT received anything in return for my reviews of the products I’ll be talking about. I’m sharing my experience with them entirely because I want to, and because I really do think these efforts are worthwhile.

One criticism that has often been levied at eco-friendly efforts is that it’s expensive to be socially and ecologically responsible. I agree, sometimes that’s true. For example, organic groceries can be significantly more expensive than conventional ones. Getting solar panels on your house can be a lot more expensive than the average new car. (We looked into it. We didn’t bother. More on that some other time.) I want to make it clear that in every instance I’ll be sharing with you, I’ve switched to an eco-progressive option not just because it was the environmentally correct thing to do, but also because it was either cheaper or at least not more expensive than going the conventional route. This is important to note. All the changes I’ve made in my household have been financially beneficial as well as environmentally so.

So with that said, the company I want to highlight today is Blueland. I got their starter kit (the Clean Essentials one) during the first year of the pandemic and have never looked back.

This kit comes with foaming hand soap and three plant-based household cleaners: glass/mirror, bathroom, and multi-surface. The idea is that you get a refillable bottle for each and then add tap water and a cleanser pellet to the bottle to create a full bottle of cleaner. The “forever bottles” escape the perpetual cycle of single-use plastic; the one for the hand soap is actually made of glass. The pellets come packed in paper.

So why are these cleaners worthwhile? For one, they actually work. Like, really well. I tested them against all the major brands of the same products I had from the grocery store, and they all worked as well as or better than the store-bought ones. And they last just as long.

The ecologically friendly part of this is that I’m not putting any single-use plastic bottles into landfills when I use Blueland. (And before you advise me to recycle them, obviously I do, but when those cleaning product bottles have residue in them, they end up in landfills anyway.) I encourage you to browse the FAQ and Mission sections on their website to learn more about their products and their company, which was founded by a woman named Sarah who learned about plastic pollution when she became a new mom.

Finally, one further point to consider is that those cleaning products you buy from the grocery store actually contain a lot of water, along with chemicals. Well, I can get water from my sink. Then I drop the plant-based cleaning pellet into that water, and fizz fizz in a few minutes I have a bottle of household cleanser that works really well and costs a lot less than the chemicals I bought at the grocery store. When I run out of cleanser pellets, I just order a refill, and they come packaged in compostable paper, mailed in a recyclable paper envelope. (In fact, all their shipping materials are recyclable.) I don’t even have to order refills that often.

Blueland also makes other products besides the ones I’ve noted here. For example, they make dish soap, toilet cleaners, and laundry detergent, but I haven’t tried those. They also make body wash, which I have tried and which works perfectly well and has extremely mild scents, but it is actually not less expensive than bar soap, so I don’t know that I’ll be continuing with it. (I’ll post more about body washes and soaps another time.) Blueland’s foaming hand soaps, for what it’s worth, have stronger fragrances, many of which I actually find delightful for the most part. (I’m not personally partial to the iris agave, but their seasonal gingerbread was fabulous.) And the hand soap feels good on your skin while also making it feel really clean — a tricky balance to achieve.

So I heartily recommend Blueland’s cleaners! Have you tried them, or another eco-progressive brand? Have you tried any of their other products? What did you think? Let us know in the comments!

Monday Earworm: Lana Del Rey

It is most emphatically summertime here in my fair city. School is out, at least for many of us. Temps in the mid-90s with a real-feel of over 100, and hurricane season is underway, even if the Texas Gulf Coast won’t likely see a ton of action for a while yet.

So here’s a sultry little swing for early June, courtesy of Lana Del Rey.

And in case you’re looking for some fun workshops to indulge in this month, I’m still teaching a few. My zine workshop (in-person) through Writespace starts Thursday. My one-night-only Daily Dose of Poetry kickstart is online Monday evening next week via Write About Now. And I’m doing a four-week poetry workshop online through Grackle & Grackle starting next Tuesday evening. (Let me know if you want some great discounts on the registration for that one.) All workshops will be generative in nature and will include feedback on your work. Click on those links to register for any and all!

One Last Campaign Update — How It All Turned Out

OMG WE DID IT!!! My cousin Meredith Jamail Rice was named The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Woman of the Year last night. Named in honor of her brother and my dear cousin Chuck, who died tragically and shockingly when he was twelve about two days after his diagnosis of acute monocytic leukemia, Meredith’s fundraising team Charlie’s Angels broke the fundraising record, FAR exceeding our goals!!

Thank you SO MUCH to all of you who contributed to our campaign and helped save so many lives this spring. Filled with gratitude and joy!!

My Annual Transition Week

So inevitably the first week after school gets out ends up being very transitional for me. I’m either catching up on doctors’ appointments that have been put off during the school year or moving my family into our new summer routine or dealing with an entire list of logistical and administrative details that need to get taken care of, etc. ad nauseum. It’s not what I would like; I would much rather just dive into whatever book I’m trying to finish in a given year, but it is what it is.

Well, this year, my transition ended up being to get sick. Hard to believe, since during the pandemic (which is still going on, by the way) I take more precautions on the daily than most people I know, but whatever. Stuff’s going around, and I got caught up in it. I had exactly one very nice day of summer break and then the next day woke up with the yuck. I spent a full two days being, not gonna lie, kind of angry about it. (It’s also why I didn’t post an earworm this week. I spent most of Monday napping.) But now that I am hopefully on the upswing (KNOCK ON WOOD) I am trying to think about this week as just another kind of liminal space and making use of the downtime as much as I can. Because I am pathologically addicted to being productive, I’m catching up on emails and making a very optimistic list about things I’d like to do this summer and reading books for fun. (Three novels so far this week, yay! I read Kayley Loring’s new release Good Vibrations and then one of her older ones because her romantic comedies are so funny and she uses text message conversations better than any other author I can think of. I also read John Scalzi’s The Kaiju Preservation Society, and wow, that book is the antidote to what ails you. Good stuff! You’ll see all of them — and so much more! — on my 2022 Reading Year in Review.)

ANYWAY, I do have some updates and reminders for you.

  • You can expect more content on the blog this summer, assuming nothing else goes wonky around here.
  • My family’s LLS campaign comes to an end this week. Thank you to everyone who has contributed to help save lives impacted by cancer! As of this writing, I’m still about $500 away from reaching my personal goal, so if you were wanting to contribute but just hadn’t gotten around to it yet, you have until tomorrow night (JUNE 2nd) to do it. Here’s the link to my fundraising page. I’m also doing a raffle tomorrow evening for three fabulous prizes, and every $25 you donate gets you another raffle ticket!
  • If you want to take my zine class through Writespace, the early bird deadline for discounted registration is this Friday. Here’s the link to register.

And that’s about all the news that’s fit to print for now! You’ll hear from me again soon.