Category Archives: After-school Special

Sometimes I feel the need to expulse the angsty overanalysis that results in what I firmly believe, for a few minutes, to be truth.

Quick, before it’s too late

Now that I have a child, every time I see an ad for a restaurant I never made it to, or an event that sounds like fun (but I know I wouldn’t have gone to), I think that if I had just known what life would be like post-baby, I would have been a little more carpe diem.

That’s not to say that I live in a fortress of solitude.I do go out without a baby strapped to me, and I have a great support group who babysit (also paid babysitters, which are fine but OH MY GOD $15 an hour is so much more than I made as a babysitter) so I can do things like go out for dinner (like we did last week for a very belated birthday) or kayaking.

Just now, as I quietly opened a beer in the kitchen (80’s room is next door), I had a realization. I was pondering why I hadn’t been more adventurous in going out to events pre-baby. The realization is that the impending baby feeling didn’t hit us until I was well into pregnancy. I’m sure this serves an important procreative purpose, since thinking about diapers and colic too much would probably put usall off having a babies everl.

The downside is that I only realize in retrospect how much more fun I could have been having. If you would have asked me two years ago if I wanted to go across the city on a school night to see an author speak at a bookshop, I would have probably passed. Now, I’d say “OH MY GOD YES, AND ARE YOU WILLING TO BABYSIT TOO?”, because getting a break from family life is a Real Big Treat now.

So, you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone, to quote Joni Mitchell* in the original, ungrammatically correct line from “Big Yellow Taxi”. You don’t want to scare yourself out of having a family, so don’t think too hard about this (unless you have children, in which case, I’d really like to hear your thoughts en-comment).

If I could turn back time**, I’d let not-yet-mama Sonya know that taking weekend trips outta town, or going to skillshares are easy and a treat, that they will be missed in the future.

For now, I do get to say that I THOROUGHLY enjoy any outing I get, and I’m sure there are aspects about life right now that I’ll wish I could freeze. Hmm. Like, perhaps, the fact that my child has never yet intentionally defied me.

*It’s been said more than once that Mitchell’s my celebrity doppelganger.
**I’m not going to bother quoting Cher, since it’s a lot less poignant.

Soap: nope

I am experimenting with using no soap. No shampoo (or conditioner), no face cleanser, no body wash, bar soap, not even deodorant or moisturizer, nothing. I bet you’re thinking “She just went of the deep end of the hippie pool.”

I don’t want to be a smelly hippie. I read this blog post on BoingBoing, about one of the contributors trying out the no soap thing for 18 months (and counting). What drew me to the idea was the personal experiment angle, and the logic seemed like it could be sound. I think my body knows what it’s doing, and am willing to find out. Also, I’m lazy.

This no soap thing is part of the paleolithic lifestyle idea — basically that our bodies haven’t evolved that much since caveman times, and we didn’t have soap then. The New York Times article I linked to is more about the paleo diet, which I have no interest in following, since I’m fairly certain my body’s adapted to eating cheese (seriously1).

Right, back to not using soap. I feel I need to mention, and in fact pull out the bold type, I’m still showering. I’m showering every day, thanks. It’s not that I’m not bathing, it’s that I’m not using soap to do so. (I am using soap to wash my hands after changing diapers, before preparing food, and the like.)

I wasn’t so much concerned about the cleanliness of rest of my body as I was my hair. Having done a fair share of camping and living at a camp, I’m familiar with my hair’s ability to get stringy and gross after 2 days of inactivity, or 1 day of moderate activity. I’ve gone 3-4 days without showering before, and so I was prepared for my hair to be pretty gross.

The last time I used soap was on January 4th. I read the afore-mentioned BoingBoing post, and decided it would be a fun experiment to try immediately. Here’s what happened:

January 5th: I normally shower every other day, so this day was my usual not-shower day.

January 6: I showered, but instead of shampooing, conditioning, soaping various nether regions, then using face cleanser, I spent time massaging my scalp with my fingers, and using a washcloth and hot water all over my body. I noticed that I lost a lot less hair (I usually lose a lot of hair each time I shower), and my hair felt greasy as I stepped out of the shower. Other than my hair, I felt clean. Once my hair dried (I don’t use a hair dryer) it was kind of greasy. Had I needed to go to a professional job, I would have been embarrassed, but not so greasy that it bothered me at home. I didn’t notice any bad smell (and I’m very aware of my BO, as is my partner — he promised to let me know if I got stinky.)

January 7-8th: I couldn’t get my hair super clean, but it was cleaner than not showering at all. The greasy level was only increasing a little. My hair was super soft.

January 9th: This was the apex of the greasy hair. This whole time, my body didn’t get smelly, my skin didn’t get overly dry or oily. It was only my hair that was a problem. Admittedly, I’d also spend most of my showering time on my hair, shampooing and conditioning it. This was the 5th day, and my hair felt heavy and matted (not in a tangled sense, but clumped together). I wore a bandanna, and went to the computer for some more research. From what I read, you can go cold turkey — the benefit of this is your body adjusts quickly to the change in oil production. You can also wean yourself off soap, which is probably what I’d have done if I needed to be in public more. Another option was a baking soda scrub of the hair, followed by a vinegar rinse. Awesome. That’s what I was looking for — something to help wash out the oil buildup without going back to shampoo. I did use a small amount of conditioner to shave my armpits.

January 10th: I poured about a quarter cup of baking soda into my hand, added some shower sprinkles of water, and rubbed it into my hair. I added another tablespoon or so, just to make sure I was getting it in everywhere. I rinsed it out, then poured vinegar into my hair and massaged that around. I could tell it made a difference, but it wasn’t until my hair dried that I realized just how much. I was through the gauntlet! My hair looked like I had shampooed it, and was softer than ever.

January 11th: Same baking soda/vinegar treatment. Worked the same as January 10th.

January 12th: Decided to try just water, no baking soda or vinegar. Hair was a little greasy, but definitely within normal limits. Told my upstairs neighbor about my experiment, and she couldn’t believe it, especially after touching my hair.

January 13th (today): Used baking soda and vinegar again, in hopes of having completely clean hair. I do, and it’s very soft.I keep petting it. I’m losing WAY less hair during each shower. I’m not sure how to explain this without making you feel a little ill, but let’s say I used to lose approximately a cat-fight fistful of hair every shower. Now I lose a meager 3-4 strands.

I’m not sure if I can get away from the baking soda and vinegar treatment, to water only. I think I need to give my body more time to acclimate. I’m also not sure what will happen when I try going two days without showering. I’ll update when I have more data points.

My favorite thing about this is the experimentation. I’ve been taking notes, so I could write this post. I also like that I can stop angsting about whether to buy cheap crappy shampoo, or expensive shampoo that maybe doesn’t have parabens and maybe works better, but maybe not, but does cost 10x more than Suave.

From blog post & comments I’ve read of others trying it, it seems like the no-soap thing works well for some, and can be modified to work for others. As with many fads, there are those who are getting fanatical. I think it’s worth trying, especially if you feel that a change might help a hair/skin problem (even if it’s counterintuitive that less soap would help oily skin or hair), especially if you can get days 4-5 of your acclimation period to land on a weekend. Or if you’re lazy.

I’m sorry I didn’t take pictures of my gross hair days. Now my hair is the same as before, with fewer products and less fuss, so I’m not going to bother adding one. Plus, 80 just woke up. Time to go clean her critical areas.

1 I read that my ancestry has provided me with the ability to eat cheese, and eat cheese I will.

Minorly bad news: a teensy bit of robbing happened

Jason was robbed last night. I think I’ve decided that you can’t call it mugging unless they physically assault you. He was on his way home at midnight last night – on our block in fact – when he heard someone coming up behind him. Three guys came up, one in front and two behind. The one in front did most of the talking. The guy was holding something that could be construed as a gun, but was not verbally aggressive as he asked Jason for his money.

Jason’s a smart, level-headed guy. I think he reacted exactly right. He didn’t say much, and didn’t answer questions like “what’s in your backpack”, whereas I would probably laugh nervously and make jokes about how heavy my giant 17″ laptop was.

Anyway, Jason didn’t answer questions, but when the guy demanded Jason’s money, Jason got out his wallet and handed the guy the cash – not the wallet. Then they asked about his backpack. He said nothing. They asked about a phone. He said nothing.

The guy in front of him said something to the effect of “give me your phone and we’ll leave you your backpack”. So, Jason gave then his iPhone. Then the guys left.

My initial reaction was that of vigilantism. No one threatens Jason *bears teeth*. We called the police, and auto-deactivated the phone using AT&T’s ‘press 4 if your phone is lost or stolen’.

Then we spent at least an hour thinking of all the passwords that needed changing. It’s an iPhone – it has access to everything. I did some research, and learned that there are some precautions you can take, both with apps written specifically to thwart and with social engineering like calling the phone or seeing what calls show up on your account.

Anyway, I now know about all sorts of awesome hacks to add a secret dye pack to your phone, as I am a librarian and I take comfort in knowledge.

How do I wrap this up? I’m not scared, but I am much more aware of the little things I’ve decided I should be doing to protect myself. Better encryption, maybe iRedHanded, and not walking alone late at night.

It’s not too late to help a brother out.

In two scarily short days, I’ll be walking in the 40th annual Walk for Hunger. I’ve bought Dr. Scholl’s inserts for my hiking shoes, and I think I’m ready to rock.

Well, carbo load, then rock.

I would love it (love it!) if you donated to the ol’ fund. You get cookies in return – so even if you hate donating money, buy some really expensive cookies!

Oh, stop being a baby and do it –>>> mwah!

All the cool kids have donated – my mom, for example. (In fact, she donated and asked that I bake my father cookies for his birthday, awwww.)

Fighting fire with fire … I mean hunger with cookies.

Last week I posted about walking in the 40th Annual Walk for Hunger, and basically asking friends to kick in a little cash in my fundraising efforts (which are awkward at best).

This week, I decided that I needed to kick it up a notch. I’ve always had a problem with fundraising, ever since my days of Girl Scouts. I’ve made peace with this by pulling myself into the thing I know best.


This is just what I can do with bread. Just imagine the cookies.

Yeah, I said it. If you donate, any amount at all, I’ll send you a batch of my great grandma Bertha’s amazing oatmeal raisin or my extraordinary great aunt Gertrude’s chocolate chip cookies. It’s the only way I know how to raise money, so I’m doing it up GS style.

I’m trying to raise $1,000 to help hungry people, and I’m (as of this posting) 27% done. I hate asking for money, but I also hate world hunger, so this helps to solve both.

AND, if you donate $20 or more, I’ll also send you the zine I’m making about the whole thing, with both cookie recipes. (The only stipulation is that you refer to them as great-grandma Bertha’s or great-aunt Gertrude’s recipe.)

Now, who wants some effing cookies?

Underwater BFFs

My new friend Trinity mentioned that he keeps cat-hair-levels down by using the Furminator.


I agree. Stella liked being groomed (she fell asleep), and all this undercoat fur came off. It’s kind of gross and kind of awesome.
In thanks for guiding me to my neat new job,
I decided the best way to show E my gratitude was to buy matching whale tail necklaces.

on Flickr”>Whale tails! Whale tails!

One of those pleas for a bit of cash

Hey all.

So, this is a blog post about how I’m going to be all noble and walk 20 miles in the name of eradicating hunger. I usually react negatively to these kinds of posts, because it sucks asking people for money. (And I’m still a bit traumatized from Girl Scout cookie selling as a child.)

Little Soy Blue


This has an altruistic intention, as well as a selfish one:
* No one likes hunger, right? So that’s easy. We can all feel good about fighting that.
* Walking a whole bunch of miles, as a massive group, makes me feel good – like I’m helping both raise money and awareness (and people watch me).


There are lots of reasons not to donate any money (and truth be told, you’re probably thinking of them now), but if any of these resonate with you at all (and you can spare $20 without impacting your own grocery budget), consider it:

1. Once you donate, it actually feels pretty good, and although $20 feels like a buncha money, it’s not, and the feeling you’ll have is worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $7-$22.

2. You have guilty feelings when you walk by people who are homeless. Or general white guilt.

3. You can live vicariously through me. I’ll liveblog a couple times that day, so you can see beautiful Boston Commons and Cambridge and such. This is going to be fun, and I will enjoy it, and I will share!

4. This could be seen as karmic insurance, or a tax write-off, depending on your beliefs. (It’s both!)

So, effing click on RIGHT HERE and then click on the button, and then put in your credit card number, and you’re done. It’s easy. Stop being a baby.

I’m walking with Team Civitron and the Secret Society of Superheroes, which is (like it sounds) a bunch of super heros. Shhhh.

Reference interview failures

A patron came in today asking for books for his 10- and 12-year olds on stealing and teasing animals, respectively.

I’m so impressed and glad the dad came to the library looking for information about these difficult issues, and I was sorely disappointed to find very little in the way of books that would address the animal cruelty issue at a level appropriate for a 12-year-old.

Every time I encounter this kind of situation, I think “Someone should write that book.”

(I realize that there is probably a book out there, but seriously, I couldn’t find it.)

Effing A* Good Enough

As I was coming up the creepy spiral stairs at the library this morning, I was reflecting on a conversation I had just had. I had been hit with one of those waves of feeling – the kind where you realize you had seemingly channeled your mom. Not only did I sound like her, but I acted like her too, during this brief dialog with my coworker.

This has been happening with increasing frequency since high school. At first it was the occasional motion (the best of which is captured on national television when I went to RAW Is WAR, and was startled by The Undertaker directly behind me.

Anyway, the point is, I was thinking about how I’m turning into my mom. Only not – I’m definitely like her, but with the changes that come from being my own person, growing up in the 80’s and 90’s, traveling a different life path, etc. (Also, I don’t have her curls, something I’m still bitter about.) But like her enough that I’m pleased about it.

Then I had A Big Thought. It occurred to me that any child I have will probably be a lot like me. An insecure feeling swept me up. I thought to myself, “Am I good enough of a person to let that happen?”

Then I was all like “shit, yeah”, and continued walking up the stairs.

Pare it down, girl.

I’ve been thinking lately about how wide and varied my interests are. I seem to have the personality where I get deeply interested in something, learn just enough about it to get it, then get distracted with something new … and repeat.

I have a few new up-and-coming interests that are of a professional nature. I’m going to be writing an article about youth librarianship, social web things, with my esteemed colleague Erin. I’ve been accepted as a reviewer of zines for Library Journal. These are both interesting to me, and all publishy.

Realizing that I could have professional success (or at least librarical infamy) if I keep this kind of thing up, I realized that I may just need to pare down some of my interests. I have simply too many things I want to do. I feel a list coming on…

Ongoing and Upcoming Projects:
Fix that accordion I bought, and learn to play it
Bind and cover books – with all the paper, board, and tools I’ve been hording
Master Knitter Level II
Knitting in general – and all the yarn, needles, and accoutrement
Letterboxing kits – carve stamps, write clues, hide boxes
Sewing wallets – sewing machine, giant tub full of fabric
Silkscreening – hoops and screen and paints and shirts
Painting – paints, brushes, and canvases
Develop last of the rolls of film I have – photo processing containers and chemicals
Wedding photography – take that camera I bought and shoot some people at their wedding (ha)
Making hollow books – random books I don’t want to read, but do want to hack apart
Learn more American Sign Language – I know about 100 words and can throw together a sentence
The 24 Hour Zine Thing – website, distro
Finish Outside Cat, the zine
Write a gyne zine
Work on DIY Reporter zine (bet you didn’t know that one even existed)
Play Pokemon Pearl on Shane’s DS
Practice the trombone
Work at a bike shop – sadly, I stopped, but I’m still accruing tools
Work as a children’s performer – I don’t know if I’ll have an opportunity to do this again, like I did with Toe Jam
Tell stories – I could get so wrapped up in the storytelling guild …
Work on Openknitting (bet you didn’t know that existed either)
Research for upcoming LJ zine column on medical zines
Start research with Erin for upcoming Library Review issue
Read books – like knitting, I don’t think I have a choice

Most of these projects require some sort of crafty supplies, and I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this, but Jason, Stella, and I live in a very small apartment. A lot of my crap is out and about, since looking at it inspires me to make something. (Or, like If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, it bounces me from idea to idea.) I think the tools and supplies of my interests are suffocating us.

So, I’ve decided that I’m going to pack up a lot of the crap. I’m going to focus on just a few interests, and let the rest be for a while. I get jealous of Jason, because a lot of his ongoing projects are computer-based, and therefore take up a lot less room (even if they incite the same amount of panic and overwhelming feelings I have).

I’m declaring my cleared head!
I would like to keep knitting, but stick to one project at a time, with no starting random socks just because I have nothing else planned. Much like Goodreads has focused my reading to books I actually am interested in, Ravelry should do the same for knitting projects. Lastly, I think I’d like to finish the zine of Outside Cat. It would be something you would subscribe to, and I’d mail it to you. I’ll post about that later.

I don’t know about you, but I feel better. I’m hoping that my intense list-making skills and cut-and-run tactics have left you breathless with wonderment, and willing to make changes to your own lives (as opposed to feeling overwhelmed and ADHD, as I fear you might).