The Magic of (Local) Special Hockey

It strikes me suddenly that it has been a week—more even—since Jack’s tournament and I have barely written about it. Well. That should change if only because anything that makes my kid smile like this needs to be written about.

Jack in his hockey uniform and helmet, with a big smile on his face.Although to be honest, that photo just reflects that he was smiling about a video Quinn had made about his nose, which resulted in Jack asking me to make a video about his nose, which led to this, which I share because I think my guy is just so goldarn cute.

 See? Cute.

Um. Oh, right. Hockey.

So, the UCT Winter Hockey Festival took place about 20 minutes from my house a little more than a week ago and it was GREAT. The Cheetahs had four teams playing in the tournament, which hosted more than a dozen teams from around the Northeast.

Jack’s first game was in the afternoon on Saturday, which was a lovely change from our normal Saturday morning routine, wherein we have to have Jack at the rink and all suited up for practice by 7:45 am.

Team Stimey accidentally sat in the bleachers with the opposing team’s families for that first game, which mostly only got awkward when some folks commented on the kid who was lying down on the ice in a big X shape. I think you know whose kid that was.

Regardless, the game was fun, my friend/one of Jack’s former teachers came to watch, and someone won. Or didn’t. Honestly, at Jack’s level of special hockey, sometimes it’s hard to tell. Hey, we’re all winners! Even if we lie down on the ice during the game.

We were thinking about sticking around after Jack’s game to watch some of the other Cheetah teams play (those games do have winners), but Team Stimey (read: Alex) was a little antsy, so we decided to head home until the opening ceremony a few hours later. (The magic of local special hockey.)

We did stop at the playground outside the arena to have a little subzero climbing time, because WHY WOULDN’T WE?! (Because it was subzero.)

Quinn on a playground climbing structure in a hat—smiling.

Even Quinn, who can barely handle the cold of rink-side benches, happily cavorted.

We returned later that afternoon for the opening ceremonies at which each athlete got to walk across the ice and get a medal.

Jack killed time before he got his medal by hanging out with Slapshot, the Washington Capitals’ mascot.

Photo of Jack and his team standing rinkside as a man dressed at a giant eagle in a hockey uniform skates on the rink in front of them.

Okay, maybe not just Jack.

Sam killed time by pretending to be Jack.

Two photos, side by side, the first of Jack in a green coat and hat, the second of Sam wearing the same coat and hat.

Jack on left. Sam on right, thinking he is hilarious.

Quinn killed time by reading a Garfield book. I won’t bore you with that photo.

After the opening ceremony, we followed Slapshot out to the parking lot…

Jack greeting Slapshot in a hallway. Slapshot's back is to the camera and his wing is on Jack's shoulder.

I’m kidding. We just ran after him to say hello in person.

Now, the thing about hockey tournaments is that the games are great and the cheering is fun and the opening ceremony and the medals are a blast, but the real magic of special hockey comes in watching the players be with the other players and their coaches. They find common ground. They laugh. They joke. They spin. They play video games together. And if they are Montgomery Cheetahs at this particular tournament, they DANCE.

The Cheetahs had a party after the ceremony for the athletes and their families. Let me tell you, it got raucous.

Blurry photo of Jack and other kids dancing. A man is standing behind Jack, preparing to lift him onto his shoulders.

I know it’s blurry. But it gets the point across. That is one of Jack’s coaches standing behind him. Shortly thereafter, Jack was up on his shoulders. The Cheetah Nation knows how to party.

Watching all those players connecting with each other and finding their community among themselves? I can’t even tell you how good that feels to watch. Also, if someone organizes all the kiddos into the front of the room and has them sing “We Are the Champions,” well, that will feel pretty good too.

Sadly, there is a harsh alarm after every excellent party and mine went off at the crack of dawn because Jack had an 8 am game on Sunday. We got to the rink on time and settled ourselves (on the correct cheering side) in the bleachers and then Alex demonstrated for all of you exactly how we all felt at that moment.

Alex with the grumpiest look possible on his face.

Grumpy man is grumpy.

It was early, y’all.

Jack, in uniform and on the ice, pressed up against the rink glass with his stick in his hands.

Although to be fair, I’m not sure why we did all the complaining when Jack was the one who had to actually compete in an athletic event at that ungodly hour.

Soon enough though, Alex’s face unscrunched as he watched Jack skate and play. Then we watched Jack hit the puck between the goalie’s legs and score a goal. A GOAL. Those aren’t easy to come by for the more cheerfully lackadaisical players, of which Jack is one.

You should have seen Alex’s face. I was too busy smiling and clapping to take that photo.

Then my longtime commenter/new friend Karen showed up to watch the game. She is a Stimeyland reader and, according to WordPress, was my top commenter last year. It was wonderful to put her face to her words and even better to find out that she is a really lovely person. Big thanks to you, Karen, for putting yourself out there and coming by. It was an absolute joy to hang out with you.

Jack and I didn’t take all his gear off between games, because his next one was at 11 am, so he sat in the cafe and played on an iPad wearing everything but his helmet, gloves, and skates.

Naturally, after wearing them for three hours, he determined right before his next game that THESE ELBOW PADS ARE ITCHY AND TERRIBLE AND I ABSOLUTELY CAN’T TAKE THEM ANOTHER MINUTE ELBOWS ARE OVERRATED ANYWAY!!!

I managed to scratch his elbows until he was okay and he marched off to the outside rink, which was where his last game of the tournament was. Honestly, it didn’t feel TOO cold out there.

Quinn wearing a coat, wrapped in a blanket, and wearing his big hat sitting on a bench.

Although some people vehemently disagreed with that claim.

The outside rink is a very tiny rink, which made for some highly entertaining hockey, full of collisions and spills and lots of action. Plus, the players’ bench was right in there with the spectators so we could cheer on and support our kiddos from close up.

Jack and Alex fistbumping, rinkside.

(That’s a fist bump happening, not a beating.)

Tired as he was, Jack stayed motivated and played all of his shifts. This kid is so amazing. I couldn’t be prouder of him.

Jack in uniform on the ice, holding his stick parallel to the ice.

Now we just have to teach Jack to keep his stick on the ice so he can get more puck time.

I’m also proud of Quinn for making it through the entire game, even if he did hog much of the players’ bench in a profound expression of his freezing-cold misery.

Quinn, lying down in his blanket and hat on a green bench.

Alex DID offer to take him inside, but Quinn refused.

After Jack’s game, we headed home, which was a nice little aspect of not traveling for this tournament. (Also nice, running into my friend Andrea, whose son plays for another local special hockey team, but whom I NEVER see.) This tournament was really well put together and a lot of fun. Watching these teams play never ceases to make me extremely happy.

Jack at the outside rink, standing next to a man in a Montgomery Cheetahs jacket as the game goes on on the ice.The real question, however, isn’t about whether the tournament makes me happy. It’s about whether it makes Jack happy. Sometimes he grumbles about going to practice and sometimes he gets grumpy out on the ice, but he loves his team too. He is so proud to tell people that he plays hockey with the Montgomery Cheetahs. Anytime there is a “wear your favorite team’s jersey” day at school, he wears HIS Cheetahs jersey. He is a Cheetah through and through, and we are so happy that he is.

The best testament though, is that when I asked him just a few days after this tournament if he wanted to go to the travel tournament in New York again this year, he thought for maybe three seconds, popped his thumb in the air, and said, “Bingo!”

Jack wearing his tournament medal on his face. :)

Cheetah Pride.

Gerbilpalooza 2014*

Pen with the words "Gerbils are Fascinating" printed on it.

Swag. Awesome, awesome swag.

Guess where I went on Saturday? No, really. Guess.

Whatever you are guessing, it isn’t awesome enough.

Saturday I dragged my kids out to attend a pet expo that hosted the American Gerbil Society 6th Annual Mid-Atlantic Gerbil Show. For those of you who express surprise that there is an American Gerbil Society, well of course there is.

For those of you who express surprise that I attended said society’s Mid-Atlantic Gerbil show, well of course I did.

Photo of tables full of small platic tanks, each holding a gerbil. There are three women in white lab coats sitting amid the tables, looking at the gerbils.

I guess it shouldn’t have surprised me that the gerbil show didn’t take up much space. Gerbils themselves don’t take up much space.

I shared a photo similar to the one above on my Facebook page and someone was all, “Who are the people in the white coats?” The answer is that they are GERBIL SCIENTISTS. Obviously.

Or maybe just gerbil judges—either way they seemed very important.

We talked to one of the judges for a while. She was reviewing the juvenile gerbils and shared some of the criteria they had to meet. She also looked a little confused when my kids started pointing at one of the gerbils and shouting, “Hi, Jetpack! Hi, Jetpack!”

Yes, there was a gerbil there that looked just like a young Jetpack—of Stimeyland internet fame.

Photo of my gerbil, Jetpack.

OG gerbil, mother of five.

It turns out that Jetpack is a Siamese gerbil, which is a rare thing.

You guys, I have a rare gerbil.

I. AM GOING TO BE RICH.

Or, I am at least going to be entering my rare gerbil in the American Gerbil Society’s 7th Annual Mid-Atlantic Gerbil Show. (If, that is, Jetpack meets or exceeds the average lifespan of a gerbil; that year until the next show is a long time in the life of a gerbil.)

My kids were less interested in the details of gerbil judging (temperament, tooth color, fur coloration, underbelly staining) and more interested in the gerbil balls set up on tracks nearby. See, we used to have these for our mice and then I felt bad for them (the mice) and threw them (the balls) away, leaving my kids to ask me if we can put our rodents in balls and put them on the ground in cat territory more than I care to admit.

Jack peering at a gerbil in a small, transparent globe.

This was an altogether safer setup than we have in Stimeyland.

Shortly thereafter, my kids demanded to see the nearby bird display and we had to depart. We did swing by later (repeat after me: of course we did) and saw the results of the judging.

A line of plastic gerbil tanks with red, white, and blue ribbons attached to them.

These are the BEST gerbils.

I know you’re wondering what the first place gerbils look like. (Yes. You ARE.)

Three individual photos in a collage, each featuring a gerbil in a tank with a blue ribbon attached.

In case you’re wondering, they look kind of exactly like all the other gerbils.

I did wander by the AGS table to pick up various literature and to peruse the merchandise they had for sale. I was NOT disappointed.

Me in a red hat with a drawing of two gerbils and the words "American Gerbil Society" on it. Jack is sitting behind me giving me bunny ears with his fingers.

These were $10 hats marked down to $5. I have no idea why they were not just FLYING off the shelf.

It seemed kinda jerkface-y to have all this fun at a gerbil show without inviting a single one of my seven gerbils to come with me and be rubbed all over by a lady in a lab coat, so I made sure to bring home something for them too.

My white boy gerbil in his tank next to a cardboard drink holder.

I brought them the drink holder I used at lunch. They are EXCELLENT for gerbils to chew on. I am a benevolent overlord.

Frankly, the only thing that could have made this gerbil show better (other than a blue ribbon for Jetpack) would have been if EVEN ONE of the gerbils had been wearing a little hat. The lack of tiny hats was a little disappointing. But maybe that trend hasn’t hit the mainstream just yet. We in Stimeyland are on the cutting edge of gerbil fashion. We can’t expect The Society to have caught up quite yet.

A stack of American Gerbil Society bumperstickers in two styles, one saying, "Just a little addicted...Gotta getta gerbil," and the other saying, "ASK ME ABOUT MY GERBILS." Both have drawings of several gerbils on them.

I AM NOT THE ONLY ONE.

* Thanks to Lisa from Facebook for giving me the title to this post.

Heroes of the Watershed

Team Stimey always celebrates Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Ever since 2009 when Jack fell madly in love with Martin after learning about him in school, we’ve religiously observed the day by watching the iconic I Have a Dream speech and eating birthday cake. Sometimes there is other civil rights education that goes on as well. It all kind of depends.

The cake and speech are non-negotiable, however.

We all know, of course, that MLK Day is supposed to be a National Day of Service as well. Alex has taken the kiddos on walks to clean up trash now and again on the day, but we’ve never participated in an organized service project.

Until today.

DUN DUN DUUUUUUNNNNN!!!!

We joined Hiking Along in their quest to clean up Sligo Creek, a creek that runs through my area. Somehow telling my kids to “put on shoes because we’re going to go pick up trash by Sligo Creek!” actually resulted in all three of my kids putting on shoes and happily piling into our car, which was EXACTLY the opposite of what I expected would happen.

Huh. Who would have guessed?

We arrived on site to find a sign suggesting that each of us “Be a watershed hero!”

Challenge. Accepted.

We also arrived to find one of Sam’s buddies from school there with his family, which was great because that was like instant buy-in for Sam.

We set about collecting plastic bags and gloves (oh thank the good lord they were not latex gloves) and then I looked up to find that Jack had made a new friend.

Jack holding the leash of a medium-sized black dog.

Jack! We are supposed to be collecting TRASH, not DOGS.

Honestly, I can’t take my eyes off of him for a second.

We set off along the creek to pick up some trash although some of us (Quinn) didn’t bother to get gloves because some of us (Quinn) seemed to know ahead of time that some of us (Quinn) were completely uninterested in picking up trash.

(Later in the day, Quinn asked if I was going to write about our outing. I said, “Yes. You’re not going to come off well.”)

Photo of all three of my kids in a leafy, wooded area.

Sam was earning student service hours for the event, so it was most important that he be involved. Meaning he had to pick up the grossest garbage.

Other members of our party got to focus on other things. Like running. And spinning.

Quinn and Jack in the distance down a wooden path.

Although to be fair, Jack did take spinning breaks to pick up the occasional piece of trash.

At first Sam was all, “What the—?”

Sam standing on same wooden sidewalk, holding a picker-upper tool with a perturbed look on his face.

But then he realized that if he did most of the trash picking up, he got to have solo control of the little grabby thing we’d brought with us.

It took us a little while to find our rhythm because some members of our party kept running off. Jack, being autistic, was naturally drawn to the water. (Joke.)

Jack standing on the edge of a creek.

Although, honestly, he kinda was.

Still, it was Quinn who was the first to actually go wading in the creek. Normally, I tend to expect this. My kids seem to be physically incapable of standing near water without walking in it. This would be no big deal, but for the fact that it was 40 degrees this morning.

Quinn standing riiight next to the creek, holding his pant legs up.

I didn’t get the photo of him actually IN the water because I was too busy shouting at him to get out.

Whilst those shenanigans were going on, Sam and I continued on our treasure hunt for garbage creekside. I only lost him when he had the gall to try to do some learning on our service outing.

Sam reading a creekside sign about "Aquatic Habitats."

The nerve of some people.

We actually had a really nice time. We had an hour and a half time block, so there was plenty of time to wander around and collect a pretty impressive amount of trash. We saw some deer and also watched some ducks, which were an excellent example of Creatures in the Watershed That We Were Currently Helping. Even though the temperature was low, unless you were wading in the creek, the air was actually quite comfortable.

We even got a little ambitious and climbed over thorny bushes and navigated precarious sandy shores to get to some of the more challenging trash.

Jack proved himself to be a real Hero of the Watershed by collecting the most challenging piece of trash on our whole route.

Jack wading up to his mid-calves in the creek and picking up a plastic trash bag from the water.

And I proved myself to be, at best, a Questionable Parent.

The only reason I asked him to do this was because he already had wet shoes and pants from his voluntary foray into the creek moments earlier.

All things considered, I am really impressed with my kiddos for being such good sports and working so hard at the creek this morning. Even Quinn, although he didn’t pick up much trash, was good-natured and fun, which isn’t always easy for him in less than desirable conditions. (Cold. Gross. Etc.)

(Quinn did ask me to exaggerate how much trash he picked up, so if he asks, tell him that I told you that he picked up a HUGE amount.)

My kids standing near our collected bags of trash giving thumbs up.

Heroes of the Watershed.

Then we returned to our start point, where they had hot chocolate for the volunteers. We might just have to add this to our MLK Day routine. It was fun, we did a good thing, everyone got a lot of fresh air, no one lost a toe to frostbite, and we all really earned our birthday cake.

My Favorite Cheetah

Jack played the third and final game of this weekend’s hockey tournament on an outdoor rink this afternoon, giving me maybe the only chance I’ll ever have to get decent photos of that kid on the ice without having to deal with bad indoor rink lighting and shooting through plexiglass.

Jack in Montgomery Cheetahs uniform on iceThe fact that it was pretty chilly was way less important because PICTURES!

(Quinn may have had other feelings about the temperature vs. pictures differential.)

I have many thoughts and feels about the tournament, mostly that it was awesome and I feel happy and I am so glad that Margret and Noah and Karen were able to come by to cheer on the Cheetahs.

Also Jack scored his first honest-to-God, non-facilitated goal, which was pretty damn awesome.

Close up of Jack in his hockey helmetI hope to write more about the tournament in the next couple of days because you know me, I can’t resist any opportunity to tell you about the magic of special hockey.

Starfire Objects.

Someone would like your attention, please.

closeup of Starfire meowing

A-fucking-hem.

My cats have giardia. It’s some sort of intestinal parasite common in kittens—bonus: it can pass to humans! It’s not all that big of a deal, really, but they do have to take medicine to get rid of it.

I say “they” because I don’t actually know who has it. I took in a bag of cat shit to the vet and was all, “I don’t know whose it is, but here is a bag of poop!”

I guess the rationale is that if one of them has it, all of them have it, so let’s treat everyone.

Of course, that’s great because all three of the cats are super thrilled to have me syringe liquid meds down their throats twice a day. (<—sarcasm) Something I have learned, however, is that, by FAR, Starfire is the pointiest of the cats.

See, Oreo and Ruby sort of just gave in. Sure, Oreo tries to hork up all the medicine afterward through a series of guttural coughs that are ultimately ineffective and Ruby stalks off all offended like, but I don’t feel like I’m risking, say, a finger when I medicate them.

Starfire, however, has taken the administration of medicine as both a personal affront and an individual challenge to see just exactly how badly she can scratch the hell out of me.

(Answer: kind of a lot.)

Here’s the thing though: Starfire may be able to kick my ass physically, but I am SMARTER than that small cat.

It turns out that once you incapacitate her tiny, razor sharp claws, she has no choice but to take her medicine like a good cat.

Starfire tightly swaddled in a blanket

Not so cocky now, are you, Sharpy?

We’re five days into a ten-day/twice-a-day meds regimen and my pre-swaddling scratches are starting to heal. Starfire hasn’t figured out how to break free of her blanket burrito and I feel as if I’ve conquered the cat world.

Starfire, however, still strenuously fucking objects.

Who’s Ready For Some Hockey?

Jack has a hockey tournament coming up this weekend and, in a happy turn of events, it is within close driving distance of my house! No billion-hour bus trips for us this time! (Don’t worry; there is a travel tournament this spring with all its accompanying chaos.) Even better than that, all of Team Stimey will get to attend. I’m so excited!

UCT Winter Hockey Festival logoHaving been to hockey tournaments before with names such as Special Hockey International Tournament (aka, SHIT) and Special Hockey Ex-traaah-vah-gaaaahn-za, I was a little disappointed that the people behind Jack’s upcoming tournament called it the UCT Winter Hockey Festival, giving me so little comedy fodder to work with.

Fortunately, I have all kinds of AWESOME fodder to work with, namely number 42!

Santa and Jack and another boy on ice skates

The fella there on the left is Santa Claus.

That is Jack’s best friend there in the blue. He is number 43, which makes Jack endlessly happy that they are only one apart. It makes ME endlessly happy that the two of them get to skate together.

Also, in case you don’t see the full awesomeness potential in the above photo, here is a way cuter picture of #42:

Smiling Jack in hockey gearI mention this, because…HOCKEY! TOURNAMENT! And also to invite any of you special hockey boosters in the area to come experience a little bit of what I am talking about when I talk about special hockey.

Going to a special hockey tournament is unlike anything I have ever done. It is amazing. It is magic.

Jack and I welcome friends to join us at the Gardens Ice House in Laurel this Saturday and/or Sunday to watch some great hockey. The Cheetahs have four teams playing, from super competitive, skilled A teams to C teams with more players like Jack who are still working on the more advanced skills.

All of said teams kick ass and are super awesome to watch.

Jack’s team (the Montgomery Cheetahs C Team Purple) will be playing three games, as follows:

Saturday:
1 pm: vs. Columbus Blue Jackets, Logsdon arena
5:30 pm: Opening Ceremonies, Patrick arena
Sunday:
8 am: vs. NOVA Cool Cats, Logsdon arena
11 am: vs. Space Coast Supercanes, Whitey’s rink (This one is outside, I think. Bring blankets.)

If you come and can’t find us, just follow the sounds of Quinn shouting that he’s cold and miserable and/or the sight of a mop of unruly blond hair sticking up out of a mass of blankets that seem to be holding an iPad.

You don’t have to come see Jack though. There will be great hockey on every rink throughout the weekend. If you do want to see Jack though, be prepared for one of the following:

jack at practice

Jack on his game and playing hockey like a motherfucker, although in game form, not practice like this photo.

Jack lying on ice

Jack being sooooo over hockey. This sometimes takes the form of his sitting belligerently on the bench.

freeskate jack

Hopefully, gleeful Jack, happy and free and thrilled to be skating. In a perfect world, he wouldn’t be this blurry in real life.

I hope some of you can make it, but if not, be sure to check back here next week for all of the news, photos, and fun—oh, and also the magic of special hockey.

Stimey at the Movies…and, You Know, on My Couch Too

Because it is Golden Globe night, I almost called this “Stimey’s Golden Globules,” because every time I hear about the Golden Globes, my brain changes it to Golden Globules, but then I decided that would sound weird and upsetting, so I decided to call it this other thing instead.

Anywho.

You know how every time I post here, I’m all, “Yeah, I’m not doing anything at all. My life is totally boring”? Well, that is not entirely true because I have been consuming enormous amounts of pop culture.

I decided that I have thoughts about all of this pop culture and that you should hear them. (Feel free to click away now.) But if you’re looking for something with which to kill some time this week, I have some ideas for you.

You should know, however, that I am a very non-critical sort of consumer. If I were a movie reviewer, most of my reviews would probably start out with, “Yeah, it was pretty good.” So if you go to see these movies or buy these books or whatever and you hate them, don’t blame me.

Movies I’ve Seen in Theaters This Fall:

Gravity: Yeah, it was pretty good. Actually, let’s say really good. I really enjoyed this movie and thought it was beautiful, both visually and metaphorically.

Twelve Years a Slave: I worked so hard to see this movie. I was going to go on the one day in December that my kids were in school and I didn’t have plans. The only problem is that it turns out when I showed up at 11 am to buy a ticket that I had misread Fandango and the showing was actually at 11:05 pm. I finally went out the day after Christmas by myself to watch it. It was showing in a small theater, but it was entirely packed. I don’t think I heard a single sound from the audience throughout the entire movie. It was an attention-demanding movie and perfectly acted and directed. There was a moment when Chiwetel Ejiofor’s face filled the screen and his eyes looked directly into the camera that felt like a direct demand of accountability of everyone in the audience. It was an intensely powerful movie that I think everyone should see. I am rooting for it for best picture at every awards show this year.

American Hustle: I tell you about this movie with the caveat that because of my friend and my late arrival to the theater and the theater’s entirely full capacity, I saw this from the first row, so I may have been looking at the right side of the screen and missed something crucial on the left side. I don’t know if you’ve ever watched a movie from the first row, but I wouldn’t recommend it. My friend actually got motion sick. Regardless, this movie was a ton of fun and almost made me want to live in the 70s what with their discos and science ovens and all. Plus, I love every single thing Christian Bale has ever done as an actor, so there is that too.

Anchorman 2: I wanted to like this movie so much. I really, really did. I liked the first Anchorman and every review that I read said that this one was great too. There were moments that were good but I think this movie relied on one of two tactics for most of its laughs: (1) It slightly altered something hilarious from the first movie so that the joke in this movie would remind you of when you loved the scene the first time and you would laugh, and (2) the writers seem to believe that if something is shockingly offensive it is automatically funny. Too often in this movie, it just wasn’t.

TV Shows I’ve Binge Watched This Fall:

The Walking Dead: Zombies are one of my things. I’ve been into them for a long time. Like, I had to admit that I read “zombie literature” back when it wasn’t cool to do so and I will continue to consume all the zombie pop culture I can find long after everyone else considers them to be Over. Needless to say, I’ve been watching The Walking Dead since it premiered, but somehow Alex got interested in it a few weeks ago and we watched the whole series together and are now gleefully awaiting the second half of season four. The best part of watching this with Alex was looking over at him during scenes with lots of the undead and seeing him with his eyes closed AND his hands over his face. “I don’t like the zombie parts,” he would explain. I would respond with a blank face. Because…dude? It’s a show about zombies. (But really, as zombie stories always are, it isn’t always really about the zombies.) Also, Alex had lots of questions and opinions about the zombie apocalypse, and it was really fun to finally find a subject matter where I am more knowledgeable than he is.

Vikings: Alex discovered this History Channel series when he was out of town at some point last fall and kept talking about it and after he agreed to watch The Walking Dead with me, I had to agree to watch this with him, but I was sure that it was going to be boring as hell, because, c’mon, who’s heard of the History Channel breaking ground with scripted dramatic series lately? Turns out that it’s pretty exciting and fun and even though Alex originally wanted Sam to watch with us, he fortunately declined before the second episode when one of the vikings and his wife invite a priest to join them in a three-way.

Sons of Anarchy: I’m getting a little tired of this show. When I started watching it from season one about a year ago, I wasn’t sure I liked it. Then I really started to like it. Now I end up rolling my eyes at it more often than not, but at this point, I kind of feel like I have to see it through to the end, which is…I don’t know. I think they just keeeeeep making more episodes.

Orphan Black: Entertainment Weekly kept telling me that this was an awesome show, so I finally buckled and watched the first season of it this fall while I ran on my treadmill. EW was right. I’m totally hooked. It turns out that it is great fun to watch adorable clones and their friends.

Dexter: I was watching the last season of this on DVD without realizing that it was the last season (I thought there were nine seasons. Nope.). I am one episode away from the end and am sorry to see it go. Now I have to find another series to keep me busy while I run.

Books I’ve Read Recently:

The Interestings: I was kind of annoyed at this book from the beginning, but it was well written enough that it totally kept me entertained. I was way more interested in the peripheral characters than the main characters though and I was also highly fucking irritated at the book’s portrayal of the father-son relationship when the son in question was autistic. Honestly, that very minor part of the book annoyed me so much that I don’t think I would recommend it to anyone.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette?: God, I loved this book. It was funny and delightful and heartrending and truthful and now I want to go to Antarctica even more than I did before. Highly recommended.

The Divergent series: This is a young adult dystopian blah, blah, blah. I liked it though. It was fun. I loved The Hunger Games too, but I feel a little bit like Katniss was not an active participant in propelling the action. In this one, the main (female) character seemed much more proactive.

The Day by Day Armageddon series: Again, zombies. I find this trilogy interesting, because the first book was self-published at first and then became successful in the genre and the dude got a publishing deal. By the third book, the author is a much better writer (and features better copy editing), but the story got a little too broad for him to handle, I think. It’s not my favorite zombie fiction (that would be World War Z—the book), but it’s a decent way to kill some time. I’d read the first two a long time ago and had to reread them before I could read the third. It took me a long time because I couldn’t read them in waiting rooms and stuff because I was too embarrassed to be seen reading them in public.

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running: I’m reading this right now. This is, sort of obviously, a running memoir. I try to read a lot about running to help keep me motivated. If you’re new to running literature, though, you should totally start with Born to Run. I think that one is good for runners and non-runners alike.

Also, even though I haven’t read it for several months, I always say that if you haven’t read Life of Pi, you should. It’s one of my all-time favorites and a repeat read for me.

So, there you have it. That’s what I’ve been up to. I’m not sure if I should be proud or embarrassed.

Now, I want to hear from you:

What TV shows can I binge watch after I finish Dexter?

What books should I absolutely not miss?

What was your favorite movie this year?