Sunday Lowdown #148


What a nerve-wracking week! For some reason, both of my professors assigned finals the week before finals. I don’t understand, but as Nick likes to say, school is what you put into it. So, I put into all of Monday and Tuesday my study skills, which involved reviewing hundreds of vocab words, classifiers, concepts, and rules of grammar syntax used in ASL.

We were also told to be ready to describe to someone in ASL how to get from points A to B on the college campus. Aaaaand, as a commuter, I spend almost no time on the campus, so I reviewed a campus map and tried to memorize the legend and how one building often services multiple office spaces.

The professor also noted that we should be able to describe a map of our hometown. Mine is pretty big, so I called up Biscuit on the video thingy and we worked out a map of the downtown area of my hometown, which included landmarks, places I’d learned how to sign (city hall, jail, bank, library, old folks’ home, tobacco store, etc.), a river, and a curved street that has at least two intersections. All pretty good ways to demonstrate what I’ve learned about maps and 3-D spaces!

The exam was two parts on the learning platform GoReact: 1) we see a PDF on the screen and record our responses, and 2) the instructor signs questions at us and we record our responses. This is all on video — no writing or English — and you only get one try! Well, on question 8 out of 10 on part two I accidentally hit the FINISH button instead of the PAUSE button and then frantically emailed my professor requesting she have mercy on me. She did.

Nyle DiMarco

My Deaf Culture final exam is also on a learning platform (Moodle). It’s a timed test and included an essay. We knew the essay question in advance, so I worked on it days before starting the test, including research. Some of the questions on the exam itself were worded in a way that puzzled me, and my poor teacher struggles with tech stuff. We’re all just trying to make it work! But when I got to the last part, the essay, where I planned to simply copy and paste from my Google Doc into the exam, I noticed the essay question posted on the exam was more elaborate. Doh! I tried to kerjigger what I had written just a bit and sent it off with good vibes.

I’m writing this post on Friday because I have the time, but also because on Saturday (December 4th) I’m getting my booster. Everyone I know who has gotten the COVID booster shot has had almost no side effects except a desire to nap. However, everyone on Twitter seems to have nearly perished, so I just want to be on my toes.


Seraph on the Suwanee by Zora Neale Hurston keeps swimming in my head. I finished it two weeks ago, but it just lives there. I’m starting to wonder if marriages that last a long time, but that were started without true love and respect, are toxic even when they seem fine. I’m thinking of situations that wouldn’t be appropriate to expound on here on the internet, but it sure is worth thinking about (no, Biscuit, I’m not thinking about you!).

It was such a joy when I learned e.E. Charlton-Trujillo wrote another Fat Angie book. This third installation (and maybe the final?), subtitled Homecoming, is now a member of the “teens who form a band that is totally different from every other band and sound out there” club. I sound sassy, but there’s so much more to Fat Angie: Homecoming than music. I was most drawn to the relationship with her mother. You were all drawn to the relationship with her father!


So, I did read a novella in November, even though I did not partake in the challenge with other book bloggers. Sarah Gailey’s horror/western is about an alternate history in which the U.S. did actually import hippos to solve a meat shortage (an actual idea that almost came to fruition). As the rag-tag caper crew assembles, they must learn to tolerate each other for the good of . . . well, getting rich, actually. Review Tuesday.

Everyone thought we were done with #ReadingValdemar, but Mercedes Lackey started a new series (maybe just trilogy?) about how Valdemar was founded. And am I glad I picked it up! Readers are in for many surprises when they get their hands on Beyond. Review Thursday.


Owned Books on TBR at Beginning of Year: 242
Owned Books on TBR Today: 204


  1. Oooh, I can’t wait to hear what you think of the hippo books and Beyond. I liked Beyond a lot simply because I haven’t read a new Valdemar novel in forever, and during the pandemic, a comfort read was… well, comforting. This felt like the book series I wanted to read after the Storm books.

    And I’ve been meaning to read Sarah Gailey forever now. My TBR pile has overflowed, and I’m trying to clean up some books I started but didn’t finish. My goal for this year was to read my friends’ favorite books, and I am determined to check House of Leaves off that list. It’s just not a book that invites itself to be read during an infusion. (50% through, I love the premise and narrative structure, but I’m not sure if I’m going to be able to say I liked it as a whole yet.)


    • Vale! OMG, it’s you! Thanks so much for coming to my blog! I’m 83% of the way through Beyond and am really loving it. It’s wild how the system of gates is more futuristic and effective than they are in the future of Valdemar. All because of Vanyel, everything changes so dramatically with magic.

      To be honest, I’m not getting on with Sarah Gailey books. I like the premise, but the writing tends to feel more like flat characters with a handful of labels marching around. The people don’t feel naturally integrated into the story.

      I enjoyed House of Leaves, but it has so many layers, like that movie Inception, that I can see how you might lose interest or focus during an infusion. Plus, if you have the paperback copy, it’s heavy as hell.


  2. I can’t wait to see your review of River of Teeth! Even if we don’t agree on things, I’m just excited that someone else I know has read it. 🙂
    I am so scared for my Accounting finals lol. I can’t wait to get them over with at the same time. I want to dedicate my weeks off to just reading as much fun stuff as I can before school starts up again.


  3. Those finals sound so difficult! We had our boosters last Saturday (Pfizer, after Astra Zeneca for the first two) and both felt weary and with aching limbs (him) and joints (me) for about 24 hours, then were fine. I got my famous underarm and neck glands coming up again, too, every time but I’m fine with it, shows it’s working! Hope you’re OK and ready for a good week of reading!


    • I had a very slight sour feeling in my stomach and a metallic taste in my mouth. My arm where I got the shot hurts a bit, but that’s pretty normal. It’s strange how every time (for me, at least) the side effects are different.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Booster shots have been a hot topic this week. I am told my 6G should be kicking in any day now and I feel like I should now include my vaccination status in my email signature along with my pronouns. “Nick (he/him Pfizer/Pfizer/Moderna)”

    Congrats on finishing your first semester! It sounded like an adventure, but I knew from day 1 you would rock it. 💪


  5. Good job finishing the exam – sounds stressful! I hope you treated yourself to something fun afterwards!

    I had a very crappy 24 hours after the booster (J&J first shot, Pfizer booster) but after 24 hours felt much better. Hope you’re feeling better now.


    • My stomach felt the tiniest bit sour, and I had a weird metallic taste in my mouth. My arm where I got the injection hurts, but that’s pretty normal. I did two Pfizer and then Moderna, as I keep hearing that Moderna has some of the best staying power. I’m sure we can look forward to doing this again in 6 months!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Ah, finals! I don’t miss those days. I hope you get the results you hope for – you sound like you were well-prepared.

    No one I know has gotten a booster here as they are working their way down and only the most elderly have been bolstered so far. But Pearl got her first dose this week so that was our big excitement! Hope you’re feeling well afterward.


  7. Well done on finishing your finals – do you have some time off to relax now?

    No boosters here for my age group yet – my mum’s had hers and I think they’re down to people over 40 now, so I should be offered mine in January some time. I would honestly rather it went to people in countries where there is substantial undervaccination – more effective for everyone that way – and I am frustrated by the way richer countries are hoarding vaccines. At the same time, I can’t specifically request that mine goes to the Covax programme rather than into my arm, so I’ll have it when I’m offered it! Hope you were spared the after effects that everyone on Twitter seems to have.


    • In the U.S. the number of people who are vaccinated and hospitalized is going up, so now it’s recommended everyone get boosted if they are over 18. We just can’t get it together with masks or getting everyone vaccinated. I do know that one of my other readers, Cupcakes & Machetes, has talked about how many vaccines get thrown away every day at her work, and that hurts my heart.

      Side effects were quite minimal, but I ate ice cream and watched House of Wax with Vincent Price just to be safe.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. My booster is due in a couple of weeks (which will make me AZ/AZ/Pfizer – I think. I don’t think Moderna is available for boosters here yet).
    Re ZNH, I think the dynamics of marriages pre-1960s/pre-easy divorce were complicated by the fact that incompatible couples felt forced to stay together. There was a degree of resignation in every marriage, though of course the woman made most of the concessions.
    I am going to listen to a Mercedes Lackey at last. I picked it up in a charity shop today for $2. It’s still in the car or I’d tell you the name, but it’s not a Valdemar.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lackey has many, many series. I believe she comes out with 3-4 books per year.

      The idea of being resigned to a marriage is depressing, but I also know it still happens. Biscuit has mentioned a few people she know who are completely incompatible, but they can’t or won’t get divorced for reasons typically tangled up in finances or resignation.


  9. Well done on your exams! I hope your booster went well. I had a huge headache all day in addition to being really tired. Next day I just had a sore arm. Keep well!


  10. I enjoyed your post Melanie. Good luck with your exams – your deserve to do well for all the work and passion you put into it.

    I was interested in your comment about the Booster. We have ours next Tuesday morning, and I have my reading group Christmas party that evening so I’m really hope I’ll be well and awake. You made me laugh re the different between the personal experiences of people you know and experiences on Twitter. Just goes to show – something!


    • It’s important to be hydrated before you get your booster. I drink a Pedialyte before I get a vaccine. The side effects I had were a sore arm, which is normal, and I had a very slightly sour feeling in my stomach and a metallic taste in my mouth. Both of these are more rare side effects. Other than that, I was fine. Also, it sounds like many people get the tiredness and headache side effects around 24 hours later, so I think you should be good for your party!


  11. Ugh, I am so sorry you’ve in the midst of finals. I got a pang of vicarious anxiety just reading about your ASL work! However, while it’s often little respite while in the midst of finals, you’re also SO CLOSE to the amazing, beautiful, restorative feeling of being done with finals :D. Ahhhhh, there’s no relief quite like it. So I hope you survive the rest of final season! And I hope the rest feels like it arrives sooner rather than later for you.


    • One thing about my anxiety is that I’m sort of like a malfunctioning robot. If I have something expected of me that connects to other people in any way (work, class, an appointment, a friend meet up), I have horrible anxiety while I drive toward the thing. But when nothing is expected of me, people should expect nothing of me. I get lost and wander around the apartment like a cat when the humans are gone. So, what I did was create a calendar for me for break. Right now, from 8:30-9:30, is Read Blog Stuff time. At 9:30, it’s teeth-brushing time. This all helps immensely. Thank you for rooting for me!

      Liked by 1 person

      • That’s a really clever plan! My anxiety can be very finicky around my schedule, too. It loves when I have nothing to do (obviously!) but then it starts to get squirrely if it feels I’m not using my free time for the most possible fun. It…it can be picky (but I love my anxious part all the same!). The schedule really seems like a brilliant way to meet that anxious part and still make the most of break. I love it!

        Also, “I get lost and wander around the apartment like a cat when the humans are gone” is now my new favorite descriptor EVER and I eagerly await the first time I can quote you!


          • I would love to talk about it! Last year I began doing IFS (Internal Family Systems) work with my therapist. IFS views all our thoughts, feelings, emotions, memories, etc. as “parts” of us. So I’ve been learning to meet, recognize, listen to, and converse with my parts. In so doing I learn the job they do for my system. For example, my anxiety’s job is to look out for me. It’s concerned with what is most important to me and worries about what could go wrong. I need that! It’s important to be concerned about what’s important. It doesn’t always speak to me as I’d like, but I can recognize the importance of its job.

            So I learn to appreciate all my parts for the jobs they do. The more I know about them, the more I can love and appreciate them. I also learn how to help them, too. So when I’m having an anxiety attack or when it won’t unblend (when you feel any feeling or part, IFS calls that “blending” – the part has blended with me) I talk with it and I ask what it needs and how I can help. I also ask it to trust me that we can handle whatever it’s worried about and I ask it to unblend, at least a little, and trust me when I tell it we will be ok.

            I know this sounds REALLY WEIRD if you’re not familiar with IFS! It took me awhile to get used to it myself. But it really helps! All our parts want to be heard, valued, and appreciated. Just be recognizing my anxiety, by talking with it and offering it genuine love and appreciate for all it does, it relaxes. It can relax because it knows I’m listening to it and because I value it.

            To offer an example, one day during last school year Ashley (one of my very best friends) and I were enjoying our lunch/prep mod together. I was sharing some heavy personal things with her and she was being the gentle, loving steward she always is with what I share :). At the end of our lunch I went to the bathroom and, as I was washing my hands, I was hit with a wave of anxiety about it all. I began crying as this crashed over me again and again. I looked in the mirror and said, “Ok anxiety, I hear you. I love you and I appreciate you for all you do for me. You’re here because this is important. It’s something I need to attend to. And I love you for looking out for us in this. But right now I have to teach. I can teach crying. It’s ok to cry. But it’s easier if I’m not. I don’t have time to process this with Ashley now. I don’t have time to process this on my own. The bell rings in a minute. So I’d like to ask if you could unblend for now. I promise you, we’ll cry this out and sort this later. I will attend to you. I will feel this all because I value it and it’s important. But right now I need to teach. Can you please unblend and we can feel this all together later?” And…it did. It was so beautiful! So I taught my class. I went home. I visited my parents for dinner. I completely forgot about that anxiety…until I was driving home from my parents’ and began sobbing. As I cried I thought, “What is this?? I…oh, yeah.” Then I smiled as I cried and I said, “Hello anxiety. I promised you I’d attend to you later. Thank you for waiting. Let’s feel this all and work through this now.” And I did. I cried and I sat with it and processed and sorted what needed to be processed and sorted for my anxiety to relax. This doesn’t always work (and that’s ok (and I let my parts know that’s ok, too)) but it often does!

            I’m sorry if that’s WAY more information than you wanted! But I have struggled with my anxiety for a loooooong time and over the last year I’ve really started to relate to it in a new way and I was excited to share :). I hope this helped some and if you’ve more questions I’m more than happy to chat about it some more, too.


            • Michael, firstly, THANK YOU for such a detailed response. Your comment was not too long, and it was extremely helpful. I’ve had anxiety for as long as I can remember, way back to being a little kid who constantly missed the school bus because she had anxiety-induced stomach issues. Existential dread in elementary school? Been there, done that.

              I like what you said about “I talk with it and I ask what it needs and how I can help.” I used to have vicious nightmares (well, I still do, but not the same kind) about a man chasing me and trying to kill me. I talked to a woman who frequented the same coffee shop as me when we were in college. She was getting her master’s degree in psychology, so I figured, why not, I’ll tell her about my dreams. She recommended that as I lay in bed I picture this killer and keep asking, “What do you want?” The idea was that when I was dreaming I would be able to stop, turn around, face this person, and ask what he wants. Honestly, I only did this once because it worked. I didn’t even have the dream, I just lay in bed asking, “What do you want? What do you want?”

              Thank you for sharing about IFS. This sounds like something I need to know more about. For instance, one time I got to my ASL class a few minutes early. I was totally fine; nothing bad had happened. And yet I suddenly felt this wave of being overwhelmed, and a tear slid down my face. Well, my ASL professor is Deaf, so she sees EVERYTHING and then asked me about it later, and I was so embarrassed. I explained that I have anxiety, so even though I’m fine, my brain doesn’t agree. I was worried she would see me as flimsy or unreliable (I’m working toward my ASL interpreter for the Deaf license). Back to IFS: I looked up books about this to learn more, and it looks like a new one just came out in 2021 called No Bad Parts: Healing Trauma and Restoring Wholeness with the Internal Family Systems Model by Richard C. Schwartz. I’m going to check it out.

              Liked by 1 person

              • That sounds great! In fact, I’m going to look into that book myself. Thank you for putting it on my radar :). I can also recommend ‘Parts Work: An Illustrated Guide to Your Inner Life’ by Tom and Lauri Holmes with illustrations by Sharon Eckstein. This was the book my therapist recommended to me once we were underway with this work so I could learn more about it and about my system. It does a great job of explaining the way parts manifest, what their jobs are, how our system works, and it even ends the chapters with activities to help you get to know your system! I’ve all sorts of notes in mine. Personally, my parts don’t often manifest as people/characters like they are illustrated in the text – mine are more a feeling, energy, or even waves of color – but, however your parts show themselves to you, it’s a great way to learn about all this. It’s 130 pages, too, and it’s full of illustrations so it doesn’t feel overwhelming to open which I really appreciated :).

                And oh my goodness, I completely get what you’re talking about! My anxiety does so many similar things! When I was a kid I hated going to school. I often enjoyed it when I was there and never had teachers who were mean to me nor was I bullied but my anxiety would worry about EVERYTHING and I rarely wanted to go. I’d feel sick and want to cry and didn’t understand why I couldn’t just stay home because I could learn fine from there. I was miserable at the end of every summer break and long holiday vacation.

                I get the nightmares, too! I have them all the time. Sometimes they are more odd or unsettling but, depending on what’s going on in my life and what my anxiety is worried about, other times I will wake up screaming, tangled in my sheets, again and again through the night. A few months ago I wrote a piece about how teaching within the pandemic was causing me nightmares and in it I talked about the weeks and weeks I had of regular nightmares of being pursued by someone trying to kill me until I woke up screaming. It…can be intense. And it makes you not even want to go to bed when you know that’s waiting for you! I will have to keep your “What do you want?” technique in mind the next time they return like that,

                Everything you said makes so much sense to me! It seems our anxiety can manifest in very similar ways. I’m sorry about your experience in class, too. That’s so hard.
                I’m sure your professor understood but in that moment, when the anxiety is so fully blended, that really doesn’t help. Getting your ASL interpreter for the Deaf license is so exciting though! I have often wished I knew ASL but I’ve never challenged myself to truly learn it. I wish you all the luck!

                I’m so glad my comment was helpful and I’m enjoying our conversation very much, too :). Please know, anytime you want to talk IFS work or even just commiserate about anxiety, I’m always here.


                • I keep seeing people say they want to learn ASL because it’s appearing in more movies and TV shows, but the funny thing about ASL is that it’s not that you learn a sign and then learn what it means and put them together to create a sentence like in English. It has totally different grammar, is based on French (LOL), and often times has no words to equate but rather and intensity of movement and facial expressions that stand in for grammar.

                  Thanks for offering your hand in friendship! I check my email ( all the time if you want to write more there.

                  Liked by 1 person

                  • ASL is based on French?!!? That’s soooooooo fascinating! I never would’ve guessed that! I’ve never been good with learning languages. I was a fair-to-middling Spanish student for years in high school and the idea of the language portion of the PhD process is one of the many things which have left me happy with my MA. But I’ve always been envious of anyone who can speak another language – Spanish, French, Arabic, or ASL. It’s a big academic weakness/regret of mine. And whenever I meet anyone who. An speak and/or is learning another language, I’m so impressed. They are like academic rockstars to me!


                    • I earned a Bachelor of Science in creative writing because I didn’t want to do the language requirement for a Bachelor of Arts, lol. So, a priest in the U.S. knew a little deaf girl who couldn’t communicate with anyone. He headed to England to learn a signed language, but they wouldn’t help him, like sign language is a trade secret, or something. So, he headed to France where not only did they help him, but a French priest went back to the U.S. with him to set up a school. Martha’s Vineyard, meanwhile had a super high percentage of deaf people due to the genetics of the people who lived there. Everyone knew sign, deaf or not. M.V. sign and French Sign blended together over the years and we got our own American Sign Language. British Sign Language is very different. I can’t follow it.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • This is SO FASCINATING! I feel like I’ve just learned so much! Thank you for this! Like I’m sitting here wondering when the next time I’ll find myself in a conversation about sign language where I can bring this up and blow other people’s minds. Learning is so fun :). And what the heck England?!? That’s odd to begin with but what was their end goal…that people who are deaf can only communicate effectively in England?? That makes no sense! How weird! But the French save the day once again – they help us win the Revolutionary War, give us a statue, AND help us develop American Sign Language. My learner/student/intellectual part is so, so excited right now!


                  • I don’t know why only half of my comment posted. I guess that’s what I get for replying on my phone XD. ANYWAY, what I was in the process of saying was — So you’re now one of those academic rockstars to me! It’s the most cliché American thing ever but I just struggle to get my mind to hold on to other languages. I wish I could! And I’ve tried different ways to learn them but I’ve yet to find the way that works for me. What you’re doing is amazing!!! Go you!

                    Thank you for sharing your email, too. I look forward to continuing the conversation and I’ll write soon :).


Insert 2 Cents Here:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s